Cecilia Sommerfield, left, and Emily Guedel, right, competed at the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics from July 26-29 in San Jose, California. Sommerfield and Guedel will be freshman during the 2018-19 school year at Mercer Island High School. Shaun Scott, staff photo

Cecilia Sommerfield, left, and Emily Guedel, right, competed at the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics from July 26-29 in San Jose, California. Sommerfield and Guedel will be freshman during the 2018-19 school year at Mercer Island High School. Shaun Scott, staff photo

Competing against top-caliber competition in California

Mercer Island athletes compete in water polo Junior Olympics.

A trip to California was unforgettable in late July for future Mercer Island Islanders High School water polo athletes.

Mercer Island water polo players Emily Guedel and Cecilia Sommerfield, who will be freshmen during the 2018-19 school year, were part of a northwest water polo team that competed in the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics from July 26-29 in San Jose, California. The roster was made up of athletes from Bainbridge Island, Kent, Seattle, Canada and Mercer Island.

Guedel said playing against powerhouse teams from California was a memorable experience.

“We don’t get that many opportunities in Washington (to play against top-flight teams). It was really great to play the California teams. We competed at a high level and learned how we can get better ourselves,” Guedel said. “Our team is all like best friends so it was really great to hang out with them. It just made the trip even better.”

Sommerfield concurred with Guedel’s sentiment.

“It just great to see how well the other teams worked together,” Sommerfield said. “It was great for us to play more games and work together as a team.”

Before arriving in California, Sommerfield was nervous about competing against a bevy of talented squads, but those feelings dissipated after a game or two.

“You psyche yourself out to a point where you think it’s going to be all these 6-foot-tall giants that are going to be way better than you, but then you realize they are just kids from California just like you,” Sommerfield explained.

Guedel said she got her start as a water polo player when she was 8 years old.

“My brother (Jacob) used to play and I watched all of his games all the time. One of the coaches kept telling me that I should try it out. I just got so sick and tired of the coach asking, so I just tried it. I fell in love with water polo,” Guedel said with a smile.

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