The Blacksburg High School golf team has experienced a lot of success over the past four years, and three seniors have been a big part of that. This week, those three amigos announced plans to continue their golf careers in college.
Ben Carroll is headed to Charleston Southern of the Big South Conference. Jake Duncan will attend Maryville College, a member of the USA South Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Chris Zhang is venturing to Northwestern, a part of the Big Ten Conference in Evanston, Illinois.
This past season, the Bruins won the Class 4 West regional golf title for the second year in a row.
The team won two state championships, 3A in 2016 and a 4A in 2017, and finished the year ranked 54st in the nation and number two in Virginia.
Coach Rick Mattox believes that all three will continue to develop their games.
“Ben is really committed to golf and a possible playing career. He has gotten better every year, but was already an accomplished golfer when he joined the JV team. He is an exceptional driver of the golf ball, which is a big reason for his success.”
While not as refined as Ben or Chris, Jake Duncan has also improved Coach Mattox said.
“He was the key, as a sophomore, to us winning the 2016 State tournament when he shot an 80 at Stonehaus. That doesn’t sound all that impressive, but it kept us close to Hidden Valley, who we were able to beat the next day, and as a junior and senior, he became a player I could depend on to put up a score of 75 or lower.”
Mattox said Chris Zhang is a methodical golfer who spends a lot of time practicing. “He rarely makes mistakes on the golf course and is an exceptional putter,” the coach said.
Carroll has been a four-year starter and was instrumental in the team’s 3A state championship in 2016, its 4A state championship in 2017 and its state runner-up trophy in 2018.
Carroll’s individual accolades include being selected first-team All-State (‘16, ‘17), first-team All-Region (‘15, ’16, ’17, ’18), first-team All-Conference (‘15, ‘16), first-team All-District (‘17, ‘18), first-team All-Metro (‘16, ‘17, ‘18), River Ridge Player of the Year (2017), RRD Tournament medalist (2017), 3A State individual runner-up (2016) and 4A State individual third place (2017).
“Coach Jason Payne [at Charleston Southern] was the primary reason for me choosing to go there,” Carroll said in an interview. “Throughout my recruitment, I really felt like I created the strongest bond with him, and I felt like he was the best coach for me in reaching my future goals. The year-round weather of being able to play in 60-degree weather in the winter was another big reason, and when I walked on campus, everything just seemed right and a perfect fit for me as a person,” he said.
Carroll started playing golf at the age of four, and now has a goal of becoming an All-American, winning a Big South championship and making it to the NCAA championship. His long-term goal is the professional golf tour. At Charleston Southern, he’ll major in business management.
Jake Duncan, a senior golfer, will sign a letter of intent to golf and major in business administration at Maryville.
“I chose Maryville because it was the best fit for me,” he said. “I started the recruiting process later than I should have, but I’m very happy with my decision.”
His goal is also to be an All-American in college.
“Blacksburg High School golf really prepared me for the next level just because of all of the talent on the team. We had about eight golfers that could score low on any given day, so it was a constant battle between everyone to see who would play in the upcoming tournament,” he said.
Duncan has been a three-year starter for the golf team at Blacksburg High School and was also a part in the team’s 3A state championship in 2016, 4A state championship in 2017 and state runner-up trophy in 2018.
His individual accolades include being selected first-team All-State (2017), first-team All-Region (‘17, ‘18), first-team All-District (2018) and second-team All -District (2017).
Chris Zhang will sign a letter of intent to golf for Northwestern while majoring in economics. He is also a four-year starter for the golf team, being a part of the team’s 4A State championship in 2017 and state runner-up trophy in 2018. Zhang’s individual accolades include being selected first-team All-State (2017), first-team All-Region (‘15, ‘16, ‘17), first-team All-Conference (‘15, ‘16), first-team All-District (2017), first-team All-Metro (‘16, ‘17) and 4A State individual runner-up (2017).