By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Bulldog polo looking to keep progress steady
Turlock polo 2
Gabe Sleeper of Turlock will be making the switch from goalkeeper to skill player and will hope to assist in scoring and assisting. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

For the fourth consecutive season, the Turlock High varsity boys’ water polo team will have a new head coach but this time it looks to hopefully be a longer stay with former alum, Manny Bettencourt, taking on the duties after last year’s coach Aaron Weiss, who was forced to step down to the junior varsity role.


“Manny and I switched roles this season since I got a job teaching at a different school,” said Weiss. “Manny will be running the varsity team this season, since with my new job I can't make all of the games or practices.”


In his first year as the head coach of the varsity boys’ polo team, Weiss led the Bulldogs to a postseason victory against Enochs at home that ended at 16-10, in the opening round of the Division I CIF Sac-Joaquin Section tournament.


That Bulldog team went 7-3 in league, tying for second place.

Bettencourt has some experience as he was part of that team as an assistant as well—and for the 2014 playoff run as well.


“I have learned a lot coaching aside guys like Nick, Aaron as well,” said Bettencourt. “A couple of years ago we realized the program went down for a little bit and we’ve just been rebuilding.”


Bettencourt, a 2011 graduate from Turlock, went on to play at Modesto Junior College for two seasons before taking a break and then returning soon after.


“My sister [Lauren] got me back into the sport and I volunteered and decided I think this is what I want to do and I came on as Nick Serratos' assistant and last year I was Aaron Weiss' JV coach,” said Bettencourt. “Now I will take over varsity and I am really looking forward to it.”


Last season the Bulldogs JV team, under Bettencourt's coaching, went undefeated and earned a first place result in the Central California Conference.


“Now many of those kids from that championship team are on this varsity team coming up,” said Bettencourt.


It's looking like one of the more talented teams the school has seen in recent years, Bettencourt said.


“We have a huge team this year, depth wise. I was looking at the roster and I have got about 12 guys I can put out in the pool at any time,” said Bettencourt. “It's definitely one of the deepest teams I ever seen out here. Obviously it is my first year and a step up, but I am looking forward to the challenge.


“We are a new team. Many times a few have played together but I worked with each of them at one point in their careers and I know what they do well,” said Bettencourt. “I also know what they don't and I know how they can play as a team and I think going into my new year it will help me out as well.”


Some of the standout players for the Bulldogs this upcoming season will include seniors Kyle White, Trent Yandell, Mykel Garton, Luke Reis, Gabe Sleeper, Bobby Marchy and Christian Weaver.


Junior Dylan Bernardi will also be in the mix with these returners.


“Dylan has been a starter in varsity for two years, but he and Matthew Hess will be a standout as well,” said Bettencourt. “With our huge sophomore class coming up, we are very talented and we expect all of our seniors to contribute this year. Our guys know what they are in for. They all accepted the challenge and I love seeing it.”


The first match for Turlock will be a scrimmage with Buhach Colony at a time yet to be announced Aug. 20.