Collinsville High School golfer Keenai Sampson wasn't happy with his 13-over-par 85 and tie for 86th place at the Class 3A state golf tournament a year ago.
Beginning today at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington, Sampson will get a second chance.
The lone local player to qualify for the Class 3A state tournament out of the Pekin Sectional, where he shot a 77 on Monday, Sampson will be taking on a course which fits his game well, according to Kahoks coach Dan Munoz.
"Keenai's game sets up well for The Den, it's just a matter of what the wind may be like this weekend," Munoz said. "It's always swirling up there, and I think after last year he has a better understanding of how we want to approach it.
"I think last year did help him a lot. He has been there before and doesn't seem to get rattled if something goes wrong. I definitely think he has a shot at the top 10.''
One of five state tournaments being conducted by the IHSA this weekend, the Class 3A event begins with 18 holes today. The second round is set for Saturday.
Following is a brief look at the other state tournaments.
Class 1A Boys
Site: Prairie Vista Golf Course, Bloomington.
Local teams: Nashville.
Top local individuals: Jordan Harre, Nashville; Kyler Spencer, Nashville; Brendan Holzhauer, Nashville; Sam Range, Gibault and Brandon Jansen, Carlyle.
Nashville coach Jason Guest on his team's chances: "I think any of the 12 teams could win it. It just depends on which team adapts to the conditions the best and can put two good rounds together. I would think that our experience should be an advantage for us. Most of the players have been there twice and a couple of them have been to state three years. If we play like we can, I think we'll be contending for a trophy.''
Notes: Former Valmeyer coach Terry Souchek will be the official starter for the opening hole on both days of the tournament.
Class 2A Boys
Site: Weibring Golf Course, Normal.
Local teams: None.
Local individuals: Austin Buente, Triad; Michael Barker, Columbia and Jesse Johnson, Highland.
Synopsis: Triad senior Austin Buente will have his work cut out to match the performance of his older brother Blaine, who placed second in the Class 2A event in 2012. Both No. 1 players for their respective teams, Michael Barker, of Columbia, and Jesse Johnson, of Highland, could be in the hunt for a top 10 finish.
Class A Girls
Site: Red Tail Run Golf Course, Decatur.
Local teams competing: Nashville.
Local individuals: Marlee Cloutare, Civic Memorial; Kendra Kessler, Sparta; Gabby David, Althoff; Allie Leingang, Columbia and Kara Schnoeker, Okawville.
Synopsis: After three straight top four finishes, it's now or never for Nashville which features one of the top trios in the state in seniors Shawn Rennegarbe, Madi May and Natalie Johnson. Rennegarbe also will be looking for her first state title after three straight top 10 performances. The key for the Hornettes this weekend is getting that fourth score, unless Rennegarbe shoots round in the 60s both days. Her final round 68 last year included eight birdies. Leingang is the top hope of the local individual qualifiers.
Nashville coach Doug Kell on the Hornettes: "The key for us is to play well the first day. Our goal is to come out and get a big lead after day one. We haven't played that well the first day before and while you can't win the state tournament on the first day, you can certainly lose it. I look for the top competition to be the teams we beat at sectional --Massac County and Eldorado. We may have given them a little more hope with the way we played at sectional.''
Class AA Girls
Site: Hickory Point Golf Course, Forsyth.
Local team: Edwardsvile.
Top local players: Shanna Welz, Highland; Tori Hays, Alton and Emilee Flaugher, Edwardsville
Synopsis: Led by one of the state's best players in Flaugher, Edwardsville could contend for a top-six finish in the 12-team event, if younger players such as Samantha Doak and Eryn Coppersmith play well. Senior Ashlea Hearn also is solid for the Tigers. Individually, Flaugher and Hays are both capable of placing in the top 15. Welz could be in the top 25 by late Saturday afternoon.