THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — For the first time in several years, the Cal Lutheran men's water polo roster is comprised by a majority of upperclassmen with five seniors and seven juniors, combined with a sophomore class of five and six freshmen. The strong leadership that is on the table, coupled with the offseason training that they all committed to and a lot of team cohesion early on in the season has already created endless opportunities for the 2017 squad.
"This group trained harder in non-traditional than any other team I have coached in the past five years," head coach Craig Rond shared. "The great leadership plus the maturity that they possess and the playing experience that they have is all going to go a long way this season."
Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) 2016 Second Team All-America center-defender Chris Gardhouse returns to the pool for his final season alongside classmates George French, Nick Loomis, Kevin Oetken and Davy Thomas. Gardhouse set a new single-season record with 73 drawn ejections and could break the current career mark this season. Additionally, he has his name second in a single-season with 69 steals while scoring 67 goals (one in every game) for the Violet and Gold last fall. Loomis is after the all-time saves record as he currently sits in fourth all-time at CLU with 519 after notching a single-season record 284 a year ago.
The junior class of Mats Albins, Justin English, Jack Kirby, Ramon Olivier V, Jake Venckus and Zach Zamecki brings a plethora of talent as English (injury), Olivier V, Venckus and Zamecki all return to the polo pool after a hiatus during which time both Venckus and Zamecki contributed significantly to the men's swimming and diving program over the last two seasons.
Returning with a year of collegiate experience, the sophomore group of Hans Cole, Taggart Diehl, Matt Fong, Seth Hightower and George Lundgren is acclimated to the pace of play and is set to contribute as well.
Joining the Violet and Gold in 2017 is junior transfer Thomas Randles, who spent two years playing water polo at Mount San Antonio College where he was an All-America and First Team All-Conference selection in 2016 while leading the state in steals. Donning the Violet and Gold for the first time of his career is a six-pack of freshman that includes Stephen Blaauw (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Parker Jory (Stockton, Calif.), Andre Laserna (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Wyatt Lowe (Pasadena, Calif.), Andre Rivas (Escondido, Calif.) and Jonathan Salandi (Glendale, Calif.).
Cal Lutheran travels to the Naval Academy to face several top Division I programs on opening weekend, Sept. 1-2. The Kingsmen return to the Samuelson Aquatics Center for the first time of the fall on Friday, Sept. 15 when the squad is set to play twice at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. against the Air Force Academy and Cuesta College, respectively.
Roster: 2017 Men's Water Polo Roster
Schedule: 2017 Men's Water Polo Schedule
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Release by Tracy L. Olson, Sports Information Director