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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.
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.”
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.
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.”
ANDREW JANSEN / JOURNAL Max Wahl, Ladue, in the Rams 9-6 loss to SLUH in the state championship game. Sam Erlinger, SLUH.