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Local players earn Junior All-American water polo honors

Vanguard Aquatics' Zachary Bettino, shown scoring against San Diego Shores.
Vanguard Aquatics’ Zachary Bettino, shown scoring against San Diego Shores during the first half in the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics 16U boys’ title match in July, was co-MVP of the tournament.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

USA Water Polo has released its Junior Olympics All-Americans, based on the results from the Junior Olympics held in Orange County in July.

Gabriella Alexson of Newport Beach Water Polo was the 12-and-under Girls MVP, after helping Newport Beach win the title. Other first-team selections from Newport Beach included Valery Verdugo and Sadie Ricks, while Campbell Pence and Terra Lindberg were second-team honorees. Honorable mentions included Hannah Jacklin of Vanguard Aquatics, based in Huntington Beach.

Kamryn Anderson of Costa Mesa Aquatics Club won the 12-and-under Mixed division MVP after helping CMAC win its first platinum division title in program history. Teammates Madison Mack and Jay Larson joined Anderson on the first team, while CMAC’s Dominic Diaz and Thomas Mauser were second-team selections.

Allison Cohen of Vanguard was the 14-and-under Girls MVP. Other first-team selections from first-place Vanguard included Laguna Beach High freshman Kara Carver and Kate Sloman, while Vanguard’s Presley Jones (also a Laguna Beach freshman) and Charli Krotts earned second-team nods. Sophia Del Villar of Newport Beach Water Polo was an honorable mention.

The other local MVPs were Zachary Bettino and Ryder Dodd of Vanguard, who split the honor after helping Vanguard win the 16-and-under boys’ title. Bettino and Dodd are a junior and sophomore, respectively, at Huntington Beach High. They were joined by Finneas Palcza and Ethan Spoon as first-team selections, while Vanguard’s Jay Pyle and Christian Hammonds were on the second team. Newport Beach had Finn Genc on the second team, and Finn Lesieur as an honorable mention.

Huntington Beach players James Rozolis-Hill and Chase Dodd (first team), as well as Gabriel Haddad and Nikola Mirkovic (second team), also earned Junior Olympics All-American status for Vanguard. They helped the 18Us reach the title match before losing to Bay Area-based CC United. Newport Beach’s Mason Hunt (second team) and Ben Liechty (honorable mention) also earned honors in the 18U age group.

Vanguard Aquatics' Brooklyn Vega earned first-team All-American honors in the 12U age group.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

On the girls’ side, Newport Harbor High seniors Morgan Netherton and Taylor Smith each earned first-team All-American honors after helping Newport Beach reach the 18U final before losing to SOCAL. Olivia Giolas and Anna Reed were second-team selections for Newport Beach, while Ava Houlahan of Laguna Beach High was a second-team selection for SET Grey.

Laguna Beach’s Charlotte Riches was a first-team All-American for 16-and-under Girls finalist SET, while teammate Ava Knepper, also from Laguna Beach, earned a second-team nod.

Newport Beach’s Shane Santoni (first team) and Bobby Wright (second team) earned 14-and-under Boys accolades. Beckett Chen and Kai Kaneko of Vanguard were honorble mentions.

Vanguard’s Brooklyn Vega and Asa Chen earned first-team 12U boys’ honors, while teammates Daniel Constandse and Morgan Crichton were on the second team. Newport Beach’s Logan McGann also earned second-team honors.

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