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Torres Attacks Her Goals
Posted On:
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Photo by Len Wood/SM Times
Photo by Len Wood/SM Times

Double-teamed, and with almost no room to shoot, Pioneer Valley senior Nicole Torres still fired the ball into the net for a goal from about 10 meters away in a recent water polo game.

Pioneer Valley’s senior class president is pretty determined away from the pool, too.

She said she has a 4.0 grade point average, which puts her about 40th in a graduating class of around 600. Torres said she has been class president since her sophomore year.

The teen has been accepted by several universities and is a member of a local civic organization, Ashtra.

“Ashtra is the high school version of Altrusa,” said Torres. “The organization promotes literacy, and we’re trying to buy Braille books with money we’ve gotten through fund-raising. We hope to distribute them to the Santa Maria Public Library.”

Torres holds the Pioneer Valley girls water polo record for goals scored in a game, six. She has 13 goals this year.

“The school season record is 15 that Sydney Howe set two years ago,” said Panthers girls water polo coach Kevin Jauregui.

Torres has 13 steals this season. That’s second on the team to a fellow team captain, two-meter defender Victoria Ramirez. Ramirez has 20 steals.

No, Torres said with a chuckle, she doesn’t watch much TV. She has played golf and water polo for Pioneer Valley since her sophomore year.

Cal Poly, San Diego State, Missouri, Arizona State and The King’s College in New York are among the schools Torres said she has been accepted to. She has applied to around 20 schools.

“So far, no rejection letters,” Torres said.

Her school of choice is Georgetown. “It’s a long shot,” she conceded. She added, “But I’m hoping. I should hear from them in a couple of months.

“If not Georgetown, I would love to go to UCLA or Boston University. I just applied to those schools. I think I should hear from them around March-ish.”

The teen said she plans to study Political Science in college. “After that, maybe I’ll go on to Pre-Law,” Torres said.

Torres hopes her athletic career doesn’t end when her high school days are through.

“I definitely want to continue playing water polo,” she said. “Maybe not at the Division I level, but I’d like to play water polo after high school.”

Jauregui said Torres has established some solid high school water polo credentials.

The Panthers’ coach said, “She plays hole set on offense, and not only is she a good offensive player, but she’s one of the best defenders who plays the hole set position that I’ve had in five years of coaching.

“It’s a rare thing when a hole-set player can play defense. She’s been able to steal the ball off a counter play and then score. That’s a rare thing.”

Jauregui relishes Torres’ leadership abilities.

“I’ve been able to delegate a lot to her, a lot more responsibilities than I’ve been able to delegate in the past,” he said.

“As a coach, that’s made it nice to be able to just coach instead of trying to manage everything.”

Jauregui coaches the Pioneer Valley boys and girls varsity water polo teams. The programs have struggled to get decent participation numbers at times but, under Jauregui’s leadership, both are gradually improving.

Players such as Torres have made his job easier.

After being so wrapped up in high school academics, sports and student government, Torres said it is sinking in that she’s in her last semester at Pioneer Valley.

That mindset is “not set in stone yet,” she said.

However, “I’m already looking forward to the new experiences (after high school), meeting new people.”

Kenny Cress / Sportswriter / SM Times 1/22/12

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