THE SKIP SHOT
Wide Open Title Race No Surprise In 2010
By Aaron Brown
IL -- In the previous eight
seasons that I have been covering water polo in Illinois, it has seemed
quite easy to predict a state champion. After all, the Fenwick boys’
team has won seven out of eight state titles (Brother Rice was the only
other winner in 2003), while the Fenwick girls’ have won five titles and the
Mother McAuley girls’ have won three titles in that time span. What is not
talked about much is the fact that over that same time period, there have
been seven different title game challengers on both the boys’ and girls’
sides. Take a quick look at who has challenged for a boys’ state title since
2002 when the IHSA sanctioned water polo as an official sport:
BOYS STATE RUNNER-UP
2002 Brother Rice
2003 St Patrick
2005 Naperville Central
2007 Naperville North
2008 Naperville Central
Truth be told, if that was the list of
state champions over that same period of time, we would be talking about
how wide-open and unpredictable the title race has been each year. The
girls’ list is not that much different, as Oak Park, Mundelein, Naperville
Central, Stevenson, St Ignatius, and Fenwick have all finished as
runner-up once in the past eight years (McAuley is the lone exception;
they finished in second place twice, in both 2004 and 2008).
The whole point is that the dominance of Fenwick in both boys'
and girls' water polo (and to a
lesser extent, Mother McAuley in girls' water polo) has overshadowed the fact that there has
been a great deal of parity in the sport since 2002. Part of that might
have been attributed to the blind draw the IHSA has always used to determine
quarterfinal matchups (especially in the early part of the decade when the
#1 and #2 teams often played in the early rounds at state), but I don’t feel
that has been the case for at least the past five seasons.
Now, as we enter the 2010 season with both the Fenwick boys'
and girls' teams
having lost a handful of high-quality seniors to graduation, there is
plenty of reason for several teams to be
optimistic about their chances this season - and not just for a chance to be
the state runner-up this time around.
Check the current
rankings to see which
teams have a shot at winning the state tournament in 2010.