Earlier this month, the United State Women’s Water Polo team reached the pinnacle for the sport, earning the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics for the third consecutive time. Around the same time, Naperville area water polo players were also competing with some of the best in the sport at the Junior Olympics tournament in Texas. Find out more in the this feature presented by Edward Medical Group.
Naperville Natives Compete with Nation’s Best
Local standouts like Sophie Raquel from Naperville North and Sophia Bleuher from Naperville Central battled for their own gold medals with their respective club teams. Bleuher was determined to make a final splash with the Eastside U-18 water polo club before heading off to play in college at San Diego State University next spring. After an All-State career with the Redhawks, Eastside finished in 4th place overall in the platinum division.
While there is still plenty of work to be done before getting to the level of the Olympic team, the Junior Olympics provide more opportunities for some of our area’s best to showcase their skills across the United States.
Huskie Netminder Brings Home Gold
After being part of the undefeated state championship winning Naperville North girls water polo team, junior Sophie Raquel kept adding medals to her trophy collection. The young Huskie played goaltender for the Sarasota Florida U-16 and U-18 clubs. The U-16 team won gold in the platinum division tournament, while the U-18 team finished as the runner up. Grace Raquel, Sohpie’s older sister, was an All-State goalie for the Huskies the past three years. Despite her graduation, the Huskies goaltender situation looks to be in great shape the next two years with Sophie stepping into the starting lineup.
Wide Range of Local Standouts
Other stars from the area also took home Junior Olympic hardware. Kelsey Wessel and Ella Selman, also from Naperville North, were part of the U-18 Gold Division tournament champions with the New Trier Water Polo Club. And it wasn’t just girls competing at the high level event. Joe Jenness from Naperville North played for West Suburban Water Polo in the U-16 Platinum Division, finishing in the top ten.
Water Polo may not always get the same attention for their Olympic efforts as basketball, soccer or gymnastics, but USA Water Polo is one of the best teams in the world. We’ll be keeping a close eye on our Junior Olympians as they continue the next steps in their journeys to the top of the sport.
For more sports stories like this one, check out the Naperville Sports Weekly page!
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