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Making a speedy transition

Wojciechowski finding his way while competing on talented Crescenta Valley High boys' water polo team.

October 26, 2010|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

In search of new prospects last spring, Louis Wojciechowski followed the riches of competition that only Southern California could offer. Six months later, its Crescenta Valley's water polo program that has struck gold.

Fresh off claiming a state championship in the 100-yard backstroke at the end of his sophomore year at Brophy College Prep, Wojciechowski had seemingly reached the pinnacle of high school swimming in his native Scottsdale, Ariz.

Another calling was already pulling him across the state line, however, as Wojciechowski says the opportunity to play high school water polo played a factor in his family's decision to move to La Crescenta in May.

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"It's a little different because it's not all focused on you, you have other people helping you out," says Wojciechowski, a junior driver, whose home state does not feature water polo as a sanctioned high school sport. "I actually enjoy water polo as a team game rather than just like individual swimming."

Landing on a talent-rich team in the Falcons that already looked poised to get back to the CIF Southern Section finals in Division V after winning it all in Division VI in 2008, Wojciechowski would appear to have found an ideal situation.

And, in turn, the Falcons now have a versatile piece that may be just what they needed to return to the top of CIF in November after reaching the semifinals last year.

With the range of movement his lanky 6-foot-4 frame affords and raw offensive skills that are becoming more refined game by game, Wojciechowski has become a central part of Crescenta Valley's offense, tallying 45 goals through Tuesday's Pacific League match against Glendale.

By nature of his elite swimming speed, Wojciechowski has become the first choice to handle sprints — Coach Jan Sakonju says he's won every sprint but one this year — and he's tailor made for the speed-based defensive philosophy that Falcons teams have typically been built around.

"He fits in perfectly with the speed and the swimming ability, for sure," Sakonju says. "Offensively, he's very good and every game he gets better at defense. Our defense depends on players being able to swim and double-team and because he's so fast he can pretty much position himself where he needs to be with just one or two strokes."

With the Pacific League championship tournament and CIF playoffs drawing near, the Falcons are rolling, 17-4 overall and ranked No. 1 in Division V, while off to 5-0 start in defense of their league crown.

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