Brad Dennis competing for the Cuesta Waterpolo team.
Photo courtesy of Ritchie Bermudez / Cuesta Athletics
By Asa Mason
Teams year in and year out have hopes of making a run at a championship, but must first make the playoffs â€” which has never been a problem for Cuestaâ€™s menâ€™s water polo team.
The menâ€™s water polo team is again attempting to reach the postseason for the 39th consecutive time in its history where they would compete in a tournament against nine other teams â€” a feat the team has never missed since inception in 1979.
The Cougars recently finished third in the Western State Conference and was the 10th and final seed, a preliminary ranking, in the California Community College Athletic Association regional water polo playoffs, where it fell just one game short of the CCCAA state championship.
Coached by John Marsh, a former water polo two-time All American, The Cougars are on a nine season winning streak, earning over 20 wins.
Marsh has an all time record of 298-150-1, winning the WSC title in his first four seasons, including back to back championship appearances in 2006 and 2007.
Marsh has also mentored a combined total of 33 men and women swimming and diving All Americans since taking the helm at Cuesta in 2004.
Assistant coach Eric Marsh, son of John Marsh, believes the teamâ€™s commitment athleticism, strength, and team spirit are the some of the many reasons they have found so much success.
â€œItâ€™s a blessing to coach these guys,â€ Marsh said. â€œThey feed off each otherâ€™s energy and we have a group of sophomores who are leaders on this team. And we also are returning our goalie who was a second team all state player for us.â€
All State goaltender Chandler Mankins has been a spark for the cougars this season picking up where he left off when he recorded 293 saves — the eighth highest total in school history.
The sophomore authored his first career shutout in the 29th Cuesta invitational, a tournament the team hosted in September, over American River and pulled down 30 saves over the long weekend.
He is joined by sophomore Brad Dennis, who was third in points last season, another player who won All-WSC Honorable Mention last year. He provides another weapon for the cougars offense this season.
The cougars are starting off to a slow start with a 9-9 record at the moment, but assistant coach Marsh believes there are more big things to come.
â€œOur team have battled against Div II teams in Cal Lutheran and Fresno Pacific who are two of the better teams and we hung with them,â€ Marsh said.
They host a tournament in mid October at cuesta campus called the Cuesta II tournament on the 13th-14th then they follow up with a tournament in Garden Grove the very next week.