Wild Turkeys gobble up competition at Nationals

Gabe lehman

lehmanga@grinnell.edu

Zach Laird ’17 making a save for the Wild Turkeys, Grinnell’s water polo club team, that is among the best in the nation.  Photo by Jun Taek Lee

Zach Laird ’17 making a save for the Wild Turkeys, Grinnell’s water polo club team, that is among the best in the nation.
Photo by Jun Taek Lee

Despite being a club team, Grinnell’s men’s water polo team, has experienced great success this past season, ranking amongst the best in the nation against other club teams of Division I schools.

The Grinnell Wild Turkeys took third place at the Collegiate Water Polo Association National Championships in Minneapolis, Minn. this past weekend.

“It was some of the best water polo games we’ve played,” said Daniel Goldstein ’16.

Despite their fantastic finish, the Wild Turkeys felt they could have done even better.

“We had a chance going in to win the entire tournament,” Goldstein said.

“We felt we could have beat Washington University in St. Louis, who ended up winning,” added Tim Sherwood ’16.

The sixth seed in the tournament, Grinnell was not expected to make it as far as they did. They were expected to lose to Tufts University, the third seed, but apparently no one told Grinnell that. After starting slow and trailing Tufts at the half 8-4, Grinnell fought back and edged Tufts 13-12.

After the emotional victory, Grinnell fell to Middlebury College, the second seed in a hard fought semifinal match 16-13. It was a grueling game, as Grinnell had played a mere four hours previously, and the Wild Turkeys simply did not have enough left in the tank.

Grinnell ended on a high note however, besting New York University in their final game to clinch third place in the tournament.

“Third place is the highest Grinnell has done since 2007, so it was a chance to get a really good position for next year. And again show other schools—NYU is this massive university—what a tiny school in Grinnell can do,” Sherwood said.

Along with the spectacular play by the team as a unit, as many Grinnell players garnered individual accolades as Sherwood was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, an honor generally reserved for players of the winning or runner-up team.

Sherwood was honored and humbled to have taken home MVP honors.

“I wasn’t necessarily expecting. I played well, especially in the first two games,” he said. “It was exciting, obviously I would have been much more happy with winning as a team rather just being MVP, but it’s nice to be recognized. And again, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”

“He really helps hold the team together and I was really glad for him to get that,” Goldstein said of his teammate.

Sherwood was also named to the first team of the tournament and goalie Zach Laird ’17 was awarded second team honors.

Aside from the award winners, Goldstein was quick to also point out the play of first year Peter Cipriano ’19.

“Peter stepped it up and played really well when we needed him to,” Goldstein said.

Cipriano’s quality play in the tournament was especially encouraging for the future of the team considering that the Wild Turkeys are stacked with many third and fourth years who will graduate soon.

For the seniors on the team, the tournament represents the culmination of their Grinnell water polo careers. While sad that he will never play collegiate water polo again, Sherwood seemed assured that he had accomplished all he had wanted to with the Wild Turkeys.

“It’s sad, obviously, to end my water polo career—I played in high school. But it’s also bittersweet. I’m ready to move on to the next phase of my life,” Sherwood said.

Despite the end of the water polo season, lovers of aquatic sports need not be sorrowed. Grinnell swimming and diving is starting its season with a meet at Luther College scheduled for this Saturday. Fans can see swimming and diving in person next on Nov. 21 when the Pioneers host Loras College at 1 p.m.