JACKSON TWP. Just because you’re competing in the pool and not on the basketball court doesn’t mean you can’t rebound.
For Jackson swimming and diving, the end of the regular season brought a disappointing outcome in the biggest meet to that point. With both the Polar Bears and Hoover entering their late-January showdown unbeaten in Federal League competition, it was the Hoover Vikings who swept the boys and girls sides of the matchup to pull off the double league title feat.
First-year head coach Megan Burrows knows her team doesn’t have much time to put the Hoover loss behind it and move forward if Jackson is to continue its tournament success of recent years.
"The team understands that this sports brings wins and loses," Burrows said. "We had so many personal best times at the Jackson-Hoover dual meet which in turn gives the kids a lot of confidence going into postseason. The team is very motivated to swim fast (in the) postseason."
Digesting the Hoover loss was tough, Burrows noted, but after seeing the Jackson junior varsity swimmers perform well at their championship meet, their varsity counterparts are eager to chase postseason success.
"The team is excited and ready to go. At JV championships, the kids saw how their teammates performed and got even more excited for their postseason swims," Burrows said.
There are plenty of familiar faces out to set the pace for the Polar Bears and with a lot of younger swimmers on the roster, competitors like Nick Dye (50 freestyle and breaststroke), Sean Ream (100 and 200 freestyle), Josh Fehlman (freestyle), Olivia Ferrante (backstroke and butterfly), Juliette Hooper (200 and 500 freestyle) and Leanna Myers (individual medley and breaststroke) have a chance to add to their respective stories of past postseason success.
All, Burrows noted, have had strong senior seasons in the pool and also done a solid job of leading their teams. In the wake of the losses to Hoover, both Jackson teams could have allowed the defeats to rattle them, but getting beyond defeats and getting back on track is a trait athletes thrive upon and the postseason will be Jackson’s chance to show what it learned from its recent adversity.
Burrows and her coaching staff want to see their athletes continue to invest in their training and believe that the approach they’ve taken all season long will lead them where they want to go if they continue to compete.
"The coaches encourage everyone to trust the process and the taper will pay off," Burrows said. "Our upperclassman and veterans remind and provide lots of positive advice and encouragement to the swimmers experiencing the postseason for the first time."
Banking on their training to this point is another way to reduce postseason anxiety, as swimmers can lean on what they know and as they taper their training to be at full strength for the sectional meet, it’s a waiting game in which work and rest have to be balanced well.
While the freestyle events feature some of the bigger names on the roster, Burrows is confident that Jackson can advance swimmers out of the sectional meet in many events, which would set the Polar Bears up well for the district meet and give them a chance to send multiple competitors to the state meet later this month. If Jackson can achieve those goals, the Hoover losses will still sting, but they won’t be the final memory the Polar Bears take from the season.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB