Cole Martinez, No. 10 Tritons Set for Senior Day Showdown vs. No 13 Princeton on Saturday
LA JOLLA, Calif. — University of California San Diego men’s water polo brothers, senior Cole Martinez and junior Myles Martinez, aren’t the first ones from their family to play under Tritons head coach Denny Harper.
Their father Tom, who played collegiately at UCLA, was on Harper’s very first Sunset San Diego Water Polo Club team in 1976.
Over 40 years later, Harper is now coaching Cole and Myles, with Cole set to play his final-career home game at Canyonview Aquatic Center this Saturday against No. 13 Princeton.
“As long as I can remember, Cole and Myles always said they wanted to play for me here at UC San Diego,” said Harper. “It all finally happened. It’s super cool.”
Despite growing up in a water-sport family and having their dad as water polo coach most of their lives, this season is the first time the two brothers have played on the same team. When Cole played varsity at La Jolla High School, Myles was playing JV.
Cole also offered some insight on what it was like for the two growing up together.
“We definitely had our scuffles and battles,” he said. “(Myles) wanted to do everything I was doing, and that annoyed me. But looking back on it, I wish I would have let him come out a little more.”
Both have taken different paths getting to this point, however.
Cole began his college career at UC Santa Barbara and redshirted as a true freshman before transferring to UC San Diego.
He also sat out the entire 2017 season, mostly due to mental fatigue.
“I was really just tired of the everyday grind,” said Cole. “I kind of needed to refresh.
“I wasn’t happy with how things were going at the time. I got to do what I like outside of water polo a little bit more and I didn’t really think I was coming back. But I missed the guys, the comradery, the sport and the coaches, so I decided to come back.”
Meanwhile, Myles played two seasons at Long Beach City College before returning to his hometown for the 2018 season.
“It was a bit of a challenge leaving San Diego, going to a new area and playing with new coaches, but overall it was a good experience,” said Myles. “(Coming to UC San Diego) was kind of difficult. The training style was hard to adjust to with a new coaching staff and playing for different types of coaches.
“But I knew most of these guys and played against them my whole life, so it was good to come here because I already knew how they played.”
Although Cole wasn’t around in 2017, he quickly reclaimed a leadership role on the team. He was voted team captain along with fellow senior Kevin Asplund prior to the start of this season, even to his own surprise.
“It was super fulfilling, I wanted that spot,” Cole said. “Coming in last spring, I didn’t know how to be a leader because a lot of the guys I played with graduated and we’ve filtered in new guys. It was hard to find my niche in leading, so I just took a role in leading by example.
“Then I started feeling more comfortable and guys started feeling more comfortable with me. It feels really rewarding that they felt strongly enough to vote me as team captain along with Kevin (Asplund). It’s a huge honor.”
Growing up, Cole dreamed of becoming a coast guard rescue swimmer. He was a junior life guard and also competed as a surfer.
Over the past couple years, Cole has begun working toward a career in real estate with his father. However, he still has thoughts of working as a rescue swimmer in the back of his mind.
He’s also still coming to the realization that Saturday will be his final game in a pool he’s played in so many times.
“It will be bitter sweet,” he said. “Playing my last game at Canyonview will be pretty fun, but we just want to win the game and keep progressing.
“But having my parents walk out with me, it will be a cool moment.”
UC SAN DIEGO VITALS
• Overall: 13-5
• WWPA: 4-1
• Home: 7-2
• Road: 3-1
• Neutral: 3-2
• Ranking (CWPA): 10
• Against Ranked Teams: 7-5
• Current Streak: Win 1
UC San Diego's home game this week against No. 13 Princeton features a live pay-per-view video stream on UCSDtritons.tv. The cost is $5.99 for a 24-hour window and $34.99 for the entire 2018-19 academic year, to include other Triton athletics teams. Broadcasts are in high definition and can be viewed from smartphones and tablets alongside desktop and laptop computers. Seth Smith (@ItsSethESmith) handles the play-by-play duties. Events are archived and all games have live stats. Fans can access live coverage from the Schedule/Results page, or by clicking on the links above.
BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Triton coaches will wear pink during Saturday's home game against No. 13 Princeton. UC San Diego men's water polo encourages everyone to support and donate toward breast cancer research.
