Stanford men open water polo season with high expectations

Blake Parrish returns to help give Stanford one of the most experienced men's water teams in the nation. Photo by Maciek Gudrymowicz/

With nearly its entire roster back, the Stanford men's water polo team enters the season with high expectations as it opens the year in the Northeast this weekend.

The Cardinal competes in the Bruno Classic Saturday and Sunday. Hosted by Brown, the two-day event will take place at the Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatic Center in Providence, Rhode Island, and the Blodgett Pool on the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Drew Holland/Shirley Pefley
Stanford will play four games, opening with Harvard on Saturday in Harvard's pool. Later Saturday, the Cardinal will face MIT at in Harvard's pool.

Sunday, Stanford will play in Providence, facing St. Francis Brooklyn, before a matchup with Brown in the Bears' home pool.

Stanford will be one of the most experienced teams in the nation, returning 18 letterwinners. That group includes five All-Americans in goalie Drew Holland, utility man Jackson Kimbell, and drivers Connor Stapleton, Blake Parrish and Cody Smith.

Holland, Kimbell, Stapleton and driver Reid Chase redshirted the 2016 season and are ready to go for their final fall on The Farm this year. Freshman Ben Hallock also sat out last season after competing for the United States in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero last August. He was the consensus top prospect in the nation in the 2016 scholastic class.

Parrish and Smith each earned All-America laurels last season, guiding the Cardinal to 13 wins and a No. 5 final national ranking. Parrish, a second-team Association of Water Polo Coaches All-America selection in 2016, led Stanford in goals (48) and was second in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in goals per game (2.29). Smith, an honorable mention All-America pick last season, was second on the roster in scoring with 37 goals on the year.

The deep Cardinal roster includes 16 members who have played significant minutes at the collegiate level. Stanford also welcomes a standout six-member incoming class to The Farm in Tyler Abramson, Parker Killion, Zack LaGrange, Spencer Nelson, Josh Orrick and Sawyer Rhodes.

John Vargas, the Director of Men's Water Polo, begins his 16th season at the helm of the Stanford program. With a stellar 303-97 career record as the head coach at Stanford, Vargas has regarded as one of the top coaches in the game.

— Stanford Athletics

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