Season Opener
Monday, Sept. 11 – Tuesday, Sept. 12 • 54 Holes • Sam Hall Intercollegiate Golf Tournament
Hattiesburg, Miss. • Hattiesburg Country Club • par 71 • 6,902 yards
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Sam Houston State opens up its highly-anticipated 10-tournament schedule on Monday, taking part in the two-day, 54-hole Sam Hall Intercollegiate from the par-71, 6,902-yard Hattiesburg Country Club.

The event gets underway with a shotgun start to 36 holes at 8:30 a.m. on Monday and continues Tuesday, beginning at 8 a.m. Sam Houston is one of 11 teams competing in the tournament including Southland Conference competitors Southeastern Louisiana and New Orleans.

After five rounds of qualifying at Trinity’s Whispering Pines Golf Club, Jake McCrory, William Holcomb, Noah Steele, Austen Christiansen and Levi Valadez are set to represent Sam Houston in Hattiesburg, while Jesse Massengale will compete individually.

The tournament will be the first for Bearkat transfers Christiansen (BYU) and Valadez (Kansas State) while it marks the beginning of the season year with the program for Holcomb and Steele. McCrory, who finished first in the qualifying (357) is beginning his senior season with the squad.

It will mark the seventh-straight season Sam Houston has opened at the event. A season ago, McCrory led the charge for the Bearkats, shooting a 1-under, 212, while moving ahead eight spots on the final day to finish tied for ninth. The Kats finished the 15-team tournament in ninth.

Head coach Brandt Kieschnick on the depth of the team…
“This is about the players this year. It was probably the hardest qualifier we’ve ever had as a team. This is a year where we have nine guys that are straight running players. We’ve always had really good players but there’s just something about these nine. Jake won the qualifier but the fifth guy was five shots from him. The guys came hungry to play.”

Head coach Brandt Kieschnick on the Sam Hall Intercollegiate…
“Southern Miss is a fantastic golf course. It is a course you need to make some birdies on. It is always bunched in. You can play pretty good golf, shoot under par, have a chance to win and be five shots off first and finish sixth. We’ll find a way to separate ourselves and work to get out of that bunch. We have to excel in the little things like management.”

No. 1 player Jake McCrory on the Sam Hall Intercollegiate…
“It will be a pretty strong field this week. I think we’ve got a pretty good squad this year. We have a game plan and we’re going to stick to that. If we play well and do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll have a chance to win. It’s great we got them (the three transfers) to come in. I think we all knew they could play and they knew we could play. It makes me work harder. I know it won’t be as easy to make the team. It brings the competition level up.”

No. 2 player William Holcomb on his second year with the program…
“As a team, I know we all expect to win. I expect that. I’d like to put myself in contention. I really enjoyed the new guys coming in and pushing us. I feel like I’ve gotten better in the last week. Coach has helped me grow a lot and mature. I’ve been blessed enough to be around him and this program.”

No. 3 player Noah Steele on his summer success and the first tournament…
“I think it gives me a lot of confidence and I think the guys can look at that and see they have another guy there. The summer was great for me with the development and the tournaments I played in. I think the main goal every week will be to win. We’ve had some success with certain players playing there. I think getting off to a good start is important.”

No. 4 player Austen Christiansen on coming to Sam and competing in the opener…
“The transition has been good so far. One of the huge reasons I came here was because Brandt (Kieschnick). He’s lived up to everything he’s told me it would be. The qualifier was good. I played really well the first round which took a lot of pressure off me. I am really excited for Southern Miss. It has been a while since I played in a college tournament because I was injured last year.”

No. 5 player Levi Valadez on being at Sam Houston and the opener…
“I’m happy to be here. It’s good being back close to home and warm weather doesn’t hurt at all. As far as my role on the team, I am here to help the guys and hopefully win a conference championship this year. It’s a really tight golf course but I think we’re deep enough to be in contention and hopefully win this week.”