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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Water Polo Dives Into Conference Play with a Splash of Victory

The men’s water polo team dominated all four matches in their first season conference tournament, which was hosted in Grinnell over Family Weekend. With an 18-0 win over St. Mary’s University, a 19-2 win over Carleton College, a 13-7 win over St. John’s University and a 13-3 win over Knox College, the “Wild Turkeys” have established themselves as a top contender for the conference title and are vying for a bid to the national tournament at Emory University come November.

Polo - Contributed
Photograph contributed. Tim Sherwood ’16 prepares to block a pass from an opposing team at this weekend’s water polo tournament.

Most importantly, the tournament was a prime opportunity for the Turkeys to become more comfortable working and playing together as a team. After creating a buffer lead through aggressive early scoring, the Turkeys were able to cycle all their players through the lineup, giving everyone a chance to get in the water.

“We had our starters in at the beginning and we would rotate the team after creating a big lead,” said Tim Sherwood ’16. “The victory margins could have been bigger, and it would have been disrespectful to quit playing, so everyone got playing time.”

The team was also able to assess its strengths and weaknesses, considering the amount of new blood joining the team this year.

“The starting lineup is drastically different than last year, due in part to our strong and handsome first-year class,” said Ben Weideman ’15.

In particular, the defensive side sports a new goalie, Zach Laird ’17, and two other outstanding first-years, Kyren DiMarzio and Tristan Knoth, all hailing from California.

In addition to the fresh faces, the Turkeys’ improvement and successful performance comes from the rigorous practice and conditioning the team has completed in preparation for the season.

“We’re well-conditioned and very fast,” Sherwood said. “We’re stronger, quicker and we’ve got great shooting”

This has given the team a boost of confidence, especially in conference play.

“Our practices are running more smoothly and that carried over into the weekend,” Weideman said. “All the teams we played were in our conference and we handily defeated them.”

Looking beyond their success, the team is zeroed in on future games and doing what’s necessary to win. In treating the tournament as a learning experience, as much as it was a playing experience, there was the opportunity to scout out other conference teams in anticipation of the conference championship.

“We had the opportunity to watch and analyze Augustana [College] and Macalester [College],” Weideman said. “They are the two strongest teams in our conference, so this past tournament was good practice for those future games.”

In terms of what’s next for the Turkeys, the team recognized the weaknesses that they want to focus on for the near future.

“We were a bit sloppy with our passing, and we can always improve our teamwork,” Sherwood said.

Honing these skills will be important this weekend, when the Turkeys will play Augustana and Macalester for the first time.

“Both teams will be the toughest competition in our conference. We are practicing this week on offensive and defensive strategies for these upcoming games,” Weideman said.

With a much stronger team and a clear understanding of their priorities and focuses, the Turkeys are confident in their ability to succeed this year.

“We believe we have a strong chance of winning our conference tournament this year. That is priority number one,” Weideman said. “If we win our conference, then we get the bid for the national tournament. Our overall goal is definitely to make it to the national tournament.”

Buoyed by a strong early season and with as good an opportunity as any to contest for the national championship, the team will be working harder than ever and hopes for a strong showing of Grinnellian support in their adventure.

“We’re dreaming big,” Sherwood said. “Actually, it’s not just a dream—it’s a goal. Fingers crossed, we’ll be able to win conference and continue playing the way we have been.” Fittingly, the Turkeys haven’t shown any signs of slowing down and seem destined for water polo greatness this season.

The Wild Turkeys’ next tournament is at St. Mary’s University, in Winona, Minn., on Oct. 5 and 6.

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