Frankfort High’s boys golf team took an unorthodox approach to preparing for the 1A state tournament last month. Head coach Brian Ebert and his team of six slept in their own beds, stayed indoors and went to the library in the 24 hours before heading to Salina.
Then they went out and claimed the first state championship in school history in boys’ golf.
The downpours in Kansas threw a wrench in the gears of most of the outdoor state championships in May, and Ebert’s team was no different.
“We started out playing on Monday the 20th,” Ebert told The Mercury. “Two of our six kids had completed six holes, two of them five and two of them had four before they postponed it. Then we waited to see if we were going to go back out and we never did. It was finally moved to Tuesday, but I had this intuition that we probably weren’t going to play Tuesday.”
So Ebert and the rest of the team — seniors Brandon Anderson and Josh Tynon, junior Brandon Bussman, sophomores Aiden Gerstner and Gavin Cornelison and freshman Joey Hardwick — went home.
They woke up at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning to prepare to go back to Salina and resume, but it was postponed to Wednesday. Frankfort, and all the other schools competing, had no way of practicing outdoors. But the Wildcats had options.
“In our library we have carpet, so we’d get out golf balls and putt around our library,” Ebert said. “We’d do some things — it’s not like we were just sitting around stagnant. But it’s not ideal practice.”
Prior to the 2019 season, Ebert said he felt he had a team that could finish in the top three at state. The Wildcats took runner-up honors at the state championship last year, but they lost two key players and needed others to step up. Gerstner and Bussman delivered in a huge way at state, shooting 77 and 79, respectively. With two players placing top 10 while Tynon and Anderson shot 88 and 92, Frankfort combined for a team score of 336, beating second-place Osborne by four strokes.
While Ebert said he always was confident in his team, he wasn’t sure what issues the rain and the delays might create.
“You just don’t know how a kid who is 16, 17, 18 years old, how they are going to react to the situation? I’ll be honest, I wasn’t excited that we were playing. Sand Greens (and Classes) 2A, 4A, and 6A all had moved to the following week,” Ebert said. “I just felt like, ‘Why are we trying to push 1A, 3A and 5A through when everybody else gets to sit out?’”
Ebert and the team saw the large collection of standing water in the fields on their way to Salina. Fortunately for all the teams playing, the weather remained fairly calm, and there only were small amounts of standing water between the holes and in the fairway, Ebert said.
Closing strongly on the back nine, Ebert and his team experienced history together once they saw their final score held up.
“I don’t know if staying home and being in their own beds got their mind frame and everything set back to where they needed to, but going into Wednesday after having so many holes in, I think we were sitting at fifth place and ended up coming back and winning the title,” Ebert said. “The kids were elated, and so was I.”