The players on Kimball High’s girls water polo team attained another milestone this week for their school.
The 2013 Jaguars finished a game short of their goal but became the first Kimball water polo team — and only the fourth Jaguar squad — to make the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals since the school fielded its first varsity teams in 2010.
The first Kimball team to compete in the section semifinals was the spring 2012 softball team, followed by the spring 2013 softball team, which finished as Division IV runner-up, and the spring 2013 boys tennis team.
The Jaguar girls water polo team (20-10) lost to Rio Americano High (18-10) of Sacramento 11-4 on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Whitney High School in Rocklin. Rio Americano squares off against Oakdale High in the championship game Saturday, Nov. 16, at Woodcreek High in Roseville.
Kimball coach Matt Gumpert said he had expected Rio Americano, the champion of the Capital Athletic League and defending SJS Division II champion, to have a strong defensive press and quick counterattack.
Junior Katelyn Traut scored two of Kimball’s goals on Wednesday, and senior Colby Chase and junior Tahnee Trew scored one each.
On Tuesday, Nov. 12, the Kimball team prepared for its toughest opponent yet this season, and players said that regardless of how Wednesday’s game turned out, this year’s playoff appearance marks substantial progress for the team.
“We work day in and day out over the summer for hours and hours on end,” Traut said. “To see that it’s all paying off, it all means a lot.”
She and most of her teammates also play for the Ellis Aquatics water polo under-18 team, which has twice gone to the Junior Olympics and will get back to work on Dec. 3 for the USA Water Polo winter season. She said the Kimball team needed the year-round experience to be successful in the section playoffs.
“Section (playoffs) is similar to Junior Olympics, especially the 18-and-unders, because there’s lots of tough competition and lots of tough water polo players who have been working just as hard as us,” she said.
Junior Megan Schwab added that playing for the Kimball and Ellis teams has created a strong team bond.
“We’ve gotten closer as teammates, where we understand each other in the pool better,” Schwab said. “It’s really empowering that we’ve gone this far in two or three years.”
Seniors in their fourth year on the team include Chase, Jhacky Romero and Alyssa Poley. Juniors Taylor Widner, Alexis Clark and Courtney Moberg are in their third year. Senior Morgan Fauchier and sophomores A.J. Lee and Michaela Smith rounded out the 2013 team.
Gumpert said the girls encounter teams of varied skill levels during the year-round season, with their losses and close matches more likely to build character than their blowout wins.
“It definitely tests how good of a team you are, and how much you support each other,” he said. “These are girls who take their development seriously. They don’t mess around when it comes to developing as a team, and I’m very proud of them for that.”
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.