By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – When Rick Frauenberger holed out on the 18th green on Tuesday of last week, there was no doubt. The Grapeland Sandies were the 2017 Class 2A State Champions in golf! The Sandies finished with a two-round total of 600 which put the team 53 shots ahead of second place and set a new conference 2A record.
On Thursday, May 25 the team made up of Josh “Bear” Ackley, Case Boyd, Brayden Cheatham, Riley Chipman, Rick Frauenberger and Coach Cannon Earp sat down with The Messenger to discuss their state championship and what it means.
After discussing the individual rounds in part one of this article, the team reflected on what being a state champion meant to them and how they plan to defend their title in 2018.
Earp explained the team had been eyeing the possibility of a state golf championship since some of them were in junior high.
Somebody said this a couple of days ago. It may have been Brayden, but these guys have been talking about this and looking at this since they were in seventh and eighth grade. To see that all come together, that was fun to watch as a coach,” he said.
The team was asked what it meant for them to be known as a state champion and senior Riley Chipman spoke first.
“We came close in basketball which would have been great. Still, to go out in another sport and have a chance to be a state champ is great. If you can’t get it in one, you can get it in another. To have a state championship under your belt when you graduate is pretty neat. A lot of people don’t get one,” Chipman said.
“It’s special,” Boyd added. “Not everyone gets a chance to do this. We had been working a long time towards this and it makes you want to work even harder so maybe we can get another one next year.”
“It seems like all the hard work finally paid off. To be able to say you’re a state champion is pretty unique,” Frauenberger said.
Cheatham said he felt the team “… knew this was coming. If we just played our game, we knew what we could do and we would win. To me, it’s a great accomplishment.”
With Chipman being the lone senior on the team, the question was asked if the remaining four team members felt they could repeat their success in 2018.
“I think it’s possible, because we’re all going to get better,” Cheatham said.
“If you just do the math, it’s possible,” Earp said. “Even if we had taken Bear’s (Ackley’s) scores – and Bear will admit he did not play well – even if we had taken his scores, we wouldn’t have been blown away. They have a chance.”
The team members were asked how they initially developed their love for the game and all answered it was through a family member that their passion came into being.
“My grandpa took me to the course when I was younger and let me drive around on the course. One day, I gave it a try and fell in love with it,” Cheatham said.
“My dad got me into it when I was probably four or five. He put a putter in my hand then and I still love to putt,” Frauenberger said.
“I remember my uncles and cousins playing when I was little. Those were some of the best times ever, just watching everyone play and have a good time. I guess it may have been the atmosphere,” Boyd explained.
Chipman said he got into the game because of his family when he was still in elementary school.
Ackley, who had an earlier appointment, arrived at this point in the interview.
“I used to go play and kind of messed around out on the course. But then, it got fun and I stuck with it,” Ackley said.
As the first of the five Sandies to tee off on the first day of competition, Ackley was asked what his thoughts were as he addressed the ball on hole number one.
“Just don’t mess up,” Ackley said. “Try and hit the ball straight.”
“That was one of the better shots he hit,” Earp laughed.
While Ackley acknowledged his scores over the two-day competition were not the best, he took it in stride and said with a smile, “At least I wasn’t last.”
Ackley added he didn’t feel any pressure as he finished up his second round but stressed it would be a different story next year.
“The pressure will definitely be on me next year to play better so we can have a shot at repeating,” he asserted.
Earp said Ackley has a lot of skills a good player needs but that can’t be taught in golf.
“He has good hand and eye coordination. He has speed and strength. As far as his swing goes, he just needs consistency. Bear definitely has the potential to do great things on the golf course,” Earp said.
As far as the team’s chances to repeat in 2018, Ackley was reflective.
“That would be great. I know I’ll need to get better for that to happen,” he explained. “It’s going to take a lot of work on my part.”
The team was asked what advice they might give to future Sandies and Sandiettes who strive to be a state champion.
“I would tell them to keep working at it, whatever that is. If you keeping at it, sooner or later good things will happen,” Ackley said.
Chipman added, “Just keep working hard and try and get better. Maybe a state championship will come. It’s not guaranteed but if you work hard, there is a lot better chance you will have a chance to be a state champion than if you don’t.”
“Just keep working,” Boyd said. “It will be worth it.”
“Hard work, dedication and a desire to win. If you want to make it happen, it’s up to you,” Frauenberger said.
Cheatham took a more cerebral approach and said it was about a mindset. “If you put your mind to it, you can do it,” he said.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.