Water polo teams look to build on last season


Ioannis Giannikakis, Staff Writer

This year both the men’s and women’s water polo teams at Gannon University are expecting to play and have a normal season in the spring semester, which is what everyone is hoping for.

A few months back the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) announced that all fall sports schedules would be postponed to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. PSAC officials met last week to discuss scheduling for all sports, but no decisions were made public.

The men’s water polo team has not let this stop them from having practices and continuing to improve and work hard every day.

The Knights are coming off a very impressive season as they went 6-0 in regular-season Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC) West play last fall. They have been a member of this conference since 2016.

The Knights also took home the CWPA Championship for the third consecutive season.

The men’s team followed the CWPA Championship up with a MAWPC West Championship for the second time.

In total, the team collected 11 awards and honors last season including the MAWPC Rookie of the Year award, which went to Jacob Hollo. In addition, Drago Marjanovic, who led Gannon with 63 goals and 28 assists, was named All-American.

The Knights have big expectations this season, according to coach Shane Unger.

“Our goal is to once again win the West conference and make it back to the overall conference championship,” he said. “With some quality recruits coming in this season including a high-level transfer from St. Francis of Brooklyn, I expect us to keep setting the bar high and becoming a main stay at the conference tournament.”

As for the Gannon women’s team, the Knights are coming off a season where they won seven games before the season was cut short due to COVID-19, since they play in the spring, and not the fall like the men’s team.

They were led by three All-Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) players: Nicole Wiemken (First Team All-WWPA), Kelly Fehr (Second team All-WWPA) and Campbell Ruh (honorable mention).

This women’s team has improved each year under Unger, who arrived at Gannon in 2019, and he believes they will only get better.

“The women’s team has become exponentially better each year that I have been here,” Unger said. “I have increased the roster size from 14 when I first inherited the program, to now a roster size of 20.” Unger said he thinks having more players will level the playing field.

“We were competitive with very good teams until they were able to sub in all new fresh players while I was just trying to get one or two girls a break whenever we could,” he said. “Being able to keep pace with the other teams’ subbing rotations will undoubtedly make us much more competitive moving forward.

“I expect big things out of the women’s team immediately. I fully expect us to compete for the conference title on a regular basis.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams will continue to be patient while giving it their all at practice to have the season they are all expecting.

If the seasons are played, look for both water polo teams to have continued success, says Unger.

“Now it is just about watching the programs excel and rise to those new levels of achievement,” Unger said. “As long as our season is a go, I am confident that both programs will see high levels of success.”