The defending Region 2D champions used solid performances to shoot a 311 and take the championship of the Farmers and Miners Invitational, the first major prep golf tournament of the season in Southwest Virginia.
Evan Blanton led the team with a 73, just two strokes behind tournament medalist Caleigh Street, who shot an even-par 71 to lead the field at the Cedar Hill Country Club.
Blanton is one of five seniors who played Tuesday for the Bears. He said that experience is the biggest plus for Union.
“The thing with us is if one of us happens to have a bad day, there’s four other guys or five other guys that can come back and score well for us,” said Blanton. “Even if someone does have a bad day, the four other guys can make up for it, and that’s the whole chemistry with the team.”
Blanton had a chance to win the medalist honors through the first 16 holes of the tournament. Then something went south for him on the final two holes of the day.
“It was a lot of scrambling. It was a lot of bad shots and a lot of recovery shots. And that’s where my score came from, a lot of recovering shots and a lot of putting,” Blanton said. “I did well on every single hole I played until the last two holes I played. I went from 2 under to 2 over in two holes.”
Blanton said a little fatigue and a loss of concentration played roles in his struggles on the final two holes.
“That’s something you can work on. Your swing is something you can’t work on. Concentration and mentality is something you can definitely work on,” said Blanton.
Wes Slagle, last year’s team leader, struggled on the course. He finished fourth on his team with 10-over 81 on the day.
“Obviously, I struggled today,” said Slagle. “Evan and the rest of the guys picked me up tremendously. I obviously expect more for myself than what I shot today. But I’m proud of my guys. They battled and fought hard, and we came in with a good score.”
Austin Schlebahm shot a 78 for the Bears, while Cole Stanley finished with a 79.
“I’m thrilled. We just sort of been up and down this year. But I’m thrilled. We’ve got a bunch of seniors who have all worked really hard, and for them to come out and win the tournament, any tournament, early in the season, I’m thrilled for them,” Union coach Jarred Chandler said.
THE REST OF THE FIELD
Gate City, led by Sarah Arnold’s 78, finished second as a team with a 329, while Cumberland Gap finished with a 345.
In addition to Arnold, Gate City got an 82 from Luke Wallen, an 84 from Brevan Spivey and and 85 from Nic Elliott.
John Battle (348), Wise Central (354), Richlands (361), Lee High (365) and Rye Cove (381) rounded out the team scores.
J.I. Burton and Eastside golfers also participated in the tournament. But neither fielded enough golfers to qualify for a team score.
Among the top individual scores, John Battle’s Grace Gillen shot a 76 to finish third behind Street and Blanton.
Gate City’s Arnold won a three-player playoff after shooting a 78 to finish fourth in the field. Cumberland Gap’s Peyton Wilder finished fifth with a 78, while Union Schlebahm also finished with a 78.
Jack England led Wise Central’s scorers with an 81 on the day. Tyler Starnes finished with an 85 to lead Rye Cove, while Olivia Bates led Lee High with an 87.