Cardinals' Joey Chrencik picks Alma for golf; reflects on high school career
JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston senior Joey Chrencik, one of the area’s top high school golfers, recently committed to Alma College to extend his golf career.
Like thousands of other high school senior athletes across the country, Chrencik was unable to compete in spring sports this year due to COVID-19.
Chrencik, also a key member of the Cardinals basketball team, started playing golf at a young age when his father introduced him to the game.
“I live on the Michaywe course, so I used to chip and putt out there all the time and practice all the time,” Chrencik said. “My dad got me into the sport. I was always surrounded with the golf setting, and I just fell in love with it, was doing decent at it, and just kept playing. I’ve just been surrounding myself with it and engaging with it.”
Golf and basketball are two very different sports physically and mentally. Chrencik said one of the key challenges in golf is having to deal with the consequences of every shot. There’s nowhere to hide after a poor shot.
“It’s a different mind set (between the two sports),” he said. “With basketball if you get frustrated you miss a shot you can always do better on defense. There are two sides of the ball. But in golf, you hit a shot and watch it as it flies into the woods, you then have the feeling of ‘how am I going to get out of this?’ The basketball mindset is ‘I can do better in some aspect of the game,’ but in golf, you always have to do better on your next shot.”
Even though golf in high school is played on a team, it is still one of the most individual sports the Michigan High School Athletic Association has to offer. That juxtaposition was sometimes a challenge for Chrencik.
“The season itself was great,” Chrencik said of his junior golf season. “I get along with the entire team. In my mind I’ve been trying to get to the collegiate level, trying to get (college coaches) to pay attention to me, so I was taking it more seriously than some of my teammates. I had to find a balance between the two, which was probably the most difficult thing for me to overcome.”
If you polled golfers throughout the country, asking them their opinion on some of the best locations for golf, Gaylord might not be a prominent answer. But the Gaylord area is rich with golf courses, blessed with natural undulation and forestation.
In many ways, golf was made for the spring. Golfers are told from an early age to always move forward, every hole is a new hole. The best golfers in the world move forward instead of dwelling on mistakes made on previous holes.
The spring is a fresh start after a long winter — especially in Northern Michigan where it snows into April — which makes the two an ideal pair.
But boys golf wasn’t always in the spring. Up until 2007, boys golf was played in the fall, where the weather became unpredictable for the biggest events (regionals and state finals).
Boys golf in Michigan was moved to the spring after a lawsuit claimed major girls sports like volleyball and basketball were at a disadvantage in Michigan from a recruiting standpoint because they were played in different seasons from a majority of the country.
The move was well before Chrencik and the current wave of boys golf stars took to the course, but it has had an impact on all high school golfers and golf courses.
Last spring, Chrencik and his Cardinals teammates competed at Treetops: Tradition course in the regionals. The top three teams and the top three individuals from non state-qualifying teams qualify for the state finals tournament.
Designed by Rick Smith in 1997, the Tradition course is the most walker-friendly of the four 18-hole courses on the resort. But it is still a difficult test featuring plenty of undulation.
Chrencik shot an 84 last year in regionals. As he waited for the rest of the scores to be posted on the board, it was starting to become increasingly evident a playoff could take place for the final individual spot at the state finals tournament.
The Cardinals were not in the running for team qualification, but Chrencik finished regionals tied for third place with Mackinaw City’s Kal O’Brien. That meant a playoff for the final spot was set to take place.
Chrencik and O’Brien headed to the Tradition’s 10th hole, a relatively short, downhill par 5. The ninth hole is a straight uphill par 3. Players can barely see the green from the tee box as they try to hit a mid-to-low iron close to the pin.
The 10th hole gradually works players back down the slope with a birdie opportunity before a difficult 11th hole. But with state finals qualification on the line, the 10th hole likely did not seem inviting for Chrencik and O’Brien as they stood on the tee box.
“This was the roughest payoff match,” Chrencik said. “I won the coin flip and teed off first. I hit it about 280 yards down the fairway and it just slightly rolled into the rough. My opponent hit it 260 yards down the fairway.
“He then hit his second shot to three feet and made his eagle putt. I got a good clip on my second shot and the ball went over the green. I chipped on and lost after his terrific second shot.”
Losing a playoff is never easy for any golfer. Sometimes players can be eased when their opponent hits a spectacular shot or makes a long putt, but Chrencik was disappointed it even came down to a playoff in the first place.
“The part of it that doesn’t ease it was on the 15th hole of the regulation 18. I had a five foot putt for birdie, and I left it short,” Chrencik said. “That brought me up to an 84 instead of an 83. If I could have made that putt, then I wouldn’t have had to (win the playoff) in the first place.”
While Chrencik was disappointed not to compete in the state finals, he did enjoy a terrific junior season, and will now get to continue his development as a talented golfer at Alma.
Chrencik, Cardinals wins first-ever NWGC championship
In just its third season as an MHSAA-sanctioned team, Johannesburg-Lewiston is the North Woods Golf Conference champion.
