Water Polo Highlights

Water Polo Highlights

by Steve Gamel

It’s one thing to win a state championship. That’s hard enough to do given the talent the state of Texas has to offer – regardless of the sport. It’s a completely different thing when your state title win caps a perfect season.

That’s the historic run the Guyer girls water polo team finished up earlier this month by beating Southlake Carroll 11-7 in the finals of the Texas Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association state championship in Austin. The win gave the Lady Wildcats their first state title and put a pretty bow on top of a 31-0 season.

It was a busy weekend for the Guyer program, which also saw its boys team finish runner-up to Flower Mound. It was the first time either team had made it to the state final.

“I drove home and probably got back around 2 a.m. and just sat in my chair for an hour letting it sink in,” Denton school district aquatics coach Chris Cullen said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and this is the ultimate goal. To reach that pinnacle is extremely special. I couldn’t be happier for these kids and this program.”

The win was especially sweet for Cullen, who joined the Denton ISD in 1999 and finally won it all with his daughter and son helping lead the charge on the respective squads. Katherine Cullen and Cameron Cullen each won MVP honors at the state tournament while dad was named coach of the year.

Other top honors went to Lexi Wong, who was a first-team all-state selection. Carley Manuel and Nathan Wong earned second-team nods while Presley Woods received honorable mention.

“These teams felt the pain of having been there before and not winning it all,” Cullen said. “It fueled them.”

The Lady Wildcats got to state by sweeping the North Region championship. From there, they blew past Cypress Langham Creek in the state semifinal with a 13-9 win. Once in the title game, Katherine Cullen and Woods scored four goals apiece, and Wong scored three goals as Guyer took the lead early and never let up.

Meanwhile, the boys (18-4-1) snuck by Friendswood in the semifinals but needed overtime to do it. They jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the first period against Flower Mound only to run out of steam in an 8-6 loss. Cameron Culled scored three goals in the loss.

“I told these guys earlier in the year that there’s no reason we couldn’t be a top-three team,” Chris Cullen said. “At the time, they looked at me like I was crazy. But they trusted me and started to believe. The boys upset St. Mark at regionals and that had never been done before. Then they turn around and get to the state final with an overtime win. They worked extremely hard.”

Coach Cullen added that he is excited about the future of the program.

“I can’t wait to see what happens next,” Cullen said. “I’m so proud of this group; the boys came up a little short, but hopefully this loss will fuel them to want to do even better next year.”

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