Hanover Central’s Josh Jackowski has come a long way in three years on the varsity golf team.
His hard work and perseverance have ultimately been rewarded this year as he and his Wildcats advanced to Thursday’s Lafayette Regional for the first time in three years by finishing second in the LaPorte Sectional last week.
“I’m tickled to death to finally play in the regional,” said Jackowski, who shot a career-best 81 at Beechwood last Friday as Hanover shot a 335, as did host LaPorte.
The Slicers won on the fifth-man tiebreaker.
“We made it out as a team, and that’s all that counts,” Jackowski said.
Playing in a regional two years ago might have been unimaginable for Jackowski. He finished that season shooting a 103 at Palmira in the Lake Central Sectional.
“My sophomore year was a big learning experience,” he said.
Jackowski was determined to become a better golfer, even while spinning his wheels as a junior. He shot 100 in the sectional last year at Beechwood.
“My junior year was pretty disappointing,” he said. “I was pretty much in the 90s and the 100s still. I knew I had to keep practicing.”
After his junior year, Jackowski joined the Palmira Junior League and he began making some headway, scoring in the 80s and 90s.
“I just kept hitting the range, chipping and putting,” he said. “That’s where it really counted.”
Jackowski was ready for his senior season, and getting to the regional was one of his goals.
“I wanted to get to the regional as an individual, but I wanted it to involve the whole team,” Jackowski said. “It’s great as an individual, but having the team going, too, is great.”
Coach Jerry Kienzele noticed how far Jackowski's game had progressed.
“Josh put in a lot of work over the summer and came back real strong this year,” he said.
Kienzele said keeping the ball in play is one of Jackowski’s strengths.
“Mentally, he’s a very good player,” he said. “His course management is very good. He knows where he wants to put the ball and where he wants to play it from.
“He’s not one of those players who just goes up there and tries to hit it as far as he can off the tee. He’s very smart on the course.”
Jackowski was voted the team MVP and was a first-team All-Greater South Shore Conference selection, along with Austin Umlauf and Ethan Hacker. Hanover (11-2) went 7-0 in conference dual meets and won the GSSC tournament with a 336 at Hazelden Country Club.
Jackowski has been averaging in the mid-80s as the Wildcats played in six 18-hole tournaments this season to get them where they are today.
“I’ve been doing the little things, and it’s just all started to click,” he said. “Like all the parts of a machine, it’s all working together now.”
Now it’s on to Battleground against some of the best teams in the state.
“It’s going to be a real tough regional, no question,” Kienzele said.