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Boys water polo notes: Los Al's Jarrels returns, pain free
Los Alamitos’ Chandler Jarrels navigated a long and often uncomfortable journey to play water polo this fall.
But for the senior and the Griffins, the trek has worthwhile.
After missing most of last season with a back injury, Jarrels has established himself as one of Orange County’s top players.
The utility player helped No. 3 Los Alamitos finish second to No. 2 Newport Harbor at the S & R Sport Cup in Irvine on Saturday.
“This means a lot to me,” Jarrels said of water polo. “It feels nice to play with no pain.”
Jarrels said he has returned from two fractured discs in his back. He believes he injured his back playing water polo during the summer after his sophomore year.
He thought the injury would go away but he re-aggravated his back during a trip to Italy with the U.S. youth team.
“I had a trouble walking,” Jarrels said. “If I bent over, I couldn’t stand up straight unless I grabbed something and pulled myself up straight. It was hard.”
In rehabilitation, Jarrels wore a brace for several months that went from his hips to under arms. The only time he took the brace off was to sleep and shower.
He said sitting in his brace during school hours was difficult, and would cause his legs to go numb.
Jarrels eventually eased back into pool activities. He returned to the Griffins’ swim team at the end of the spring and still qualified for the CIF-SS Division 1 prelims in the 50-yard freestyle.
Over the summer, he played club for SOCAL but saw limited minutes. He also didn’t participate in Olympic Development Program tryouts.
“The big worry was coming back too fast and maybe re-injuring my back,” Jarrels said. “I want to play in college … I wanted to have a good senior year.”
LOS ALAMITOS REACTION TO SHOWDOWN
Here’s what Los Alamitos coach Dave Carlson thought of the Griffins’ 8-7 loss to Newport Harbor in a Sunset League showdown last week: “I thought it was a really high-level, high school game. … Obviously, we were really bummed out when you’re in a one-goal game, and it’s that close. We played well, and they played well.”
MATCHES OF THE WEEK
Matches to watch this week: No. 6 Laguna Beach will play host to No. 5 Foothill on Tuesday in a duel of Division 2 contenders. On Thursday, No. 10 Northwood plays host No. 9 University in the Pacific Coast. In nonleague, Los Alamitos plays host to Loyola of Los Angeles on Friday while Mater Dei plays at Corona del Mar on Saturday at 1:15 p.m.