The Wilson Bruins have won the last 12 Moore League championships and are poised to repeat with a strong sophomore class leading the way. However, players like Zac Crenshaw, Hank Rivers and Gray Carson learned on the job last year while taking their lumps. Some tough losses and no playoff success dropped Wilson down to CIF Southern Section Division 3 for the first time in the program’s history.
“We are licking our chops to come in and prove that we don’t belong in Division 3 and we’re aggressively seeking a championship run,” Wilson coach Jeff Nesmith said. “We want to get back up into that upper echelon.”
Nesmith added that his team got bigger, faster and stronger this season with experience at all positions except for goalkeeper, where senior Owen Gurich has been very impressive early in the season. He didn’t start as a goalkeeper at Wilson as an underclassman, but has developed into an imposing force that takes up a lot of space in the cage. Gurich made two 5-meter saves in the Long Beach Invitational championship game against Corona del Mar last weekend. The Sea Kings have eliminated the Bruins from the playoffs the last two seasons.
Crenshaw, Rivers and Carson also played very well in the tournament while showcasing their improved skill sets. Crenshaw gained a lot of knowledge and experience over the summer when he traveled to Montenegro with the USA youth national team. Rivers is even faster after a record-breaking season on the swim team, and Carson has really impressed Nesmith with his improved shooting skills.
The most experienced returners are Ian Escoto and Cade Margain. Escoto won the National Junior Olympics 16U title with SOCAL water polo club over the summer.
Wilson girls’ water polo coach Barry O’Dea has joined Nesmith on the pool deck as an assistant coach this year. O’Dea led the Bruins girls to a CIF title in his first season.
“Nesmith gave me the opportunity to come in here and be part of this and I think we’re going to be pretty special by the time we get done,” O’Dea said. “They’ve shown they have the heart of a championship team.”
Wilson opens the league schedule at the annual showcase at Cabrillo on Sept. 25 with a game against Poly. Millikan will play Jordan and Cabrillo will face Lakewood in the other games that night. Action is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.