Baseball or golf? It was a decision Triad senior Blaine Buente chose to make four years ago.
It wasn't easy.
"I came into high school as a baseball player. I had played that for the majority of my life, probably ever since I could walk,'' Buente said. "It was my first love. My dad had gotten me into that as well as golf.
"My freshman year, I just decided to give up baseball and concentrate on golf. My (scoring) average dropped after I quit baseball and I've never looked back.''
Buente's decision has proven to be a wise one. He has been the Knights' top player and one of the better players in the metro-east for the past three years. Buente's scores have continued to plummet while his stock as a potential college player has risen.
Last season, Buente posted a career-best nine-hole average of 36.7 and won the Mississippi Valley Conference title last month with a league record 5-under-par 67 at Belk Park Golf Course in Wood River.
But the best was yet to come. After shooting rounds of 75 at both the regional and sectional tournaments to qualify for the Class 2A State Tournament, Buente fired a 1-over-par 73 at on the difficult Weibring Golf Course in Normal to finish in a tie for second, one stroke behind state champion Adam Baracani of Normal University High School.
The second round of the state tournament was canceled by rain. For the runnerup finish, Buente has earned the honor as the Belleville News-Democrat Co-Player of the Year for the 2012 season. Buente shares the honor with Freeburg senior Arttu Linden.
Buente is the second state medal winner in Triad history. Matt Gindler placed eighth in the Class AA State Tournament in 1991.
Buente, although satisfied with his second-place medal, would have liked a shot at the state title.
"I was winning for a while that (first) day at the state tournament. I played well, but I felt like I left some opportunities out there.'' Buente said. "It wasn't a disappointment. I was glad to take second place. But I really believe I could have won that tournament.''
Knights coacg Bruce Lewis also believed Buente could have won that day in Normal.
In the past four years, Lewis has seen Buente evolve from an average player into one of the best in the state in his senior season.
"I think a lot of kids mature between their junior and senior years and Blaine grew a lot," Lewis said. "He got a lot stronger and was driving the ball farther than he ever had before. But he doesn't get himself in trouble unlike us hackers who go out there and hit it all over the place.
"Is he a college golfer? There is no doubt in my mind. I think he's the kind of player who will keep improving. I think he's just tapped in to his potential as a player.
Buente, who plays and works out of Gateway National Golf Links in Granite City with PGA professional Bob Tays, said he played more tournament golf then ever last summer to help prepare for his senior season.
"It was a good year," Buente said. "I worked hard all spring and summer and actually won my last tournament of the summer when I shot 69 and 70 during a 36-hole tournament at Annbriar in Waterloo.
"I got a lot of confidence in myself as I went throughout the year. When you are playing good golf, it just keeps building.
"I have the confidence now that when I go into a tournament, I feel like I have a chance to win. If I have a bad day, I don't let it get me down. I just try and do better the next time I play.''