DUNCAN — Six members of Oklahoma Christian School's boys golf team stood on the green at Duncan Golf and Tennis Club smiling for their families' cameras.
For the first time in four years, OCS was the runner-up in the state tournament. Plainview won the Class 3A title with a three-round score of 896, and OCS was 29 strokes behind for second.
The OCS golfers didn't hang their heads at finishing second. They had a lot to celebrate.
There was Jack Lemon, who had won a regional title.
There was Zac Schaefer. He pushed Plainview's Trae Wilkins to a three-hole sudden death playoff, which Wilkins won with a birdie to claim the 3A individual title.
There was Ethan Smith, who ended his three rounds as one of the top 10 individuals at 225, and Chase Dewey and Trey Hoehner, who both shot 272 for the tournament.
So who is OCS' sixth man?
Sam Holland. He's a sophomore transfer who played on the varsity his freshman year at Crossings Christian School in Oklahoma City. Due to his transfer, he wasn't eligible to play varsity this year.
On Tuesday, he stood on the green smiling with his best friends looking like a happy teammate who'd just earned a medal.
Except he didn't have one. On April 15, after a bout with severe headaches, he went to have an MRI.
His dad later told him in the car that he had a brain tumor. He was rushed to the Children's Hospital and scheduled for surgery, where doctors removed a tennis-ball-sized tumor from of the left side of Holland's head.
Six days later, he was released from the hospital and began therapy to work on regaining his strength and relearning how to swallow. All that remains is a five-inch scar that contours to the ridge of his ear and then juts straight down his neck. Most of it is hidden by his brown hair.
OCS wasn't even sure that Holland would be physically ready to make the state tournament, but the players asked him to come as their assistant coach.
“For five or six days, I knew he was making progress, so I talked to his mom first to see if there was any chance,” first-year OCS coach Tosh Hays said. “He was still being strong. He is a part of this team. It was great having him here. He's an unbelievable young man.”
Holland still tires quickly. By 3 p.m. on Tuesday, after Schaefer's sudden death holes ended, Holland said he was exhausted. He wasn't complaining though. This was the first time in three weeks he saw his friends.
“It was a blast,” he said.
Holland already was cleared to play golf too.
“I went on Friday and played 18 holes,” he said. “It's a little different. I don't have the strength yet.”
Yet on Tuesday, there he was in the state runner-up photo. His team made sure he was right next to the trophy.
“Sam being here was everything,” Hays said. “Golf is great and it's great to have a passion for the things you're committed to, but Sam reminded us that there are more important things.”