Five members of Ramona High School’s girls water polo team were selected for all-league recognition during the Valley League coaches’ meeting Feb. 23.
Senior driver Kaylee Nelson was part of the league’s first team. The second team included senior driver Autumn Hillis and senior two-meter defender Kelly DeGraaf, and honorable mention distinction went to senior goalkeeper Jessica Patterson and junior driver and sprinter Taylor Shinnick.
“I thought that was pretty good representation for us,” said Coach Donnie Williams. “I think all the girls worked hard for those honors.”
Ramona finished third in the Valley League standings with a 6-4 record, behind Mt. Carmel and Valley Center. The Bulldogs’ overall season record was 15-13, which includes a loss to Bishop’s in the first round of the CIF Division II playoffs.
Mt. Carmel placed four players on the league’s first team while Valley Center had two, including league player of the year Rebecca Smith.
“It was pretty much Ramona, Valley Center, and Mt. Carmel,” Williams said of the all-league teams.
Williams acknowledges the talent on Mt. Carmel and Valley Center and is grateful to the league’s other coaches for finding room for Nelson on the first team.
“I think she definitely deserved it,” Williams said of Nelson. “She can change the game and change the score.”
Nelson was an honorable mention all-league selection for the 2007-08 season. The Bulldogs also had five all-league players, including four seniors, last year.
Hillis spent four years with the Ramona High School water polo program, including three on the varsity.
“Autie was just a solid player all year long. She really just did some phenomenal stuff,” Williams said. “Defensively she’s always able to make the right plays.”
The 2008-09 season was the first for DeGraaf as a varsity player.
“She worked hard the whole season,” Williams said. “I think she did a phenomenal job playing two-meter, matching up.”
Nelson, Hillis, DeGraaf and Patterson are among the nine seniors Williams will lose, although Shinnick and two other Bulldog starters are expected to return for the 2009-10 season.
“There is a lot of stepping up that has to be done for the girls who will be coming up to the varsity level,” Williams said.