Just a four-meter shot from the Southern...

Just a four-meter shot from the Southern Oregon coast, Jordan

Thompson found time for recreation in and around Floras Lake.

Thompson, the hulking 6-foot-6, 240-pound La Canada High boys'

water polo player, got the message loud and clear from family members

that he needed to strengthen his legs if he wanted to become a larger

physical presence once the 2004 water polo season began.

So, Thompson retreated to the cozy body of water situated near the

Pacific Ocean and began conditioning. Thompson spent most of August

running four miles around the lake and swimming two miles with the

cool breeze flowing.

Despite absorbing plenty of opponents' elbows that clipped

Thompson's jaw and head throughout three months of matches, Thompson

found a way to outsmart the competition.

The workout regiment proved to be useful for the 16-year-old

Thompson, a junior hole/set who scored an area-best 109 goals and

helped the Spartans advance to the CIF Southern Section Division III

semifinals this season.

For those efforts, the writers and editors of the News-Press and

Leader selected Thompson as the Glendale News-Press and Foothill

Leader All-Area Player of the Year for a second consecutive year.

Thompson, who earned All-CIF first-team honors, and the Spartans

spent most of the season as the top-ranked team in the division

despite playing arguably the toughest schedule in the program's

illustrious history.

Matches against Orange County powerhouses like Servite and Villa

Park left Thompson with a greater appreciation for his

out-of-the-pool conditioning.

"I needed to get quicker and stronger," said Thompson, who helped

La Canada (21-10) win the Rio Hondo League championship and shared

the league's most valuable player award with teammates Devon Borisoff

and Kevin Coyne this season.

"It wasn't going to be anything fancy."

Thompson's voice still resonated with disappointment when he

described the top-seeded Spartans' ouster in the semifinals for a

third straight season. Montebello handed La Canada a 14-9 loss at

Pasadena City College on Nov. 19 before winning a second consecutive


"It was more disappointing losing this year than [in 2003]," said

Thompson, who recorded 62 assists and 25 steals.

"It was devastating to lose, and we learned that we can't back

away from aggression."

But Thompson, who had 75 goals last season, escaped the pool for

the wrestling mat. He chose to become a member of the school's

wrestling team as a heavyweight.

"Wrestling will make me stronger," Thompson said. "I decided in

October to check it out.

"I figured that if I could wrestle on land that I could wrestle in

the water."

La Canada Coach Larry Naeve, who has guided the Spartans to three

CIF championships since 1979, said Thompson displayed the temperament

that elite water polo athletes need to succeed.

Naeve chose to have his offense center around Thompson.

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