The Ellis 16-and-under girls water polo team, including 11 players from Tracy and Mountain House, is competing in the 43rd annual Junior Olympics at Stanford University in Palo Alto. They are among 48 16U teams competing through Sunday, Aug. 5.
Team head coach Matt Gumpert said the girls have been playing together as a team for two years, primarily as a way for water polo players from Kimball, West and Tracy high schools to stay active in the sport during the winter and summer.
Gumpert said the team hadn’t set its sights on Junior Olympic competition until this year, when the national event came to Northern California. Ellis qualified at the USA Swimming Central Zone Qualifiers on June 23 and 24 at Oakdale High, where the team placed seventh of 10 teams and just made the cut for this weekend’s 48-team championship bracket.
“Either way, the big thing was that we’d get the experience,” Gumpert said.
The first game Thursday was against the No. 4 seed San Diego Shores A team. Results were unavailable by press time.
While the Ellis team is not officially connected to any of the high schools in Tracy, most of the girls come from Kimball High and will form the core of the Jaguar girls team this fall. Gumpert is also the head coach for the Kimball girls, but he stressed that the Ellis team is open to all players from Tracy and Mountain House.
Players include Sydnie Black, Colby Chase, Julihanna Mandeville, Courtney Moberg, Jhacky Romero, Meagan Shwab, Kaitlyn Traut, Tahnee Trew and Valerie Wong, all from Kimball High, plus Geraldine Vasquez, who attends West High, and Sasha Betts, an eighth-grader from Mountain House.
Also going to the Junior Olympics is Madeline Loggins, another eighth-grader from Tracy. She will play for the 680 Water Polo 14U squad from the East Bay, the top seed from the Pacific Zone.
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.