The Westmont Men’s Polo team has repeated as national champions, beating the University of Virginia, 16-13 on April 12 at ERG Arena at Brookshire, Texas. The Warriors beat Colorado State University in the U.S. Polo Association National Intercollegiate Championship last year for the college’s first polo title. Westmont made it to the championship game this year after beating Cornell University April 10.
This year’s team, coached by John Westley of Santa Barbara Polo School, includes Jake Bergman, David Samaniego, and brothers Patrick and Tony Uretz. Patrick Uretz, the team captain, was awarded the tournament All-Star Team Award and Samaniego earned the tournament Sportsmanship Award.
“The boys found the competition tougher than anticipated,” Westley says. “Their sheer determination, excellent riding skills and great teamwork made all the difference in the end. Going into a tournament to defend a title can be much more difficult than going in seeded No. 5. I am extremely proud of them.”
The team was also confident in its fourth player, Bergman, if any of the other players became injured. “Jake has only been playing polo for about a year and a half, but he is a talented athlete. He had a very difficult and important role on the team,” Westley says.
There are four USPA Intercollegiate regions in the country, 23 men’s teams and 34 women’s teams. Last month in San Luis Obispo, Westmont Men won their Western Region against Stanford 22-3 in the regional finals, qualifying them for the Nationals Intercollegiate Championships as the No. 1 seed.
“The Warriors have worked very hard in the polo program here,” Westley says. “We have no grooms or assistants to help them with their horses. They tack up (equip) the horses, wrap the horses’ legs, clean up the manure and keep the horses tuned up and fit. It’s time-consuming, labor-intensive work. It’s impressive that they can do all this and keep up with their studies at Westmont.
“Westmont players always get a huge amount of respect from the other teams around the country because of who they are as people and how they treat other teams on and off the field. I am honored to be coaching such fine young men and proud to be a part of their national championship.”