Following the student-athletes' admissions deposit to the University of Redlands, Head Women's Water Polo Coach Chris Gielen recently announced the incoming class of nine Bulldogs that will add depth to the talented squad in key positions.
Strengthening the left side, the Bulldogs welcome four competitors from California and beyond. Stephanie Hart (Merced, CA) played for Oakdale Water Polo Club as a scholar all-American. This avid Marvel superhero fan also collected first-team all-conference and second-team all-section awards. A lifelong, competitive swimmer, Sarah Draves (Fallbrook, CA) brings great experience as a member of the Del Mar Water Polo Club. She became a first-team all-league honoree and a CIF Division 1 finalist after earning multiple league championships. Hailing from Glenview, IL, Kelly Kish represents North Beach Water Polo Club as a four-year letter-winner from her high school. She owns a pair of all-conference and all-section awards and remains a loyal Chicago Blackhawks fan. After a successful career with Duke City Aquatics Club, August Key makes the move from Albuquerque, NM, to Redlands. This USA Junior Olympic Silver Medalist boasts a pair of all-state selections as well as multiple school records and state titles in various swimming events. According to Gielen, she anticipates becoming a "Del Scorcho" hot sauce lover.
Redlands also looks forward to the contributions of Alina Waldo (Portland, OR) at the center position. This T-Hills Water Polo Club member is an all-state selection and a two-time all-league honoree. Beyond aquatics, her adventurous attitude inspired her to take a 173-mile bike ride from Seattle to Portland.
Defensively, the Bulldogs add Kalli Vellis (Burlingame, CA) of Burlingame Aquatics Club and Jena Suzuki (Maui, HI) of Island Aquatics Water Polo Club. Vellis brings three years of varsity experience as the starting center-defender, and like Gielen, she loves Cheez-Its. Suzuki served as the swim team captain before being named the High School Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In addition, her name stems partly from her brother's toy Lego set.
Finally, Katelynn Holloman (Wildomar, CA) of the Elite Water Polo Club and Kayla Takakura (Wailuku, HI) of the Island Aquatics Water Polo Club complete the Bulldogs' stellar incoming class as talented right-side players. Holloman's southpaw and experience as a major contributor to the 2016 Division 2 CIF Championship bode well for the Maroon and Gray. Overall, she is also a lover of all things related to art. Also a leftie, Takakura was named the most improved member of the Maui Interscholastic League Championship team and has a twin sister.
"While we are carrying a big roster, we will turn over 14 players over the next two seasons so we need the freshman to compete and gain experience at the college level right away," Gielen stated. "The coaching staff expects this squad to be very competitive within the landscape of the evolving SCIAC; our talent pool is now much deeper and will only get stronger in the coming years."