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Blevins' approach leads to next level

Thursday, May 14, 2009

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Just stand off to the side and watch him take a couple of swings at the driving range.

That's really all it takes to see what kind of golf game J.W. Blevins possesses.

Long and powerful off the tee, combined with a soft touch around the greens -- that's Blevins and that's what it takes to play your way onto the All-State golf team.

That's also what it takes to play your way onto a college golf team.

Blevins, the former Salem Greyhound standout, signed a letter of intent to play golf for Missouri State-West Plains next fall in a ceremony held at the Dawg Pound May 5.

But Blevins' skill with the clubs is only part of the equation. There's far more to the story, said Salem High School Principal Wayne Guiltner.

"I'm very proud of him. And let me point out how a person gets to do that (play college sports. He's never been in a high school (principal's) office. I'm not even sure he knows where it's at," said Guiltner. "He's never been in detention -- never been in any kind of trouble. He does everything his teachers ask him to do. He makes good grades and from the time he was in kindergarten to now, he's missed a total of about five days of school."

Dedication on the course and in the classroom -- that's the J.W. Blevins story.

"I always hear people talking about wanting to play college sports," Guiltner said. "Well, if you want to do that, then this young man is a very good example of what you have to do."

Words echoed by Grizzly Head Golf Coach Phil Wade.

"J.W. is an outstanding student and an excellent golfer. He played well at all levels of his high school career," Wade said. "He is a student who will fit well into our program, and he will have an immediate impact on the success of the team next season."

Blevins shot an average of 74 for 18 holes during his senior season, while helping the Hounds to a third-place finish in the Class 2A State Tournament at The Golf Course on Turkey Mountain in Horseshoe Bend this past fall.

Blevins shot a score of 77 during the tourney, tying for third out of a field of 78 golfers, and earned All-State honors for his play. He has also been crowned the regional medalist twice.

At the Southern Classic Tournament at Tannenbaum Golf Course, Blevins has also had success, including this past season when he posted a two-over-par 110 score for 27 holes against some of the best golfers around, including those from teams in a higher classification.

"J.W.'s just dedicated. He never missed a practice in the last four years that I know of," said Salem Head Golf Coach Larry Brown. "When I said be there, he was there, on time. If I needed help, he was the one that I called on."

And apparently, Blevins is also skilled at making a good first impression, as well.

During a tryout round for MSU-WP earlier this spring at the West Plains Country Club, Blevins recorded his first hole-in-one.

No bad.

"His strength is his consistency. He never gives up. He's a straight driver and his short game is good," Brown said. "He's consistently in the running at every tournament, and he's always among the top five finishers, earning medalist honors at most."

Taking all that into account, Wade feels that Blevins will fit right in at Missouri-State West Plains.

"He really is the kind of student/athelete we're looking for. He's academically sound and he can also play golf," said Wade. "The main thing is, when we look for college students, we look for those that are capable of making athletics work with their academics."

And that seems par for J.W. Blevins' course.



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