Water polo clubs hope for waves of success

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Published 2013-03-27T06:00:00Z”/>


Splash downMenEmily Duran

When 85 students packed the pool for Chico State men’s water polo tryouts last year, it was a proud moment for coach Clifford Kunkel.

Kunkel is a former Chico State player who was on the team from 2007 to 2009 before beginning his coaching career.

Since he began working with the club six years ago, it has grown from an unorganized team consisting of about 17 people to a competitive program carrying 25 players, Kunkel said.

The Wildcats compete in the Sierra Pacific Division and finished with a 4-4 record last season. Although the ’Cats finished in fourth place, Kunkel is optimistic about how they did and what they will do, he said.

“We had a lot of seniors leave, which creates a giant vacuum and void of leadership,” he said. “So this year was more of a building year. Fourth place is a very solid season.”

The water polo season consists of four tournaments in which teams compile an overall record. The team’s record then determines its seed for the final single elimination tournament in the Sierra Pacific Division. The winner of this competition receives the only bid to the national tournament.

Despite missing the opportunity to go to the national competition last year, the team’s ultimate goal for its upcoming season is to make that trip, sophomore club president Reed Cochran said.

“It’s not a matter of doing something differently,” Kunkel said. “We’ve played in the championship game to go to nationals the last three seasons. It’s about team chemistry and camaraderie.”

The team is preparing and training for its season by practicing twice a week.

While the Wildcats have a pool of talent, Cochran said their strength lies elsewhere.

“More than the talent on the team, everyone wants to be there,” he said. “Everyone who is there has a passion for water polo. We all have a love for the sport.”

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<strong>Emily Duran can be reached at</strong> <a href=”mailto:[email protected]”><em>[email protected]</em></a>

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