What’s more, the Cardinals’ No. 1 golfer, Joey Chrencik, finally got a monkey off his by becoming the league’s individual champion, after losing the title to Gaylord St. Mary’s Ryan Meisner during a playoff one year ago.
J-L scored 417 as a team to win the NWGC title Thursday at The Summit at Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire, beating seven other teams, including the Snowbirds, who shot 488 for sixth place.
“We played well, and (assistant) Mark Peppin and I were talking to each kid ahead of time,” said J-L coach Curt Chrencik, Joey’s father. “We just kept reassuring the kids that it’s a marathon, not a sprint today. We kept reminding them, from hole 7, 11 and 14. We told them that every hole counts, and that’s what we tried to do. And the kids just responded well.”
Chrencik carded 7-over-par 78 to become the individual medalist, shooting 11 shots better than Mackinaw City’s Kal O’Brien, the league’s runner-up. St. Mary’s Tristan Glasby, who edged Chrencik during a regular-season match Monday, shot 93 for third place individually.
It was only Chrencik’s third 18-hole competitive match this spring.
“He really played well and solid,” Coach Chrencik said. “He kept it up mentally for 5 1/2 hours. To shoot 78, he put a stamp on (winning the title) that way, which was great for him. To win by 11 strokes, that’s just putting the exclamation point on it, which was really cool to see. To see him win the individual conference title and contributing to us winning the team conference title, it was just an awesome day.”
Ezra Gascho shot 96 to help the Cardinals, who also relied on Joe Perry (115) and Zeek Lindbert (128). J-L also got help from Keegan Kellogg (129) and Joe Hoy (130).
“They fought through their struggles and come out on top in the end,” Coach Chrencik said. “We ended up winning the team title with everyone contributing.”
“Joe Perry really stepped up for us, and he’s been our No. 4. He shot a 55 on the front, which was his best round of the year. Him shooting 115 was just as important as Joey’s score.”
“Him stepping up was great as was Ezra shooting 96. Those guys tore it up today.”
Helping Glasby and the Snowbirds were Johne Burkhardt (128), Claire Gilling (133), Mac Milne (134) and Brooke Stevens (149).
Up next for both J-L and St. Mary is the Division 4 regional Wednesday, May 29, at The Tradition at Treetops North.
Glasby, Chrencik gearing up for much-anticipated NWGC Championships
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times
If Monday’s North Woods Golf Conference match at The Tradition at Treetops North is any indicator, Thursday’s championship in Bellaire should be an exciting finish.
Gaylord St. Mary’s Tristan Glasby and Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Joey Chrencik each shot 8-over-par 43 to tie for first place, so, based on league rules, a handicap tiebreaker gave the actual medalist honors to Glasby, a sophomore who will be vying for an individual conference title Thursday.
The Snowbirds have won the past two individual titles thanks to Noah Kole and Ryan Meisner. Glasby, who is in his third season with the Snowbirds, could give them the three-peat, especially with the way he’s playing to round out the regular season.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” he said. “Joey and I, in the past couple of matches, have fought it out. He’s always done just a little bit better than me. So for me to come out on top, it feels good.”
“But I’ll have to work hard at the (NWGC Championships) to be up there with Joey and maybe beat him. It’s really nice, though, when you’re the youngest kid out there, and you’re up there placing with the older kids.”
As a freshman, Chrencik battled Kole for the title but ultimately fell short during a rain-delayed match at Michaywe Pines. And then last year, as a sophomore, he lost to Meisner during a playoff.
So now’s Chrencik’s time to get that monkey off his back, edge Glasby and a couple of other golfers in the league and claim that title.
“I’m excited for him,” said J-L coach Curt Chrencik, Joey’s father. “The kid has been working hard. I just hope he plays like I know he can play. You hope for that out of all your players.”
“But for him, he’s suffered a couple of tough losses to some good players and good people. He’s set himself up for this. It’s just a matter of finishing the race and playing well like he knows he can.
“At this point, for him, it has nothing to do with his physicalness or with his swing. He has the ability to shoot in the 70s. It’s just a matter of mentally being there, and I think he’s ready, and he will do well.”
Glasby said he’ll contest with Chrencik by playing it safe.
“It’s just about knowing the game, where to hit your approach shots,” he said. “When some people think they should get on the green or go over the bunker, I know it’s smarter to go around the bunker and take safe routes instead of risking the extra stroke or two.”
Of course, up for grabs will be a team title as well, and the Cardinals look poised to capture it.
They placed first during Monday’s match, finishing with a score of 208 as a team.
While Zeek Lindbert (60), Joe Perry (61), Keegan Kellogg (62) and Joe Hoy (63) helped that cause, Ezra Gascho shot 44 to take third individually and show he’s still a golfer on the rise this spring.
“In the last couple of outings, he’s really played well,” Coach Chrencik said. “Someone who has really been showing (improvement) has been Ezra, and he’s just kept it play, kept it in the middle and kept it out of trouble. His scores reflect it. I expect big things out of him (during the NWGC Championships) and for the next few years to come as he’s just a sophomore.”
