Coming off an 18-12 season in 2021 that saw the them fall in the sectional semifinals to crosstown rival Oak Park and River Forest, the Fenwick boys water polo team – which has 20 state titles in its history — is looking to once again be in the hunt for another appearance in the Elite Eight.
So far, 2022 has been kind to the Friars, who have started the season with a pair of win: 20-12 over Brother Rice on March 7 and 12-10 over St. Ignatius on March 9.
“I am happy with what I see so far,” said Fenwick coach Kyle Perry. “We’ve put in some good work, but have a lot more to do. We have a lot of selfless guys who are willing to do what is asked of them.”
The Friars return five players in senior captains Dylan Fu, Jack Kornowske, and Cameron Sarvis in addition to juniors Chris Badja and Sam Kulisek.
“Chris was our third-leading scorer and was second in assists in 2021,” Perry said. “Sam has emerged as our starting goalie.”
Fenwick is counting on contributions from a strong sophomore group, which includes Timothy Fischer, Owen McDonald and Finn Vahey.
“They’ve improved greatly in the first week, and we’re expecting lots of growth from these guys,” Perry said.
The Friars have long been a powerhouse in the Metro Catholic Aquatic Conference and expect to be in contention title again. They’ll have to fend off strong challengers in Loyola Academy, St. Ignatius, and St. Rita.
Fenwick will host the Dan Lynch Tournament on March 17-19, an event Perry describes as “the best water polo tournament in Illinois.”
“This year, we have the top four IHSA state finishers, five state qualifiers, and one of the top teams from Michigan,” he said. “We’re also heading to St. Louis in April to play the top Missouri teams.”
OPRF in rebuild mode in 2022
Bailey Wendt enters his debut season as head coach for the Oak Park and River Forest High School boys water polo team looking to put his stamp on the program.
“This year is a rebuilding year as we lost five of our six field starters,” said Wendt, who takes over from the retired John Rapp. “Many new guys will be forced to step up and show us their talent.”
Junior Brad Huseby, who led the Huskies in assists last year, is the only returning field starter. Senior goalie Ambrose Krozel also returns, while senior Matias Maser looks to play a bigger role.
OPRF’s top newcomers include freshman Will Keyes and sophomore Brady Sorg, who recently helped the boys swimming team finish sixth at the IHSA championships.
“We have a fast team, because many of our players are great swimmers,” Wendt said. “We need to improve with our patience on the offensive end.”
Among the highlights of this year’s schedule is the Fenwick Tournament on March 17-19. It’s a return to the school for Wendt, who was an All-American with the Friars.
“Any game with Fenwick is huge as they are our neighboring rival,” said Wendt.