The Stanford Water Polo Club made some club history a year ago in the boys' competition at the National Junior Olympics, which the club hosted at Stanford University and area pools. Stanford placed five teams among the top 12 in the Platinum Division, more than any other club in the country.
Now, with more teams (12) qualified than ever before, the Stanford boys hope to improve upon last year's effort when the nation's largest water polo tournament gets under way in Orange County on July 25.
Following the boys' competition that concludes July 28, the girls will take to the pools from July 29-Aug. 2.
Stanford has lots of room for improvement with two more teams qualified than before. Plus, the club won just one medal last year -- a bronze by the 14&U A team. The 18A team finished fourth, the 16A team was fifth, the 12A squad was 10th and the 14B team was 12th.
The top Stanford team heading to JOs could be the 18A squad, which finished first in the recent Pacific Zone Qualifying Tournament.
"We played well, but they are still a little rusty at this point," head coach Brian Kreutzkamp said of his players, who went 4-0 and toppled Lamorinda in the finals, 11-5. "I'm looking forward to them getting in better shape and making a deep run at the Junior Olympics."
Kreutzkamp, who has coached his Sacred Heart Prep boys to four straight Central Coast Section Division II championships, likes the roster he has for JOs.
"The roster has as much talent as we have had in previous years, possibly more depth this year," he said. "Most of them were on the 16U team two years ago that lost in the championship game of the JOs in a shootout."
Kreutzkamp has a handful of current and former SHP players in Will Conner, Grant Harvey, JC Marco, Nelson Perla-Ward and Michael Swart. He also has current Gunn standout Christian Znidarisc plus Gunn grad Ari Wayne plus Menlo School grad Nick Bisconti and Menlo returnee Chris Xi.
Also advancing to JOs for the Stanford boys are the 18Bs (fifth), 16As (third), 16Bs (fifth), 16Cs (11th), 16Ds (12th), 14As (second, 14Bs (sixth), 14Cs (18th), 12As (fourth), 12Bs (sixth) and 10U mixed (fourth).
The Stanford Girls Water Polo Club, meanwhile, has a lot of room for improvement at JOs with no team finishing higher than 12th in the Platinum Division in '14.
The 18A team, which was 14th last summer, recently finished third at the Pacific Zone Qualifying. Stanford opened with a 17-0 win over Academy, romped to a 19-1 win over West Valley, lost to Diablo, 7-6, before bouncing back to defeat Lamorinda, 10-2.
Head coach Mark Hernandez has two members from his Gunn team on the roster -- Sam Acker and Bianca Batista plus Malaika Koshy from Sacred Heart Prep.
The 18B team, coached by former Stanford University player Kelsey Holshouser, also qualified for JOs after finishing seventh. The squad was 20th at JOs last year.
The Stanford !6A team, which was 17th a year ago at JOs, finished third in the zone qualifying tournament behind 680A and Diablo A.
"Our A team is a talented group of individuals who have come together and are learning how to best play together," said head coach Tatiana Dehned, who coaches the Menlo-Atherton girls during the fall. "They all have incredible skills and now we are working on bringing out their best qualities for the greater good of the team. We are able to hold our own in competitive games and continue to fight through while making adjustments and improvements."
The Stanford 16B team, meanwhile, advanced to JOs after finishing 10th. The 14A squad was third and the 14B team was 11th, giving the Stanford girls six squads for the Junior Olympics.
In other water polo news, Gunn sophomore Zoe Banks and Sacred Heart Prep junior Maddy Johnston were recently named to the USA Water Polo Youth National Team, for players 18 years of age and under. Banks also will be playing for the Stanford Girls Water Polo Club (16A team) in the upcoming National Junior Olympics while Johnston will play for the 680 18A squad.