JACKSON TWP. With a few matches under their belts, the Jackson boys and girls bowling teams have shown plenty of reasons to be excited about what lies ahead.
Head coach Michael Cochran, who took over the program prior to last season, has a mix of experiences varsity bowlers and newcomers on the lanes and is optimistic about the rest of the schedulde for the Polar Bears.
"I know for the boys team they’re really excited. Oliver Miday is coaching them and they're off to a good start," Cochran said. "At the Stark County kickoff tournament, the boys were seeded eighth in second round and they faced and were able to eliminate eliminated Triway, which was seeded higher, in the second round."
Cochran said the boys showed a lot of progress in that tournament and continued that progress in a win against Sandy Valley, one in which the coach said tough lane conditions made for a difficult day for everyone.
One of the scoring leaders for the boys in the early going had been senior Jared Tallman, who rolled a 700 series to finish in the top five at the Ravenna Invitational. Fellow senior Brian Hasler has also been strong and Tallman’s younger brother Kyle has also been making a push for playing time as well. Cochran also pointed to senior Tristan Siglock as a potential X-factor for the boys and a potential difference maker if he can become a consistent scorer over the course of the season.
The girls team is a veteran-led group, but ironically one with just a single senior.
Melissa Backich spent two years on the junior varsity roster, but as a senior will be in the mix for the varsity and seeking to provide a veteran presence along with a group of experienced juniors.
Alicia Yacono and Kailey Bonniwell have been strong contributors over the past two seasons and as juniors, they look to continue their strong roll.
Cochran noted that the Polar Bears enjoy competing in tournaments such as the ones in which they’ve taken part this season, but the impending start of Federal League competition is always a welcome portion of the schedule.
"The kids like going to the tournaments and battling some of those tough teams, but when you share lanes with teams like GlenOak and Lake and we see them every week at practice, that local completion really drives our kids."
Cochran also pointed to Perry, a frequent state tournament qualifier in recent seasons, as another big entry on the slate. As a Perry alumnus, he knows the program’s tradition well and because the Panthers have had the upper hand on Jackson the past few seasons, having a chance to flip the script and gain a win over a team they know will be a threat in the postseason is enticing for the Polar Bears.
With the holiday tournament season also approaching, now is a time when teams typically get a good feel for where they stand and what their potential is for the rest of the year.
"As a head coach what I look at there is you want the kids be challenged and also, how can I line this person up and give them the best chance to succeed," Cochran said. "In terms of timing, those tournaments are about halfway through season, so they’re a good checkpoint to see where we’re at."
The overarching goal is a trip to the state tournament and a chance to earn a state championship, but for now, it’s all about rolling one strong frame after another and setting up the potential for a winning finish.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB