Fri, Sep 16 2011 03:04 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The Hilltop High School boys water polo program took a page from its past and simultaneously flipped to the end of the book when it hosted its annual alumni game Sept. 2 at the Parkway pool. The result was a spirited 12-11 victory for the current varsity team, and a lot of smiling faces on the alumni, some of whom attended the west side Chula Vista school in the 1970s.
“It was a big boost to our program to have so many guys from the ’70s and early ’80s show up to participate and talk with our current group of boys,” HHS coach John Salts said.
Present for the alumni were such notables as Tom Martinez, Greg Sokil, Jefferson Smith and John Carroll.
Martinez (1978-80) was named the 1980 San Diego Section Player of the Year while representing the Lancers’ 1980 CIF championship team. He still ranks second in the section record book with 277 career assists and third for single-season assists with 121.
Salts noted that Murray Smith, Jefferson Smith’s older brother from the class of 1975, also was on deck, but ran out of time and had to head back to work before being able to jump in and play.
“These guys are legends in our program and have set the foundation that we currently stand on and attempt to build upon each season,” Salts said. “These were members of the last CIF championship team here at Hilltop.”
Martinez likely needs no introduction in local water polo circles. An All-American, he was the first San Diego County player to earn a full scholarship to play collegiate water polo (at UCLA). He also went on to play for the United States national team.
Sokil attended Pepperdine University.
“The best part of the day was having these guys in the water and watching that they still have that ‘it factor’ — they still had great plays and incredible shots,” Salts said. “It was awesome. Our young guns were in serious awe after the match when talking about the game. It was also nice to see the older guys give back to the newer generation in passing along some tidbits or wisdom.
“One of the biggest things we talk about is once you are in this program that you will always be a part of the family. It was really nice seeing family members come home.”
Martinez was credited with three goals as was Juan Ontiveros, a member of last year’s team.
The class of 2011 (and several recent years) was well represented in the pool. Joining Ontiveros were former teammates Ryan Wertz, Leo Perez, Roman Gonzalez, Austin Clark and Ben Santos.
Still proving they can play at a very high level were Nick Davidson and Mitch Seeley, both of whom are now coaches in their own right.
Also on hand were Dan Kovar (father of CIF champion diver Kyle Kovar), as well as Kristine King, Julia Relph and Lauren Casillas.
Luis Ontiveros led the varsity with four goals while Stuart Sokil and Tanner Franklin each were credited with three goals. Josue Macias played three quarters in the cage.
Because of the timeline spread, there were some interesting match-ups.
Sue Sokil, mother of Steve, Greg, David and Chris (all varsity team members in the 1980s) was on hand to watch both her son Greg and her grandson Stuart play against each other.
Carol Smith, mother of Murray Jefferson and Ellen (the boys were standouts at Hilltop while Ellen was one of the premier female players in the conference during the co-ed era of the ’80s at Bonita Vista), came out to watch her sons and close family friends — the Sokils — battle it out.
“All in all, it was a great and very memorable day for Hilltop water polo,” Salts said.
The Lancers varsity team faced off the season 2-0 following victories against Escondido (17-9 on Sept. 6) and Oceanside (20-1 on Sept. 12).
Stuart Sokil led Hilltop in Monday’s game with five goals while Tanner Franklin and Luis Ontiveros each scored three times. Rodrigo Perez, Carlos Uribe, Giovanni Rude and Miko Martinez each had two goals while Jeremiah Schultz scored once.
Goalie Josue Macias was credited with two saves.
The Lancers built an 8-0 lead before the Pirates scored their first goal.
HHS coach John Salts was especially pleased by his team’s regular season opening victory against the Division I Cougars that avenged last season’s 9-7 loss.
Perez led all scorers with four goals, followed by Sokil and Uribe each with three goals. Macias allowed three goals and made seven saves in half-game duty while sophomore Conner Kober allowed six goals and made four saves in the other half of the game.
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