A number of local players earned the chance to represent Tulare County on the national level.
The Exeter Women's Water Polo Club recently represented Tulare County at the Junior Olympics of Water Polo in Southern California. The club was the only one from Tulare County to qualify for the Junior Olympics
Throughout COVID, the Exeter Women's Club continued to train for the national tournament. The Lindsay Wellness Center housed the team from July of 2020 to May of 2021. Then the club moved back to its home site of Exeter High School.
More than athletes competed for a spot on the 18 and under and 16 and under teams. Twenty seven athletes were selected to participate in the tournament from Porterville, Tulare, Visalia, and Strathmore. The athletes practiced for the last few months to prepare for this tournament.
The 18 and under team played seven games in four days, placing 20th in the event. Six of the players from the team are continuing their playing careers in college: Alicia Fregoso (Biola University), Karlie Wanmer (Biola University), Meg Gostanian (Cal State Monterey Bay), Ava Lobue (Biola University), Paulina Cemo (Biola University) and Abigail Summers (Cal State Monterey Bay).
“My last Junior Olympic experience was super memorable,” LoBue, a Monache graduate, said. “It was really exciting to go back to this tournament we didn't get to go to last year due to COVID.
“It's always an amazing tournament with stiff competition. This Junior Olympics was my last time playing with the Exeter Club so it was bittersweet, but I know I'll still be playing in the years to come at Biola University.”
The 16 and under team finished the week in 11th place with a 3-4 record. Two of the losses were only by two goals.
The team's defense was led by Porterville High School's Ahna Davis. Davis tallied more than 100 saves in 7 games at goalie.
The team won its first game in a shootout with Davis blocking four out of five of the shots. Skylar Malone and Adelyn Merritt scored in the shootout to lead the team offensively
“The team rallied together through the week improving immensely,” Exeter Water Polo Club Coach Jack Amaral said. Among the highlights for the team was an oustanding effort against the club that finished second in the event as the locals lost to that team by just two goals.
The 16 and under team was coached by Exeter Water Polo Club Alumnus Shanti Reisinger. Reisinger aged out from Exeter Water Polo four years ago.
While she was with the Exeter Club, she led the Exeter Water Polo Club to a fourth place finish at Junior Olympics After Exeter, she went on to play water polo at Sierra College where she was a two time All American and the team's leading scorer. She also helped lead Sierra to the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship in 2018. She then went on to sign at San Diego State University to play water polo.
Devon Cardoza (TWHS) says “It was a fun experience going down south to compete in Junior Olympics,” said Tulare Western's Devon Cardoza. “I got to know my team better and had a great experience playing against teams from all over. “