The 2016 fourth Annual High School Senior Water Polo All Star Games hosted by the Turlock Bulldogs Aquatic Boosters was underway this past Saturday and it could not have been possible without the events main coordinator in Joe Bernardi.
There were over 123 high school seniors athletes competing across from 22 schools from across the area in four scheduled games, including Pitman and Turlock High.
“It could not have been possible without Western Valley Insurance, Price Ford of Turlock, Garton Tractor, Romeo Medical Group, Bernardi & Associates, and San Joaquin Tomato Growers,” said Bernardi of the event.
The format was 2nd team girls North v. South, 2nd team boys North v. South, 1st team girls North v. South, and finally 1st team boys North v. South.
The first game of the day ended in a 12-4 South win with the team coached by Bulldogs coach Sonja Raynes. The South included significant contributions from Turlock's Taylor Askil and Lindsey Weiglin.
There were a total of 16 representatives from Turlock and Pitman.
The girls’ side included Askil, Lily Odey, Karissa Roof and Weiglein from Turlock and Audrey Morgan and Samantha Guerino from Pitman.
The boys’ side included Bobby Marchy, Luke Reis, Gabe Sleeper, Christian Weaver, and Kyle White from Turlock, and Bryce Arnold, Dylan Canisso, Ryan Canisso, Josh Hamby, and Caden Jarvis from Pitman.
The second game of the day was a thriller that ended in an 11-10 win for the South on a game winning goal drilled in the last 30 seconds by Turlock's Reis in the top corner on an assist from Marchy.
The South team was coached by Turlock's Manny Bettencourt.
Reis ended the game with three goals, Marchy had two, Canisso added a pair of goals, and Arnold and Dylan Canisso added a goal apiece.
The third game was a 15-7 win for the South in a hard fought contest. Guerino had four goals, Roof had three, Audrey Morgan tossed in one, and Odey played consistent and hard defense the entire game.
The fourth and final game, which was played in a torrential downpour, was a 17-12 win for the South with consistent play from up and down the roster. Jarvis had two goals, Hamby, Sleeper and Weaver each added a goal and goalkeeper Kyle White was phenomenal with six blocks and a steal.
“With over 500 people in the stands and on the pool deck it was standing room only most of the afternoon, but a great announcing done by locals Toby Stonelake and Ryan Bullard,” said Bernardi.
The game also saw the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America sung by the Turlock Idol winners Makenna Boutelle and Felisha Dias.
The ceremonial first ball was dropped by reigning Turlock Citizen of the Year, Kristin Bettencourt.
“The idea of a water polo all-star game was conceived in September of 2013, after doing research with CIF and SJS of what we could and could not do,” said Bernardi. “Our first year we had to personally call each one of our 60 participants.”
“We had to convince some of them that it was a real event and the start of an amazing tradition,” Bernardi added. “The coaches were skeptical, having never coached in an event of this kind but agreed to give it a try.
Fast forward three years later and the game looks to be a widely anticipated event according to Bernardi.
“We are happy to say that we have already given out more than $5,000 in scholarships to participating athletes in the past three years,” he added. “What started with a very small group of organizers has grown to a hard working bunch of booster club members. We owe a debt of gratitude to their continued support of this event.”