Boys water polo team seizes state title from longtime rivals


Ana Turner, Opinions Editor, Business Manager

After last year’s third place finish against Stevenson High School, Naperville Central’s boys water polo team has made its comeback by securing the state championship title with a 13-5 win over Fenwick.

The Redhawks have a long history with Fenwick, a tough competitor. Central has played in the state championship match against them four times, and this was the first time they won.

“We have three second place trophies all because of Fenwick,” head coach Bill Salentine said. “Beating them last year for third place was good, but this is fantastic.”

Finishing with a record of 34-1, this is Central’s second IHSA title in three years.

“It was almost a perfect game if you asked me,” Salentine said. “We came out with intensity in the beginning, we scored early on, put our foot on the gas and just kept going.”

In addition to their win, Salentine has also been nominated for National Coach of the Year for water polo and is in the final eight. The results will be announced on Wednesday June 27.

Although talent and coaching certainly contributed to the team’s success, junior Luke Klein-Collins believes the team’s chemistry helped push them over the edge to secure the championship title.

“We really did a great job of playing as a team,” Klein-Collins said. “We didn’t really have any superstars like we did the first year we won, which was two years ago. Every one of our starters was a phenomenal player and the guys we had coming off the bench were great and everyone was just a threat at all times which made it hard to defend us.”  

While the school season may be over, water polo does not stop for the summer. Salentine believes the reason why the team has been so successful is due to their continued dedication to the sport during the summer.

“I think the last two summers the kids have made a commitment to each other to be on their own summer league together,” Salentine said. “Two years before, when we won our first state championship, is when those kids who were freshmen, sophomores and juniors at the time committed to playing a lot of water polo with each other and that has paid off and now two years later we were good enough to do it again.”

Central water polo players will once again play in summer leagues to ultimately see if this strategy can pay off again next school year.