Having high expectations is easy. Meeting those expectations is much tougher, but that hasn't stopped the Jackson bowling teams from posting a combined 17-1 mark to start their respective seasons.
The girls team, with a 9-0 record and an impressive string of wins that includes a season-opening triumph over a state qualifier from last season (Springfield), has been paced by seniors Autumn Heaton and Taylor Sturm. The duo have dominated on the lanes and led a team with a good balance of upperclassmen and young bowlers on the rise.
"We have two seniors who started varsity as freshmen and they have been to state three times, so we have depth and experience," head coach Jon Mazur said.
Juniors Shandra Letcavitz and Jenna Fries have filled the two spots in the lineup behind Heaton and Sturm, with sophomore Melanie Snier rounding out the starting five. For Mazur, the success of his first five bowlers stems directly from the depth and internal competition the team has on a daily basis.
Having talented depth forces each member of the team to compete for a spot in the lineup and to decide who will claim the eighth spot on the varsity roster for a given match or tournament, there is a weekly roll-off.
"Our kids put in more time in offseason and most of them bowl in leagues year round," Mazuer said. "We're starting to see the results. We really nine girls that could bowl varsity and we can only take eight to tournaments. They're not in competition just at matches. They compete in practices and each week, someone different has been bowling with JV."
A win over Canton Central Catholic pushed the Polar Bears to 9-0, with Sturm leading the way with a high game of 246. Heaton also topped 200 with a high game of 205, giving the team its ninth straight win and plenty of momentum nearing the midway point of the season.
The boys team topped off a winning day with their own triumph over the Crusaders to boost their record to 8-1.
Seniors Corey Liebau and Andrew Smith are the team's top scorers, fronting a lineup that includes Cole Skelley, Hunter Shelton and Vinny Yacano. Mazur and coach Alan McQuaid direct the team and knew entering the year that the Polar Bears had a chance to construct a successful campaign.
"Last year, we only had one senior bowler and finished right around .500, so we knew coming into this season that we were going to be good," Mazur said. "Coach McQuaid and I thought they would really be improved."
Despite its lack of experience, last year's team finished strong and set the stage for this year's success.
The Polar Bears' lone loss came on Nov. 18, when Anthony Inzetta rolled a score of 579 for the Hoover, staking the Vikings to an insurmountable lead in a 3,032-2,987 victory.
Page 2 of 2 - The defeat has proven to be just a blip on the radar to this point, as Jackson has not lost since.
"We've been rolling since then, winning every match," Mazur said.
Both teams have been able to cope with the high expectations placed upon them, Mazur said, because they have been in pressure spots before, both as a team and bowling individually during the offseason. Reaching their goal of a trip to the state tournament will require more of the same from two squads that have shown their ability to cope with the pressure.