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SPORTS - "Bear River water polo flourishes at state tournament"

Bear River High boys' water polo team, May 21, 2022 - Courtesy Photo

BEAR RIVER HIGH - By Tate Atkin, Headliner Sports Editor, May 28, 2022

Last weekend was busy and eventful for the Bear River High boys' and girls' water polo teams as they both competed in the state tournaments held in Salt Lake City. The girls' team entered the tournament as the number four seed in the silver division and the boys' team as the second seed in the bronze division.

The Bear River High girls' first matchup was against Tooele High on May 19, where the Bears stampeded the Buffalos on their way to a 17-9 win, advancing to the next round to face Cedar High on May 20. Cedar was able to get past Bear River and the Bears fell, 20-14.

The Lady Bears had to quickly shake off the loss as they played a second game on May 20, this time against Kearns High. The Bears were able to bounce back and get back to winning as they knocked Kearns beating them, 20-8.

The victory over Kearns unfortunately resulted in the final win of the 2022 season for the girls' water polo team at Bear River after they lost to Cyprus High in consecutive games on May 21. Bear River lost the first game 20-11. Despite the loss, the Bears answered with an impressive performance in the second matchup keeping it close to the very end before eventually losing in heartbreaking fashion 19-18 and ending their season.

The girls' team from Bear River finished in fourth place in the silver division while also bringing home many individual honors. Reagan Tureson was named to the 1st Team All-State silver division team with 2nd Team All-State silver division honors going to Katie Crook, Haylee Esplin, Iliana Anderson and Shannon Hyer.

Among the graduating seniors from this year's team is standout senior Tureson. She led the team this season with an impressive 141 goals on the season.

"We are losing one of the best girls that our program has ever seen," said Bear River High water polo coach Danny Esplin on Tureson's impact on the team.

The boys' water polo team from Bear River started their state tournament on May 17, as they beat Ogden High in a close battle defeating the Tigers, 8-5. The next game on May 20, the Bears faced off against UCO, a team comprised of several Utah County schools. The Bears suffered a bitter defeat, losing to UCO, 9-8. Returning to the pool later that day, this time to face off against Cache, Bear River shook off the tough loss earlier in the day and took it out on Cache beating them, 20-9.

In the first of three games the Bears played on May 21, they faced Ogden High once again. This time the Bears swam away with the victory with a final score of 15-3. The Bears were lucky enough to be pitted against UCO once more and they were able to enact their revenge beating them 10-6.

In the final game of the day, the Bears faced the number one seed Canyon View High for the bronze division state championship. It was a heated battle that came down to the very end. When the game concluded, the Bears had outlasted their opponent and left the waters with an 11-10 victory and their second straight state championship title.

"This team has a group of seniors that have been working for this since they were in the 7th grade. They have experienced what it is like to win only two games in a season and now have won the championship in back-to-back years. These seniors have really helped our program grow and start a winning tradition for generations to follow," said Esplin when asked about winning back-to-back state championships.

This year's Bear River High boys' water polo team members named 1st Team All-State bronze division team included Hayden Swain-Schmit, Keeghan Gibbs and Gerret Griffin. Brodie Rowley, Aaron Betournay and Peter Ingleby were named 2nd Team All-State bronze division team.

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