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Skyhawks ready to take the lead again in 2012

The reigning state champions are loaded again and ready to win again


Things are going to look a little different in this year’s high school boys water polo race.

In the Beaverton School District, funding for high school water polo was cut last spring, but play will go on this fall after re-emerging with a new name, new sponsorship and a new status.

This season, the former Metro League will be re-launched as the West Metro League, operating as a community-sponsored sport under the auspices of Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation Department and Tualatin Hills Water Polo Club, with league play kicking off on Tuesday.

by: MILES VANCE - TAKING AIM - Southridge junior David Stiling (right) and his Skyhawk teammates are aiming for a fifth straight league championship, and even better, a chance at a second straight state crown.

But whatever name you give it, the Beaverton-area league will likely be one of the state’s best, this year led yet again by 2011 state champion Southridge.

“Southridge is playing at different level this year. They are prohibitive favorites in both league and state,” said Westview coach Ian Bricken. “They have a full roster of highly-dedicated, year-round players.”

“I don’t know who will win the league this season, but I do know it will be an exciting season,” said Sunset coach Doug Keller. “Southridge is always strong, and both Beaverton and Westview’s boys can never be overlooked.”

While Southridge is the clear favorite, the Skyhawks will have plenty of challengers to their presumed supremacy.

“Lincoln has a bunch of kids back who played club, and so do Sunset and Beaverton,” said Southridge coach Eric Akerman. “I think that’s good for the league.”

“I think it should be between Southridge, Lincoln and us,” added Beaverton coach Matt Bayha.

Following are previews of the Metro League’s Beaverton-area varsity boys water polo teams.

ALOHA

ALOHA — Aloha is looking forward to the challenge.

The Warriors enter the 2012 season with a new pair of coaches — Victoria Buck and Zackary Thompson — and a new-look roster that includes both boys and girls players, but the same old desire to compete.

“The Metro West League is going to be a fun challenge,” Buck said. “There are strong swimmers and players who have been perfecting their game for years. Our players are excited to play and put their all into the season.”

Aloha has some talent to work with too, led by junior Justin Hua (an honorable mention all-leaguer in 2011), senior McKenzie Torres (a second-teamer in girls play) and senior Griffin Potts.

“Justin is a great swimmer with speed and endurance, as well as a great knowledge of the game,” Buck said, adding that Torres is “a great swimmer that is aggressive and holds her own,” while Griffin is “a hard worker and knows where to be.”

The team also includes senior Andrew Gibson, junior Bailey Burton, junior Jared Rice, junior Eric Salazar, junior Kricia Ruano, junior Katrina Brombaugh, freshman Jaden Hoerner and junior Logan McKim.

Together, that group is hoping to make some noise in the always-talented field of Beaverton-area teams that includes 2011 state champion Southridge, fifth-place finisher Lincoln and state tournament qualifier Sunset.

BEAVERTON

BEAVERTON — Beaverton was right on the edge of success in 2011, battling to a fifth-place finish in the Metro League and finishing just one game away from a berth in the Oregon High School State Water Polo playoffs.

In 2012, the Beavers are hoping for much, much more.

“We have so many guys back that the team looks a lot like last year,” said Beaverton coach Matt Bayha. “It’s very similar so we’re looking forward to chemistry-building.”

This year’s Beaver crew includes seven varsity returners from 2011, that group led by senior captains Dylan Bird (a first-teamer in 2011) and Stephen Kearns (a second-teamer), as well as seniors Daniel Howse and James Gayaldo (both honorable mention all-league picks).

Other experienced returners who add talent this year will be senior Conor Egan, senior William Bird, senior Andrew Linnemann and junior Jeff Soles.

“The senior group will be the leaders,” Bayha said. Dylan “Bird has a lot of knowledge and Egan has really stepped into his varsity role.”

The rest of the Beaverton lineup will include the following newcomers: sophomore Jon Sullivan, sophomore Kai Fetter, senior Jaret Zellmer, junior Klay Fink, junior Alex Reinemann, freshman Jake Grossman, senior Nathan House, junior Jackson Warner and sophomore Chris Gilroy.

