Men's Water Polo Garners Highest National Ranking in Over Three Decades

Teddy Zhang (Photo by Ron Robertson)
Teddy Zhang (Photo by Ron Robertson)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After an excellent weekend at the Southern California Tournament, the UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team has moved up four spots in the Collegiate Water Polo Association's Poll to a current ranking of No. 2 nationally.

The last time UCSB was ranked as high as second nationally was following its national championship in 1979 when it finished the year ranked first in the nation. This is also the first time that the Gauchos have cracked the nation's top-four under the tutelage of head coach Wolf Wigo. The last time UCSB garnered a top-four ranking was in October 2004.

This past weekend, the previously sixth-ranked Gauchos handed a loss to then-ranked No. 11 UC San Diego before posting victories over No. 3 Stanford and No. 2 UCLA at the SoCal Tournament, which was hosted by UCSB. The wins catapulted Santa Barbara into the championship game against USC in which the Trojans handed the Gauchos just their third loss of the year.

The win over Stanford was the first since the 2010 season when the Gauchos edged the Cardinal, 12-10, on Oct. 2. More significantly, however, was Sunday's win over UCLA, which was the first against the Bruins since Oct. 25, 1992. The victory snapped a 35-game losing skid against UCLA.

UCSB enters this weekend with a 12-3 overall record, marking its best start to a year since 1993 when it shared an identical record 15 games into the season.

The Gauchos will look to stay hot at home this weekend. After hosting an alumni game on Saturday at 3 p.m., UCSB will host Iona and Harvard on Sunday. The match with the Gaels is slated for a 9 a.m. first sprint while the Harvard pairing will begin at noon. All three of this weekend's games will be played at Campus Pool.