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Team Profiles - Fall 2023 Boys

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Author: Alli Littlejohn - Saline Milan Girls Coach & MWPA Official


Team Profiles were written based on a questionnaire sent out to coaches earlier this season.

The MWPA Boys 2023 season is coming to a thrilling close, and the postseason is well on its way. So, we're shining a spotlight on the incredible teams that have showcased their talents and dedication throughout the season. Get ready to dive into the action as we explore each team's journey and their aspirations.


District 1


Hudsonville:

Hudsonville has been a force to be reckoned with this season, under the guidance of Head Coach Josh Ahrendt, alongside Assistant Coaches Jordan Blum and Dave McWatters. Anchored by key players like the versatile #7 Nick Thompson, senior Center Defender and Attacker, #9 Ethan Meines, senior Center, and #15 Rylan McDowell, a junior Utility, the team boasts exemplary leadership. As captains, they have steered Hudsonville to an impressive 20-8 overall record (at the time of writing), firmly securing the 2nd spot in District 1. Their goal? Continuous improvement week by week, ensuring they make waves as they head into the postseason.


Portage:

Portage is a team on a mission, with Head Coach Greg Lowman at the helm and the expertise of Assistant Coach Drew Stevens. Comprising a blend of seasoned returnees and talented underclassmen, this youthful team is aiming for growth and knowledge expansion in the water polo realm. Senior Captains like #10 Jack Tindle, #14 Silas Koop, #5 Noah Fuller, and sophomore standout #17 Qihan Davis, exemplify leadership both in and out of the pool. Though the Muskies have faced challenges this season, this team is dedicated to developing players for the future while making strides in the present.


Grand Haven:

Under the guidance of Head Coach Andrew Thorsby and his team, Grand Haven is all about preserving a legacy of success and teamwork. The team, featuring stalwarts like #4 Braylon Garland and #19 Ryan Brown, is fueled by a core group of players radiating energy, ability, and positivity. Despite facing challenges, they remain undeterred and are committed to maintaining their competitive edge. This season marks Thorsby's first year as head coach of the boys program, and the enthusiasm and dedication of the players and coaching staff are palpable as they continue to carry the banner of Grand Haven water polo.


West Ottawa:

With their sights set on advancing to Regionals, West Ottawa is a team with a tight-knit, determined squad. Head Coach Alex Wuerfel, supported by Assistant Coach Julian Barrios, is nurturing a small but mighty team of 10 players, all of whom play pivotal roles in the team's success. The goal is to restore the roar of the Panthers, leveraging the strength and experience of six returning starters. West Ottawa's journey has been about growth and resilience, and they're prepared to give it their all as they navigate the postseason waters.


Jenison/Grandville:

The Jenison/Grandville Wild Dogs water polo team is a young team with a lot of potential, built on hard work, dedication, and teamwork. The team graduated a lot of talent last season, but they have two seniors returning this year (Captains Daniel Hernandez and Ryan Radawski), as well as a new goalie (Brady Sweedyk) and a lot of sophomore talent (Caleb Storey, Jack McCrumb, Oliver Ottenwess, and Ty VanderWall) who are committed to giving their best effort in every game and practice. Junior Tanner Koster brings energy and solid defense into the field when called upon. This is Head Coach Jason Sweedyk's 3rd season back on the bench after 10 years away and the Wild Dogs boast one of the most well seasoned staffs in the area with coaches Chloe Graverson, Jared Thornton, and JR VanderWall. Goals for the upcoming season are "to be as successful in the postseason as we can be and stay competitive in every game that we play. We also want to get back to the State Tournament and be at our best when we arrive. We are always learning and growing and we are led by a group of dedicated coaches and players who are committed to success. Staying the course, playing for each other, and acting like a water polo family will help this team to reach their goals." - Coach Sweedyk


NOTE: Zeeland did not respond to requests for details on their teams.


District 2

Mason:

Mason's water polo team, affectionately known as the Baguettes, may be small in size, but they pack a mighty punch in the pool. Head Coach Betsy Collins and Assistant Coach Brad Delaney emphasize the importance of teamwork and the unique strengths each player brings to the table. In their 5th season as a program, they've quickly become a force to be reckoned with, securing a spot in the West Regional Tournament after a standout performance at Districts. The Baguettes' camaraderie extends beyond the water, with a delightful tradition of breaking bread after each game and even a mascot named "Toasty." Parents and fans proudly call themselves "bread heads." As others approach the Baguettes in the postseason, they'll undoubtedly start to "dread the bread."


Okemos:

Okemos, led by Head Coach Greg Kohler and Assistant Coaches Brock Monette and Jason Latimer, boasts a team filled with talent and determination. Key players like #12 Henry Joldersma, #11 Carlo Macerata, #5 Alexander Huang, and #1 Derek Latimer were pivotal to the Wolves' performance this season. Coach Greg, in his 6th year with the program, brings a wealth of experience to the team. The season may have ended after a closely contested match against Mason, but the Wolves' dedication and hard work have left their mark on the season.


Rockford:

Under the guidance of Head Coach Craig Peterman and Assistant Coach Grace Boeve, Rockford's water polo team has been making waves this year. Key players like #6 Will Cheney, #11 Brady Haskins, and #12 Andrew Lepech have been instrumental in the Rams' success. With Coach Peterman's extensive 17-year tenure in the program and Grace's first year as an assistant, the team has flourished. Their goal this season was to compete to the best of their ability, and they've certainly achieved that by securing the District 2 Championship. As they continue their journey at the West Regional Tournament, the Rams are a team to watch.


