Golfers face many obstacles on a golf course.
Sand traps. Rough. Bodies of water. Trees. Greens that slope or are fast or slow.
The West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy boys golf team had plenty of challenges off the course to conquer this past season and it overcame the odds each time.
The Jaguars qualified for the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 4 state tournament for the third straight year. And they came through with their best showing, taking eighth place among 18 teams at Forest Akers East Golf Course in East Lansing.
Frankel’s coaches were impressed by the team’s state tournament performance.
“To be honest, I didn’t see it coming,” said Marty Burnstein, who has been the team’s assistant coach for four years.
“I couldn’t have been prouder of the kids because of the outstanding effort they made to compete and, in my mind, succeed beyond all reasonable expectations,” said second-year coach Harrison Stackpole.
Three seniors led the way for Frankel. Jacob Martin and Jason Ernst played in the state tournament for the third year and Tyler Presser for the second year. Sophomore Joey Gordon played for the second year and sophomore Jordon Salesin played for the first year.
“Our seniors played very well in the state tournament,” Burnstein said. “They told me that was because the pressure was off. They went out there and had fun.”
The seniors missed about two weeks of the season because of their class’ traditional trip to Israel.
They also had to focus during the spring on graduation and choosing a college. Martin and Ernst are heading to the University of Michigan. Presser was awarded a full-ride scholarship to the University of Southern California.
The Jaguars weren’t able to practice at Heather Highlands, site of the regional tournament, because of scheduling issues but despite going into the regional “cold turkey,” Stackpole said, and while they were studying for final exams, they qualified for the state tournament.
Frankel almost didn’t get a chance to play in the regional. The competition was originally scheduled on a Jewish holiday but moved thanks to the efforts of Clarkston Everest Collegiate, the host school.
Once the Jaguars got to the state tournament, they again played the first of two rounds by themselves on Thursday because they wouldn’t be able to play Saturday.
“There were more rules officials than players on the course and our seniors had to be back in West Bloomfield for graduation that night, about two hours after we completed our round,” Stackpole said.
Frankel had early-morning tee times Friday morning, which meant a quick turnaround after graduation.
For all the team accomplished on the golf course this season, Burnstein said, what’s more important is the quality of young men who represented Frankel.
“It was a pleasure to coach them because they’re nice kids,” he said. “There was no drama. The guys got along well and supported each other. When they played, there was no club-throwing or swearing. Very mentsh-like behavior.”
Stackpole thanked Frankel Athletic Director Rick Dorn and Assistant Athletic Director Mike Lollo, the members and professional staff at Knollwood County Club (the Jaguars’ home course), the MHSAA, parents of players, and seniors Cole Levine and Garrett Smith for their contributions to the Jaguars’ success.
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Here’s how the Frankel Jewish Academy boys golf team fared in its three consecutive trips to the MHSAA Division 4 state tournament:
Finish: 12th place among 15 teams
Course: The Meadows, Allendale
Aidan Folbe 82-89 — 171
Jason Ernst 88-97 — 185
Jacob Martin 95-97 — 192
Matt Ernst 103-90 — 193
Spencer Schafer 95-99 — 194
Finish: 12th place among 15 teams
Course: Forest Akers West, East Lansing
Jacob Martin 86-96 — 182
Jason Ernst 84-99 — 183
Matt Ernst 87-101 — 188
Tyler Presser 95-103 — 198
Joey Gordon 111-107 — 218
Finish: 8th place among 18 teams
Course: Forest Akers East, East Lansing
Jacob Martin 83-78 — 161
Jason Ernst 80-88 — 168
Jordon Salesin 96-83 — 179
Tyler Presser 93-89 — 182
Joey Gordon 88-96 — 184