Successful start for JO qualifying | June 21, 2006 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - June 21, 2006

Successful start for JO qualifying

by Keith Peters

An ice cream social is all set for mid-week, a time for members of the Stanford Water Polo Club to get together and celebrate a great start to the summer season.

The club qualified five teams for the 2006 Junior Olympics last weekend at various sites around the Bay Area. The 18-under girls grabbed first place with five straight victories and the 16-under girls did likewise by sweeping its competition.

Both championship teams finished up Sunday at Campolindo High in Moraga.

The 14-under team earned a JO berth with a fourth-place finish while the 18-under B squad joined them with a fifth place and the 16-under squad qualified by taking sixth.

For Stanford 18-under A coach Kyle Utsumi, the weekend was just the start of a busy summer of coaching.

In addition to coaching his Stanford Water Polo Club team, Utsumi is the head coach of the U.S. Junior National Team. While his Stanford team competes in the Commerce tournament this weekend in Southern California, Utsumi will be a short trip away in Los Alamitos with his junior national squad.

Utsumi's job will be to run his squad through a training camp. At the end of the camp, he'll have to select 14 players from a 19-player roster for a team that will participate in two European tournaments in Greece and Italy. The junior team also will travel to Athens, Greece for the Pythia Cup between July 18-24.

Stanford freshman Lauren Silver is on the junior team along with two of Utsumi's Stanford Water Polo Club players, Palo Alto grad Phoebe Champion and Menlo-Atherton grad Kelly Eaton.

Both Champion and Eaton were instrumental in helping the JO team finish 5-0 last weekend. The squad opened with a 16-2 victory and an 18-2 rout at St. Francis High on Saturday.

The Stanford Water Polo Club boys' teams will hold their Junior Olympic qualifying tournament beginning Friday, with two teams in each the 18-under, 16-under and 14-under and one 12-under team.

The Stanford 18-under A team is loaded with plenty of high school talent in Brian Benedetti, Travis Bickham, Brian Bishop, Kyle Gertridge, Ben Hohl, Matt Hudnall, Brandon Johnson, Matt Johnson, Brian Roach, Elliott Samuels, Tyler Smith, Mike Sorgenfrei and Eric Vallone. Hohl was the 2005 Central Coast Section Player of the Year from Menlo School.

The Stanford 18-under B team features Will Agramonte, Tom Avery, Tyler Fischer-Colbrie, Matt Hale, Matt Heagy, Tim Hendrickson, Josh Minnis, Marko Pance, Chris Preston, Rodrigo Rengifo, Will Simon, Eric Stewart and Paul Winterbotham.

The Stanford 16-under A team includes Alex Avery, James Balassone, Michael Bausback, Ryan Brown, Tom Cole, Evan Dellinger, Toby Espinosa, Mark Hudnall, Miguel Martin de Bustamante, Tim Norton, Scott Platshon and Paul Rudolph.

USA Men's National Team

The United States lost to Hungary, 13-6, in its first official match of the summer two weekends ago.

Team USA spent the previous week in Europe for a training trip in which they have competed and practiced with other teams. Among 14 scrimmages, four were against Serbia and Montenegro, which recently split into two separate countries.

Stanford senior Peter Varellas and Cardinal grad Tony Azevedo each scored a goal against the Hungarians. Hungary scored the first five goals of the contest.

"It's been a good training session for us," U.S. coach Richard Azevedo said. "We have improved tremendously since we arrived."

Stanford grads Thomas Hopkins and Peter Hudnut are also on the squad.

Stanford freshmen Jimmie Sandman and William Hindle-Katel are members of the junior national team along with Stanford's Ryan McCarthy and Stanford Club member JP MacDonnell.

The junior team will be training in Los Alamitos before traveling to the Memorial Tournament in Italy on June 29.

Menlo School's James Balassone is on the national youth cadet team which will begin training in July.

USA Women's National Team

Stanford's Alison Gregorka, Katie Hansen, Christina Hewko and Jessica Steffens were all named to the senior 'A' team, joining Stanford grad Brenda Villa, a two-time Olympian.

A total of 20 players were selected to the team, with seven joining the 'B' team at the FINA World League preliminary round in Quebec City, Canada between July 7-9.

Following the prelims, the Senior 'A' Team will compete in the FINA World League Semifinals in Los Alamitos between July 12-19 and the FINA World League Super Final in Athens, Greece between July 26-30.

Following the Super Final, a team of 13 players will travel to the World Cup in Tanjing, China beginning Aug. 8.

"Currently we are focusing on the World Cup in August with an eye toward the World Championships in 2007," Team USA coach Guy Baker said. "By then we will have a pretty good idea of who our Olympic Team will be."

Stanford's Lauren Silver will play on the 'B' team along with Steffens, Hewko and Hansen.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.