Hard work guides Cardinals' Chrencik to medallist performance
Joey Chrencik knows a little something about hard work.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston freshman has dedicated most of his summers growing up to getting better at playing golf. From the Gaylord Area Junior Golf Association to the PGA Junior league to private lessons with Treetops Resort pro Joe Charles, Chrencik has gained some experience.
That experience definitely paid off Tuesday.
Chrencik shot an 11-over-par 47 to take top medallist honors in only his second-ever North Woods Golf Conference match at Summit Golf Course at Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire.
"It feels awesome," the freshman said. "I never thought I'd get this far in my golf career – not that I really have a career – but I never thought I'd actually do that (win a match).
"I just keep trying and trying to get better each time I'm out there."
Mancelona won the match with a team score of 235. J-L took second with 239, while Rogers City finished in third place with 250.
J-L's Max Roberts tied for fourth place individually by shooting 49, followed by Joe Bush in eighth with 62, Blake Harrington in 12th with 71 and PJ Bucy in 14th with 76.
"Joey was consistent today, and he putted better than he did last week," said J-L coach Curt Chrencik, who is also Joey's father. "He hit his short irons inside 100 yards and was making good shots. He struggled off the tee. He had a couple of holes he could have improved on, but inside 100 yards, that was his strong point.
"It's exciting for him to get first place. I'm certainly proud of him and excited for his future."
Joey Chrencik said the highlight of the day came on the sixth hole when he shot for birdie, but his 10-foot putt fell just 2 inches shy of the cup.
"Only two inches more, and I make that shot," he said. "That's the difference between a guy like Jordan Spieth and an above-average golfer who isn't a pro yet.
"But today I was just more focused. I thought about it more in-depth when I went through all my strokes, and it just worked out in the end."
The Cardinals return to action Tuesday, April 25 when they compete in a conference match hosted by the Alanson/Pellston co-op team.
It's a sure bet Joey Chrencik will be relying on his previous hard work to guide his performance next week, too.
"Definitely, it has paid off," he said. "You can't just go out there and hit a golf ball. It just doesn't happen like that. If you work and work and work, sooner or later, it'll pay off and you'll do better."
Johannesburg-Lewiston junior PJ Bucy said he was nervous because he had never played a round of golf quite like that one before.
The Cardinals' boys golf team opened the season by playing in a four-team North Woods Golf Conference match Wednesday at Wildwood Lakes Golf Course in Wolverine.
The outing marked the first-ever MHSAA-sanctioned round in school history for J-L, which was an independent club a year ago.
"That's the first time I got to compete with someone other than my friends," Bucy said. "When I first went out, I was a little nervous, but I got to talking with the competitor from Wolverine I got to go one-on-one against, and I got to see how he played, and he got to see how I played, and then I calmed down. That was fun."
Freshman Joey Chrencik led the Cardinals by carding 16-over-par 51 to finish in second place in his very first high school match.
J-L's Max Roberts shot 68, while Bucy and Bush each recorded 69s.
Wolverine's Collin Olds was 11-over to become the medallist.
"This is an accomplishment in itself," said J-L coach Curt Chrencik, who helped start the program last spring. "Mark Peppin and I both took the kids up there. Just knowing we got this program rolling and have kids involved is exciting.
"Most of these kids wouldn't be playing any other sports right now or be involved in other things, so getting them out here is key and so is getting them experience in the game. It's pretty monumental, and we just look at it like a way to get the kids out playing golf."
Rogers City and the Alanson/Pellston co-op team also sent individual golfers to compete in the conference opener.
When the Cardinals started their program a year ago, they played an abbreviated schedule with matches at Treetops North.
That will be their home course this season as well.
"I think it's an awesome thing that we're into (the MHSAA) this year, and we can play in the playoffs," said Bucy, a second-year golfer. "Treetops being our home course, I think that's awesome of them. It's just great that us players can get out there and compete and just get the experience. It's low cost and no cost, basically.
"I think it's just awesome."
The Cardinals return to action when they compete in a NWGC match at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 18 at Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire.
Long wait: Cardinals set to play in first MHSAA-sanctioned season
JOHANNESBURG – There's one achievement you can't take away from Joey Chrencik.
"I'm the first-ever freshman golfer for Joburg Schools," he proudly touted Tuesday following the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys golf team's match in Bellaire.
That is correct.
J-L has joined the North Woods Golf Conference, alongside the likes of St. Mary, Mancelona, Alanson/Pellston, Rogers City, Wolverine and Inland Lakes, and it'll play MHSAA-sanctioned matches for the first time in program history.
The Cardinals had played as only a club team the past two seasons – competing in mostly scrimmages against themselves and sometimes St. Mary.
"I've thought about this so much," Chrencik said. "I was talking to my dad about it awhile ago, and I remember being like, 'Does Joburg have a golf team?' when I was thinking about going to school here.
"So we started a golf club when I was in the seventh-grade. We had a bunch of great people who joined it, and it was so much fun. Then one day my dad told me, 'We'll take this team to the MHSAA and make it an official golf team.' And now it has finally happened, and, oh my gosh, I can't believe that this day is here, to be a freshman and getting to play against other schools and teams."
Chrencik's father, of course, is J-L principal Curt Chrencik, who coaches the team and has helped get it off the ground. The Cardinals also have Mark Peppin as an assistant.
J-L hopes to be competitive in its first year of MHSAA play. But the players are also looking to improve their game in each match.
"People who know me know that I'm pretty competitive," Coach Chrencik said. "It's a balance for me knowing that it's our first year and wanting to be competitive. But more so, I feel that this is such a great group of kids, and the boys are just good people.
"I find enjoyment in that more than anything because we can teach them golf and enjoy them as people. As Mark and I really start to help them get better individually, they get more confident and better as a team, and it's going to be a snowball effect as a team."
This year's team features Joey Chrencik, the team's only freshman, who took first place in only his second-ever match Tuesday in Bellaire, as well as juniors PJ Bucy, TJ Long, Blake Harrington, Joe Bush and lone senior, Max Roberts.
Through two matches, Coach Chrencik has been impressed with how his players have scored.
"Each of the kids get better as the rounds go on," he said. "This last match, we started to get more consistent and hit the ball straighter and get more contact. That was our big goal.
"When we started, we went out and we said, 'Go out and try to hit the ball consistently and make good swings.' They really have done that. All over them were very pleased with the progress they've made throughout the last match. All of them left very happy."
What has also made the team happy is a chance to finally compete against someone other than themselves, something they've been forced to do as a club the past two seasons.
"Everyone is so nice from the other schools," Joey Chrencik said. "There are sports that people trash talk in, like football and basketball, or sports where they think they're more macho than everyone. In golf, it's not about who's stronger or faster. It's about thinking what you can get out of situations.