Two years ago, the Jackson girls bowling team fell just short of perfection.
This season, the Polar Bears are once again on the trail of an unbeaten season. With an 11-0 record and 9-0 mark in Federal League play, the team is rolling toward the postseason with confidence and momentum.
"It's been more of the same," head coach Jon Mazur said. "The kids work hard in practice and it's carrying over to matches. We have a
good mix of experienced and younger players."
The unquestioned leaders on the lanes for Jackson are seniors Taylor Sturm and Autumn Heaton. The duo average nearly 400 pins per game
combined and are four-year varsity starters who have been models for consistency.
"Taylor was Stark County bowler of the year as a sophomore and Autumn was the Federal League bowler of the year as a junior and they really feed off each other," Mazur said. "It's great because they really compete with each other."
That internal competition has been a factor in keeping the entire team sharp, Mazur noted, but even the team's leading scorer needs a little
help from time to time. Sturm, who averages 212 pins per game and 206 in Federal League play, made a small adjustment to her technique three weeks ago and the change has paid off.
"We made an adjustment to Taylor's game a few weeks ago," Mazur said. "She was coming more over the top and we changed it so she's staying behind it a little bit more. She was turning the ball and we wanted her to roll it more."
Sturm admitted that she was initially skeptical of changing her approach because she was comfortable with her old style of rolling. Still, she knew that being willing to adapt could be the difference between a good season and a great one. At Mazur's urging, she changed the position of her elbow and the impact was immediate. She began rolling in the 230s and recorded a high game of 261 in the next match against St. Thomas Aquinas.
"It was tough because I liked my old style, but it was a huge improvement," Sturm said. "He (Mazur) was amazed and I rolled a 509 (series) against St. Thomas."
While the adjustment was small, it is the attention to detail the Polar Bears believe will set them apart in the latter stages of the
season. Mazur and his bowlers don't talk about going undefeated or setting any records, but they hold a trip to Columbus and a spot at the top of the leaderboard as their ultimate goal. Parents and fans can talk about an undefeated season, Mazur added, but the team is determined not to overlook any opponent.
Sturm is excited about the chance to reach the state tournament for a fourth straight year and has assumed the role of wise veteran for her
Page 2 of 2 - younger teammates. Her most frequent reminder to the team's underclassmen is to not get down mentally when they make mistakes because they can bounce back in their next frame. Maintaining a positive mindset is one of the factors Sturm believes will lead the team to its ultimate goals.
"Our goal to win the Federal League and to make it to states again," Sturm said. "That would be amazing and to make it all four years with
so many different bowlers."