East County Sports

Tank Battle Royale: Helix hosts Hillers



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS Senior writer

Grossmont varsity girls water polo head coach Danielle Cook

FLETCHER HILLS — A sports traditionally considered regional in scope is quickly expanding into East County.

For ther third straight season, Grossmont High is proving to rank among the top girls water pol teams in the CIF San Diego Section.

Two seasonsago,the Foothillers advanced to the Open Division championship. Although they fellto The Bishop’s School, a program filled with club players from San Diego Shores, the best showing in the history of almost any Grossmont Conference school is paving the way for others.

On Wednesday (Jan. 10) at 6 p.m., Grossmont will open league play at Helix, which gained a berth in the CIF Open Division Elite 8 last season The Highlanders split the season series, then defeated Grossmont in postseason play, eventually earning a berth in the CIF Southern California regional.

The sudden explosion of girls water polo comes as no surprise to Grossmont head coach Danielle Cook, who noted there are more than just the Hillers and Scotties in contention.

“Valhalla is our biggest competition,” note Cook. “Helix will be as well, but they are both comparable with different strengths. We should be able to step up on any of them.”

Following a 3-week, holiday break, Grossmont enters this week with one of the best records in the San Diego Section at 8-2.

However, they will be tested in January, playing 17 contests over the final three weeks of the month, meaning they will play almost every day since high school competitions are prohibited on Sundays in California.

“We’ve been able to compete because we’ve been successful to keep some of our club players in the region in our schools.”Another school that is doing the same thing is Clairemont.”

“We’ve been lucky in East County to keep our kids and allow then to grow and play together.”

Although Grossmont lost several top players to graduation, this year’s nucleus still maintains many top performers.

“We are underestimated because we’re young, but our experience and athleticism will keep us in the huntfor league.”

Cook named a trio of top performers to keep them in the mix for league and CIF, especially with the team’s “amazing start” at 5-0. Each is considered as an NCAA Division I prospect.

“We have Hadde Hall, who is a senior utility player, who is going to UC Santa Barbara” noted Cook. “Another senior is Averie Emery , who is a guard and utility player who has several options for college.”

The trio also features junior Ella Furuholmen, a set player which Cook noted, “She’s real good.”

Among the newcomers who decided to remain at Grossmont instead of transferring in freshman Evy McCulloch, who plays guard or is the backstop in goal.

Grossmont is missing an elite player in UC Davis bound

One player missing from last season’s tam which reached the secion quarterfinals is Katie O’Laughlin, who is red-shiriting at UC Davis following surgery in the summer.

“Katie is re-habbing right now and will be ready for next season. It’s a hard road to go to D-1 and maintain a strong, athletic-scholar relationship. Katie is going well.”

Cook noted that success in CIF would be great, but league competition will be tougher than ever.

“We’ll be neck-to-neck with a lot of teams.

As a player, Cook is also a local product out of Granite Hills, then her coaching career started in 2015, mopving to Grossmont the following season as a varsity assistant and the JV coach.”

I’ve been lucky to have previous coaches of mine mentor me,” Cook added. “Danny (Root, a vice principal) has been extremely strong to mentor me. He’s always been gracious in that aspect.”