The Ripon Renegades 14-under boys water polo team placed 18th in its bracket and 43rd overall in the USA Water Polo Junior Olympic Championships last week.
It’s quite the feat for a small squad with little depth and experience. The Junior Olympics, which took place July 17-20 at William J. Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine, is just the third tournament these Renegades have competed in together. They qualified for the JO Championship Division with a fourth-place finish in the Central Zone JO Qualifiers last month.
The team is coached by C.J. Britton and made up of mostly incoming high school freshmen from Ripon, Modesto, Oakdale and Salida.
In Irvine, Ripon went 2-5 over four days of action. After three games, the Renegades were placed in the Gold bracket — the top 25 teams make the platinum bracket, and the next 25 fill out the gold. There is also a separate Classic Division for teams that did not qualify for the Championship out of Zone Qualifying.
Ben Svoboda was Ripon’s leading scorer for the tournament with 13 goals, four coming in an 8-6 victory over Shore Aquatics. McKeane Beier racked up a pair of hat tricks and finished with 11 goals.
Willey Ballantine netted five of his 10 goals in a 13-8 loss to Commerce, while Teo West got half of his eight goals in a 13-6 triumph over San Jose Express ‘B.’
Logan Castano (five goals), Brody Biedermann (two) and Nathaniel Lee are Ripon’s other scoring contributors. Biedermann scored his from the goalie position, where he averaged seven blocks per game. Ryan Bell and Nathan Selna also competed for the Renegades.