The preliminaries are all but over for the boys and girls of the Stanford Water Polo Club with the National Junior Olympics coming up in just over a week. The final tuneups were this past weekend in separate tournaments in Southern California.
The Stanford boys sent three teams to the US Club Championships, with the 14&U squad posting the best finish while taking third. The 12&U team was 12th and the 16&U team 15th.
The 14&U team finished with a 4-1 record and was coached by Clarke Weatherspoon and included Niko Bhatia, Nikolas Caryotakis, Andrew Churukian, Miller Geschke, Jayden Kunwar, Alexander Nemeth, Andrew Penner, Nathan Puentes, Luke Rohlen, Chris Rowland, Walker Seymour, Corey Tanis, Alex Tsotadze, Alan Viollier and Larsen Weigle.
"My hope is that this result can give us a nice boost heading in JOs," said Weatherspoon. "Every tournament is unique, as is each game. These kids have played great throughout the year and it would be nice to get a high placement playing JOs at home.
"That said, they have all grown, physically and emotionally this year. I'm proud of their accomplishments and resilience regardless of the outcome. Let's see how it all shakes out."
Stanford defeated Northwood, 15-5; romped past Commerce, 17-2; held off CHAWP, 8-4; lost to eventual champion Vanguard, 12-4; and then beat Kahuna, 12-7, for third.
The Stanford 18&U team played in the Ironman Superfinals, another high-level club championship tournament in Orange County, and finished sixth.
The Stanford 18&U girls' team finished fourth at the US Club Championships, falling to SoCal in the semifinals, 9-8, and then dropping a 9-7 decision to 680 in the bronze-medal game on Sunday. Stanford opened with a 10-6 win over Rose Bowl, then defeated Huntington Beach, 6-4. On Saturday, Stanford edged Xtreme, 10-9, and defeated SET in the quarterfinals, 8-5.
Stanford's roster included Caroline Anderson, Sam Acker, and Bianca Batista from Gunn;
Caitlin Stuewe and Morgan McCracken from Sacred Heart Prep; Jessica Heilman from Menlo-Atherton; Sami Strutner, Courtney Batcheller, Natalie Williams, Anna Edgington, Katherine Moore, and McKenna Yates (St. Francis); Niki Reynolds (Burlingame); Kristen Denney (Carlmont) and Emma Malysz (Presentation).
The Stanford 16&U team opened with a 0-4 record and failed to medal.
The Junior Olympics, hosted by Stanford, will get under way July 26 at various local pools. The boys will play the first four days followed by the girls.
At the UANA Junior Pan American Championships at the Riverside Aquatics Complex, two players with Stanford ties led the USA Women's National Youth Team to the gold medal with an 11-6 victory over Brazil on Tuesday.
Aria Fischer, whose father Erich helped Stanford win an NCAA title in 1986, scored three goals while incoming Stanford freshman Jordan Raney also tallied three goals.
Fischer scored in the first minute of the game to give the USA the early lead. After Brazil scored, Raney scored for a 2-1 lead. Brazil tied the game before Fischer scored for a 3-2 lead.
Raney was one of five U.S. scorers in the second quarter as the Americans grabbed an 8-4 halftime lead. Brazil got to within 8-6 before Raney and Fischer scored in the fourth to help secure the gold medal.
The USA women reached the championship match with a 21-1 romp over Puerto Rico on Monday. Katherine Klass scored three goals for the USA. Her father, Craig, was an three-time All-American for Stanford in the mid-1980s. Raney scored once for the U.S.
The USA men's youth team advanced to the gold-medal match with an 11-6 win over Argentina on Monday. Menlo School senior Nick Bisconti plays for the Americans.