It was a productive summer showing for polo-playing Friars in the pool!
By Kyle Perry ’01, Head Boys’ Varsity Water Polo Coach
For the second year in a row, the American Water Polo National State Challenge, July 12, 13, 14, and 15, was held at Fenwick High School’s state-of-the-art Dan O’Brien Natatorium. “We were excited to return to Chicago for the 2018 National State Challenge,” stated AWP Director of Membership Damon Newman. “Last year’s tournament was a success with many competitive games played. We are looking forward to the potential participation of teams from throughout the country.” Teams from Illinois, Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee all participated in the high school boys and high school girls tournament.
On the girls’ side, the Windy City Water Polo team consisted of returning members of the Fenwick girls’ water polo team, which finished 2nd in the IHSA State Tournament last spring. After the first four games, the team entered their championship game undefeated. The team had outscored opponents 68 to 25 in the first four games with wins over Chicago Water Polo Club 24-7, Pittsburgh AQ 15-9, Red Hawks 12-3 and NIPC 17-6. The championship game saw a back and forth battle between Greenwich AQ and Windy City. Though Windy City jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, Greenwich AQ was able to get two more goals before the end of the first quarter. The second and third quarter were much the same, ending in a 4-4 tie and then 7-7.
After five minutes of scoreless action in the 4th, Greenwich AQ found the back of the net to go up 8-7. Two Windy City goals in the final minute of play sealed the deal and gave the 2018 National State Challenge Championship to Windy City. The 2018 National State Challenge Champions, all returning Fenwick student athletes, were Paulina Correa, Kassy Rodriguez, Harper Daniels, Xonhane Medina, Alyssa Sayatovic, Payton Nefur, Jorie Silvis, Sam Rodriguez, Cici Jenkins, Tegwyn Hollenbach, Ellie Kaiser and Caroline Doyle.
On the boys’ side, Fenwick boys found themselves on opposite teams fighting for the championship. Windy City Water Polo, which consisted of many Fenwick student-athletes, managed its way to the championship game with victories over LAW 12-11, Cincinnati Marlines 18-6, Vulture 15-10 and Chicago Parks Green 15-6. The Vulture win in the semi-finals was particularly satisfying as Vulture won that semi-final game last year at the National State Challenge 6-3. Vulture, a team made up of mainly athletes from Naperville Central also bested the Fenwick team the last two years in the state tournament, including last spring’s IHSA Championship Game. Both schools will likely be in competition for a state championship in 2019!
The Chicago Park District team also went undefeated heading into the championship game. In the final game, the Windy City boys had many chances but could not capitalize on the numerous exclusion fouls called on the Chicago Park District. Going two for 18 on the power play hurt the team’s chances of hoisting the championship trophy. At the end of one, Windy City trailed 2-1. This lead grew for the Chicago Park District, which was led by Friars Ivan Soto ’18, Ramses Flores ’19, and Alejandro Perez ’18 to 5-1 at halftime. Each team scored twice in third period.
Chicago Park District stretched the lead to 9-4. Two final goals by Windy City ended the game 9-6. Windy City was led by Fenwick’s Payton Comstock ’19, Dan Lynch ’19, Nate Fisher ’19, Alex Figus ’19, Chris Magyla ’19, Manny Ruiz ’19, Jack Nettleton ’20, Dan Bajda ’20, Diego Sahagun ’20, Brian Moore ’21, Wil Gurksi ’21, Pete Buinauskas ’21, and Caden Giesdorf ’21. Comstock was named to the All-Tournament Team.
In addition to a 2nd-place finish in the American Water Polo National State Championship, the largely Fenwick-based Windy City Water Polo club went 10-0 in the high school boys’ summer league.