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Newport Harbor water polo players help Team USA medal in El Salvador

Newport Harbor High students Connor Ohl, Valery Verdugo, Gavin Appeldorn and Gabby Alexson, from left.
Newport Harbor High students Connor Ohl, Valery Verdugo, Gavin Appeldorn and Gabby Alexson, from left, competed at the Pan Am Aquatics Under 19 Championships in El Salvador.
(Courtesy of Julia Gustafsson)
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Right before the end of the school year, four Newport Harbor High water polo players headed south of the border.

Way south of the border, to El Salvador.

This was a business trip, and the Sailors players helped their respective teams medal at the 2024 Pan Am Aquatics Under 19 championships.

Senior Gavin Appeldorn and sophomore Connor Ohl were on the U.S. men’s Youth National Team that earned the gold medal in the tournament on Sunday, topping Canada 10-7 for the title.

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Sailors freshmen Gabby Alexson and Valery Verdugo played for the U.S. women’s Cadet National Team in El Salvador. The team rebounded from a shootout loss to Argentina in the semifinals to beat Canada 14-12, also in a shootout, in the third-place match.

Appeldorn, a Princeton commit, scored three times in the gold-medal match for the Team USA men’s Youth team. He also helped Team USA rally from a three-goal deficit in the fourth quarter to stun Brazil 16-15 in the semifinals.

The men’s Youth National Team went 6-0 in the tournament, with JSerra senior Bode Brinkema earning MVP honors after scoring 16 total goals.

Alexson tallied a goal and a field block for the Cadet women in the third-place match. Foothill sophomore Kirra Panteleon led the team with five goals in both the semifinal and third-place matches.

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