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Local water polo athletes aim for success, league contention

Local water polo athletes aim for success, league contention

Neil Wraske, working on his goalkeeping last week, returns to the Turlock High boys water polo team as one of two first-team all-Sac-Joaquin Section members from last season; the other is Morley Ba...

POSTED September 6, 2011 6:57 p.m.

Especially during the hot afternoons, being a water polo player seems like it’s the life. While everyone else is sweating underneath their clothes during the final days of summer, water polo players are in the pool, swimming in nice cool water — sometimes for a long period of time.
But don’t think it’s all fun and games. They’re working and, yes, sweating in the water.
Water polo players from Pitman High and Turlock High know that by the time September and October rolls around, the sport no longer looks like a fun summer activity. It’s hard work, and all of them will try to remain warm as possible while playing in the freezing fall weather. But it’s worth it.
The boys and girls water polo teams from the two public schools in Turlock all have their reasons for being in the pool:


·        The Turlock boys are contending for another league championship, while not truly knowing if Steve Feaver, after four decades as the head coach, will call it quits after the season. Feaver, who’s on a year-to-year coaching basis, welcomes back two first-team all-Sac-Joaquin Section players in Morley Baker and Neil Wraske, who will be instrumental in leading the Bulldogs back to the postseason.


·        The Pitman boys have accepted the fact that they play in a league dominated by Merced and Turlock, the usual league winners, but they believe they can be competitive with any team. The Pride finished with a .500 overall record last season and return with a senior-heavy roster, led by Zack Hazelwood and Tyler Jamieson. “Everyone’s going to play a super big role,” coach Drew Clute said. “It’s not one guy who we will live and die on.”


·        The Turlock girls are coming off a co-championship season after finishing 9-1 with Merced, as they look to repeat last season’s success. The Bulldogs just might, considering they have back the likes of Kristine Groteguth, Haley Raynes and Michaela Long. “We gotta play well together,” coach Sonja Raynes said. “We’ve got to be scrappy with the ball and have to know the basics. With that, we can play with any team.”


·        The Pitman girls are going through a rebuilding stage with new coach Michaela Solaria, who guided the school’s junior varsity team last season. Kamarin Wait is a key returner and Alexa Benvides, the team’s goalkeeper, will also play an important role this season. “I just want the girls to gain skills that they haven’t really had,” Solaria said, adding that the group has promising talent. “So next year, we can be a real powerhouse.”


To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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