The Salem News
---- — John Jennings has always been a prolific lacrosse scorer. The Danvers native broke the single season goal scoring record as a senior at St. John’s Prep, and then repeated that feat as a sophomore at Colby College.
Jennings, an economics major, had a great senior year for the Mules, despite missing five games with a hamstring pull. He received All-American honors for Division 3 by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (honorable mention) and was selected for the Scholar All-American team by the USILA.
Jennings is the eighth player in the history of the Colby men’s lacrosse program to ever earn an All-American honor. To be chosen for the scholar team athletes must have had at least a 3.0 grade point average and either be an All-American, member of the North/South team, or an outstanding league player.
Jennings qualified in every category. He was chosen to play in the North/South Senior Game at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pennsylvania and was also an All New England and All NESCAC second team attacker.
“I was very surprised to get any honors because I missed games because of the pulled hamstring,” said Jennings. “I loved Colby, and I made many good friends there. It was a fun experience to play there because my teammates were great.
“We didn’t win as many games as we hoped to (6-9) and lost a few close ones, but it was a fun experience. Not every college student is able to enjoy the experiences you get from playing a varsity sport.”
The Mules were coming off a 9-5 season and hoping to build on it. The last game loss to Bates, 13-12 in three overtimes was indicative of how the season went. Jennings played in 10 games and started eight this past season. He had 37 goals and 5 assists for 32 points which was third best on the team. As a college sophomore he broke the school’s single season goal scoring record when he finished with 43 and had a team leading 32 goals and 2 assists for 35 points as a junior when he was also named All NESCAC.
Jennings was a high school All-American at the Prep. He missed half of his freshman season for the Mules because of mononucleosis, but still finished with 12 goals and 2 assists with a team leading 60 percent shooting accuracy. He ranks third on the all time goals list in the program’s history with 115 and and 129 career points despite missing a total of 13 games in his four year career.
He was named NESCAC Player of the Week after scoring five goals in the 11-10 overtime win over Amherst, and four goals along with an assist in the 8-6 win over Bowdoin.
“I’ve been playing lacrosse since I was in the third grade so I’m really going to miss it,” said Jennings. “I started the first year there was a Danvers Youth program. At first I was jumping around to all the difference positions, but it didn’t take long before I was a forward.
“Lacrosse has been such a big part of my life it seems weird that my playing days are over. I’m still going to keep playing whenever I can, and right now I’m in a summer league.”
Caroline Kukas surprised a few of the teams that Section 4 Williamsport champion Peabody West played on its way to the state Final Four. Kukas is the only girl on the team, but opponents are mistaken if they don’t take her seriously both in the field and at the plate.
She is a starter in right field with a strong arm and has made some big defensive plays. Kukas is also very good at the plate and has delivered several big hits in both District 16 play and the Section 4 tournament. She has been an outstanding softball player, who decided to make the switch to baseball this year. Peabody West manager Frank Benea is delighted she did.
Before the District 16 tournament began Benea said he felt confident using Kukas at first base or anywhere else in the infield. She has taken a turn behind the plate to help out, and although they haven’t needed her to pitch yet she does have some experience there.
Jean DePlacido is a correspondent for The Salem News. You can contact her at JMDeplacido@aol.com.