By Greg GULAS
After earning four letters in both football and basketball for Valley Christian High, Jamynk Jackson still needed some prodding by athletic director Dolph Carroll to try out for the track team his senior season.
Head coach Monica Perkins is forever grateful that Carroll was able to convince the Eagles’ all-around athlete to come out for her team.
Jackson, who won the state 200 dash and was part of the school’s championship 800 relay team, was among a group of individual and team spring state champions honored by the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s meeting at Avion Banquet Center.
Other honorees included the Division III state championship South Range baseball and Champion softball teams, Division III girls shot put champion Izzy Kline of Newton Falls, and Lohron Brown, Branden Paige and Terrance White, Jackson’s 800 relay teammates.
For Valley Christian, the track championships were the school’s first state titles in any sport.
“All four of us played basketball together so we’re all very close,” said Jackson, The Vindicator Male Athlete of the Year, who will visit Lake Erie College today. “Once we got to state the goal was to win both events. I was really glad that I went out for the team because making history for our school has been an incredible feeling.”
Perkins said all four players had a great run.
“This was a great group to work with because all four players had the same goal. They also had a very strong work ethic and that was the key,” Perkins said. “I knew that Jamynk was an excellent athlete, but he was raw in the beginning with this being his first year on the team.
“He listened, wanted to learn and grew as the season progressed.”
White served as anchor on the 800 relay team.
“We wanted to put something together that individually we’d be proud of and so would our school,” he stated. “I think about it every day and it’s finally sinking in.”
Champion head coach Cheryl Weaver has now led the Golden Flashes to five state titles with the school earning its eighth crown overall.
Their first title came exactly 40 years ago in 1978 and with back-to-back championships, it marked the second time that the school has accomplished that feat — the Golden Flashes also did it in 2011-12.
Her three seniors, shortstop Megan Turner, and outfielders Alayna Fell and Kiersten Jones, graduate with three state championships, an undefeated 31-0 season this past year and a 119-11 overall mark — .915 winning percentage.
They outscored opponent 320-25 this past season.
“When you look back, those three seniors saw what it takes to win a state title their freshman year,” Weaver said. “We played some of the bigger schools and our motto was, ‘Respect all, fear none.’ That helps when you are facing tough teams.”
Turner will now head to Kent State University this fall where she will play softball for the Golden Flashes.
“It has been an exciting four years because this team is very close. It has been like that since my freshman year,” Turner said. “Coach Weaver has been great. She’s like a mother figure to us and a coach that you really want to play for. She is there for us no matter what, making sure that we stay close and have fun.”
Head coach Jim Hanek’s Raiders won the school’s first state team championship after entering tournament play four games under .500 at 11-15.
“We came together at the right time and were playing our best ball once the tournament began,” Hanek said. “Our record didn’t reflect the type of ball that we were playing. Playing that tough schedule definitely prepared us for our tourney run.
“The kids learned and grew from our schedule while timely hitting and pitching were keys that helped us advance.”
Raiders senior Brycen James has accepted a baseball scholarship to Ashland University this fall.
“What we’ve gone through and how we persevered has been incredibly special,” James said. “The goal is always to win a state title, yet coach Hanek and his staff kept us focused. Starting with the off-season, it’s getting better each time you practice and play a game.”
Kline also placed fourth in the discus at state and was 10th overall in the high jump.
“This was coach [Jon] Hill’s first year as head coach and my best year overall,” said Kline, who will compete at the University of Cincinnati. “He always had our best interest and it was special for me because I grew a lot closer to my teammates and coaches. I had personal records that I never thought would happen.”
Hill noted that Kline — The Vindicator Female Athlete of the Year — went undefeated in the shot put this past season.
“She is a competitor like no other and will do well at the University of Cincinnati,” he said.
The organization will now break until its next meeting in September.