SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months
SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months

Jackson boys bowling team showing progress

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent

JACKSON TWP.  Success doesn't always look the same.

Some seasons, it takes the form of an undefeated record. In others, it's defined by progress and growth from a team that has to deal with one obstacle after another.

It's been more of the latter for the Jackson boys bowling team, which has garnered a pair of solid wins since the recent start of Federal League play. Victories over GlenOak and Green represented the Polar Bears' first two triumphs of the campaign, with the Green match standing as a highlight of the season to date.

"The positives are that in our match against Green, we came out absolutely on fire and the team really came together for that match," head coach Tim Raddish said. "We only had five kids on varsity for that match because I wanted to have enough guys for a full JV match for that one."

Raddish noted that with a smaller roster this season, numbers have been a consistent challenge. For the Green contest, with just five bowlers in the varsity lineup, there was no margin for error. However, one of the team's starters had to leave prior to the end of the match to go to work, meaning Jackson had just four competitors for the Baker matches at the end of the session.

With COVID-19 impacting the team throughout the season, the numbers game has been working against the Polar Bears. From a bowler opting out prior to the season and another once Stark County was upgraded to purple in the state of Ohio's COVID-19 danger scale, it's been challenge after challenge.

The Green match brought those issues into sharper focus.

"I decided to take a chance that we wouldn't need a sub, but we had one bowler leave for his job and did the last Baker matches with four bowlers," Raddish said. "We did have to take two zero frames, but we were able to hang on and we won by about 30 pins."

The 2,320-2,289 win over a Green program that has been one of the league's strongest in recent years was a testament to Jackson's resilience as well as a reminder that nothing is likely to come easily this season.

The key to the win was a strong first game, as juniors Landon Thayer and Will Hartman both rolled a 234 and senior Curtis Ogden had a 194. Ogden followed that up with a 190 in his next game, helping stake the Polar Bears to an early edge.

"Three players started off with three strikes in a row in that first game, and I was thinking, 'Wow, they really came to play today,'" Raddish said.

The win, simply put, was a much-needed shot in the arm for the Polar Bears. At 2-7 overall and 2-4 in league play, the program is working to close the game with the rest of the Federal League. Add in all of the complications that come with sports in a pandemic and it's been a trying year.

Still, Raddish has seen growth from his bowlers and believes they've been able to start the process of turning things around after a tough season last year. With nine more matches to go before the postseason, there figure to be a lot more chances to take steps forward.

Among that number is a rivalry battle with Hoover as well as some matches that were rescheduled from earlier in the season due to COVID-related issues. Success in those nine matches and beyond may not look the same as it would in other seasons, but the Polar Bears are chasing it all the same.