Umansky head of the class

Charlie Umansky is one of the best athletes at Estancia High.

He's played varsity water polo, basketball, track and field, swimming and even surfed for the Eagles. And he's not one to brag, but the senior is also one of the best in the classroom.

Umansky said he has a 4.67 grade-point average. He's in three Advanced Placement classes — English, U.S. Government and Macroeconomics.

"If I don't mess up, I'll be valedictorian," Umansky said. "I'm on track, I guess you could say."

The straight path is similar to the ball leaving Umansky's arm in a water polo game. Regardless of the opponent, Umansky usually finds his target in the back of the net.

The Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week has an area-best 88 goals in 20 games this year (4.4 per game) for the Eagles. He scored five in a big 9-8 victory over Saddleback last week, keeping the Eagles in second place in the Orange Coast League.

If Estancia (15-5, 3-1 in league) can beat cross-town rival Costa Mesa on Wednesday at home, it will likely finish all alone in second. That should help lead to a better seeding in the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.

Umansky, a versatile four-year starter, has been in the midst of it all.

"He's improved every year, obviously," Coach John Carpenter said. "This year he's really determined. He wants to do really well in CIF."

Umansky has chemistry in the pool with fellow senior Preston Schow, who transferred from Mater Dei two summers ago. While Umansky is the most obvious standout as a goal-scorer, he also prefers to give credit to other senior teammates like Matt Thome, Asher Twardowsky and goalie Conner Graham.

They present quite a formidable core for Estancia. And players like junior Derek Andrews, who scored the game-winner against Saddleback and also had three goals in a win over Sage Hill on Wednesday, have stepped up as well.

The Eagles are a long way removed from winning just seven total games in 2007 and '08, Umansky's freshman and sophomore years.

"I think I definitely got a head start, playing with Jeff Crosson and Tyler Wayman when I was a freshman," Umansky said. "It just helped. I think I've improved in all areas, but I don't know, I've seen improvement with everyone since our freshman year. There's a core group of freshmen that are here right now, with me, Matt, Conner and Asher. When they were sophomores, they were on varsity too. We've been here for a few years, and we're beating teams now."

Umansky is key on the counterattack, Carpenter said. He also plays the important No. 1 position in the Eagles' six-on-five offense.

It's hard to imagine that he never picked up a water polo ball before coming to Estancia. When Umansky first went out for water polo, Carpenter said his first instinct was to stick him in goal. But with Umansky's quick hands and quick shot, he was better suited for the field.

Umansky can't see himself playing goalie. He knows the team already has a good one in Graham, the team's emotional leader. Umansky's style is more to lead by example.

"Conner will definitely tell us when he sees something that he doesn't like," Umansky said. " He doesn't hesitate; he doesn't water it down. It's just straight emotion coming at us, and it's good to hear. It gets me fired up."

Umansky will be up there with the all-time greats in Estancia water polo after the year is done. Carpenter said he is trying to nail down the single-season goal scoring record, but he believes it to be around 120 goals. He said Brad or Eric Wayman, or perhaps Chad or Adam Bollenbach, could hold the record. Those players were fixtures for Carpenter's teams of the mid-1990s.

With his 88 goals, Umansky is on a near-record pace. The Eagles still have five games left.

"It's nice to think about," Umansky said. "We see what they're like during the alumni game. All the Waymans show up, and they're just absolute beasts. They're big and strong. I don't worry too much about individual records though. I just want to see our team do well. If we could win and I didn't have to score, I'd be fine with that."

Umansky will still play hoops this season, where he said he could start at guard. Before that, he hopes to lead the Eagles to a strong CIF showing. Last year, the team won a Division III wild-card game, its first playoff game in what is believed to be 12 years.

Win two games this year and the Eagles could be in the semifinals, where the program has never been in Carpenter's 32 years.

"We want to advance out of the first round, get as far as we can get," Umansky said. "Second round, third round, quarters. Just to know that we went in and tried our hardest, that's all we can ask for."

To Umansky, that'd be an Estancia performance that makes the grade.

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