'Obie' steps up for Sailors

Hard work has paid off for Newport Harbor senior, who was named to all-tournament team at SoCal Championships.

February 11, 2011|By Matt Szabo,
(Scott Smeltzer…)

Before her girls' water polo games, Kailyn Obenauer finds herself on the Newport Bay with her father, David.

Father and daughter have a tradition of enjoying a pre-game "good luck" meal at the Balboa Bay Club.

When it comes to the Battle of the Bay, though, the younger Obenauer definitely creates her own luck.

The Newport Harbor High senior did it again Feb. 4 in an Irvine Southern California Championships quarterfinal. The Sailors were playing rival Corona del Mar for the third time of the season, and they were without their top scorer Maddy McLaren.

Obenauer did what a captain might be expected to do — she stepped up. Big-time.

The center scored a game-high three goals. In the fourth quarter, with fellow seniors Catherine Carpenter and Mary Rose Wight in foul trouble, Obenauer also guarded set. It worked out, as the Sailors won, 7-4, to advance to the semifinals.


And, after the Sailors finished third in the tournament, Obenauer was named to the all-tournament team. The team's other senior starter, goalie Sarah Wilkey, told Obenauer the good news late Saturday night after Newport Harbor's winter formal.

"I was like, 'Oh, I had no idea,' " said Obenauer, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week. "I didn't even know you could get that. But it'll definitely help me out, little things like that, especially trying to get into college."

She definitely wants to play water polo in college; her current top choice is Loyola Marymount. Right now she's talking to coaches in advance of the next signing period, which begins in mid-April.

The school at which Obenauer ends up will get a very dedicated water polo player. Obenauer has to be just that as a 5-foot-8 center trying to go against girls who are often bigger.

Bigger, but not often stronger.

"She's very strong," Newport Harbor Coach Bill Barnett said. "She's the epitome of work ethic in the weight room and her shooting has improved incredibly."

In her second year as a varsity starter, she's second on the team with 37 goals scored. Obenauer credits the leadership of last year's senior studs, Kaleigh Gilchrist and Kate Klippert.

Obenauer was a secondary center to Gilchrist on that team, usually just posting up. It was a role she took seriously on a team that advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division I title game. Now, she's a starting center for another title contender, although the Sailors also have emerging sophomore Elissia Schilling at two meters.

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