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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | Water Polo

Surprisingly, Rio Mesa Is Entering Uncharted Water

November 12, 1998|PETER YOON

Rio Mesa High could be the most surprising team to qualify for the Southern Section playoffs.

The Spartans, in their second season of playing water polo and with no pool on campus, finished the regular season 12-10, including a third-place record of 7-3 in the Frontier League to reach the Division IV playoffs.

A year ago, Rio Mesa lost all five of its varsity games.

Coach Laura Reardon, formerly a coach at Alemany, deserves much of the credit for shaping Rio Mesa into a playoff-caliber team in quick order.

"She's done a great job of getting it together," said Brian Fitzgerald, Rio Mesa's athletic director. "She's taken a lot of guys who knew nothing about the sport and drummed up a lot of support."

Trevor Owens, a Rio Mesa junior who had never played, and his mother, Debbie, are responsible for starting the team.

"The players wanted to play, but the administration kept listing reasons saying, 'No, no, no,' " Reardon said. "But Trevor and his mom found a pool, found a coach and cleared every reason."

Rio Mesa opens the playoffs against fourth-seeded Agoura, the Marmonte League champion, at 3:15 p.m. Friday at Agoura.

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Ventura has made steady improvement in the last three years and, after finishing the regular season 23-1, has finally reached the top.

The Cougars, ranked No. 1 in the Division IV poll for most of the season, are seeded No. 1 in the playoffs starting Friday. That's a big jump for a program that won only three games in each of the 1994 and '95 seasons and has never advanced past the quarterfinals.

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The Top 5

Rankings of water polo teams from the region

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RK LW School (League) 1 1 Harvard-Westlake (Mission) 2 2 Ventura (Channel) 3 3 La Canada (Rio Hondo) 4 4 Crescenta Valley (Pacific) 5 NR Agoura (Marmonte)

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