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FRONTENAC — A three-sport athlete at Frontenac High School, Jake Beckmann fell in love with the game of football but didn’t get quite the college offers that he was hoping for. Yet, he also realized his biggest potential was in baseball … and that’s where he will be pursuing his career at the next level.
The senior is planning on taking his talents to junior college for the next two years as he continues his academic and athletic career at Neosho County Community College.
“Honestly, I fell in love with the game of football, but offers didn’t roll my way because of my size,” said Beckmann, who has not officially signed a national letter-of-intent but has verbally committed to the Panther program. “It was kind of hard to pursue that. But I’ve played baseball for basically my whole life, and I’ve loved it too. I have the most potential in baseball.”
Beckmann’s high school baseball career was abruptly ended this spring when the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the Raiders’ season. Prior to that, Beckmann was a three-year varsity player at FHS, earning All-CNC First Team and All-Class 3A Second Team by Sports in Kansas at pitcher during his junior campaign.
“I was looking forward to showing how much I’ve improved from last season as a player,” Beckmann said. “My goal was to be First Team All-State, and I felt like I could do that. As a team, we were hoping for a very good season again. We lost a lot of pitching last year because I was the only junior that pitched last season, but we still had a lot of young talent.”
The Raiders definitely had big hopes heading into the 2020 spring season. They were coming off a CNC championship that included an 18-0 regular-season mark and a final record of 20-1. FHS suffered a 10-8 loss to Baxter Springs in the championship game of the Class 3A Regional Tournament … just missing out on a trip to state.
Beckmann was a perfect 8-0 on the mound for the Raiders, allowing eight earned runs in 33 1/3 innings of work for a 1.68 ERA. He also had 54 strikeouts compared to just 13 walks.
At the plate, he was a .452 hitter in 73 at-bats, recording four doubles, two triples, one home run, 25 RBIs and 24 runs scored.
Beckmann said the realization of not getting to fully compete his baseball career at Frontenac was tough to swallow.
“I was just shocked,” Beckmann said. “I wasn’t sad at the time, but I just couldn’t believe that it ended like that. It was devastating. I was looking forward to playing baseball. But what can you do? It is what it is, and we just have to live with it. So that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Although baseball was cut short, Beckmann was able to have a successful final season of athletics at FHS, including standout performances in football and basketball.
Last fall, Beckmann was named All-Class 3A Honorable Mention at quarterback by The Wichita Eagle after leading Frontenac to a 10-1 record and a trip to the sectional round of the Class 3A playoffs. The Raiders’ season came to an end with a 14-6 loss to Topeka-Hayden in the quarterfinals.
“As a team, we knew we’d be good with all of the seniors we had,” Beckmann said. “We had a good group. It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a sport. It went as expected as we went 10-0 going into the quarterfinal and sadly losing to a very good Topeka-Hayden team. It was just so sad that I had played football for the last time with all my friends. We wish we could have went farther.”
A two-year starter at quarterback for the Raiders, Beckmann was a two-time all-state Honorable Mention selection. He was also named First Team All-CNC as a senior. This past season, he racked up more than 1,900 yards and 25 touchdowns combined rushing and passing.
Beckmann’s success carried into basketball. A three-year varsity player, the senior was named All-CNC Honorable Mention. The Raiders finished the season at 17-6 following a 46-40 loss to Galena in the championship game of the Class 3A Galena Sub-State Tournament.
“My role was again to be one of the leaders because we had a lot of young guys,” Beckmann said. “We expected to be one of the top teams in the league, but it wouldn’t be easy because we had a target on our back. The season went pretty well. We hoped to win the league, but we lost a close game on a buzzer beater, and Galena ended up getting first and beating us in the sub-state championship. The memories that stick out are probably the practices. The practices were always fun but intense.”
Beckmann verbally committed to Neosho County for baseball on April 23 and is hoping to sign a letter-of-intent soon. The Panthers, who play in the Eastern Division of the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference, had an 11-6 record when their season was also shut down to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I knew I wanted to go to the collegiate level in either football or baseball,” Beckmann said. “So I was waiting for the possibility of offers for football. That didn’t work out, so I knew I could play baseball at the next level. I had some other schools in mind, but Neosho is a good school, and they were the first to reach out to me and show interest. I felt like it was the right fit for me.”
Outside of athletics, Beckmann has also been involved with other organizations at FHS, including Dollar Club, SAFE Team for seatbelt safety, and National Honor Society.
“Being a Frontenac Raider has meant the world,” Beckmann said. “It was probably the best time of my life, and I will miss it dearly. I’ve made so many friends and memories for a lifetime.”
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT JAKE BECKMANN …
EASTERN KANSAS SPORTS: What are some of your interests and hobbies away from school?
BECKMANN: “Some of my interests and hobbies away from school are spending time with my friends and loved ones.”
EASTERN KANSAS SPORTS: Who is your favorite athlete? Favorite sports team? Favorite music group/singer?
BECKMANN: “My favorite athlete would have to be Penny Hardaway. He was a very underrated and great basketball player. My favorite team would be the Chiefs. My favorite singer is a guy named Khalid.”
EASTERN KANSAS SPORTS: Who are the people that you look up to as far as role models?
BECKMANN: “I look up to my friends that graduated last year that went to go play collegiate sports.”
EASTERN KANSAS SPORTS: What is a fun fact about you that people may or may not know?
BECKMANN: “A fun fact about me is that I love shoes. I have a lot of them.”