Pali High Boys Water Polo Wants to Keep City Title Streak Alive
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
For the last seven seasons the Palisades High boys water polo team has sent Coach Adam Blakis home from City finals soaking wet. The Dolphins will try to keep their title streak—and that tradition—alive for the eighth year in a row and their quest begins this weekend at the Conejo Classic, where they took third place in 2018.
Despite losing seven key players to graduation—Matthew Garcia, Samuel Navarro, Khuslen Otgonbayar, Zeke Ramirez, Luis Urias, Zach Wunder and captain Theo Trask—the Dolphins return top scorer Oliver Grant and eight other seniors: Stuart Brien, Lenny Melamed, Kian Mirshokri, Marc Prior, Najee Railey, Eli Susman, Cashin Woo and Maximo Speiser, who played on the USA Junior National Team at the Maccabi European Games in Hungary over the summer.
The other varsity returners are Earl Brien (Stuart’s younger brother) and goalie Dmitry Gorozhankin, both juniors, off a squad that won a program-best 30 games and captured the Southern California Regional Division III crown.
Newcomers on varsity are juniors Aaron Benyamini, Oliver Pourmussa, Passa Missaghieh, Sean Botansky, Shayan Hazany, Willem Shak and Zachary Goldberger and sophomores Eoin Fox, Connor Guy, Elan Mendes and Nathan Mejia.
In addition to this weekend’s competition in Thousand Oaks, Palisades’ varsity will look to defend its title at the Malibu Tournament (Sept. 12-14) and also plays in the South Bay Invitational at Mira Costa (Oct. 5-6) and the Ocean View Tournament in Huntington Beach (Oct. 11-13). JV plays in the Inland Valley Championships (Oct. 12-13) and frosh/soph plays the Brentwood Tournament (Oct. 19-20).
“We’re looking to repeat as champions again,” Blakis said. “We don’t have as much depth as last year but we should be favorites in City. Granada Hills and Birmingham will be our biggest competition.”