Bergeson goes with Cal Bears

CdM star water polo player picks UC Berkeley over UCLA. Other locals expected to sign today.

February 02, 2010|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza

Max Bergeson called the choice he made on Tuesday the hardest of his young life.

Bergeson wrestled with the decision for the last two weeks and he isn’t even a wrestler. The senior is a star boys’ water polo player from Corona del Mar High.

A day before National Signing Day, Bergeson talked to his father, Garth Bergeson, and uncle, James Bergeson, about what college he planned on signing his letter of intent with today. Garth and James, respective Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor graduates, listened.


Bergeson first told his father he wasn’t going to follow in his footsteps at UCLA, where Garth helped the Bruins win a couple national championships in the early 1970s.

Bergeson then talked to his uncle, James Bergeson, who led Stanford twice to national titles in the early 1980s. Bergeson told James he was going to attend his rival school, UC Berkeley.

“So, you went against my high school and now you’re going up against my college?” James said to Bergeson before he wished his nephew good luck.

Bergeson is one of 10 local high school seniors deciding today where they will continue their academic and athletic careers.

Three water polo players from Newport Harbor are joining Bergeson at Berkeley. They are Blake Kelly, Matt Russell and Jack Yeager, who helped the Sailors beat Bergeson’s Sea Kings in the CIF Southern Section Division I semifinals to reach the championship match.

Bergeson said he’s actually looking forward to teaming up with the three Sailors next season.

“I’ve always wanted to play with them and I never got the chance to during my three seasons at CdM,” said Bergeson, the Pacific Coast League Player of the Year the past two seasons, who finished with a Newport-Mesa best 93 goals, to go with 47 steals and 24 assists. “All of us were on our recruiting trip at Cal this past weekend and I’m excited about my future.

“Cal is a great school, and so is UCLA, but they are polar opposites. I fit in well on campus and on the team.”

Kelly said the same thing about his decision to sign with the Golden Bears. The Sunset League Player of the Year also tried to convince a fourth Back Bay water polo player to pick UC Berkeley.

Zach Lucas made his decision, going with USC, before he and Kelly drove to Los Angeles on Tuesday night. Lucas arrived on campus a day early, but for another reason. Lucas and Kelly went to a U.S. Olympic Development Program Junior National training session.

“We’re both very excited,” said Kelly as Lucas drove. “It’ll be interesting going against each other in college. I can’t wait to kick Zach’s butt.”

Other locals in different sports expected to sign today with their respective colleges include Newport Harbor linebacker Cecil Whiteside, who long committed to UC Berkeley’s football program, and CdM Athletic Director Don Grable said CdM striker Reed Williams is signing with the UCLA men’s soccer program, followed by CdM runner Melanie Powers (Wake Forest, track and field/cross country), CdM runner Alisyn Hummelberg (Wake Forest, track and field/cross country) and CdM midfielder Ashleigh Smith (Colgate, soccer).

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