Jackson Bowling Club grabs third in state tournament
School may already be out, but it hasn't stopped a local group of students from competing.
Jackson High School is known for its athletic success on the gridiron, hardwood, diamond, and track, among other venues. Now, it can add bowling to that list.
The Jackson High club bowling team competed in the Missouri High School Bowling Championships in St. Louis recently and placed third. It is the first medal of its kind in school history, which started the club in 2017.
The Indians are headed by Dennis Hacker, who has been guiding the club since its beginning and brings coaching experience, which spans back to 1981.
The Longtown native said it was a joyful moment for the players and expressed how proud they were of what the team accomplished throughout the event.
"It was a cool feeling," Hacker said. "When they reached the top-five of the competition, they knew they had a good shot at a championship."
The team competed against 23 others from across the state and was eventually defeated by Park Hills in the semifinal round. The Indians qualified by winning the Southeast Missouri Bowling Conference Tournament held in Cape Girardeau, which lasted six weeks. Due to Jackson's geographical area, only one representative from 'The Heartland' region could go to state.
Before this season began, Hacker pointed out the team's potential to his bowlers that they all had a chance to be special. In its three years of existence, the Jackson club has placed higher each time with a 13th- place finish in 2017, 10th last year, and 3rd at the state tournament.
As the team kept winning, the support grew larger.
"We probably had one of the biggest crowds there and they were loud," Hacker said. "It was an intense tournament. Moms (of Jackson players) had tense looks throughout. I'm sure it was an experience for them, as well, because they learned a lot about bowling."
The club is not affiliated with the Missouri State High School Activities Association but is made up of students who were just interested in bowling.
"I got kids who wanted to come bowling after football games," he said. "The kids made the bowling alley the cool spot."
The club was led by three seniors: Justin Davis, Parker Philipps and Hunter Hendsershott.
For the club's effort, it was not just awarded medals, but also received scholarship money. The Missouri State Bowling Proprietors Association divided $13,500 among the top-five teams with Jackson receiving $1,800. Davis was named an all-star for his performance and received an additional $250 in scholarships. He, along with Philipps and Hendershott, will be attending Southeast Missouri State in the fall. The school, however, does not have a bowling club team.
Hacker is no stranger to the sport.
In 2008, he joined the state board and was the second vice president for 10 years before recently taking over as Misouri State USBC manager. He is on the national board of directors, as well, after being elected to the United States Bowling Congress in 2018. He credits the team's success to the students being coachable.
"They listened very well to instructions," he said. "Doing so has brought them success. These kids deserved it this year."
With the majority of the squad returning, Jackson could very well reach the top in 2020.