Murray boys water polo team claims another ‘under the radar’ state championship
Jun 22, 2017 03:59PM ● Published by Travis Barton
The Murray boys water polo team celebrates its state championship. (Kim Parkinson)
Gallery: Murray boys water polo team claims another ‘under the radar’ state championship [3 Images] Click any image to expand.
This centennial year at Murray High School has been largely a success on the Spartans various athletic fields, mats, diamonds and floors. But teams have particularly excelled on the ice and in the pool, winning a pair of quiet state championships.
Last winter, while nearly all the attention was on basketball, swimming and wrestling, the Murray club hockey team took state and qualified for a trip to the nationals in Cleveland, Ohio.
Now, this spring, while the Spartan baseball, soccer and softball teams all did well—each qualifying for their state tournaments—it was the Murray boys water polo team that stunned a true dynasty to win the state championship.
“Kearns High School had taken state at least 10 years in a row,” said Murray swimming and water polo coach Kim Parkinson. “So this win was amazing like a dream come true and could not have happened to a better group of young men.”
Competing in their home pool at the Murray Park Center, the boys came from behind to win the title game 10-6. The victory closed their season with 18 wins and only three losses.
“Our boys were behind 3-2 at halftime in the championship game, and 4-2 early in the third quarter,” Parkinson added. “But this group was determined not to let this chance slip away and bounced back.”
Spartan senior Caden Davies scored four goals in the championship win.
“It was an awesome game and a phenomenal season,” he said. “I love my teammates.”
Davies was named to the all-state water polo team, along with Spartans Jared Horton and Gage Milligan. Junior defenseman Cooper Greene was most valuable player.
“It was certainly an honor (winning MVP) because I worked hard for it all year,” Greene said. “It was a big moment because defensive players rarely win the award.”
Kim Parkinson credits Greene for working to round up water polo players in his neighborhood, many years ago when they were young friends. She says the championship win required that kind of effort, because Kearns is nearly impossible to get past.
“They (Kearns) are the team to beat every year,” the coach said. “(Cougar Coach) Brad Peercy has built a powerhouse up there. We finally had to use one of his own former players against him to help get over the top.”
That former player is Kim’s husband, Adam Parkinson, who played water polo for Peercy not that many years ago.
“I was happy to help out this year,” Adam said. “When the season first began, we had a few kids quit. But those who stuck around saw something special and were very dedicated. I want to thank them and their parents for everything they put into the season.”
The Murray boys and girls water polo teams frequently practice and scrimmage together. Kim Parkinson used to head coach them both. But this year she tapped Adam to guide the boys, while she remained head coach of the girls.
“My husband is smarter about water polo than me,” Kim said humbly. “I knew this was a great group of boys so I told (Adam) before we got married, he had to take them over.”
Adam says his wife will continue to teach at Murray High next year, but is giving up swim and water polo coaching duties to work on a graduate degree. He says he will continue to help with both as much as time will allow.
On the girls’ side, Murray didn’t fare so well this year. Kim said, “We were young… two of our key players were eighth and ninth graders. But they will be back too.” The girls finished the year with a 6-11 record.
Many of the boys and girls water polo players will now swim competitively this summer, before competing in a fall water polo league. Like so many other sports, swimming and water polo are now year-round activities.
The Utah High School Activities Association has never seen fit to “sanction” hockey or water polo as official school sports. As a result, they don’t get as much attention as the football, basketball and baseball programs.
But those unsanctioned, under the radar teams from Murray were the best in the state in 2017.
Not a bad way for Murray High School to mark its 100th year of existence.