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Jackson boys golf team just misses at sectional

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent

JACKSON TWP. In track and field, its tenths or hundredths of a second. In football, it's a single yard or point.

In golf, just one stroke is what makes the difference in many tournaments.

Jackson senior Ben Ramold hits a tee shot in a match against GlenOak earlier this year. Ramold and fellow senior Zach Sieverts advanced to the district tournament.

That one stroke wasn't in the favor of the Jackson boys golf team at the Division I sectional tournament at Pine Hills Country Club on Monday.

By a single shot, the Polar Bears missed out on moving on as a team in the postseason. Stow bested Jackson, 305-306, for that last spot at the district tournament.

The squad's two seniors, Ben Ramold and Zach Sieverts, advanced as individuals with rounds of 72 and 73, respectively, but veteran head coach Jim Kish was hoping to see the whole squad move on.

"What hurt us coming down the end was putting ... we had a couple of kids three-putt coming down the last three or four holes," Kish said.

Alongside their two seniors, the Polar Bears started two freshmen and a sophomore. Having three underclassmen in the lineup is tough in any sport, but golf is largely an individual sport where athletes often play on their own in pressure-packed amateur tournaments in the offseason, mitigating some of that lack of varsity experience.

Sophomore Ted Hoover, freshman Ethan Kasler and freshman Jordan Kish battled windy conditions alongside their two senior teammates and largely held their own.

"Those three kids, they did a great job and I don't think there was any more added pressure to it because they've played a lot of junior golf," Kish said. "What's different here if that you're not playing with your teammates like you would be in a league dual match with Hoover. You're playing three other kids, but it's the same situation in summer when they play in tournaments on their own."

The tournaments leading up to the sectional event were highlights of the season for Jackson.

Consecutive wins in the Federal League and Stark County championships kept the Polar Bears' recent runs of dominance in both events rolling.

"That was exciting to win the league because we'd had to share it with Lake a couple of times and the week before that we won the Stark county tournament for the fourth year in a row and also won the league for the third straight year," Kish said.

Having Ramold and Sieverts advance as individuals keeps the careers of two senior leaders going for a while longer even though the duo have taken different routes to this point.

Ramold is four-year starter with a wealth of big-match experience, while Sieverts is a two-year starter who Kish has seen take a huge step forward this fall.

"Ben for the most part since he's played for me since freshman ... he's a leader, both on and off the course, with his experience playing on varsity all four years," Kish said. "Zach is a two-year starter and he's made some big strides this year. There's been a lot of pressure on those two having younger kids in the lineup."

Their outing at the sectional tournament suggests the two seniors are up to that pressure and in their next outing, they'll have the added pressure of playing for a trip to the state tournament.