“With all of us being seniors, there’s more pressure than anything,” Blanton said. “This is the last chance we get and if we mess up now there’s no turning back. We’d just go to school Monday and look back and wonder what happened.”
Blanton, who earned medalist honors by shooting a 1-over-par 73, and his teammates don’t have to worry. With Blanton’s 73, Wes Slagle’s 77, Cole Stanley’s 82 and Austin Schlobohm’s 86, the Bears shot a team total of 318 at Holston Hills Golf Course to win their second straight regional title.
Union easily outdistanced second-place Virginia High, which got an 81 from Gavin Austin on its way to a 357 total. Graham’s Ben Morgan shot an 86 to lead third place-finishing Graham (361). Gate City had a team total of 363, led by Sarah Arnold’s 84, to place fourth.
ON TO STATE
Union and Virginia High advanced to next week’s VHSL Class 2 championships at Lonesome Pine Country Club in Big Stone Gap.
Three individual golfers — Tazewell’s Trey Sparks (76), Richlands’ Caleigh Street (80) and Tazewell’s Bryce Sparks (81) — qualified for the state championships set for Tuesday, Oct. 9.
Neither Blanton nor his coach made any promises or guarantees about next week’s state championship even though it’s being played on Union’s home course.
“I feel pretty good, but I’m not going to guarantee anything,” Blanton said.
“We played well enough to win today. I don’t know if it will be good enough to win next week, but it was good enough to win today,” Union coach Jarred Chandler said. “It was a rough beginning, but I think we pulled things together.
“Now, we just focus on next week and see how things go.”
The Bears, who fell short of their state championship hopes last season, now have a second shot at it on familiar territory, but Chandler is taking nothing for granted.
“Poquoson has already qualified from Region A, and they beat us last year,” he said. “There’s going to be some stiff competition. That’s why I said today we played well enough to win today. But we’ve got some work to do.
Is there a magic number that Chandler would like his team to hit to feel better about winning the state trophy?
“Lower than today,” he said with a smile. “We need to make more putts. We didn’t putt extremely well today. I don’t know what that score would be.”
The state championship format has also changed this year in the VHSL.
Previously the teams played in a two-day, 36-hole tournament. This year the new format calls for a one-day, 18-hole tourney.
“With 18 holes, it’s winner take all and anything can happen,” Chandler noted. “It’s going to be different. Maybe it benefits us or maybe it doesn’t benefit us. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
REGION 2D GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS
Holston Hills Public Golf Course, Marion
Evan Blanton 73, Wes Slagle 77, Cole Stanley 82, Austin Schlobohm, Matthew Dupree 92, Nate Cheek 98.
VIRGINIA HIGH (357)
Gavin Austin 81, Jackson Looney 88, John Clifton 92, Caleb Leonard 96, Tyler Fuller 99, John David Mosey 105.
Ben Morgan 86, Benjamin White 87, Alexander White 92, Alex Ramsey 96, Joe Tyson 101, Brayden Surface 102.
GATE CITY (363)
Sarah Arnold 84, Luke Wallen 86, Brevan Spivey 96, Ethan Dishner 97, Katelynn Parton 99, Nic Elliott 107.
Trey Sparks (Tazewell) 76; Caleigh Street (Richlands) 80; Bryce Sparks (Tazewell) 81