“The key is if our guys can create opportunities and score on those chances,” Bayha said.

SOUTHRIDGE

BEAVERTON — Southridge flew higher than ever before in 2011.

The Skyhawks raced through Metro League play unbeaten a year ago, then carried that momentum into the state playoffs and rolled to a state championship for the first time in school history.

Now, playing in the newly-constituted West Metro League, Southridge is ready for more of the same.

“We definitely have six solid players this year,” said Southridge coach Eric Akerman, who has now led his team to four straight league championships. “The strength of the team has moved around this year ... but I feel they’re on par with last year.”

This year’s team will be led by senior Cody Blandin (a first-team all-leaguer in 2011), junior Blake Hokkanen (a second-teamer), junior David Stiling (a second-teamer) and senior Jarred Rimby (an honorable mention pick), as well as fellow varsity returners Camden Rimby (a sophomore) and Scott Kirkpatrick (a sophomore).

The team has been bolstered by the addition of sophomore Mark Moshofsky and sophomore Matt Braun, and also by newcomers including senior Arek Engstrom, freshman Arman Grigorian, junior Ajay Niak, sophomore Caleb Rygh, sophomore Kenny Koga, freshman Mark Malofiy and freshman Darius Diamond.

“Everyone that starts has a pretty solid game,” Akerman said. “It’s just a matter of building on them and getting the new guys ready to learn and step in.”

SUNSET

CEDAR MILL — There’s strength in numbers they say, but there’s strength to be found elsewhere too.

Just ask the Sunset boys water polo team.

The Apollos don’t have a returning all-leaguer on their team and don’t have the depth they’re used to, but expect to be solid in 2012 nonetheless.

“The loss of funding and support for water polo has made recruiting and organizing the league challenging,” said Sunset coach Doug Keller. “All the teams are down in numbers, including Sunset, so we don’t have the depth on the bench that we are normally accustomed to. That said, I expect us to be strong.”

This year’s crew will be led by seniors Braden Martinez (the team captain) and Grant Johnson.

They’re “both exceptional players who tend to remain cool and calm in tense situations,” Keller said. “Their steadfast leadership this year will set the tone for the rest of the team.”

The Apollos also return Sean O’Brien in goal (“We are expecting him to have a standout season,” Keller said), as well as junior Will Albright, junior Braden Esping and junior Benjamin Lewis. New to the Apollo lineup are sophomore Nathan Martinez, sophomore Klee Don, freshman Doug Janes, freshman Spencer Larsen and freshman Hunter Gillis.

“As usual, I expect Sunset to steadily improve throughout the season,” Keller said.

WESTVIEW

ROCK CREEK — Westview is hoping that a trip to the past will help them succeed in the future.

As to the past, the Wildcats named Ian Bricken head coach this season, the same coach who helped start the Westview program in 1994 and led it through its first decade, winning four state championships and finishing second three other times along the way.

Now, Bricken is hoping he can lead the Wildcats back to the promised land.

“Last year, we greatly improved as the season progressed,” Bricken said. “The key for us is to catch up with the other more experience-laden programs ... during the first few weeks of the season, then find a way to come together as a team and make the whole greater than the sum of our parts.”

This year’s “parts” are led by senior Tal Lind (a second-team all-league pick in 2011), as well as junior Madi McGlone, a refugee from the now-defunct Westview girls team who won second-team honors a year ago.

It all “starts with Tal Lind,” Bricken said. He’s “a critical catalyst for our offense and a solid defensive presence.”

Other top returners include seniors Matt Lawyer and Glenn Bishop, juniors Mel Comoda and Noah Hofiens, and sophomores Devanshu Awasthi and Andy Schubert.

“Lawyer and Bishop will help lead,” Bricken said, adding that “Comoda is one of our most balanced players and will provide stability.”

The rest of the Westview lineup includes senior Evan Biskey, junior Nghi Lee, sophomores Garret Richards, Kiera Lindsey, Kendra Cheren, Matt Allen, Paige Tucker and sophomore Mark Finkelburg, and freshmen Hayden Hertz, Gabby Medina and Jennie Moshinsky.