Park City Water Polo teams win at Colorado invitational
The Park City Water Polo Club finished its season with a bang, with two of its teams – the 18U boys and the 18U girls – winning the Grier Laughlin Memorial Invitational in Thornton, Colorado, on Nov. 10-12. The club brought nine teams to the Denver suburb to compete against others from Utah as well as from Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Illinois in the season’s culminating event.
“It’s really the most competitive tournament outside of the mountain zone championships for our area,” said Jeffrey Whipple, who coaches the 16U and 18U boys teams.
Last year, Park City Water Polo’s 16U boys team won out and the 18U boys team took second at the invitational, while the 18U girls team also took second.
Whipple said the key 18U boys swimmers have been part of the program for three to four years, including Luke Swanson and Jack Troxel, who is also a captain for the Park City High School swim team.
“They were part of the first group to come and play,” Whipple said.
Whipple added that star players Kiyan Mohebbizadeh and Nick Obradovich have also played a large role in the success of the boys 18U team.
The girls 18U team is coached by Josh Loyens and outstanding former PCHS swimmer Bella Buchanan, while Waverly Golden and Maya Mohebbizadeh are the team’s leaders. The team got an unlikely boost from its eighth-and-ninth grade athletes, Eva Stein, Calla Troxel, Sofia Bernasconi, Nina Zipnick and Nina Bastick.
“You’ve got eighth and ninth graders who are contributing to a high school team to win multi-state tournaments; that’s pretty amazing,” Whipple said. “It’s just hats off the coaching and program for producing young athletes that can compete against other clubs.”
It was something of a watershed year for the club, which started with one experienced player six years ago and now has more than 100 participants.
“The program’s growing like crazy, and it’s getting fun” Whipple said. “The whole culture has gone from one as a new sport we never thought would make it, to people becoming great friends and kids excelling.”
Steele DeWald has his life in Park City down to a routine. After some strange encounters in his 20s, he’s OK with the mundane.