Courtesy: Mount Athletics
EMMITSBURG, Md. (August 26, 2020) – Since the announcement of the water polo teams back in January as the newest varsity sports at the Mount, head coach Alyssa Diacono has been hard at work forming the first group of players in program history. Eight months on, 11 men and nine women make up the inaugural members.
The women’s team features a team almost entirely of freshman, with a graduate goalkeeper added on. Six more freshmen are part of the men’s team, as well as two juniors and a pair of graduate students.
“I am so excited to welcome the first men’s and women’s water polo team to the Mount.” Diacono said. “Each of these student-athletes bring unique experiences that will create a foundation and help establish a winning culture in and out of the pool. We look forward to getting to work and putting the Mount on the map for water polo!”
Both graduate students are previous swimmers and divers for the Mount, and will make history by taking part in a second inaugural team. Will Twizell and Brock Cudahy were members of the original men’s swimming & diving team in 2016. Twizell holds seven individual school records and five relays, while Cudahy possesses three individual records and five relays. The duo collaborated to set records for the 400 Medley Relay (3:25.87) and the 800 Freestyle Relay (7:00.19) during their junior years.
A second duo of men’s competitors are transfers from institutions on the West Coast. Eli Thalos spent two seasons at the University of the Pacific, where he saw action in 13 contests as a sophomore. Marko Kruska played JUCO water polo for the West Valley Vikings, earning 68 saves in his career. The Vikings went 14-1 as a freshman, with Kruska tallying a 70.8 save percentage across 15 starts.
Kruska and Twizell are two of four international student-athletes on the men’s side. They are joined by Canadians Kacper Cieplik and Jason O’Donnell out of John Abbott College in Quebec.
The women’s team features a group of nine garnering a lengthy list of accolades. These include a USA Water Polo Academic All-American, Madison Szczublewski, and a graduate of Hawai’i Hilo and a founder of the school’s aquatic club, Rebekka Williams. Williams will serve as goalkeeper and is the women’s lone graduate student.
A pair of recruits won titles with the California Interscholastic Federation. Lauryn Thomas of Moorpark won a CIF title in 2016 and was a four sport athlete and competed in swimming, volleyball and softball as well as water polo. Her new teammate Mara Davis earned a Division I championship as a member of El Camino High School two years later.
The remaining five newcomers include a school record holder for field blocks (Ana Luisa Cotta), a second team all-state player (Riley Thompson), a first team all-league (Mackenzie Zenk) and all-regional honoree (Toria Peterson) and a team captain who guided her team to the Ohio state championship (Emily Van Kerckhove).
Back on the men’s side, Calvert Hall’s record holder in the 100m backstroke (Jason Fitch), an all-conference second teamer (Ben Dable), a defender with 55 career goals (Dejan Radic), a second team all-county keeper with 121 saves a senior (Joseph Maxson),and a three sport athlete who earned four letters in swimming (Matthew Schwanke).
Fitch and Peterson will be two sport student-athletes who will also be on the swimming & diving rosters.
The first season of men’s water polo has been delayed due to the pandemic, with a January-March season proposed. Women’s play is poised to begin in March, lasting through May.
Men’s Water Polo
Kacper Cieplik | Beaconsfield, Quebec | John Abbott College | Utility
Brock Cudahy | Manassas, Virginia | Osbourn Park | Driver
Ben Dable | St. Louis, Missouri | Parkway North | 2 Meter
Jason Fitch | Middle River, Maryland | Calvert Hall | Driver
Marko Kruska | Belgrade, Serbia | West Valley | Goalkeeper
Joseph Maxson | Fort Lauderdale, Florida | Westminster | Goalkeeper
Jason O’Donnell | Beaconsfield, Quebec | John Abbott College | 2 Meter Defender
Dejan Radic | Orland Park, Illinois | Victor J. Andrew | 2 Meter Defender
Matthew Schwanke | Glen Rock, Pennsylvania | Dr. Phillips | Utility
Eli Thalos | Salt Lake City, Utah | Pacific | Driver
Will Twizell | Adelaide, Australia | Scotch College | Driver
Women’s Water Polo
Ana Luisa Cotta | Orlando, Florida | Dr. Phillips | Driver
Mara Davis | Oceanside, California | El Camino | Utility
Toria Peterson | Alvin, Texas | Alvin | Driver
Madison Szczublewski | Henderson, Nevada | Green Valley | Utility
Lauryn Thomas | Simi Valley, California | Moorpark | Utility
Riley Thompson | Murray, Utah | Murray | 2 Meter
Emily Van Kerckhove | Montgomery, Ohio | Ursuline Academy | Utility
Rebekka Williams | Poway, California | Hawai’i Hilo | Goalkeeper
Mackenzie Zenk | Salinas, California | Notre Dame High School | 2 Meter Defender