Dan Tlapek sat under a canopy and rang the sweat out of his shorts. It wasn’t just hot on the artificial turf at Lindenwood University. It was the oven that’s behind the barbecue in the back of hell’s kitchen. Hot would have been pleasant. This was torture.
Sam Erlinger is on another level. Whether it’s in the pool, the classroom or the lab, the St. Louis University High senior water polo standout excels. He was one of four students in his class to score a perfect 36 on his ACT. “I took it twice. I got a perfect score the second time,” the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Erlinger says. “There was a little moment of disbelief.”
RICK GRAEFE / JOURNAL Sam Erlinger of SLUH lead the Junior Billikens with 7 goals in their 17-6 victory over Kirkwood Friday night at St. Peters Rec Center to earn a berth in tomorrow night's championship game.
RICK GRAEFE / JOURNAL SLUH's Tom Beckmann readies to defend a volley from Vianney's Danny Lohse during Wednesday evening's match at SLUH. The Junior Billikens won the match in two straight sets.
Simply put, Joe Allen was a brick wall last Saturday night. Allen, the Parkway West water polo goalie, stood tall and proud against a vaunted SLUH lineup in the Missouri Water Polo state championships. Allen treaded water for the entire 37 minutes as the Longhorns came away with an 11-10 victory in sudden death. “You watch movies, and it’s kind of like every athlete’s dream to go out and win state your senior year, especially in this fashion,” Allen says. “It just went back and forth and back and forth and fortunately for us, it went forth at the perfect time.”
SATURDAY, MAY 12
Paul Baudendistel relished the past week. The head coach of the St. Louis University High water polo team, Baudendistel and the Junior Billikens had a week with no games, no worries and no stress. They did not, however, have the week off. Instead, SLUH’s polo players went through an intense week of fitness and conditioning. They treaded water for five minutes with just their legs and intermittently were told to do jumping jacks. There were walls squats, squat jumps and hard lap after hard lap. “It’s our last chance to do hard conditioning and gear up for one last push,” Baudentdistel says.
RICK GRAEFE / JOURNAL sluh's Michael Savio pushes the ball towards Parkway West's end near the end of the the first 3 minute overtime period Wednesday afternoon at parkway West where the Junior Billikens prevailed in overtime, 10-8.
FRIDAY, APRIL 27
FRIDAY, APRIL 13
Thomas Place lives to make goalies miserable. His perfect day involves a blue sky, a perfectly manicured lacrosse field, a never-ending supply of scoring chances and a goalie with more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese.
Paul Baudendistel downplays the dominance. He keeps his remarks humble. He keeps his players hungry. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But the numbers do the talking. And what they say is that the St. Louis University High water polo team rules the pool with an iron fist. The Junior Billikens have won 15, count ’em, 15 state titles. They own five of the last six championships and are the reigning kings this spring too. “I don’t feel we’re at another level,” Baudendistel says. “It’s a good program and I am proud of that.”
FRIDAY, MARCH 30
Thomas Place was a goalie before he knew what a goalie was. At the tender age of 2, all Place wanted to do was play hockey with his three older brothers in the driveway. So his brothers obliged by covering him in pads, sticking him in front of the net and firing pucks at him. Aren’t older brothers the best? “They made a game out of it,” Place, now 17, says.
FRIDAY, JAN. 20
Dan Warnecke walks softly but carries a potent stick. A right wing for the St. Louis University High hockey team, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Warnecke has scored 20 goals and handed out 16 assists for 36 points.
What’s not to love about being a goalie? Your job is throw yourself in front of a rock-hard plastic puck and stop it by any means necessary, which includes using your head or face. Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound fun, it sounds like madness.
FRIDAY, DEC. 23
FRIDAY, DEC. 16
Carey’s frustration was understandable. Everyone wearing the Cadets colors was frustrated. It was just that kind of night for the purple and gold.
FRIDAY, NOV. 25
Dan Tlapek froze. He stood there, on the sideline, as the madness unfolded around him. Bodies came rolling over the green artificial turf and engulfed his teammates like a tidal wave. They were cheering, clapping, whistling, high-fiving and celebrating. Tlapek held his spot and watched. He was in shock, awed by what just transpired. People he’d never met, young and old, ran up to him, told him congratulations and asked for photos with him.
Pingel was asked about St. Louis University High. Did he understand the rivalry? Did he know how just how much it meant to pin a loss on the Junior Billikens?
FRIDAY, NOV. 11
Psssst. You may or may not have heard this, but there’s going to be a slugfest Friday night down in the city. In the shadow of the Saint Louis Science Center, the De Smet and St. Louis University High football teams are going to step on to the artificial turf and knock the slobber out of one another.