Barlow HS girls and boys water polo teams chase state titles

It's championship weekend on the pitch and in the pool for high school athletes in Oregon.
Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 7:18 AM PST
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GRESHAM, Ore. (KPTV) - It’s championship weekend on the pitch and in the pool for high school athletes in Oregon. FOX 12 visited Sam Barlow High School in Gresham where the Bruins dive in with the first and second ranked teams in the Beaver State.

Home sweet home pool at Sam Barlow High School.

“Everyone is around this pool a lot. We call it our second home,” said sophomore Makayla Riegelmann.

SEE ALSO: Cleveland HS girls soccer team makes first ever state final

The Barlow trail in Gresham leads to a pair of championship hopefuls for the Bruins.

“It’s just a great space to be in and even though it’s a really tough sport, it’s the people that kept me coming back,” said senior Autumn Johnson.

The boys are ranked No. 1 in class 6A, the girls dive in as the second seen for championship Saturday in Corvallis.

“I think what’s so great about it is the fact that it’s so three dimensional,” said senior Hayden Markell. “Basketball, you are playing around on a court, you are playing mostly in two dimensions. Here? The best players are the ones who play the highest up.”

Both squads have risen above the surface under the head coaching of a proud Barlow alum, Mike Riegelmann, the star goalie from Barlow’s class of 2000.

“Coming back here in these walls, with these lights, it’s like I’ve been here for a long, long time,” Mike said.

After college at California Baptist, Mike returned home to work in the family business, Riegelmann’s Appliance, and help lead his alma mater.

“In a sport where there is turnover with coaches, it’s hard to develop a program. I’ve worked hard to develop a solid reputation, I’ve worked hard to develop the players and a community that, with parent involvement,” he said. “I have little kids playing for us now, so we have a youth program going on and so if you start them with the youth, they work their way up, it becomes contagious.”

All four Riegelmann kids have caught the bug too.

“Once you get it in your life, you always want to be with it,” said Makayla.

Sophomore Makayla earned the honor as Co-Player of the Year in the Mt. Hood Conference while Levi - a junior - was first team All-Conference as well.

“It can sometimes be a struggle because I have some attitude so, sometimes we disagree on some things and it can be a little hard but overall, it’s really good,” Makayla said.

“My job as a coach, my job as a dad, is to make these kids, this generation better than what I was,” Mike said. “To give them the skills, the tools to go on to either play in college or just be good humans out there in the world.”

Being constantly consistent, that’s the Barlow way.

“We have a common goal,” senior Aidan Wilson said. “We really want to win state and the girls can win state too I believe that.”

SEE ALSO: 5A volleyball champs Crescent Valley take home trophy

While the girls program raised first place banners for 2018 and 2021, strategy, skill and sibling rivalries have lifted all for the blue and gold.

“The girls feel like sisters and the guys feel like brothers. Our coach always says to push each other as hard as we can, and you can’t push anybody harder than your own brother,” senior Jack Gentry said “That’s how we win, that’s how we collectively as a team and that’s how we destroy ‘em.”

Good luck to both the boys and girls water polo teams!