Junior Olympics have area flavor

GLENDALE — A distinct local flavor will accompany the 2010 USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics, and not just because the tournament will be played out at various aquatics facilities around the greater Los Angeles area.

Two girls' teams from the Falcon Water Polo Club, which is headed by Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo Coach Pete Loporchio, and four teams from the Glendale-based Olimpiakan Reservner Water Polo recently qualified for the games, which will run from July 30-Aug. 3 for the boys and Aug. 4-8 for the girls.

Falcon Water Polo's 14-and-under squad went 3-2 and finished fourth in the Coastal Zone qualifying tournament in Claremont on June 21, while the 18-and-under team went 3-3 and made the top-eight cutoff with a sixth-place finish at UC Santa Barbara on June 27.

"To finish sixth out of 13 teams in really the first year we've made an attempt to qualify is pretty impressive," said Loporchio. "There are no weak teams when you get to that elite level in terms of club [water polo]."

The tournaments will open with a preliminary round before the field is divided into Gold and Platinum divisions based on first-day performance.

USC and the Rose Bowl will likely be two of the main venues for the tournaments, which are hosted by the Coastal Zone, but Crescenta Valley High, Flintridge Prep, La Cañada, Burroughs and Burbank are also among the 21 pools listed as game sites on the Junior Olympics website.

"That will be a plus and I think that's one of the draws for us to get so many kids involved, especially in the economy, we're not having to travel," Loporchio said. "They will be close enough where we will be able to commute and not have to worry about transporting 30-40 girls somewhere else across the country."

The Falcon 18U team is coached by Loporchio and features 11 players from the CV team that captured the Pacific League title and advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division IV quarterfinals: Dakota Davy Bertram, Shelby Gregg, Karina Alvarez, Daniella Khatchetourian, Claire Nolan, Adrienne Ingalla, Kim Fraisse, Rachel Krebsbach, Kristina Molder and Julia Warden.

The roster also includes La Cañada High's Rita Neat and Lena Hathaway, Tyler Brown, Devin Grab and Patty Salgado.

"It's been a great experience because it elevates the level of everyone as they play with better quality players," Loporchio said.

The Falcons 14U team is coached by former CV player Heather McLaughlin and features Grab, Grace Alegro, Sabrina Pierce, Savannah Pierce, Maya Alvarez, Shannon Hovanesian, Elissa Arnold, Eliza Shirvanian, Ashley Taylor, Lynley Fernandez, Mackenzie Duke, Molly Bertram, Lisa Echeverria, Katie Lang, and Kay Kingsbury.

Whereas Falcon is a fairly new club on the scene, ORWP qualified its 16U and 14U boys' teams for the fifth straight year and also qualified its 12U boys' team and 10U co-ed squad at various locales around the Foothill area June 19-21.

"The kids are excited they are going to participate in National Junior Olympics," said ORWP Coach Vahik Arakelyan, who heads the 16U team. "We're one of the favorite teams trying to keep up all the way to the medal rounds and we're trying to keep up in the top-four in the nation. Right now we're working hard to get there."

The 16U squad, which finished third in the Coastal Zone, includes All-Area Boys' Water Polo Player of the Year Hakop Kaplanyan, fellow Hoover varsity players David Pogosian and Vahe Avalyan and Glendale High varsity players David Grigorian, Vahagn Gharagyozyan and Shant Tokatyan, as well as Raffi Emirzian, Kevin Parsamyan, Samuel Akopian, Morris Sarafian, Alexander Bodyagin, Ivan Suchkov, Alexander Khamoev, Nikita Kaminin, Victor Kopilevich and Karen Gevorgyan.

The 14U team, which finished fifth, is comprised of David Tiraturyan, Hayk Krmoyan, Edo Galfayan, Tomas Bazikian, Gago Asatryan, Hakop Baghumyan, Asatur Galfayan, German Panaioti, Arman Momjian, Manuk Piloyan, Alex Kharkov, Robert Mheryan, Danny Sarkissyan, Harut Bandikyan, Hakop Antonyan and Edgar Karapetyan.

Of all the ORWP clubs, the 12U fared the best, finishing runner-up in the qualifiers. The team is made up of Hrach Hamzoyan, Artak Arzumanyan, Harout Keurjikian, Artur Mheryan, Aram Nordanyan, David Arakelyan, David, Levon Gevorkyan, Gevorg Grigoryan, Shant Kurjikyan, Manuk Piloyan, Alen Tadevosyan, Aren Sukiasyan, Kevin Tumanyan, Alex Hayrapetyan and Hayk Minasyan.

The 10U team, which finished third, consists of Anthony Gevorkian, Evan Havunjian, Harout Keurjikian, Aren Sukiasyan, Aram Nordanyan, David Arakelyan, Robert Akopyan, Artashes Yerkaryan, David Ashkaryan, Harut Ashkaryan, David Gasparyan, Hakop Artsvelyan, Anna Arzumanyan, Helen Minasyan and Sona Ohanyan.

"It's in our area, so we don't have to travel anywhere, it's not going to be too costly," Arakelyan said. "It's really gonna be fun."

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