Mancelona carded 236 for second place, while Wolverine didn’t have enough golfers to score as a team.
The Snowbirds shot 241 for third. Their squad of young golfers will have a tough time winning their first championship without former coach Jerry Kole and their host of past stars who have since graduated, but anything could happen since it’ll be the first 18-hole match most of the golfers in the conference will be playing this season.
Helping Glasby were Johne Burkhardt (57), Mac Milne (67), Megan Loffer (73), Brooke Stevens (74) and Claire Gilling (75).
“Pressure, yeah, there’s just a little bit of it,” Glasby said. “Since (last year’s senior-laden team) isn’t here anymore, I have a lot of big shoes to fill to help lead my team. So, hopefully, I’ll put some work in and make it happen for us."
J-L Golf News
The J-L Golf team kept their conference championship hopes alive by winning their four team match on 5/16 shooting a team score 204. Joey Chrencik took first place with a one over par 37, Ezra Gascho 6th with a 52 and Joe Perry 12th with a 57.
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By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times
The weather hasn't been great, but those extra practice rounds are paying off for Joey Chrencik.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston junior shot 1-over-par 37 to become the individual medalist Thursday at Rogers City Country Club. The Cardinals carded 204 as a team to beat the host Hurons, Gaylord St. Mary and Fairview in the North Woods Golf Conference match.
"We've been talking about how he makes about two swings during the course of the round that put him in a bit of trouble," said J-L coach Curt Chrencik, Joey's father. "So we talked to him about not making a couple of those swings that add three or four strokes to his score and put him in the low 40s vs. the high 30s.
"He had maybe one trouble swing today. Other than that, he put himself on the green, around the green and made pars. He was consistent, and he's been working hard."
Coach Chrencik said Joey has stayed after practice to walk an extra nine or 18 holes. He's also worked on the weekends when the team doesn't have practice or an invitational it's competing in.
"He's really focused, and he has taken it on himself to be a steward of the game," Coach Chrencik said. "It's really paying off."
Also scoring for the Cardinals, who battled tough weather early on, were Ezra Gascho with 52, Joe Perry with 57, Zeek Lindbert and Keegan Kellogg each with 58 and Joe Hoy with 64.
"It was cold and raining," Coach Chrencik said. "An hour in, the sun tried to kick out, and it got better as it went on. We were supposed to play at 4 p.m., but we bumped it to 1 p.m. to beat the storm. But that's what everyone in northern Michigan is playing through. Just crappy, cold weather. You just have to muscle through it."
Tristan Glasby shot 48 to place third individually and lead the Snowbirds, who shot 234 as a team and took third place. Johne Burkhardt shot 53, followed by Megan Loffer with 64, Mac Milne with 70 and Brooke Stevens with 74.
Chrencik takes 1st, Cardinals soar at NWGC match
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times
Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Joey Chrencik carded 4-over-par 40 to become the individual medalist during a North Woods Golf Conference match Tuesday at Michaywe Pines.
The Cardinals shot 211 as a team to tie for first place with Inland Lakes, while Mackinaw City shot 213 for third and St. Mary shot 232 for fourth.
Also helping J-L were Ezra Gascho (51 strokes), Zeek Lindbert (54), Joe Hoy (66), Keegan Kellogg (66) and Joe Perry (68).
Mackinaw City’s shot 43 for second individually, but St. Mary’s Tristan Glasby finished with 47 for third. Other Snowbirds golfing were Johne Burkhardt with 53, Mac Milne with 63, Claire Gilling with 69 and Brooke Stevens with 80.
J-L Golf News
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times
If it weren’t for St. Mary’s Noah Kole and Meisner, Chrencik would have been the NWGC individual champion by now. And it’s not going to get any easier for the J-L junior to win the crown this season either. He’ll have a target on his back, especially after everyone saw him take Meisner to a three-hole playoff to determine who was last year’s top golfer in the conference. Last spring alone, Chrencik was the individual medalist during three matches, placed top 20 in his regional and was the No. 1 scorer in the regular season in his conference. Hopefully, for him and the Cardinals, he can have another successful season and get that monkey off his back by winning it all in the NWGC. But St. Mary’s Glasby will be gunning for him as will a host of newcomers in the league. Perhaps this could be J-L’s year to win the league title, too. They lost PJ Bucy and Joe Bush to graduation, but they bring back four from last year’s squad. Aside from Chrencik, a second-teamer on our 2018 Dream Team, they return sophomore Ezra Gascho, who was probably the Cardinals’ highest riser by season’s end, sophomore Zeek Lindbert and junior Casandra Baur. A pair of juniors in Racheal Galehouse and Chloe House join the team this time around as well as freshmen Joe Hoy, Keegan Kellogg and Joe Perry (that’s three Joe's for Joburg this spring). Back in the golf carts again are coach Curt Chrencik and assistant Mark Peppin.
2019 Johannesburg-Lewiston Golf Roster