Challenge is new for BHS water polo

Despite losing several top players from last year's boys water polo team that finished ninth in the state with a 14-11 record, first-year varsity coach Mead Trick is optimistic as he prepares for the team's opening game next Tuesday against Lakes.Trick, who previously coached the Golds (JV) and Whites (C), is swapping positions with last year's Blue (varsity) coach, Jeff Clark.We have a strong group of guys with varsity time returning, Trick says. They're a pretty positive group of guys with good fundamentals who know each other pretty well and have the ability to gel as a team.They include senior co-captains Blaine Ness and Dylan Cool, plus juniors Brian Burns, Jon Rochelle and Nate Rooks. Rooks was the leading scorer last season, tallying 79 goals for an average of more than three per game.In addition, several players move up from last year's Gold team, which finished second in their state tournament. That group is headed by seniors Seth Bailey and Brad Tuffley and includes half a dozen juniors: Russell Carroll, Matt Colley, Drew Keller, Alex Morris, Tristan Stringer and Jacob Whitmore. Whitmore, last year's Gold goalie, will assume the same role for the Blues this season.He's going to be a great asset, Trick believes.Trick sees last year's top three teams - Mercer Island, Sammamish and Newport respectively - as well as Curtis and Bellevue as Bainbridge's top competition at this year's state tournament, which will be held at the King County Aquatic Center Nov. 2-4.Likely to be less formidable is the challenge presented by the other teams in Bainbridge's league: Peninsula, Roosevelt, Shorewood and Wilson, probably the strongest of the group.We can definitely play with them, and I feel we can beat all of them, Trick says. We work harder in the off-season.The league winner receives an automatic berth to the state tournament, while the others have to play their way in.The Gold team includes juniors T.J. Bell, Willy Schwab and Pete Wagner and five sophomores up from last year's White team: Jake Christensen, Paul Clark, Josh Johnson, Nick Moga and Stuart Stringer.Sophomores John Kersten and Andrew Miller-McKeever lead this year's White team, which also includes freshmen James Bailey, George Fleischfresser, Thomas Houston, Jeremy James, Michael Stephen-McRae, Patrick Stewart and Max Wagner.The freshmen are excited about playing this year, Trick says. This is their introduction to water polo.

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