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MWPA Girls Quarterfinal Preview | Huron vs. Jenison


The 2022 Girls State Tournament opens with a match-up pitting the East Region Champion Ann Arbor Huron River Rats with an up-and-comer in the West Region's fourth seeded Jenison Wildcats. The River Rats are attempting to win their all-time leading ninth state title, while the Jenison Wildcats are trying to get to the big game for the first time since 1999.


Meet the East Region Champion River Rats

Record: 22-5

Prior Match-Ups: This is their first meeting this season

This Year: District 4 and East Region Champions

Head Coach: Mary Chatigny

Award Winners

Emma Kaipainen - East Region Regular Season & Tournament MVP

Zannah Baker - East Region First Team, East Regional Tournament First Team

Lydia Hargett (G) - East Region First Team, East Regional Tournament First Team

Alli Sutton - East Region Honorable Mention, East Regional Tournament Second Team

Margo Leone - East Region Honorable Mention, East Regional Tournament Second Team


From 1993-2001, Ann Arbor Huron ran the MWPA in girls water polo, winning eight of nine state titles. With the growth of girls water polo in Michigan, competition got deeper. Huron continued to be a strong group, but after winning their eighth title in 2001, they didn't resurface in the championship game again until 2013 and 2014 under Justin Thoresen. They fell both times to strong groups, and returned once more in 2018 in a loss to Hudsonville.


This season, Huron has perhaps, fully reloaded. East Region MVP Emma Kaipainen scores an average of 4.7 goals per game. Zannah Baker is nearing an average of three per game. Lydia Hargett has allowed less goals than the amount of games she's played in (that is in fact, a real stat). Alli Sutton and Margo Leone both round out a senior-laden roster of high-end talent. With how powerful Huron was at the beginning, it's been 21 years since they lifted the grand prize. While they are still the all-time leaders in Championships, Mary Chatigny is eager with this opportunity filled with stars and experience to add another to the trophy case.


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Meet the West Region's Fourth Seeded Wildcats

Record: 19-11

Prior Match-Ups: This is their first meeting this season

Head Coach: Spencer Sanders

Award Winners

Rachel Huyser - West Region First Team, West Regional Tournament First Team

Caroline Norton - West Region Honorable Mention, West Regional Tournament Honorable Mention

Hailey Sherman - West Region Honorable Mention

Elyse Radawski - West Regional Tournament Second Team


Jenison on the whole between both the girls and boys teams took a huge leap forward in 2022. We'll save the boys for next week, because the girls made one of the MWPA's biggest single-season turnarounds we've seen. In 2021, they went 6-10, finished fourth in their district and were upset in the District quarterfinal. In 2022, they are one win shy of a 20-win season, a benchmark for a good program. They went from two top ten wins a year ago to nine in 2022, and went 16-9 in the challenging West Region.


Spencer Sanders deserves a lot of credit for the turnaround playing in a District that includes the four-time defending state champions and last year's state third place squad. They played 19 top ten games (third most in the west region) and and won the fourth most top ten games in the West - clearly, they are well-tested. Rachel Huyser has paced the Wildcats for most of the year, but the Wildcats got a strong regional tournament out of Elyse Radawski as well. Caroline Norton and Hailey Sherman each earned All-Region honors as well. Moreover, the Wildcats are an extremely tough out - they pushed the four-time defending state champions to the limit, playing to a tie headed into the fourth quarter in the Regional Semi-Final last week. Tread cautiously, the Cats are a tough group.


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