Cedar High boys, Canyon View girls win 4A water polo state championships

Cedar High boys and Canyon View girls water polo team members and coaches pose after winning 4A state titles at Olympus High School's pool, Holladay, Utah, May 19, 2018 | Photos courtesy of Utah High School Water Polo Association, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Cedar High School’s boys water polo team and Canyon View’s girls team won their respective 4A state championships in Salt Lake County last weekend.

Although water polo is not officially sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association, there are 21 high school club teams throughout the state that are affiliated with the Utah High School Water Polo Association. The 4A classification has nine teams, including four from Southern Utah: Cedar, Canyon View, Dixie, and a Hurricane-based team known as the Southern Utah Water Polo team (SUWP). The SUWP team finished as the runner-up in both the 4A boys and girls tournaments. 

Action during 4A boys state championship match between Cedar High and the Southern Utah Water Polo team at Olympus High School’s pool, Holladay, Utah, May 19, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Jennifer Dotson, St. George News / Cedar City News

At the culmination of a season that started in early March, the 4A, 5A and 6A state tournaments were staged May 17-19 at Kearns, Murray and Olympus high schools. Teams were seeded based on how they’d finished at the regional tournaments held in Ogden and Cedar City at the beginning of the week. Cedar’s boys and Canyon View’s girls both entered their respective state tournaments as the No. 1 seeds from the southern division.

Alex Parkinson, Cedar High boys’ head coach, said the Redmen made it through three tight games, winning each by a single goal, to advance to Saturday’s finals. At the regionals at Southern Utah University May 14, Cedar outlasted Canyon View 12-11 in an overtime game that was decided by a shootout. The following day, the Redmen defeated SUWP 9-8 to capture the southern division’s No. 1 seed.

Then, in the state semifinals Friday at Murray High’s pool, Cedar defeated Mountain Crest High 8-7 to advance to the title game, which ended up being a rematch with SUWP.

Cedar High’s Wyatt Gatlin celebrates with trophy his team won by beating the Southern Utah Water Polo team for the 4A state championship at Olympus High School’s pool, Holladay, Utah, May 19, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Megan Gatlin via Cedar High water polo team, St. George News / Cedar City News

In Saturday’s title game, which took place at Olympus High’s pool, Cedar jumped out to an early 5-2 lead over SUWP and maintained an 8-6 advantage at halftime. The two squads battled evenly throughout the third and fourth quarters, with SUWP leading 13-12 in the final seconds of the match. Then, with just four seconds left, Cedar’s Wyatt Gatlin scored a game-tying goal that sent the crowd into a frenzy.

During the overtime period, Cedar outscored SUWP 5-1 to pull away with an 18-14 victory for the title.

In the girls’ regionals at SUU, the Canyon View Lady Falcons also won both of their games defeating Dixie 15-3 on Monday and SUWP 13-10 on Tuesday to earn the top seed from the southern division.

Then, in the state semifinals Friday in Murray’s pool, the Lady Falcons defeated Mountain Crest 8-5, advancing them to Saturday’s championship game at Olympus, a rematch with SUWP.

The title game was another one-point match, with Canyon View winning, 10-9.

Canyon View head coach Kirt Brown said the Lady Falcons actually led most of the game.

“We won by one, but it was a little unusual,” Brown said. “We had a slow start but then came back into the game. We maintained the lead, and it was a three point lead for most of the game. There at the end, they made a couple more goals, but we kept our one-point lead.”

Canyon View’s girls water polo team members and coaches pose with trophy plaque after winning 4A state title at Olympus High School’s pool, Holladay, Utah, May 19, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Utah High School Water Polo Association, St. George News / Cedar City News

Brown said the championship victory marked Canyon View’s first girls state water polo title since 2008.

In addition to the team trophies, various individual honors and medals were also awarded.

Several Southern Utah athletes were named to the 4A all-state teams. They are listed below. See the complete listing at the following link, courtesy of UHSWPA.

Rebekah Douglas of SUWP was named 4A’s female MVP. Making first team all-state for the girls were Jesliyn Anderson and Luckaia Stand of Canyon View, J’lyn Zerkle of Cedar and Savannah Kochel of SUWP. Making second team all-state for the girls were Kenady Dix and Jessica Davenport of Canyon View, Alaina Thunell and Haylee Jackman of SUWP and goalie Makenna Lewis of Cedar.

The top individual 4A honors for the boys went to Cayden Eastman of Canyon View, who won the male MVP award. Local boys making first team all-state were Garrett Dotson of Cedar, Ethan Kochel and goalie Aidan Mace of SUWP and Johnathan Edwards of Canyon View. Making second team all-state were Julian Hall and Alan Moses of Cedar, Hunter Behrmann and River Rowley of SUWP and goalie Payden Dalton of Canyon View.

SUWP coaches Jesse Kochel and Dean Nixon received Coach of the Year honors.

Parent Dan Dotson said it was “very satisfying” to watch his three sons play together on Cedar’s team. In addition to senior Garrett Dotson and sophomore Reuben Dotson, middle-schooler Tobler Dotson also played on Cedar High’s varsity squad.

“When you have such a gap in age, sometimes kids struggle to get along,” Dan Dotson said. “Over the past two years, my boys’ relationship has matured to where they are teammates, friends, and truly brothers in all aspects of the word.”

Boys 4A water polo state tournament final placings

  1. Cedar
  2. SUWP
  3. Tooele
  4. Mountain Crest
  5. Canyon View
  6. Bear River
  7. Delta
  8. Cottonwood

Girls 4A water polo state tournament final placings

  1. Canyon View
  2. SUWP
  3. Mountain Crest
  4. Tooele
  5. Cedar
  6. Bear River
  7. Dixie

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Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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