For The Sanford Herald

The O’Neal School continues to rule the roost as the top all-sports athletic program in the NCISAA’s 2A ranks.

The Falcons, who won the Wells Fargo Cup in 2018-19, successfully defended that title after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the state’s high school sports programs last year. With teams again able to compete this season, O’Neal won the title for the second consecutive awarding year. Founded in 1985, the Wells Fargo Cup is awarded annually to the top athletic program across the state of North Carolina. Schools win the award in each division based on points earned throughout the academic school year.

O’Neal won the Cup for the ninth time in school history. The Falcons won the 1A version of the Cup seven times between 1990 and 2001, when it was known as the Wachovia Cup. Since then, Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia and renamed the trophy. O’Neal won it for the first time as a 2A school in 2019 and has now repeated.

In a year like no other, O’Neal student-athletes, coaches, and athletic administration never wavered. Beginning summer workouts on June 15 of last year, the O’Neal Athletic Department never paused, completing all three athletic seasons without a single hiccup. Along the way, the Falcons thrived, seeing successes across their programs. Nine of the 15 O’Neal varsity teams earned points towards the Wells Fargo Cup by finishing in the top 8 during NCISAA postseason, including Boys and Girls Cross Country, Girls Golf, Boys and Girls Swimming, Boys Soccer, Girls Basketball, and Boys and Girls Track and Field.

“This is a very well-earned award for our school,” shared Athletic Director James Franklin. “There are so many people that make winning the Wells Fargo Cup possible. Our Head of School, John Elmore and his administration provide support and guidance. Our coaches foster an environment of high performance and our student-athletes dedicate endless hours to be the best they can be. We are incredibly proud of everyone’s grit and staying power this year — during unprecedented times. O’Neal has a culture of excellence and it played out in the form of winning the Wells Fargo Cup again.”

O’Neal is a part of the Triangle Triad Athletic Conference (TRI-TAC). An independent, college preparatory school for pre-kindergarten age 3 through grade 12, The O’Neal School is dedicated to the development of academic excellence, strength of character, and physical well-being of its students.