CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Wheeling Park High School golf team, like so many other Class AAA programs in recent years, appeared destined to dominate the State Tournament for multiple years.
How quickly things change.
The Patriots are now among a handful of teams that can win the championship when the 36-hole season finale unfolds Tuesday at Oglebay Resort's Robert Trent Jones Course in Wheeling.
Wheeling Park won the crown in 2010 and 2011 before University swooped in and won the big-school championship last season on the Patriots' home course. Hurricane won three straight (2007-09) just after Parkersburg South (2005-06) and John Marshall (2003-04) were back-to-back winners.
The Hawks failed to qualify for next week's tournament, and South beat Wheeling Park in the Region 1 championships at Parkersburg Country Club.
"It's wide open this year," Wheeling Park Coach Don Headley said. "It's whoever plays well on those two days. My guys know that, South knows that, they all know that."
So does Cabell Midland senior Seth Kinker.
The two-sport All-State player in baseball and golf shot a 154 in last year's State Tournament to finish in a three-way tie with teammate Jacob Beahrs and Winfield's Chris Williams.
This year, he's one of only three returning State Tournament qualifiers - the others are Wheeling Park's Cole Hand and University's Eric Wirth - to finish in the top eight last year and earn All-State.
"I was just talking about that with Beahrs," Kinker said.
"You don't have University, you don't have GW and, of course, us and Huntington had the two lowest regional scorers. Parkersburg South and Washington usually play good rounds up there and Wheeling Park, well, it's on their home course.
"I definitely think it's wide open. We have a great chance. You better believe it."
The Knights finished third last year and have Kinker and Mark Wilcox playing in their third State Tournament.