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The Scarlet & Black

Water polo finishes second in Division

Kahlil Epps ’18 attempts to disrupt an opponent’s passing lane. Photo by John Brady,

The men’s water polo team placed second in the Great Plains Division Championship hosted by the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis last weekend. The Wild Turkeys soundly defeated Minnesota, their first opponent, 14-6, and snatched a victory against Iowa State University 9-8, but fell to Illinois State University 8-7 in the final round.

“It was really close,” said co-captain Tim Sherwood ’16. “But we really stepped up and started to believe in ourselves and really chipped away and ended up getting the lead.”

Although the Wild Turkeys did not clinch the Championship, considering they competed against Division I schools, the feat they achieved this season is incredible.

“We got a lot of new recruits, we started to have better organized practices [and] had a lot more talent, too,” said co-captain Ben Weideman ’15. “When we got that different talent, it wasn’t as fun anymore to play against teams that weren’t up to our competition.”

The transition, in the end, greatly improved the team’s competence, which it will display during the upcoming Division III National Championships in Bowdoin College this weekend.

“We had better competitions throughout the year and hopefully we can win,” Sherwood said. “We are closer than last year and again, we are a better team, we know how to finish games and we know how to come back.”

Kahlil Epps ’18 attempts to disrupt an opponent’s passing lane. Photo by John Brady,
Kahlil Epps ’18 attempts to disrupt an opponent’s passing lane. Photo by John Brady,

The Wild Turkeys, however, did not magically improve by simply joining Division I. Meticulous planning and trying practices were essential on the team’s part to attain the second place at the Division Championship.

“We coach ourselves, so in the past it has been more laissez-faire [on] how we went about doing practices,” Weideman said. “But the captains got together and figured out what we wanted to work on each day and we do heavy portion of conditioning to help us get into shape.”

Many members also need to balance between swimming and water polo which, Sherwood admitted, can be quite difficult.

“Once swim meet starts, swimming takes priority,” he said. “It’s really tough to balance and try to do well in the season.”

However, the Wild Turkeys treat water polo as a source of recreation and learning rather than added stress.

“It’s difficult to balance it but people who play water polo do it because they love to do it,” Weideman said. “Going into Division III national, we want to do really well but the base of it always is just to have a good time and have fun playing what we like to play.”

As the team grows in skills and number of accolades, the members hope to build a stronger team and a lasting name for the Wild Turkeys. Weideman anticipates that the team can provide more options for future water polo hopefuls.

“We don’t have resources to recruit people,” he said. “However, as we get better and we make more of a name for ourselves playing water polo, it is more likely that someone who is interested in playing water polo and is also interested in going to liberal arts school might get Grinnell on the radar for that reason.

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