The562’s coverage of Aquatic sports in Long Beach is sponsored by the Aquatic Capital of America Foundation.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
The Bruins have built one of most successful boys’ water polo programs in the CIF-SS on the back of high pressure defense and counter attack offense. That could change this year.
“We’re going to have the creative freedom to try out some different zone defenses to work around guarding areas and be more mobile,” Wilson coach Zac Polmanteer said. “The press-to-counter ideology has been the staple of our program for decades now, and I’m never going to let go of that. But given how fast this group is this year, I’m interested to see how we work in more zone type defenses and see what we can exploit in another team’s offense.”
Wilson is led by a small senior class of experienced players Wyatt Mitchell, Antonio Loria-Apuzzo, Ace Dumont and Hank Sander. It will be up to them to embrace a new approach and lead by example. Mitchell is a big, fast lefty and will share guarding center duties with All-Moore Leaguer Loria-Apuzzo. Dumont has worked his way up the lower level ranks and has won the goaltending job as a senior.
Polmanteer thinks he has a very scholarly group that will be able to handle new challenging schemes.
“I find them to be shockingly analytical, responsive and reflective for a group of teenage boys,” he said. “We’ve opened up tactically because they’re using their brains as much as anything.”
Those seniors are joined in the starting lineup by juniors Enzo Braggigliano, Gavin Simon, Eli Vince and sophomore Samson Casem. Braggigliano is back in the front court after being named CIF Honorable Mention as a sophomore and Simon is a great driver and shooter. Casem is defensively focused but is also a shifty and creative attacker. Vince is also a reliable shooter on the west side with Mitchell.
Polmanteer has also brought along freshmen Fernando Rejon and Vaughn Baker to contribute at both ends of the pool
“We don’t have freshmen on Varsity very often, so I’m looking forward to seeing what their fiery attitude adds to team success,” Polmanteer said. “I’m glad they rose to the challenge.”
Last year, Wilson won a 15th consecutive Moore League championship while going 14-14 through a tough schedule. The Bruins reached the Division 1 quarterfinals, and have maintained a difficult slate of games this year to maintain that top level. They already have quality wins over Torrey Pines, Poway and Servite.
“I’ve learned a lot about communication, getting everyone on the same page, and delivering a unifying goal or message,” Polmanteer said of the lessons he learned in his first year coaching his alma mater. “You have to continue to be a teacher and mentor. A coach’s responsibility lies way outside of just tactics and training methods. That’s what I took away last year and hope to build upon this season.”
“This year, we want to make sure we maintain that dominant spot in the city… but to get into the final four of Division 1 would be a great success,” he added.