LAUREL FORK — George Wythe may have been denied the opportunity to defend its state golf title this year, but the Maroons are not going back to Wytheville without a state title trophy from the golf course.
GW junior Benson Blevins was the lone player to go under par posting a 1-under 71 to take the Class 1 state individual title on Monday afternoon at Olde Mill Golf Club.
Lancaster won the team title with an overall score of 342 edging out runner-up Galax by seven strokes.
Playing in the first group off the tee on Monday morning, Benson got off to a solid start with a score of 1-under on the front nine. He coasted the rest of way staying under par throughout the round even with a bogey on his final hole.
Lancaster’s Claire Beitel and Ben Pittman tied for second with rounds of 4-over 76. Giles’ Walker Gillespie and Galax’s Talan Gentry were tied for fourth with matching 5-over rounds of 77.
Despite his five-shot victory, Blevins believed that his day could have been even a little better.
“I think I did leave a lot out there. I hit it straight, but I couldn’t get too many birdies to fall,” Blevins said.
George Wythe came into this season as the three-time defending state champs in Class 1, but the Maroons had an off year on the team side. In last month’s 1C regionals, Giles claimed the regional crown at Olde Mill while Galax took the runner-up position and the last team qualifying spot for states.
His teammates may have not been along to watch his play, but Benson’s older brother Channing was by his side throughout the round. Channing won individual state titles in 2018 and 2019 for George Wythe and currently plays for Radford University.
“He got to come down from Radford to watch. Knowing he was here watching me was obviously cool,” Blevins said. “He won it his junior and senior year so it’s my junior year so I was hoping to get it done so I could match him.”
As a sophomore in last year’s spring season Blevins finished as state runner-up finishing four shots behind teammate Peyton Coe. During the shorter than normal offseason, Blevins was anxious and preparing to get another chance to move up one spot at the state level.
“I worked a lot this summer. I just had motivation to be the best I can,” Blevins said.
In the Region 1C tournament, also won by Blevins with a 3-under 69, Giles defeated Galax for the team title, but two weeks later the Maroon Tide was able to turn the tables on the Spartans finishing ahead of Giles who finished fourth with a score of 363.
“We had a couple practice rounds out here that worked really well. The biggest thing was to tell them to stay positive for 18 holes because this golf course is pretty tough and will beat you up,” Galax head coach Graham Laird said. “My top two players played better today, and my fifth seed played better today. That’s why we came in second at state versus winning regions.”
Along with Gentry’s 77, Galax also got a strong performance from Grayden Laird who posted a 6-over 78 to place him in a tie for sixth. Rounding out the scores for the Maroon Tide were Jayson Stuart (91), Adam Dillon (103) and Josh Rosenfield (110).
Gillespie, a sophomore, was individual runner-up at the 1C regional with a 4-over 75 leading Giles to the team title in their first year of play in Class 1. Playing the same course on Monday, Gillespie shot the Spartans’ best score of the day on the way to their fourth-place team finish.
“The course was in good condition, and it was playing about the same as regionals,” Walker said. “I definitely thought we (Giles) had an advantage today because this course is more hilly and harder to walk. A lot of the other teams come from places that are flatter.”
Chipping in behind Walker in the Giles’ effort were Will Meredith (93), Jase Williams (96), Conor Rader (97), Coltan Farrell (105), and Bailee Blankenship (157).
Chilhowie finished sixth in the team competition.
The Class 2 state tournament will be contested today at Olde Mill beginning at 9 a.m.