Stanford teams off to good startJon Burke has defied the odds by coaching his Sacred Heart Prep girls' water polo teams to five straight Central Coast Section Division II championships, reaching the title game six straight years.
Before Burke goes after CCS title No. 6, he'll have to defy some even bigger odds while trying to win a medal in the SwimOutlet.com Junior Olympics.
The event draws the top age-group water polo teams in the nation and has produced players currently competing in the 2012 London Olympics.
Burke is coaching the Stanford Water Polo Club's 18U Red team, featuring many of the top graduated seniors from last season and a handful of returning players.
He'll have two former SHP players — Pippa Temple and Erin Sherinda -- plus returning senior Bridgette Harper. Also on the roster will be Elizabeth Anderson, who helped Gunn to one of its finest seasons ever last fall, and Stanford-bound Skylar Dorosin from Palo Alto High.
There's plenty of room for improvement for the 18U squad and the other seven Stanford teams entered. None of them earned a medal in last year's Junior Olympics held in Orange County.
Burke's team got off to a good start on Thursday with a 12-6 victory over Stockton and a 14-4 triumph over Carlsbad. Stanford will be back at Gunn High on Friday for a pair of matches.
Also in the championship division, the Stanford 16U Red team posted an 11-2 win over Santa Clara and a 15-2 win over Pittsburgh to open the four-day event.
The Stanford 14U squad opened with a 14-2 win over Santa Clara, while the 14U White squad was blanked by Premier, 23-0. The 12U team lost to Northwood, 13-3.
Stanford has nine teams entered this weekend, including three teams in the 16U Division.
Susan Ortwein and Kyle Utsumi, both assistants for the Stanford University women's team that has won back-to-back NCAA titles and has placed five current or former players on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, will join Burke in coaching teams this weekend.
Ortwein has the 18U White while Utsumi will guide the 16U Red squad.
Championship matches in the Platinum Division will be held Sunday at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center.