Evan Mohl: Creek squad does whatever it takes to regain title

By Evan Mohl
The Galveston Daily News

Published October 22, 2009

LEAGUE CITY — Dustin Gathright and Will Weidman strolled into the Clear Creek pool with bleached blond hair. Captain Bobby Woolweaver followed with three pink stripes evenly divided over his already blond hair.

The Wildcat water polo squad is looking for any edge it can get heading into the Texas High School Coaches Water Polo Association State Tournament on Friday at the Conroe Natatorium. So players with dark hair dyed it blond. Those with light hair went the pink route.

The three Creek seniors believe a little intimidation, along with some fun, might just work out.

“It’ll make everyone think twice,” Gathright said.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, water polo players wear caps.

Gathright, Weidman and Woolweaver said that won’t matter. Opponents see the hair before players suit up. They also take off their caps for the Pledge of Allegiance or national anthem.

“It’ll be noticed,” Woolweaver said. “And it should be hard to ignore. Plus it just looks cool.”

The trip to the state tournament has become an annual event for the Wildcats. They’ve gone four straight seasons, every year since 2006.

But something key has been missing, especially for these three seniors — a state title.

Woolweaver has played since 2006, while Wiedman is making his third trip. Gathright is going for a second time. None has won a championship.

Creek last won it all in 2004.

“That would be pretty sweet,” Wiedman said. “That’s our goal, and we think this is the team to do it.”

The coaches didn’t reward Creek’s consistency in the state seeding. Although ranked No. 2 in Texas, the Wildcats received the third seed at the state meet. The north region winner was awarded the second seed.

“You think it would have been higher,” Wiedman said. “But there’s no complaining about that now. You can’t do anything about it.”

Clear Lake, which beat Creek in an epic three-overtime 16-15 South region final, got the first seed. That would set up a possible semifinal game between the two bitter rivals.

The Falcons, ranked No. 1, are the clear favorites. They have beat Creek the last two meetings.

But the Wildcats aren’t looking ahead. Despite high rankings, they haven’t been to the championship game since their state title.

That’s a long drought for such a talented program. Creek consistently has dropped winnable games in the single-elimination state tournament. Last year, the Wildcats finished a disappointing seventh out of 12 teams that make the state tournament.

“We get ahead of ourselves and drop what should be easy games for us,” Woolweaver said. “This year has got to be different.”

Which explains the hair.

Creek Girls Take Fourth Seed

The Lady Wildcats, like their male counterparts, are making their fourth straight state tournament appearance. They’ll be seeded No. 4 after taking third in the region tournament.

Creek lost to Clear Lake, 9-7, in the semifinals. Coach Anne Woolweaver called it the team’s best effort against the No. 1-ranked girls squad.

The Lady Wildcats then rebounded to win an overtime thriller against St. Agnes to take third in the south region.

“Our biggest thing will be to improve our defense,” senior captain Emma Alexander said. “It’s got to improve. Everyone has to get back.”

The Creek girls last won the state championship in 2001, also the last time they played for a title. They finished fourth last year.

Both Springs Squads Make State Tournament

The Clear Springs boys made their second consecutive state tournament. They’ll be seeded 10th of 12 teams.

The Lady Chargers earned their first state berth in school history after a fifth-place finish at regionals. They’ll be seeded sixth.

Springs has played on the varsity level for just two years, since it’s a new school.

The boys finished sixth at the region meet, while the girls took fifth.