THE SIX members of the Bahamian Mantas Water Polo Club - Saequan Miller, Gabriel Sastre, Alexander Turnquest, Nicholas Wallace-Whitfield, Gabriel Encinar, Damian Gomez and Thor Sasso - have joined the Houston Storms to form a select team “BahTex ManStorm” to contest the Under-16 Classic division at the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics in San Jose, California.
By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
BAHAMIAN water polo players continue to progress through the preliminary rounds at the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics.
The six members of the Bahamian Mantas Water Polo Club - Saequan Miller, Gabriel Sastre, Alexander Turnquest, Nicholas Wallace-Whitfield, Gabriel Encinar, Damian Gomez and Thor Sasso - have joined the Houston Storms to form a select team “BahTex ManStorm” to contest the Under-16 Classic division at the event in San Jose, California.
They opened the tournament with a 7-3 loss to the N San Diego Stars but followed later that afternoon with a 9-6 win over Praetorian WPC. They advanced to the upper 24 teams division with a 5-4 win over Raptor A.
In the final group of 24, the team suffered consecutive losses to Vanguard Red (11-4) and CDM Aquatic White (8-7). The losses placed the ManStorm in Group S and in contention for 24-21 place out of the 48-team field bracket.
The team suffered a 12-10 loss to NIPC yesterday and had an evening matchup against WPF B team, however results were unavailable up to press time last night.
The USA Water Polo Junior Olympic Championships is the largest age group water polo tournament in America with over 400 teams competing over the course of the four-day event. Athletes and teams come from across the country to compete on the national stage.
The Junior Olympics Tournament consists of two divisions - the Championship Division and the Classic Division.
The Bahamian players first joined the Storms at the Southwest Zone Junior Olympics Qualifier tournament in Houston, Texas last month where they finished fourth out of 10 teams.
They opened the tournament with a 21-4 win over CFWPC, followed by a 16-9 win over the Longhorns and a 21-0 win over Viper Pigeon Black. They lost the final match of the group stage 27-6 to Thunder Black.
In the semi-final they suffered a 17-6 loss to Trident and in the bronze medal final, came up short to Viper Pigeon Green, 18-6.
Encinar, Gomez, Sasso, Sastre, Turnquest and Wallace-Whitfield are on the Under-16 boys team that also placed in the Southwest Zone Qualifier, which placed them in the U-16 Classic bracket.
Miller, Sastre, Turnquest and Wallace-Whitfield all competed with the U-18 Storm team that won the silver medal in the qualifier which seeded them in the Under-18 championship bracket at the JO tournament. The tournament starts on Saturday, July 21 and the Under-18 Storm team will take on the 8th ranked LA Premier.
Thomas Illing also competed in the Houston tournament. However, he was unable to attend the Junior Olympics this year.
While in California, the team will attend an expo being held by USA Water Polo. This expo will feature presentations on the path to college water polo, being a triple impact competitor, elevating your game and a mental skills clinic. Additionally, there will be a college coach meet-and-greet for rising grade 12 players.
Bahamas Water Polo senior captain Saequan Miller was recently awarded a college scholarship to play water polo for Salem University.
The Houston Storm is under the direction of head coach Edwin Barrera.