Countdown To Preseason Polls With The Portage Muskies
Portage, Mich. - For the first time in program history, the Muskies made the bold step to host a tournament with major postseason implications for the coming season.
It comes in the wake of a brand new facility (and by brand new, it was intended to open for use for the 2020-21 academic year) opening. It opens the doors to Southwest Michigan's capital of Water Polo, a region rife with potential for growth.
"As I am a new coach, I did not have any experience in the old pool except as a spectator. The new facility is great and is set up to support water polo well," boys head coach Rich Walsh said. "The scoreboard is a huge improvement over the old pool and allows us to have flexibility in tailoring the display to welcome visiting teams, recognize our players, and have a little fun with it."
The 30,818 square foot facility housed by Portage Central High School serves as the home of the Portage Muskies. Fans can check out some views of the the completed project here.
Now the Muskies, with a picturesque facility on hand, have pushed their chips to the middle of the table. The Muskies put in the bid to host the Boys District 1 Seeding Tournament set for May 7-8, in an effort to show Southwest Michigan what the sport is all about.
"First we need to thank our AD, Joe Wallace for letting us take this on, he is a huge supporter of our sport and we could not do any of this without him," Walsh said. "We have wanted to host a tournament for awhile now to really try and grow the visibility of the sport in this area and this was a great opportunity to do that."
Portage's closest opponent is currently East Kentwood, about a 50 minute jaunt up US-131. Southern and Southwest Michigan is deep in swim talent. Battle Creek Lakeview, Plainwell, Sturgis, Harper Creek, and South Haven have all produced state rankings in swimming on either the boys or girls' sides from the past two years.
"As the only team from the SMAC (Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference) conference, we would love to get some more local teams from the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek areas interested," Walsh said. "No different than any of the other schools in the MWPA , we are very proud of our schools (Central and Northern) and we hope to make hosting a tournament a new tradition."
As for how the Muskies fare this coming season, Walsh likes his chances at building a deeper program with boys polo moving to the Spring session.
"We will have some unique opportunities that we hope to take full advantage of: We have the swim team largely getting the athletes conditioned for us, instead of the other way around," Walsh said. "We have more lead time in recruiting within the school, especially to the incoming freshman class. We also have an opportunity to recruit traditional fall sports athletes, so we are excited to see how this works out."
The Muskies, much like other teams in the state, will operate with some unknowns due to graduation and the long lay-off due to COVID.
"We had some really strong players graduate last year, like Ewan Tiongson and Connor Meyer, that were leaders in and out of the pool and thats always tough to replace but we also have some outstanding young men coming up that we know are up to the challenge," Walsh said. "We expect our seniors Jimmy Zesiger and Ethan Glinsky, and our juniors Jasper Taylor, Ryan Meyer, and Stanley Chen to really step into their own light and make an impact."
When opportunity knocked, the Muskies answered, putting the MWPA as a whole one step closer to to kicking off the 2021 season.