Zuckett brothers lead way for Jackson track

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent
Jackson's Alex Zuckett claimed his first high school cross country win at the GlenOak Golden Eagle Cross Country Invitational in the fall. Alex and his brother, Elliot, are helping lead the track and field team this spring.

JACKSON TWP. – After last fall, the distance running group for the Jackson cross country and track teams knew they could expect big things from brothers Alex and Elliot Zuckett.

They may not have understood the impact Elliot could make as a freshman, but he quickly carved out a sport as the cross country squad's number two runner behind his older brother, who was the squad's top runner. As the calendar flipped to a new year and the focus shifted from cross country to track, the brothers took their sibling success from the trail to the ground rubber surface at Neitzelt Stadium but have kept on winning.

"It's been a great experience and I'm happy to have someone in the house I get to train with and run with," Alex said of running with his younger brother.

Elliot agreed and said his older brother's success has been both a template for how to succeed as a varsity runner and a motivator to keep driving him forward.

ELLIOT ZUCKETT

"It felt great ... I'm happy to help my team and it definitely showed to keep pushing myself more," Elliot said.

Like many members of the varsity roster, Elliot is in his first season of varsity track. After last season was wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, none of the freshmen or sophomores on the roster had competed  in a varsity track and field meet. As a junior, Alex has one season of varsity track on his resume, but still is coming off a year without the sport.

That lack of experience could have held the Polar Bears back, but thanks in large part to the distance running crew, nothing of the sort has happened. 

Although Elliot admitted missing track last season led to him focusing a bit more on cross county than track, he's quickly made his mark running the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. Not only that, but with his brother currently battling a back injury, he was able to step in last week and run his first 4x800 relay.

He was also able to play a key role in the boys team capturing the team title at the Stark County championships, adding another team accomplishment for Jackson in a season that's seen it stack up more than a few. 

"Coming into the season, we lost a lot of middle distance runners and we have been undefeated in the league meets the past couple years, but not having a season last year and losing those guys coming into the year, we were unsure of what we had," Alex said. "It's been a great surprise we've been able to keep it up."

Having its two top runners living in the same house and able to train with each other every day even during the pandemic proved to be a nice benefit for the cross country team and for the track team as well. Alex noted that as a freshman, he was the second or third runner for the varsity cross country team and last fall, Elliot was able to not only match that accomplishment, but break some of the marks his older brother set for freshmen at Jackson.

For Elliot, having a successful distance runner sitting across from him at the dinner table has been a resource when it comes to how to excel as a varsity competitor.

"There's been a couple pieces of advice he's given me that have helped the most ... the motivation in the long runs, for me to go out there and push with him on the long ones and have better pacing, and he also helped me out with my form because I was struggling with that in track and cross country a couple years ago," Elliot said.

With Alex working to get healthy and try to get back on the track soon, the brothers could factor heavily into Jackson's ability to win another Federal League title and send as many competitors as possible deep into the postseason. After defeating Hoover 81-75 for the county championship last week, it's clear that bigger accomplishments could be on the horizon for both the Zuckett brothers and the rest of the Polar Bears.