East Lansing:

Although the season may have come to a close for East Lansing, the team has continued to focus on fundamentals and improvement throughout the season. Head Coach Brian Fickies and Assistant Coach Faye McInerney have been instrumental in shaping the team's development this year. Key players like #11 Matt Thompson, #10 John Bellon, #12 Martin Kuipel, #1 Nathan Thaye, #6 Collin Fitzgerald, and #5 Jonah Robertson brought their A-game to every match. Brian's first year as Head Coach has shown great promise for the program, and with a team that demonstrates exceptional speed, determination, and adaptability, the future is bright for East Lansing water polo.


NOTE: East Kentwood and East Grand Rapids did not respond to requests for details on their teams. \


District 3

Troy United:

Troy United's team, under the guidance of Head Coach Jack Johansson and Assistant Coach Hannah Rofail, has been on an exciting journey of growth and development. One of their standout players, sophomore #3 Collin Barrow, emerged as a strong goal scorer this season, showing the promise of the Dragons' future. Coach Jack Johansson, a parent-turned-coach, took the reins to build visibility and raise the profile of water polo in their schools. Their hard work has paid off, with an impressive roster of 25 athletes. Although the season concluded with a challenging loss to Walled Lake, we're excited to see how this tenacious team continues to soar and make waves in the years ahead.


Grand Blanc:

Grand Blanc is guided by Head Coaches Jessica Travis and Maddy Trzcinski, along with Assistant Coach Jesse Harig, and are making their presence felt in the pool. Key players like #12 Brennan Toal, #3 Liam Zoromski, #4 Johnny Mohre, and #7 Kavil Amin bring a wealth of talent to the Bobcats' roster. Coaches Jessica and Maddy, both Grand Blanc grads, have been shaping the team since 2021, while Jesse brings his expertise as a Jenison grad. The team's goal this season is to make it to the State Tournament, and they've taken a significant step by securing a 4th place seed for the East Regional Tournament. Their upcoming match against Ann Arbor Pioneer will determine if they can clinch a spot at States, and the Bobcats are ready to pounce on the opportunity.


Birmingham Seaholm:

The Seaholm Maples are led by Head Coach Hannah Cole and supported by Assistant Coaches Joe Perham, Abby Parsons, and Kevin Berkowitz. Key players like #14 Keegan Kosiba, #25 Liam Goff, #17 Finley Rijnovean and #23 Dylan Layer offer a unique blend of experience and talent to the pool. Hannah, in her first year as head coach, and her coaching staff have helped the Maples grow exponentially in a short time. Their primary goal this season has been to make it to the state tournament, and they're now within touching distance of that dream. Standing in their way is a crucial East Regional Tournament game against Ann Arbor Huron, and the Maples are primed for the challenge as they aim to secure their spot at States.


NOTE: Birmingham Groves, Walled Lake, and Lake Orion did not respond to requests for details on their teams.


District 4

Ann Arbor Pioneer:

Ann Arbor Pioneer is led by Head Coach Don Packard and Assistant Coaches Peter Biskaduros, Philip Ognenovski, and Emma Packard. The team has been on a remarkable journey this season which marks Don's 5th season as Head Coach and his 20th season with the program, bringing a wealth of experience to the team. This year, Peter joined the ranks after reffing for MWPA, while Philip and Emma, recent Pioneer grads, stepped into coaching for the first time. Key players like #22 Jensen Wood, #1 Calvin Anderson, #3 Sawyer Thompson, and #12 Mark Flautner have been the backbone of the team. The Pioneers' season goal has been unity and cohesion to secure a spot at the State Tournament. With the District 4 Championship title under their belt, they face off against Grand Blanc to take the next step towards the State Tournament.


Chelsea:

Chelsea has been under the dedicated leadership of Head Coach Jessica Hinderer since 2018, and she has been diligently working to build a strong foundation for the Bulldogs. Key player #16 Misha McElrath, a senior captain, embodies selflessness, versatility, and a strong work ethic. With a roster where 17 out of 20 boys are in their first or second year of play, the Bulldogs have focused on development and growth this season. Their aim is to establish a sustainable foundation for future success, setting the stage for strong years to come. Unfortunately, Chelsea’s season came to end last season with a narrow loss to District 4 rivals, Saline.


Saline:

Saline is in their 5th season with Head Coach Chris Stankovic and their first with Assistant Coach Jacob Kacic, both Saline alums. The Hornets have persevered through challenges thanks to key players like junior #13 Jonah Bentley, junior #15 AJ Hayes, and senior #1 Hunter Pearson who have shown unwavering dedication. Saline has faced limited players and injuries this year, but their growth and development have continued unabated. Their focus on putting every player in a scoring position is a testament to their commitment to improving week-over-week. Saline's journey continues as they aim to secure a historic bid to the State Tournament by facing Birmingham Groves at their home pool on Friday.


NOTE: Dexter and Ann Arbor Huron did not respond to requests for details on their teams.


As we gear up for the postseason, these teams are showcasing resilience, teamwork, and sportsmanship, embodying the MWPA water polo. Stay tuned for more updates and thrilling action as we follow their journey through the final stretch of the 2023 season!



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