Exeter’s Megan Unruh made a big splash last winter when she won two medals, including a silver, at the state swimming championships.
Unruh also is trying to establish herself as one of the top water polo players in Pennsylvania. But it may not be quite as easy since Unruh doesn’t play for one of the premier programs in the state.
But that’s not about to stop her from trying to make waves during her junior season.
“I definitely want to move up in the ranks,” said Unruh, who received honorable mention to the All-State team last season.
Unruh burst onto the scene as a freshman, scoring 77 goals to go with 24 assists. Last year during a COVID-shortened season, Unruh had 55 goals and eight assists during the Eagles’ 7-5 season. It was Exeter’s first winning season since the program started in 2014.
With nine seniors gone from last year’s team, Exeter coach Ali Templin is looking to build around Unruh to continue that success.
“We’re definitely getting a lot better,” Templin said. “We’re getting away from the social aspect of what this sport had started as. It was basically a bunch of friends that just wanted to come out and have a good time playing a new sport.”
Unruh admits that water polo is still her secondary sport behind swimming. She was the PIAA Class 3A runner-up in the 200-yard freestyle and placed seventh in the 500 free.
“I think I’m more of a swimmer than a water polo player,” said Unruh, who also plays lacrosse. “I started out swimming and water polo just happened to come at the same time.”
But don’t take that to mean Unruh doesn’t take water polo seriously. Because of her competitive spirt, she gives 100% effort every time she’s in the pool or on the field.
Playing in the hole set position in front of the opposing team’s goal, play can get a little rough. That’s doesn’t stop Unruh either.
“That’s the most aggressive spot,” Unruh said. “I’ve gotten a few black eyes and bruises from that.”
To Unruh, it’s all worth it to become a better water polo and enhance her chances of winning a gold medal at the state swimming championships..
“I think it gives me a good foundation for swimming season, getting in shape,” Unruh said. “It also gives me a team mentality cheering on everyone and being a good teammate.”
Unruh swims at the Boyertown YMCA in the summer and winter and also has qualified for Y Nationals. This summer, Unruh participated in her first national water polo competition when she played in the Junior Olympics in Texas.
Although Unruh isn’t likely to change her priorities in the pool, Templin said the experience showed Unruh can play water polo and many other sports at a high level.
“She is basically a swimmer who just came over for fun and she’s really taken off in the sport,” Templin said. “Swimming is definitely her No. 1 sport but she’s such an overall great athlete. It’s just phenomenal to watch her play a sport.”
Top Berks water polo returnees
All-Berks: Megan Unruh, Exeter; Abby Steckel, Gov. Mifflin; Samara Eschleman, Muhlenberg.
Second team: Ella Tice, Gov. Mifflin; Sydney Gring, Muhlenberg; Emily Cherrie, Wilson; Morgan Valeriano, Wilson.
All-Berks: Ben Gerhard (two-time Player of the Year), Gov. Mifflin; Mason Woolwine, Gov. Mifflin; Matt Novotny, Gov. Mifflin; Kagen Boettner, Wilson; Chadd Corson, Wilson.
Second team: James Creamer, Exeter; Caden Blandford, Gov. Mifflin; Ted Stabolepszy, Gov. Mifflin; R.J. Schaffer, Muhlenberg; Tyler Boland, Wilson.
Source: Berkshire mont