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Oakmont water polo rises in the fall to win CVC title

Vikings were a step behind Bella Vista, CBS in the summer
By: Bill Poindexter
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Mark Plank recalls his Oakmont High School boys water polo team being “a little below” Christian Brothers and Bella Vista, new competition for the Vikings in the Capital Valley Conference, when they were in the pool together last summer.
That didn’t stop Plank from believing Oakmont had the potential to win the CVC.
He was right. Riding the 1-2 punch of high-scoring seniors Drew Wixon and Taylor Nordell, the Vikings rode a victory over CBS and two over Bella Vista to 9-1 conference record, the CVC crown and a berth in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs. The Vikings (19-9) will face Metro League second seed River City at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Woodcreek.
“We’re a much better team here in late October versus early September,” Plank said, naming the ways. “Ball-handling skills, passing and shooting, taking better quality shots, playing together.”
The gradual improvement, coupled with a tough loss to CBS in which the Vikings allowed the tying goal at the regulation buzzer, sent Oakmont to the top of the CVC. It was a learning moment for Plank as much as it was for the team. The Vikings stuffed CBS 7-3 in their second meeting and squeaked out two one-goal wins over Bella Vista.
“We were on the right end of some very close games,” Plank said.
Wixon and Nordell have been the difference in the nippings and rippings. Oakmont has scored 282 goals, more than 200 of which have been scored by the two seniors.
“They are our offense. They are the guys that put the ball away,” Plank said. “Nordell is the centerpiece, and Wixon does a good job driving, earning ejections, being able to score, and he has a gun from up top.”
An ejection in water polo means drawing a foul and getting an opposing player kicked out of the pool for 20 seconds, creating a man advantage, comparable to a power play in hockey.
Oakmont’s preparation this week includes conditioning. Woodcreek’s pool is 30 meters long compared to Oakmont’s pool, which is 25 yards long. Woodcreek’s also is wider.
“It’s a little bit of a different game,” Wixon said.
Said Nordell, “It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a lot.”
Bill Poindexter can be reached at billp@goldcountrymedia.com.

SAC-JOAQUIN SECTION DIVISION II WATER POLO PLAYOFFS
At Woodcreek High School
Friday’s local games (boys)

Woodcreek vs. Christian Brothers, 8 a.m.; Granite Bay vs. Ceres, 1 p.m.; Oakmont vs. River City, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday’s local games (girls)
Woodcreek vs. Del Campo, 10:15 a.m.; Granite Bay vs. El Dorado, 12:45 p.m.
Boys/girls quarterfinals: Tuesday.
Semifinals: Thursday, Nov. 11.
Finals: Saturday, Nov. 13.