Men's Water Polo Season Preview
Longview Set to Payoff For Cuesta Men’s Water Polo
SAN LUIS OBISPO (September 7, 2016)- The Cuesta College Men’s Water Polo team opens the 2016 campaign at West Valley College in Saratoga, just it has for the past three decades. The Cougars are coming off back-to-back third place finishes in the Western State Conference, however those bronze finishes came on the heels of four straight titles and the Cougars are poised to take back the top spot in the loop. Coach John Marsh (278-134/13th year) has compiled one of his most talented and deepest teams in years and is poised to make a push deep into the playoffs. The Cougars have one of the program’s most physically imposing line-ups, with only one player under six-feet tall, as well as one of its most experienced. The Cougars boast EIGHT sophomores on the roster, including 2014 Team MVP Aidan Feigel (Sanger HS) and 2015 Team MVP John Hartshorne (Irvine). The Cougars Redshirted Feigel and three other starters from 2014 and Hartshorne is part of a trio of starters back from 2015, so the Cougars actually have seven returning starters to fill six field positions, before they even consider their standout first-year recruits. Marsh’s stockpile of talent provides the Cougars with depth and versatility, which will be the key to their success in 2016. Marsh says, “We are way better on offense and way better on defense. We have the talent to go deep in the playoffs.”
The West Valley Tournament runs all day on both Friday and Saturday. The Cougars home opener is scheduled for Thursday, September 22 at 2 PM. The Cougars host 2015 CCCAA State Runner-Up Golden West. The game is part of the Cuesta TV Project and will be broadcast (Tape Delay) on both Charter Cable Channel 2 and YouTube at CuestaHDTV.
The Cougars can almost field a full team of just versatile, utility players with four talented players that can excel anywhere in the tank. 2015 All American First Team selection John Hartshorne (Irvine) leads the Cougars again this season. Marsh says, “He is our best all around player and way ahead of last year.” Hartshorne enjoyed a strong swim season during the Spring and is back after scoring 87 goals and dishing out 31 assists on offense, while also finishing second on the team with 45 steals on the defensive end of the tank. 2014 All-State Second Teamer Aidan Feigel (Sanger HS) was primarily a defense player as a freshman, but should see his role expand this season. He netted 33 goals in 2014 and led the team with 63 steals. Marsh says, “He is a two-meter defender and a good perimeter player.” University of the Pacific transfer Jacob Rosenfeld (Thousand Oaks HS) saw limited action for the Tigers in 2014 and sat out last season. Marsh says, “He has speed, legs and is a good perimeter defender. This year he can focus on defense over offense.” Freshman Josh Jewell (Arroyo Grande HS) earned all-CIF at Arroyo Grande as an interior player, but has expanded his game to the perimeter this year. Marsh says, “He is changing from inside to outside this year.”
The Cougars interior offense and defense is loaded with talent and experience. Freshman Brad Dennis (Visalia) is a two-time all-CIF First Team selection and will play a big role for the Cougars this year. Marsh says, “Any other year he would be our best player…he still may be. He shoots well, is composed and he is a good passer.” All-WSC Honorable Mention picks Hissam El-Effendi (Arroyo Grande HS) and Dan Crozier (SLO HS) provide size, strength and, experience inside. El-Effendi was one of the Cougars’ redshirts last season, but scored 22 goals in 2014. Marsh says, “He is stronger, faster and better at set. He will see time at two-meters on offense and defense.” Crozier scored 18 goals last season, but had surgery in the off-season. Marsh says, ”He is improving after surgery and swimming strong. He is in better shape and looking for a role.” Freshmen Austin Martin (Visalia) and Mitchell Iunker (Templeton: Paso Robles HS) add even more size inside for the Cougars, while Whittier transfer Emerson Trout (SLO HS) adds speed and length. Martin and Iunker were both two-time all-league choices in high school and are the two biggest players on the team. Marsh of local product Iunker, “He is big and swims well. He is getting used to bigger water and bigger opponents.” Martin is developing at two-meters and Marsh says, “He is raw, but learning everyday. He is a big kid.” Trout has been out of the water after sitting out last season at Whittier. He was an all-league choice at SLO High and could step into a prominent role for the Cougars.
2015 All-WSC First Teamer Logan Smith (Albany, OR) and 2014 All-WSC Second Teamer Trevor Whitsitt (Orinda) lead a pack of talented quick perimeter players for the Cougars. Smith scored 25 goals as a freshman and is strong defender and deft passer. Whitsitt led the Cougars with 47 goals in 2014, but sat out last season after being injured in an assault just before the season. Marsh says, “He is physically all the way back, bigger and stronger.” 2014 All-WSC Honorable Mention choice Logan Deurloo (Porterville HS) is also back after sitting out 2015. He tallied 29 goals as a freshman and his passing will be a big part of the Cougars’ power-play. Marsh says, “He has game maturity and his shooting has improved.” Freshmen Austin Barton (Albany, OR), Mark Solorio (Fresno) and, Dylan Hughes (SLO HS) will also look for time on the perimeter for the Cougars. Barton redshirted at University of the Pacific in 2015, but then followed fellow West Albany High star Logan Smith to Cuesta. Marsh says, “He is fast, big and, throws hard. He has the physicality to play at this level.” Solorio enjoyed an all-CIF career at Clovis North High and is also developing for the Cougars. Marsh says, “He is fast, intelligent and picking up the college game.” Hughes has been a pleasant surprise for the Cuesta coaches after earning all-SLO County last season. Marsh says, “He has done everything well. He will develop.”
The one place the Cougars are lacking depth is in the goal. Freshman Logan Mankins (Arroyo Grande HS) is the Cougars’ lone goalkeeper and will see every second in the goal. Mankins earned all-CIF honors at Arroyo Grande High back in 2012 and is knocking off the rust and getting his legs back. Marsh says, “He is getting better everyday.”