BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
With multiple invitational wins and a 17th-place showing at the state meet, the boys cross country team turned in another successful season. The Polar Bears won the Dave Clegg Invitational, inaugural Jackson Invitational and Andrews Osborne Academy Invitational and placed third at the Federal League championship meet.
Led by seniors Sam Craig and Jaylon Grimes, Jackson battled its way through one of the toughest district meets and regional meets in the state to qualify for the state meet in Mason. At the state meet, the team’s top six runners all broke 17 minutes and finished in two packs of three, with each trio crossing the finish line within 15 seconds of one another.
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
A season marked by injuries and challenges still produced positive results for the Polar Bears, who ran most of the season without standout senior Kayla Chapman due to a hip injury. Sophomore Shira Weiner also missed time late in the season due to injury, but the team was still able to post a win at the Andrews Osborne Academy Invitational and second-place results at the Dave Clegg Invitational and inaugural Jackson Invitational.
At the district meet at Malone University, the Polar Bears finished fifth as a team, but they were unable to advance beyond the regional level to extend their string of consecutive state meet appearances. A third-place finish at the Federal League championship meet despite missing its top two runners was yet another high point for the squad.
With a 7-4 overall record and 4-2 mark in Federal League play, the Polar Bears snapped a 12-year playoff drought. The season came to a close with a 35-0 loss to St. Ignatius in the first round of the Division I, Region 1 bracket. There were plenty of highlights this season, with a six-game winning streak to start the season highlighted by victories over a playoff-bound East team, Mayfield and playoff qualifier GlenOak. The all-around games of Dillon Dingler and Jack Dear fueled the Jackson attack and junior quarterback Jaret Pallotta took big strides in his first season as a starter.
The defense made the most progress of any unit on the team, allowing 14 or fewer points in each of the team’s first six games. Offensively, Jackson scored 21 points or more nine times in 11 games.
Invitational season proved to be a productive time for the Polar Bears, who finished second at their own invitational tournament, as well as at the Aviator Invitational in Alliance and the Tannenhauf Invitational. In league competition, wins over Hoover, Perry, GlenOak and Lake were high points and with team scores of 160 or lower in even league meet, Jackson was a model of consistency throughout the season.
Once the postseason began, the Polar Bears posted a second-place finish at the Stark County Championships and a fourth-place result at the sectional tournament before bowing out of the postseason with a ninth-place finish at the district tournament at Pine Hills.
Hannah Lemons, Lauren Dauk and their teammates started the season strong, winning the Jackson Invitational in the first week of the season, defeating Hoover in their first league meet and ending the year with an 8-2 record, good for second place in the Federal League behind Green.
But it was the postseason where the Polar Bears did their best work, following a third-place result at the sectional tournament with arguably their best overall performance of the season, winning the district tournament at The Legends with a team score of 314. That qualified them for the state tournament, where they finished sixth.
Following a rebuilding season last fall, the boys soccer team roared back with a 10-4-3 regular season, a share of the league title along with Green and a berth in the Division I regional finals, where the Polar Bears lost to St. Ignatius.
On the season, Jackson recorded eight shutouts, including a 1-0 win over Green in the district finals, marking the second time this season the Polar Bears defeated the Bulldogs. A dramatic, 3-2 overtime win against Hudson in the regional semifinals was another highlights, as was eliminating arch rival Hoover from the postseason in the district semifinals.
Another year, another undefeated league season for the girls soccer team, which went 12-4-1 in the regular season and a perfect 6-0 in Federal League play to claim the league title outright. Like their counterparts on the boys team, the girls reached the regional semifinals, where they fell 1-0 to Mayfield.
In four tournament games, the Polar Bears allowed just three goals. A pair of 1-0 wins over Lake and Hoover helped sew up the league title late in the year and in their final game at Neitzelt Stadium for the season, the team’s seniors went out in style with a 3-0 district semifinal win over Austintown Fitch.
After going the better part of a decade without claiming the Federal League title, the tennis team served up an undefeated league run capped by a win over GlenOak and a dominant performance at the league tournament to capture sole possession of the crown. Emily Thomas led the way for a team with a good balance of youth and experience and represented the Polar Bears at the state tournament, where she won her first match before being eliminated.
A win at the Oberlin Tournament was another highlight of the season, as was a 5-0 win over geographic rival Canton Central Catholic.
Although they didn’t make a return trip to the state tournament, the overhauled Polar Bears came close. After extending their streak of consecutive league wins to 74 and claiming yet another league title, they roared through the district tournament, not dropping a set on their way to qualifying for the Hudson Division I regional tournament.
A three-set loss to Brockville ended the year, but a team that lost eight key players from its 2015 state tournament team found a way to defeat the likes of Louisville, Walsh Jesuit, Mentor and Tallmadge along the way. Seniors Alexandra Spencer and Sarah Benson were steadying forces for a young team and with a 24-3 record, the Polar Bears finished among the area leaders in wins once more.