Grossmont Griffins push for the top in PCAC water polo finals

Photos by Phillip Brents Grossmont College goalkeeper Daltin Collie and defenders Dustin Walter (13) and Andrew Gerboth (8) defend a shot by Palomar College in last weekend’s Pacific Coast Conference Athletic Conference championship tournament.

The Pacific Coast Athletic Conference held its annual men’s and women’s water polo championship tournament last weekend at Southwestern College. Six teams participated in each gender field, including longtime conference power Grossmont College.

The Griffins once again reached for the top rung. While success was not guaranteed with generally young squads this season, the Grossmont College women recorded a meteoric runner-up finish while the Griffins placed third in the men’s bracket.

Top-seeded Miramar College emerged as the women’s champion with a 13-8 win over third seeded Grossmont College while second-seeded Palomar College defeated fourth-seeded Southwestern College, 17-10, to capture the men’s title.

San Diego Mesa, which hosted the tournament, finished third in the women’s field and fourth in the men’s field. Second-seeded Mesa topped fourth-seeded Palomar College, 16-9, for third place in the women’s field while third-seeded Grossmont College earned a bit of respect with a 14-10 victory against top-seeded Mesa in the men’s third-place game.

Fifth place games pitted Crafton Hills over Southwestern by a 10-6 score on the women’s side and Miramar over Crafton Hills, 8-7, on the men’s side.

Quarterfinal and semifinal games took place last Friday while placement games took place on Saturday.

“The tournament was very competitive with a lot of upsets,” said Mesa College coach Beto Vasquez, a Bonita Vista High School alum. “The Miramar women were obviously the favorites but two met four in the men’s final. It came down to execution.”

Making a splash

First-year Grossmont College women’s coach Kimmy Keach brought championship-caliber coaching to the pool after leading Monte Vista’s girls team to the Division III championship game in 2020.

“Coming into college coaching, I wanted to get my feet wet,” Keach said. “I played at SDSU. I wanted to give back to the water polo community.”

The Lady Griffins definitely grew during the season.

“We lost, 15-5, to this team (Miramar) in the first game of the year and now we’re in the championship game,” Keach said.

Team leaders included utility Kristen Furuholmen (Grossmont), goalkeeper Camille Seiley (Steele Canyon) and two-meter set Rasma Rostart (Helix).

“They really came together,” Keach said of her team. “I’m super proud of them.”

Grossmont College’s men’s team featured just two sophomores on its roster. “We’re young again,” head coach Ty Lackey said.

Top players this season included goalkeeper Daltin Collie (Granite Hills), defender Branson Riggs (Granite Hills), drivers Jake Simpson (Grossmont), Zac Barclay (Clairemont) and Vaughan Clark (Granite Hills) and utility/guard Lucas Draper (Patrick Henry).

“Considering we have five redshirts (this year), I have expectations for next year,” Lackey said. “This has been a young recruiting class getting ready for next year. It has been difficult; we’ve played a hard schedule. We’re hoping to qualify for the state tournament next year.”

Barclay led the Griffins with five goals in the third-place game while Simpson had three goals in the win over Crafton Hills.

PCAC Tournament Scoreboard
Friday, Nov. 3

Women: (3) Grossmont 11, (6) Crafton Hills 7
Men: (3) Grossmont 10, (6) Crafton Hills 4
Women: (4) Palomar 15, (5) Southwestern 8
Men: (4) Southwestern 19, (5) Miramar 9

Women: (3) Grossmont 10, (2) Mesa 8
Men: (2) Palomar 13, (3) Grossmont 9
Women: (1) Miramar 17, (4) Palomar 2
Men: (4) Southwestern 16, (1) Mesa 13

Saturday, Nov. 4
Women: (6) Crafton Hills 10, (5) Southwestern 6
Men: (5) Miramar 8, (6) Crafton Hills 7

Women: (2) Mesa 16, (4) Palomar 9
Men: (3) Grossmont 14, (1) Mesa 10

Women: (1) Miramar 13, (3) Grossmont 8
Men: (2) Palomar 17, (4) Southwestern 10