By SHEL SEGAL
MONTEBELLO – With a 6-4 victory over Riverside Poly on Feb. 25, the Schurr girls water polo team was crowned CIF-Southern Section Division 2 champions, the first such triumph in the school’s history.
And for Jassmine Kezman, a senior on the team who lives in Monterey Park, winning the title meant the Spartans could successfully overcome all of their challenges.
“It was unbelievable,” said Kezman, who is planning on attending the University of La Verne in the fall and studying kinesiology. “For me personally, my heart was racing. It was a hectic day. There was a lot of negativity, people saying that we can’t do it. But we believed in our team and we were able to step up.”
Teammate Lizbeth Gomez, a senior who lives in Commerce, said she was “proud” of the team’s accomplishment, adding it kind of seems surreal at the moment.
“It’s amazing,” said Gomez, who is planning on studying nursing next year either at La Verne or Long Beach State University. “I don’t think it’s really hit me yet. But everybody’s been congratulating me. Something so big has happened and I don’t think it will hit me until I am out of high school.”
Gomez added the team’s cohesiveness was the key to winning the championship.
“It was the way we worked together, the way we didn’t get down on each other,” she said. “Our mentality was that we were all together. Whether we were down we were all together and when we were winning we were going to be together. We weren’t going to let each other down.”
She also said the team stuck to a very strict training schedule for several months.
“Since September, we would come in and practice at 5 in the morning and during sixth period,” she said. “That was during off season. During the season it would be 5 in the morning, get in, lift weights. Later in the afternoon we would practice again, from almost 3 or 3:30 until almost 6. We did that all the way until (the CIF-Southern Section playoffs). And we didn’t stop lifting weights.”
Schurr coach David Argumosa, who just finished his fifth season at the helm of the Spartans, said as his team came from behind three different times to win during their playoff run, it was their exhaustive training regiment that pushed them.
“I pushed them to their limits,” he said. “No one really ever complained about it. They always said there was more in the tank. We were fortunate enough to have 17 pieces of the puzzle. I had such a deep bench.”
He said not many expected Schurr to go so far, adding the Spartans were not even named in the preseason polls.
“We flew under the radar,” Argumosa said. “No one had us in their top eight. … They didn’t give us any love, so we had to push our way in.”
Was all that work worth it?
“I hated it all at the moment … but now I appreciate it,” Gomez said. “It was worth it.”
“It was worth it because, in the end, it all paid off,” she said. “It was worth it to win a CIF title.”