It was a bit of a struggling season in 2013 for both boys and girls Turlock High water polo squads.
The girls finished third in the Central California Conference, and the boys team tied for fourth with Buhach Colony.
This year, with a seasoned roster on each squad, the Bulldogs are eagerly awaiting a new season.
The girls return two players in Ellen Willming and Natalie Larson, working behind eight juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen.
“The good thing is we have a lot of freshmen, 12 right now. So we're looking forward to the future with our new freshmen and the sophomores,” said Turlock girls head coach Sonja Raynes. “Last year our team was new to the varsity level, but now we are more experienced.”
Incoming sophomore Karissa Roof and freshman Allison Serratos will accompany a much improved roster that also includes Sarah Phillips, Lucy Deitz and Hannah Groteguth.
“We may not be the biggest or fastest, but we will play the best together. It will come down to team play,” Raynes said. “I look in the pool and I see talent and the challenge to help them make this possible and it’s the fun part of coaching; it’s the better point that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
Athelia Puentes is set to be the goalkeeper for the Lady ‘Dogs.
The junior heavy squad will rely on team play to help them compete in a tough league.
“We had new players last year but now we have experience,” Raynes said. “It will be our job to put it together. We are always looking to finish higher and looking forward, I think we can matchup with any team.”
The boys welcome a new head coach for varsity in Nick Serratos, who was the JV coach last year, but now he takes over the highest level of high school competition with aspirations for a successful and winning program for many years to come for the Bulldogs.
With 10 juniors on the team working behind seniors Zach Glidden, Jacob Johnson and Justin Souza, this team is much more experienced than prior years.
“Last year I know our team had a lot of talent, but things just didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to,” said Serratos. “We lost a lot of close games that could’ve gone our way but things just ended up on the losing side, it was a little frustrating. This year is a huge improvement, the sky’s the limit this year.”
The team not only returns a solid group, but last year's starting goalkeeper Gabriel Sleeper comes back for his second year in varsity as only a sophomore and he is expected to only get better by Serratos’ standards.
“At goalie we should be solid for the next two to three years and those returners are huge and moving up as well,” said Serratos. “This year I think we're a front runner for the CCC. We have a solid group of guys, the majority of which played summer travel ball with me and I feel we can go as far as we want to.”
The season opener for the 2014 campaign is scheduled for Sept. 5 and 6 at Fresno High.