After 110 games, a conference rival finally beat Claremont-Mudd in water polo.
Redlands defeated Claremont-Mudd in the Southern California tournament Sunday at USC, 12-8 in overtime.
The Stags had not lost a game to a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Assn. opponent since the the 1981 season and still have a 110-game winning streak in conference games. Sunday’s game did not count against the conference schedule.
Redlands took a 7-1 halftime lead, but Claremont-Mudd had tied the score at the end of regulation, 8-8. The Bulldogs then took advantage of a new NCAA rule that awards two-points for successful shots from beyond the seven-meter line. Redlands converted two of those and held Claremont-Mudd without a goal in the overtime.
“You knew it was a matter of time (until Claremont-Mudd lost to an SCIAC opponent) and you could see it coming,” Claremont-Mudd Coach Mike Sutton said. “Really, I was more disappointed with how we lost than that we lost. I mean, it was clutch time and we were just not clutch in our performance.”
Redlands Coach Tom Whittemore, who formerly played and coached at Claremont-Mudd, was gracious in victory.
“Don’t get me wrong, this is a great win for our program,” he said. “But as far as I’m concerned, Claremont-Mudd is still the favorite until someone else becomes the conference champion.”
It’s a long way to that, but Redlands looms as the biggest threat to Claremont-Mudd’s domination of the SCIAC.
“Give them credit,” Sutton said. “I’m sure when we came back, they were wondering if we might pull it out. But they got the job done.
“Now we have to find out some things. Will we rally? Is this going to be Redlands’ year? Certainly it shows us things we need to work on.”
Claremont-Mudd is still waiting for someone to step up in the wake of Chris Powell’s graduation. Powell was easily the best offensive player in the SCIAC last year in terms of both scoring and passing.
Seniors Greg Gero, his brother Paul, Gordon Bigler and Rob Cheney provide a strong core of experience for the Stags. Gary Barnes and Jeff Phelps transferred from Cuesta College and have added what Sutton calls “instant maturity.” Sutton also is giving playing time to freshmen Kris Behrens and Chris Derr.
Cheney is the best goalie in the conference and Claremont-Mudd has a physical defense that can bring the Stags their 12th consecutive SCIAC championship.
If this is Redlands’ year, it will be in large part because of sophomore driver Greg Milton. Milton can play any position and score from anywhere. He probably will succeed Powell as the top player in the SCIAC.
The Bulldogs have a good mix of age with seniors Jim Leonard, Jared Young and Trevor Cox, sophomores Sean McWhorter and freshman Drew Leonard.
“We’re quick and what I really like is that any of our players can play anywhere and I am comfortable with where they end up,” Whittemore said. “Obviously, we want to have certain players at certain spots to play to their strengths, but we are very flexible.”
In the two-meter position, Whittemore wants McWhorter, who scored 11 goals in five games at the Southern California tournament.
The rest of the SCIAC schools are not likely to challenge Claremont-Mudd and Redlands.
Second-year coaches Paul Gothold of Whittier and Dennis Fosdick of Occidental have their teams pointed in the right direction after struggling to get enough players last year.
Whittier finished third in its tournament. Kirk McKay and Jesse LaVere are back as the school’s top players. Occidental, which has only one senior, finished fifth at the Whittier tournament and depends on Eric Shriner to do most of the scoring after the graduation of Robert Jaffe.
Pomona-Pitzer’s tandem of Chris Hernandez and Jason Chung is good, and Pomona-Pitzer finished sixth at Whittier, but the Sagehens gave up 62 goals in three games.
Junior Chris Buchner will see a lot of double-teams for Caltech, but probably not many victories.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the most successful Division II school in terms of athletic championships, has received NCAA approval to be reclassified to Division I-AA effective this month.
The Mustangs hold the NCAA record for Division II national championships with 36. The reclassification will move San Luis Obispo programs into Division I in 1994, except for the football program, which started competing in Division I-AA this season. The football team has joined the America West Conference.
College Division Notes
Teri Rupe was hired during the summer to coach softball at Redlands. Rupe was the coach at Cal Lutheran for the last three seasons, with an 86-31-1 record and one SCIAC championship. . . . Kevin Patterson, Cal Poly Pomona basketball coach, announced the hiring of Matt Micek as an assistant. Micek was an assistant at Concordia University (formerly Christ College Irvine) and Thousand Oaks High.
Mel Hankinson has left The Master’s College to join the coaching staff at West Virginia. Hankinson, basketball coach and athletic director at The Master’s since 1987, had a 99-68 record. Last season the Mustangs were 20-12 and Hankinson was selected as small college coach of the year by the National Christian College Coaches Assn. . . . Cal State Dominguez Hills will be the site of the International Naginata Federation Goodwill tournament on Sept. 25. Naginata is a Japanese martial art. Details: Helen Nakano, (310) 530-6288.