SHARONVILLE – The water is the same. But, the pool and the building housing the water are new at Princeton High School.
The Vikings’ water polo program believed the renovations would help boost enrollment and they were right. Both the boys and girls water polo squads increased their roster numbers this season.
“It’s kind of like, ‘if you build it they will come,’ and they’re slowly coming,” Princeton girls head coach Jaclyn Jones said.
Last season, there were only nine girls on the team, but Jones said, “you couldn’t tell it from the attitude and work ethic.”
This year, the Vikings have 15 girls competing in the water, eight of whom are returning players from a year ago.
“For Princeton, (our numbers) are up and we’re happy,” said Jones, now in her eighth season at Princeton.
The girls will be led by senior captain Hannah Rust, who was honorable mention All-Ohio last season, Jones said.
“She’s taking on a tremendous leadership role in and out of the water,” said Jones, who added Rust is like having another coach. “We have great returners and a good crop of new players.”
Jones said the experienced juniors and seniors have helped teach the newcomers about the sport, which has helped from a coaching aspect.
“I’m not reteaching things. I’m adding onto (what they learned) last year,” Jones said, adding, “I like how they ask a lot of questions – that’s what excites me. They’re asking the right questions to get better.”
Second-year Princeton boys coach Gary Tameris has also witnessed the benefits of a new pool, something he called a “first-class situation.” Princeton’s roster on the boys side jumped from 11 members in 2014 to 18 this year and they have their sights set on improvement.
The Vikings went 6-24 last year, said Tameris, who added that increased numbers and participation will help invigorate the program.
Senior Riley Hinkley was an All-Ohio player last season and Tameris said he’s “who we’re running our team through,” and he’s leading the team in all statistics through seven contests this season.
Tameris also expects hardy contributions from senior Andy Powell, junior Jesse Kufeldt and sophomores Aaron Plvan, Jarod Roblin and Justin McDaniel — all of whom played last year. Juniors Jacob Knox and McKinley Gilmore will help with the Vikings’ depth.
“We’re still really young,” Tameris said. “When you only have two seniors and 11 underclassmen (freshman and sophomores), that’s good and bad. It’s good we have the numbers, but bad we don’t have the experience. These guys will have to learn on the fly.”