Garcia, Spurzem intent on leading Balers back to title contention

Gus Spurzem, left, is seen here practicing before the start of the 2012 season. Now a senior, Spurzem has worked hard to become one of the MBL's best players.

To say the San Benito High boys water polo team had a rough 2013 season would be a vast understatement.
The Haybalers went 0-12 in Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division play, which prompted a demotion to the lower Pacific Division this season.
“It was a tough year, a rebuilding year you might call it to put it mildly,” said second-year Balers coach Brendan Sigourney, whose team opens the season against Alvarez on Sept. 4.
“But the outlook is much better this year. We had a ton of kids who were new to the game last year gain experience, and even though we got our nose bloodied, we weren’t knocked out I would say. Our attitude is you can only go up from the bottom. Now that we’re in the lower league, I expect the team to do well and hold our own at the bare minimum.”
Sigourney has two big reasons for optimism: senior hole-set Gus Spurzem and senior two-meter defender Charlie Garcia. Both players are strong and physical, capable of holding their own against some of the Central Coast Section’s best talents. Not surprisingly, Garcia and Spurzem spent their off-season working hard to improve.
Garcia practiced informally at San Benito, and Spurzem played for California Otter Bay, a club team out of Monterey. Both players are big-time competitors who play the sport as if their reputations were on the line each time they enter the pool.
“Charlie is the ultimate competitor and doesn’t quit,” Sigourney said. “Gus is a tank. He can do anything, he’s got good endurance and is one of our most well-rounded swimmers.”
San Benito needs the senior duo to elevate the level of their teammates’ play, a challenge they’re ready for. Both guys have strong water polo backgrounds; Garcia’s older brother, Jacob, was a former league MVP, while Spurzem’s dad, Peter, swam and played water polo at UCLA and was good enough to qualify and swim in the U.S. Olympic trials.
Spurzem’s older brother, Graham, currently swims at Claremont McKenna. Although the Balers had a tough time last season, Garcia and Spurzem fully expect the team to contend for the division championship.
“Even though it didn’t show it, I think last year we improved a lot,” Garcia said. “Teams that were beating us by 10 goals at the beginning of the season were not doing that by the end of the season.”
Said Spurzem: “I know I improved a lot just by practicing a lot over the summer. I got to play in the Junior Olympics against some of the best (club) teams in California, and it gave me a lot of valuable experience for the high school season.”
In addition to Garcia and Spurzem, the Balers return goalie Treven Jones and driver David Werolin, who has a howitzer for an arm. The 6-foot-4 Werolin has one of the hardest shots on the team, no surprise considering he’s a pitcher for the school’s baseball team.
In water polo, perhaps no other position than goalie has a bigger influence on a team’s success or failures. Sigourney expects Jones to be a difference-maker, just like he was last season.
“Treven makes the stops you need to and the ones you don’t expect a goalie to stop,” Sigourney said. “He kept us in a lot of games last year, games that could’ve easily been blowouts. He’s the anchor of our defense.”
Sigourney also expects contributions from newcomers Dominic Barrios and Jared Murdaugh.
After two tough years—the Balers have only two league wins in that span—all signs point to a revitalization. This year 34 kids tried out for the team, the biggest number in recent memory.
“The numbers are great, so it looks good for not just building up the program, but for the present as well,” Sigourney said. “Things are looking up.”

Leave your comments