While school may have been out for the summer, Chula Vista’s returning high school student-athletes found plenty of activities to keep themselves occupied … and in peak fitness form.
In fact, many prep student-athletes lead a double-life during the high school off-season by playing for club teams. Not only does the extra investment of time pay off with added hands-on training and game time but national team and college recruiters regularly attend regional and national club championship events, so it makes for nothing short of a win-win situation.
The Mustang/South Coast Water Polo team rolled out a boys and girls 18-under team this summer that participated in the annual East County Summer League program run out of El Capitan and Valhalla high schools.
Otay Ranch High School girls water polo coach Ernie Medina oversaw both teams, which held their own against some of the better programs based out of Granite Hills, Valhalla, El Capitan, Helix, Ramona, West Hills and Ramona high schools.
"I wanted to have something down here so the kids could experience water polo without having to pay a lot of money and not travel long distances," Medina said.
The 18U girls team featured a turnout of two dozen players from Eastlake, Hilltop, Bonita Vista, Otay Ranch and Mar Vista high schools while the 18U boys squad drew more than a dozen players from Bonita Vista, Mar Vista, Otay Ranch and Hilltop high schools.
"We have really put together a pretty good boys and girls South Coast area all-star team," Medina said.
The girls team wrapped up summer league play with an 11-2 victory against Bulldawg (Ramona) on July 19 to finish 3-3 overall in league play, 5-4 (including outside tournaments).
Players from Otay Ranch included sophomores Emma Cornwell, Gabby Nunez, Kendra Gregory and Fernanda Arambula, juniors Sarah Medina, Cailin Lechner, Lizzie Lechner, and seniors Kelsey Eaton, Tori Kelly, Audrey Py, Tricia Ferrer, Cielie Netzelt and Briana Patricio.
Eastlake supplied a contingent of three players: juniors Haley Derrod (goalie) and Natsumi Watanabe and senior Kerry Lindsay. Hilltop junior Chelsea Tomlinson and Bonita Vista senior Bailey Garcia both earned starting positions on the team.
Medina (first team), Derrod (second team) and Eaton (honorable mention) all earned all-league recognition in the summer circuit.
The boys team finished 2-4, with four losses by one goal. Otay Ranch players included juniors Mack Glass, Erik Stoke (goalie) and Jurgen Baeza, and seniors Justin Paje, Miguel Montes, Carlo Fiorillo, Mario Montes and Geo Lucatero.
Hilltop had four players participate: seniors Stuart Sokil, Rodrigo Perez, Juan Ontiveros and Carlos Uribe.
Bonita Vista had three players participate: juniors Anthony Muzquiz and Robert Rabago and senior James Cevallos.
Mar Vista’s Justin Patacsil earned selection to the summer league’s first team while Hilltop’s Sokil was named to the second team and Otay Ranch’s Stoke earned honorable mention honors.
Patacsil led the team in scoring with 10 goals in a two-game summer league tournament held July 9. Hilltop’s Rodrigo Perez and Juan Ontiveros each ranked second on the team with four goals, followed by Sokil with three goals. Stoke amassed 21 saves in the two games.
The South Coast team defeated Crusader Polo, 12-1, in a non-league game. Patacsil, Sokil and Mack each scored three goals in the win.
Medina said players to watch in the upcoming boys high school season this fall include Patacsil at the offensive two-meter position, Sokil at driver and defensive two-meter guard, Uribe and Cevallos at utility, Glass at driver and Stoke at goalie.
The girls high school season starts in winter. Players to watch according to the Mustang South Coast coach include his daughter Sarah Medina at driver, Eaton at two-meter/ center, Derrod at goalie and Tomlinson and Lindsay at utility.
The summer water polo season ramped up a level for two of the Mustang/South Coast 18U girls players —Eastlake’s Derrod and Otay Ranch’s Medina — as members of the San Diego Shores 16U team that is participating in this week’s USA Water Polo Junior Olympics in Irvine.
Medina will play for Shores’ 16U Gold team while Derrod will play for Shore’s 16U Black team.
The tournament runs through Sunday.
Derrod played for Shores last year, winning a gold medal at the California State Games, while this is the younger Medina’s first trip to the Junior Olympics with the elite squad.
Derrod recently competed in the U.S. club championships for Shores held in July in Walnut Creek.
The annual Junior Olympic tournament features 48 teams in each division (as opposed to 16 for the club championships), with teams playing eight to nine games in four days.
“In age-group water polo, it is considered to be at the top,” the elder Medina said.
Derrod, who is an incoming junior, earned recognition during the 2010-11 high school season as the Mesa League’s top goalie while helping lead her team to a co-championship with Otay Ranch.
Derrod’s commitment to excellence is pretty much served year-round.
“At this level, you have to sacrifice everything in order to be the best,” she said. “That’s what has helped our team win championships.”
Sarah Medina ranks as the Shores 16U Gold team’s leading scorer this year.
“I’m improving, I feel I’ll learn a lot, I’m excited,” she said. “I look at these players at a higher level and I’m learning more than I did before.”
Medina and Watanabe participated in the Aliso Viejo 16-under tournament with the San Diego Shores travel team on July 9. Medina scored 10 goals and added five steals in games against Aliso Polo and Pacific Polo while Watanabe had one goal and three steals in games against Regency Polo and Huntington Beach.
The Mustang South Coast Water Polo Club will offer a fall ball program to begin in late August. Contact coach Medina at 392-8288.
Mustang/South Coast WPC
Girls 18-under team Roster
Otay Ranch: Sarah Medina, 11; Kelsey Eaton, 12; Tori Kelly, 12; Audrey Py, 12; Camila Benitez, 10; Emma Cornwell, 10; Tricia Ferrer, 12; Cailin Lechner, 11; Kendra Gregory, 10; Lizzie Lechner, 11; Fernanda Arambula, 10; Gabby Nunez, 10; Briana Patricio, 12, Cielie Netzelt, 12
Hilltop: Chelsea Tomlinson, 11
Bonita Vista: Bailey Garcia, 12
Eastlake: Haley Derrod, 11; Natsumi Watanabe, 11; Kerry Lindsay, 12
East County all-league selections: Medina (first team), Derrod (second team), Eaton (honorable mention)
Boys 18-under team roster
Otay Ranch: Mack Glass, 11; Erik Stoke, 11; Justin Paje, 12; Miguel Montes, 12; Carlo Fiorillo, 12; Mario Montes, 12; Geo Lucatero, 12; Jurgen Baeza, 11
Hilltop: Stuart Sokil, 12; Rodrigo Perez, 12; Juan Ontiveros, 12; Carlos Uribe, 12
Bonita Vista: James Cevallos, 12; Anthony Muzquiz, 11; Robert Rabago, 11
Mar Vista: Justin Patacsil
East County all-league selections: Patacsil (first team), Sokil (second team), Stoke (honorable mention)
Records: Girls 18U (3-3 league, 5-4 overall), Boys 18U (2-4 league, 3-4 overall).