GET TO KNOW THE 2018 TRITONS
UC San Diego returns six seniors and welcomes seven newcomers, six of which are freshmen. Eight of the team's nine-leading scorers from 2017 are back on campus, led by top scorer and ACWPC All-American Connor Turnbow-Lindenstadt. In addition, redshirt junior goalkeeper Jack Turner rejoins the Tritons after missing the entire 2017 season due to injury. Meanwhile, junior Skyler Munatones, senior Alessandro Valania, junior Cooper Milton, senior captain Kevin Asplund, junior Noah Carniglia, sophomore Kacper Langiewicz, senior Carson Ivancovich, redshirt sophomore Jack Ranj and redshirt junior goalkeeper Sam Thompson remain from last season's squad, while senior captain Cole Martinez and junior transfer Myles Martinez are also expected to have a big role.
Twenty-six of the 29 Tritons on the roster are California natives, with the exception of junior Alessandro Valania from Savona, Italy as well as freshmen brothers Gonzalo Rivera and Jorge Rivera from Madrid, Spain. Local products include Kacper Langiewicz (San Marcos/Mission Hills HS), Cooper Milton (San Diego/Cathedral Catholic HS), Cole Martinez (San Diego/La Jolla HS), Myles Martinez (San Diego/La Jolla HS), Collin Sullivan (Escondido/San Pasqual HS), Jack Ranj (San Diego/Westview HS), Konstantin Karlov (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS) and Bennett Kienast (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS).
UC SAN DIEGO NATIONAL RANKINGS
For full rankings click here.
• Preseason: No. 12
• Sept. 5: No. 12
• Sept. 12: No. 11
• Sept. 19: No. 11
• Sept. 26: No. T-8
• Oct. 3: No. 8
• Oct. 10: No. 11
• Oct. 17: No. 10
• Oct. 24: No. 10
TRITONS PICKED SECOND IN WWPA COACHES' POLL
The UC San Diego men's water polo team was predicted to finish second in the 2018 Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) standings according to a preseason poll of the league's coaches. It is the second-consecutive season UC San Diego was picked to finish second.
2018 WWPA MEN'S PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. UC Davis, 49 points (7 first-place votes)
2. UC San Diego, 42 (1)
T-3. Cal Baptist, 34
T-3. Loyola Marymount, 34
5. Air Force, 22
6. Santa Clara, 20
7. Concordia, 16
8. Fresno Pacific, 7
ALL-TIME AGAINST THE TIGERS
UC San Diego is 8-3 all-time against Princeton, with the Tritons dropping a close battle to the Tigers in last year's MPSF Invitational, 15-14.
HEAD COACH DENNY HARPER
UC San Diego head coach Denny Harper is in his 39th season leading the Tritons and enters the 2018 campaign with a career record of 643-478-4 (.576). An 18-time WWPA Coach of the Year and 15-time ACWPC National Coach of the Year honoree, Harper has led the Tritons to 18 WWPA titles and 14 appearances in the NCAA Championship. Last season, he was named the ACWPC Division II Coach of the Year for the seventh-straight year.
UC San Diego finished the 2017 season at 11-14 overall, highlighted by a runner-up performance in the WWPA Tournament. The Tritons, the tournament's No. 2 seed with a 6-1 regular-season league record, defeated Santa Clara and California Baptist to advance to the WWPA Championship game against UC Davis. UC San Diego fought hard against No. 8-ranked UC Davis, but ultimately fell by a score of 9-6.
In 2017, the Tritons won nine games against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Top-20 poll throughout the course of the season. UC San Diego was ranked as high as No. 12 nationally and faced a total of 11 teams ranked in the top-10.
Head coach Denny Harper was named the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) Division II Coach of the Year, while senior Arman Momdzhyan was tabbed Player of the Year. In addition, goalkeeper Sam Thompson and utility Connor Turnbow-Lindenstadt each earned All-America accolades.
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UC San Diego hits the road next week to wrap up regular season WWPA play, as the Tritons travel north to face Santa Clara on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 3 p.m. and UC Davis on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 4 p.m.
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Post Graduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
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