The Rogers, Puyallup and Emerald Ridge Jaguars water polo squads have proven themselves to be upper-echelon teams in high school boys water polo. Puyallup and Emerald Ridge both competed in the South Sound state tournament last season, and Rogers had a rebuilding year.
The following is a breakdown of how the teams will fair this season:
Head coach: Deb Turver, 10th year
Last year: 2-10, didn’t advance to the postseason
Key players: Kyle Catey, Dr.; Mitchell Crossen, F; Cameron Dingess, H; Anthony Natsiolous, Def.; Nik Parks, G.
A majority of players have returned from last season, and head coach Deb Turver said they’re ready to right the ship.
“Of the 30 players in our program, we only have about six to eight new players,” Turver said. “I’m loving the positive attitude and the work ethic I’m seeing out here at practice. They are pushing themselves.”
Turver said it’s been fun to coach this group of players.
“They are very respectful and are ready and willing to learn,” she said. “I ask them to do something once, and they do it. I think this team can go places.”
EMERALD RIDGE JAGUARS
Head coach: James McMullan, first year
Last year: 15-10, placed 11th at state tourney
Key players: Scott Sanders, G; Riley Hein, Dr.; Brandon Nelson, Dr.
The Jaguars will look vastly different from last year’s squad that advanced to the state tournament. Nine seniors graduated, but the expectations remain high under first-year head coach James McMullan, a 23-year-old who takes over the program from his dad, Dave. The younger McMullan was his father’s lead assistant for the past three years.
“It is really exciting,” James said. “He has been mentoring me for the last couple of years. To have full control of the reigns is something I am thankful for. It’s a great opportunity for me.”
McMullan isn’t intimidated because he’s a young coach.
“I’m the youngest manager at The Ram, too,” he said of his job outside of water polo.
Head coach: Travis Braddock, fourth year
Last year: Placed eighth at the state tourney
Key players: Lane Griffin, Dr.; Jake Hodges, HG; Ian Walsh, G; Luke Kinne, Dr.
Senior Ian Walsh, a seasoned goalkeeper, will start between the posts for the second straight year for the Vikings.
Yet Puyallup head coach Travis Braddock said his team is talented across the board.
“We have an experienced goalie, and our defense combined with our experience and endurance is our strength,” Braddock said. “We definitely want to make it to state again this year, and it would be nice to, at the very least, do a little better than we did last year.”
Walsh, Jake Hodges and Lane Griffin will be the team’s captains, Braddock said.