Boys' Water Polo Success Continues
Thursday, 26 May 2022
Bolton School Boys’ Division remains undefeated in the Under 18 age group at the ESSA National Water Polo Finals! The school has held this title continuously since 2014.
The Under 18 team started the ESSA competition with comfortable first round wins against St Ambrose, St Bede’s & St Joseph’s, Kings School Grantham and Manchester Grammar. They travelled to Northampton for the semi-finals, where they drew with Trinity School and defeated Queen Elizabeth’s Barnet and City of London. The Bolton team’s goal difference was slightly better so they came top of their group and met Northampton Boys’ School in the semi-final. The team won this match and met old rivals Trinity School in the final.
The lead changed several times (1-0, 2-3) over the course of the final match and was ultimately tied at full time. In the penalty shoot-out Bolton shot first and scored all 3 penalties, with Year 13s Harry Bentham and James Blenkinship and Year 12 student Seb Thompson making the all-important shots. Trinity missed their second, meaning the game was won for Bolton and the Boys’ Division Under 18 team was crowned National Champions once again.
Four players on the Under 18 team are in Year 13: these students have contributed to the Boys’ Division winning all three age group National titles during their time on the school’s water polo teams.
The Boys’ Division also sent teams to the Under 15 and Under 13 ESSA competitions.
Training during lockdown was limited, but the Under 15 team improved massively over the course of the year and the team exceeded all expectations. They finished the first round in third place after defeating St Bede’s & St Joseph’s and Kings School Grantham. However, they received a ‘wild card’ entry for the semi-finals as the ‘best third place’ in the first round. At the semi-finals in Northampton, the boys defeated St Ambrose and City of London and drew with Dulwich to end in second place and qualify for the finals. There, they defeated Trinity School and Manchester Grammar School, winning their group and entering the semi-final match. Another win against Dulwich College put them in the final, where they took second place against Northampton Boys School.
The Under 13s made it to the semi-finals after wins against Manchester Grammar School and St Bede’s & St Joseph’s put them in second place in the first round. However, in the semi-final round, their win against St Bede’s & St Joseph’s wasn’t quite enough to put them forwards as only one team qualifies for the National Finals.
The year was also filled with national call-ups for the school’s water polo players.
Four current and former pupils were selected to represent Great Britain in the Junior water polo team: Harry Bentham and James Blenkinship were joined by Class of 2021 Old Boys Daniel Bentham and Tom Simpson. Prior to the team being selected, they were involved in monthly training camps and a camp held in Germany. The Junior GB team competed in a friendly tournament in Slovakia and then in the European Championships Qualification tournament in Malta, where they finished third and narrowly missed a place in the European Championship. This age group has been coached by Bolton School’s water polo coach Andy McGinty over the past three years.
Robert Bentham in Year 10 and Joe Carolan in Year 11 were selected to represent the England Youth team (born 2006 or younger). This team competed ‘a year young’ in the EU Nations in Czech Republic, which is for players born 2005 or later, and finished in 8th place.
Three Bolton School boys were also selected for the selected for the National Academy programme: Year 12 student Ellis Matthews (born 2005), Jamie Logan in Year 10 (born 2007) and Harry Butler in Year 9 (born 2008). These squads train one weekend per month at various locations across the country and have a week-long training camp at Millfield School in August.
Finally, Old Boy and Bolton School Junior Boys’ teacher Mr Aaron Winstanley (Class of 2015) has been selected for the England’s men’s development squad for a friendly international tournament for the Home Nations, to be held in Coventry on the weekend of 28-29 May. These will be the first competitive senior men’s fixtures to be played in England for three years. The England senior men will go on to to play in the EU Nations tournament, held in Brno in June, and in an exhibition game in London against the 2012 Olympians, scheduled for July.
The Girls’ Division has also had a good water polo season, with the Under 15s and Under 18s bringing home silver medals from their ESSA competitions: a full report will follow.
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