The Ripon Renegades 16-under boys water polo team competed in the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics on July 16-19 at various sites in the Bay Area and proved itself against good competition from the West Coast.
Ripon went 4-4 to place eighth out of 24 teams in the gold division, playing at Freedom High in Oakley, James Logan in Union City and Independence of San Jose over the four days. Their finish is a 10-spot improvement from last year’s Junior Olympics appearance.
"We are very proud and excited for our group of boys and the growth they continue to model,” Renegades 16U coach Christian Britton said. “They showed moments of real grit and flashes of their incredible potential at Jos, which I think gets everyone excited for the upcoming high school season.”
Ripon opened with a pair of losses to West Valley (9-5) and Big Valley Green (8-4) on July 16 before stringing together four straight victories over Corona Del Mar (16-12), San Jose WPF ‘B’ (16-6), Palos Verdes (13-2) and CC United Blue ‘B’ of Orinda (10-9). The Renegades took a tough 17-4 loss against TPCM Sharks f Marin and dropped a competitive seventh-place match to Santa Barbara 805, 11-8.
Ben Svoboda anchored the Renegades, totaling 17 goals, 12 assists and 15 steals. He amassed six goals, three assists and four steals in the high-scoring win over Corona Del Mar.
McKeane Beier was the team’s top two-way contributor, leading the way with 18 goals and 17 assists. Brody Biedermann collected 12 goals, 14 assists and seven steals. Teo West paced the defense with 18 steals while chipping in nine goals and 11 assists to the attack.
Ben Rodgers started in goal for seven of the eight matches, registering 51 saves and an assist. Ari Sello got the nod in the lopsided win over San Jose WPF ‘B,’ coming up with nine saves.
Gavin Guevara (two goals, assist), Ryan Bell (six goals, seven assists, five steals), Jared Warter (goal, assist, two steals), Patrick O’ Connor (four goals, steal), Nathan Selna (assist, steal) and Owen Curtiss (six goals, three assists, four steals) were also key contributors.
The younger Renegades squad went 2-5 in the golf division and took 19th place in the gold division, gaining valuable experience along the way. They played at four different sites: Independence and Lynbrook high schools in San Jose, Liberty in Brentwood and Northgate in Concord.
The wins came against Northwest (11-3) and CVU (10-7), avenging an earlier loss to CVU (13-4). Ripon also squared off with Elite Blue (16-7), San Diego Shores Gold ‘B’ (13-6), Northwest (11-3), CT Premier (15-6) and Cal Republic (17-11).
Trevor Bell spearheaded the Renegades with 14 goals, 13 steals and five assists. Matthew Lee added 16 goals, 11 steals and seven assists. Chetan Harvey tallied 13 goals, 23 steals and eight assists. Goalie Andrew Hanker recorded 53 saves.
Joel Geddes (seven goals, nine steals, six assists), Augustine Lee (two goals, three steals, assist), Deven Patel (goal, assist, steal), Lucas Rietkert (goal, five steals, 10 assists), Nathan Trujillo (three goals, seven steals, four assists) and Boen West (two assists, two steals) also left their mark in the tournament.
“I am proud and impressed by how well this team of young boys played these past four days,” assistant coach Molly Burton said. “It was their first time playing at the Junior Olympics after learning to play polo this year. Besides seeing their skills improve over the season, I saw them build relationships and create memories, which is what team sports is all about.”