Water Polo claims third state title over SLUH

Spectators are left with a sense of déjà vu


Lauren Gieseking

Seniors Ryan Schlueter, Grant Keesling, Chandler Klemm, Nicholas Klemm, Joshua Emde Hillie Hedgecock and Eli Harris throw their caps at their “graduation ceremony” at the St. Peters Rec Plex after the state championship game.

Flash back to Longhorn Water Polo 2012 for a moment: Saint Louis University High (SLUH) School has the upper hand, with a two for two record in previous games, only to lose in double overtime, sudden death with a score of 11-10.

“Both my sophomore year and now they had it in the bag for the state game, rumor has it that sophomore year they had their state rings picked out before the actual state game,” senior JV player Lauren Gieseking said. “But everyone knows it’s hard to beat the same team three times. We had secret plays that we wouldn’t reveal until the state game in fear that someone in the stands might be on SLUH’s squad.”

With a 13-12 victory this time around, the team competed against SLUH on May 17 at the St. Peters Rec Plex, beating out SLUH’s potential 17th state title.

“I felt there was a lot more pressure this time around on me personally because we didn’t have some players like Steven Emde and Thomas Lyonfields to just give the ball and let them work. But I was also a bit more relaxed once it started because I felt like we were far and above the better team,” senior Chandler Klemm said.

Klemm, who scored the winning goal in 2012 as a sophomore, scored four goals in this year’s game.

“I was just focused during the game. All I could think about was what to do to give the team the best chance to succeed. I don’t think I played as well as I could have, but our team played really well overall,” Klemm said.

Seniors Josh Emde, Grant Keesling and Nicholas Klemm also scored during the varsity game: Keesling scoring four, Emde scoring three including the tiebreaker and Klemm scoring two.

“Our hard work and team first mentality led to us winning. In the game, it didn’t matter who scored, as long as West kept scoring,” C. Klemm said.

All four aforementioned seniors also led the team in overall goals: C. Klemm with 131, Keesling with 105 and N. Klemm and Emde both with 36.

“I want to thank all of my teammates for working as hard as they did for the past four years to make this possible, as well as my coaches for pushing us as much as they did,” C. Klemm said. All in all, C. Klemm accredits head varsity coach Charlie Cutelli for both State titles he has been a part of in his high school career.

[Cutelli] is a very passionate instructor…He’s big on doing all the little things right, while making it fun for them.”

— Britteny Hess, assistant varsity/JV coach

“He’s a very passionate instructor. They have a regimented routine, lifting Tuesdays and Thursdays, swimming at morning practice twice a week. If there’s a play, they’ll run it multiple times until it’s in their heads. He’s big on doing all the little things right, while making it fun for them. It’s a game, and they should want to play a game,” assistant varsity/JV coach Britteny Hess said.

Since the championship game conflicted with graduation, the team seniors celebrated with a poolside ceremony — caps, gowns and speedos.

“Not once did I plan on going to graduation,” C. Klemm. “It was probably one of the easiest decisions I have ever made.”