As the Caltech men’s water polo team ramps up for the 76th season in program history, head coach Pat Beemer exudes nothing but optimism.
Entering his second year with the team, Beemer has cause for this outlook. Thirteen letter winners return from the 2013 edition including six out of seven of the starting corps. Bolstering the depth of the roster are three talented freshmen.
“After last season, I re-watched our first game of the season and then our last,” Beemer said. “The team at the end only slightly resembled the team from the beginning. These guys showed me that they’re not only motivated to win, but they’re also dedicated to putting in the work to improve. We will rely heavily on senior leadership.”
One such elder statesmen is senior goaltender Ben Grabowski. Grabowski comes into the year after a stellar junior campaign where he racked up 241 saves and was tabbed with All-American honors. The two-time captain has logged 95 percent of quarters played throughout his career. Other class of 2015 members include CJ Culpepper, Matt Lappin and Austin Mayron.
“CJ and Lappy are great leaders by example,” Beemer said of the Maryland natives. “Not only did they both earn more playing time throughout last season, they also opted to compete with the swim team to improve speed and fitness.”
The junior class is rife with talent. Jim Blackwood and co-captain Patric Eck were the second and third leading scorers from 2013 respectively. Classmates include key reserves Galen Gao and Matthew Cedeno.
Returning sophomores Chris Bradley, Tomas Tussie, Jordan Bonilla, Connor Lee and Parth Shah all played substantial minutes in their debut campaign. Bradley led the team in scoring a year ago and will be a key component to the Beavers’ offense.
Three newcomers join the team in 2014. They include utility players Richard May and Henry Baer and attacker Philip An.
“I really excited about the new guys joining the group,” Beemer said on the freshman class. “We’re going to look for solid contributions from all three right out of the gate.”
The team reports to preseason training on August 25 and will not have much lead time before opening up competition. Beemer’s enthusiasm will be tested early as the Beavers take the show on the road for the first time in program history. Just eleven days after their first splash, the squad opens the 2014 campaign September 6-7 at the Navy Invitational in Annapolis, MD. Caltech’s home opener will be against Cerritos College and LA Trade Tech on September 19.