Lane Griffin is a mild-mannered individual outside of the pool, but once he steps into the water, he transforms into a one-man wrecking crew.
Griffin, in his third season as a driver for the Puyallup Vikings’ boys water polo team, is averaging four goals per game on a team in second place in the South Puget Sound League South Division.
Puyallup head coach Travis Braddock said Griffin unleashes velocity on his shots.
“He is a great shooter and has got a great arm,” Braddock said. “I know he pitches for our baseball team. He has got awesome accuracy and has great speed on his shots.
“It’s great having him on the team,” the coach said. “He brings a lot of different skills and motivates the guys to work just a little bit harder every day. He is good at pushing his teammates.”
Griffin knows the responsibilities of being one of the seniors on a team with the potential to place in the upper echelon of teams at the state tournament next month.
“I try to push the guys as much as I can, and my main responsibility is goal scoring,” Griffin said. “When I’m getting double-teamed, I will pass it off to one of my teammates, and they will score. We work as a unit and take the pressure off each other, which is a good thing.”
Griffin pitching translates well into water polo. His fastball tops out in the low to mid-80s, he said.
“Playing baseball, for sure, helps me with my shooting, and just throwing the ball in general,” he said. “I didn’t start playing water polo until my sophomore year of high school. My older sister Lauren played water polo for a couple of years.
“I have always been involved with sports,” Griffin added. “I have swam, played baseball and wrestled, and played basketball in junior high. I think water polo is a good collision of all the sports I have played. It has worked out good for me.”
It’s also working out well for Puyallup this fall. The Vikings’ only losses have come against the Curtis Vikings — a 16-7 decision in their season opener, and a 10-9 defeat on Oct. 8.
“We’ve stepped it up,” Braddock said. “We were up two goals on them at halftime and lost by just one. That is significantly better than we did against them in our first game. We’re improving, and I’m excited to see how far it will take us.”
The Vikings will clinch an automatic berth to the state tournament if they can finish in the No. 2 spot in the SPSL South.
“We have beat everybody in our league besides Curtis, and have beat them by a large margin,” Braddock said. “We are going to face these teams all again in the second half of our schedule. Unless something catastrophic happens, we should be going to state as the second-place team in our league.”