Johansen High water polo player Grant Plunkett knew coming into the 2013 season that he was going to be the Vikings’ focal point.
The entire starting lineup from the 2012 league championship team – save for Plunkett – was lost to graduation.
“We had some good younger guys on the team,” said Plunkett, “but I knew that when it came down to it in a close game – not that they couldn’t – I’d have to step up my game.”
Plunkett responded by breaking a 20-year-old school record by scoring 185 goals and leading Johansen to a share of the Modesto Metro Conference title.
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For his efforts, Plunkett has been named The Bee’s 2013 boys water polo Player of the Year.
“I didn’t even know what the record was before this year,” Plunkett said of the 183 goals by John Jacobs in 1993.
Plunkett’s main focus was winning a fourth consecutive league crown.
“Getting out of the water, after we beat Downey to clinch the co-title, that meant everything to me,” said Plunkett, who scored the game-winning goal and made a game-clinching steal in that contest. “That fourth league title means more to me than the record.”
Plunkett becomes the third member of his family to win Player of the Year honors in water polo. Sisters Ryley (2004) and Andie (2008) also starred for Johansen.
IN THE POOL: In addition to breaking the school’s scoring record – he finished his career third on the school’s all-time scoring list with 355 career goals – and winning at least a share of the MMC title all four years, Plunkett was named the league’s co-MVP and was a member of the All-Sac-Joaquin Section team. He started for the Vikings’ varsity squad all four years.
OUT OF THE POOL: In addition to playing water polo for Johansen, Plunkett is a member of the school’s golf team. And while he shoots right-handed, he plays golf left-handed.
“Water polo is more my passion,” said Plunkett. “But golf, you can play forever.”
Plunkett doesn’t think he’ll play water polo at the collegiate level but does want to play at the club level. He’s been accepted to Oregon, Arizona and Arizona State, but he’s holding out for Southern Cal. He carries a 4.21 weighted grade-point average.
QUOTABLE: “Grant is competitive and he’s intense and in the game we play, you need that. He never quits. He’ll go until the last second of the game. That’s Grant.” – Erica Crain, Johansen boys water polo coach