NORMAL -- There was a sense the Kaneland boys golf team was given a mighty reprieve in advancing out of its sectional on Monday.
"I think like we snuck through at the sectional meet," Kaneland coach Mark Meyer said after first-round action of the Class 2A state tournament Friday at the Weibring Golf Club on the campus of Illinois State University.
Matt Yonkovich, the Knights' junior who led the team with an 83 in opening-day action, seconded the notion.
"I think we got a little bit of a sneak-through on that one," Yonkovich said.
Making its first appearance as a team in the state finals in nearly two decades, Kaneland collectively struggled to solve the fast greens at the par-71 layout.
"The fastest (greens) I have seen all year, by far," said Kaneland senior Connor Williams, who had an 85 for the Knights. "We just have to play smart (today as a team)."
Kaneland, with Luke Kreiter matching Williams' 85 for second-low team score and Brody Kuhar posting the fourth score with an 88, is tied for 10th place in the bunched field.
Belleville Althoff Catholic and Normal U-High hold a precarious 2-shot lead over Waterloo and Washington (321-323) after first-round team action.
The Knights' 341 team effort left them a pair of shots behind Wheaton Academy, which used an 85 from St. Charles' Danny Gryfinski to help post its 339.
"There's always (today)," Yonkovich said of the Knights' first-day position. "I just wanted to come down and have fun. There's a lot of challenging holes here."
"It was just one of those days where we collectively played above our (season) averages," Meyer said. "We didn't start very well today."
Aurora Central Catholic junior Sean Harreld had an 84 as the lone at-large qualifier from the area.
At the Class 3A tournament at The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington, the St. Charles East sectional Monday at St. Andrews merely served as a prelude.
The top three teams -- Hinsdale Central, Naperville North and Lyons Township -- are in identical positions after respective scores of 306, 308 and 309.
"It says a lot about our sectional that they're 1-2-3," St. Charles East coach John Stock said.
For the three local individual contenders, the punitive nature of the course took its toll.
Marmion senior Liam Creamer and St. Charles North senior Dan Shepherd surged to the finish line with 86s, while St. Charles East senior Max Kelly carded a 91.
"The course is so penal when you make a mistake," St. Charles North coach Rob Prentiss said.
At the girls Class AA tournament north of Decatur, St. Charles North senior Ariana Furrie is in a logjam for top-15 status with a first-round 79.
St. Charles East senior Paige Jordan is one shot behind her city and Upstate Eight rival with an 80, while Rosary junior Victoria Phipps fired a 91 at the Class A tournament.