Inner-tube: Zach and All His Friends Win Title in Historic Tournament Final

Elbows colliding with faces and screaming coaches and fans. Bodies entangled, ripping, shoving and battling. Ejections, tactical substitutions, a down-to-the-wire finish. I am of course describing the unmitigated melee that was the 2009 Intramural Inner-tube Water Polo Championship.Haldeman Pool was teeming with frenzied, pugnacious, well-defined (I’m looking at you, Peter Chinman PO ’12) and altogether rabid student-athletes Tuesday night, as Pup ‘n Suds and Zach and All His Friends clawed, flipped and cursed at each other in this year’s finale of Pomona’s favorite intramural sport.For those of you not familiar with the sport of inner-tube, imagine a game of “real” water polo, but instead of the players treading water and swimming for significant periods of time, they flap around in a flowery tube (see below) and paddle around the pool whilst seated. And now imagine the strongest, most aggressive and epically awesome water polo players you can think of, multiply them by three, and you have inner-tube water polo.The competition for 2009 was really between two teams with a deep history, two teams that ardently believed they deserved to, and would, bring home the bacon.Captain Zach Barnett PO ’11 and all his friends (from whence the team derived its name) tasted the nectar of victory last season but lost in the finals, and they were determined to never feel the pains of failure again. “When you’ve been that close but missed, you can never live a day without feeling the weight of that loss bearing down on your shoulders, attempting to crush your spirit at all times,” Katie Kistler PO ’12 said.The team would depend on its veterans, with Chinman in goal, Barnett and Will Hummel PO ’12 on defense, and leading scorer Joe Labriola PO ‘12, Adam Kinnard PO ‘12, Annie Sahl PO ’12 and Kistler on offense. And of course, the team was led by fearless coach Jesse Caro PO ’12. Caro’s coaching credentials stem largely from the fact that he wears a suit.The team added free agents Nick Frederick PO ’11, Nicola Parisi PO ’12 and Morgan Ingemanson PO ’13 to the roster hoping to inject some energy and versatility into the already star-studded squad.“They offered me a really nice package,” Frederick said. “The whole organization, from top to bottom, made me feel welcome. I was honored to become a part of the Zach and All His Friends family.”But Pup n’ Suds was not going to sit idly by and let their last chance at a title slip past them without a fight. Pup, a team of Pomona seniors, was led by Ray Addante on offense with Xander Olson in goal, but they got a hold of the free agent bug as well and added Katie Tonkovich as a lethal scoring threat. Mitchell Amsler, Michael Klein, Eliot Chang and Karen Bonner rounded out the squad.This team had also had a glimpse of victory, as they had the top seed in the tournament last year, but fell to Zach and All His Friends in the semi-finals. Pup had beaten Zach and All His Friends in the first match of the 2008 season, but that was Zach and co.’s first ever inner-tube game.So as both Pup ‘n Suds and Zach and All His Friends took undefeated records into the postseason and earned the first and second seeds, respectively, the finals were shaping up to be an exciting affair. Pup was looking to go out on top and avenge last season’s loss, while Zach and co. were hoping to establish the beginnings of a dynasty, as all but two of the team members will return for at least two more seasons. Both teams cruised through the quarter and semi-finals to meet in their fated battle.The crowd filled in before the game with encapsulated spectators, and a special shout out goes to fans Dean of Campus Life Ric Townes and Philosophy Professor Peter Kung.The match was close from the opening whistle despite a quick surge by Zach and co., and the score entering half-time stood at 8-8. Labriola and Kinnard provided most of the offense for Zach and co. while Addante and Tonkovich led the Pup attack.While the first half was certainly a physical struggle, the game was taken to a whole ‘nother level after the break. Yellow cards were doled out like hot cakes, as it seemed the players and coaches could not get enough of screaming at the refs (who were taken aback by the ferocity and passion of the inner-tubers) and flipping each others’ tubes. There were pushes, flying elbows, kicks and vulnerable heads (and maybe a little biting?).The madness culminated as one player from each team was ejected. Labriola and Bonner got into a tussle and were both sent off after numerous warnings and yellow cards. The blow struck Zach and All His Friends particularly hard, as Labriola had been the team’s leading scorer for two consecutive seasons. Neither of the players’ quotations on the subject are fit to print.At the moment of the ejections, Zach and co. held a one goal lead with mere minutes remaining in regulation. Stellar defensive play and studly goalkeeping from Chinman allowed Zach and co. to hold on to an 11-10 victory. Chinman made two crucial last-minute saves to protect the lead. He stuffed Addante from point-blank range and barely tipped a potential go-ahead Tonkovich goal over the top of the net.“It was a clash like I had never fought in before,” Kinnard said of the game. “All I could think about was dunking the opposing players’ heads into the water and holding them down with all of my strength. It was a little crazy out there. It got intense.”Together, the two offenses, which had scored like it was going out of style earlier in the season, only mustered five total second-half points. Both defenses and goalies stepped up to the plate as the teams performed commendably in the contest that was, to both teams, truly sink-or-swim.Zach and All His Friends ended the season right where they wanted to be, immortalized on the intramural wall-of-fame and awaiting their Championship t-shirts. When asked if they would be back next year, Hummel said, “Yes.”*All quotations have been fabricated

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