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Daily Journal Boys’ Water Polo Player of the Year: Sacred Heart Prep’s Griffin Price

By Nathan Mollat Daily Journal staff
Stanford-bound goalie Griffen Price has been named the San Mateo Daily Journal Boys Water Polo Player of the Year!

When Griff Price joined the Sacred Heart Prep boys’ water polo team as a freshman, he was already in the discussion as one of the best goalkeepers in the country.
Four years later, the discussion has changed. Now, Price is not only considered the best goalie, he is in the debate for best high school water polo player — period — in the United States.
“I think all doubt has been erased (as to whether he is the best goalie in the country),” SHP head coach Brian Kreutzkamp said. “[High school water polo] is such a small community, but these people (polo experts) have known Griff since he was 12 years old. Looking back on the season and the career he’s had, he’s certainly in that (best player in the country) conversation.”
The numbers certainly support the argument that Price is the best goalie in the country. He appeared in 28 matches this season, going 25-3. He averaged eight saves per game, nine times notching double-digit blocks. He allowed an average of five goals per match.
Price has heard the chatter since his freshman year and while he said he tries not to listen to it, it definitely has had an impact on his play — only in that he wanted to live up to the hype.
“I do hear it,” Price said. “But the key to me is not letting it get to my head. [Training and playing is] a grind. It’s consistent hard work. ... You need to play for yourself and have the mentality that I can play better.”
Price did get better over his four years with the Gators. It led to three West Catholic Athletic League regular-season and tournament crowns, three Central Coast Section titles, an undefeated COVID season, a Nor Cal championship, a water polo scholarship to Stanford and the Daily Journal Boys’ Water Polo Player of the Year honor.
This was one of those rare occasions when the Gators, as a team, could have shared the honor as it put together the best season in program history. The Gators went 27-3 overall, capturing the WCAL regular season and tournament titles. They went on to dominate in their run to the CCS Open Division crown, crushing Bellarmine 16-4 for the title. They then parlayed that into the program’s first Northern California championship, outscoring Valley Christian, Campolindo-Moraga and Miramonte-Orinda 44-13.
Interspersed between league and postseason play, the Gators played in a number of high-profile tournaments — South Coast, Elite 12 and North-South, going toe-to-toe with the best in Southern California, and by extension, the best teams in the country. They took third place in the South Coast tournament, going 3-1 with wins over host Foothill-Tustin, Cathedral Catholic-San Diego and Huntington Beach.
Their sole loss came to Mater Dei in the semifinals, 9-7, but the Gators would get their revenge by beating the Monarchs to capture the North-South tournament title. Between those two tournaments, SHP went 4-0 in winning the Elite 12, beating Newport Harbor in the final, 8-7.
The Gators tested themselves against the best teams in the state, going 10-3 in those games.
“This season for us was a big one,” Price said. “I was looking forward to senior season. We had the potential to be great this year. Just finish off strong. There is no reason not to have a great season, personally. And team goals? We wanted to win as much as possible.”
Sacred Heart Prep is used to drawing top talent to its polo program and this year’s senior class was no different. There has been a core group of players who all came in as freshmen — Bear Weigle, Luke Johnston, Jack Vort and Price — and all have had a hand in leading the Gators to these lofty heights. The final piece was the arrival of Gavin Westfrom the East Coast before the 2020-21 season, which thrust the Gators into mythical national championship territory.
To Kreutzkamp, Price is the one who put the Gators in the discussion for best team in the nation.
“We’ve always been really good, but when Griff came in, we [became] elite,” Kreutzkamp said.
Price didn’t see it that way his first season.
“I wasn’t sitting there as a freshman, thinking we’re going to be one of the best teams in the country,” Price said “I knew the team was good, the program and coaching were phenomenal and I was really excited to be part of the program.”
Kreutzkamp and Price both recognized the potential and they both worked to realize it. While Price certainly has the instincts and physical attributes to play goalie, he also puts in the mental work, the film work and scouting work.
 All of it has combined to make Price the tip of the Gators’ defensive spear, despite being the last line of defense.
“He has good length, good size,” Kreutzkamp said. “But overall, it’s just his instincts. He’s just seen so much (high-level) water polo, he just knows. He’s developed a pattern of knowing where these shots are going. … We don’t have to run a press defense. We just sit back and let them shoot.”
It’s not by coincidence. The SHP defense is so good it has the ability to move lesser teams into shots the Gators want them to take, knowing Price will be there to stop them.
“It’s baiting in a way. Goalies do that a lot,” Price said. “There is a side of goalkeeping that is reactive and there is a part that is proactive. Some of that is watching film. I want to be one step ahead of the shooter. … I can see what shooters want to do.”
Not only does Price’s defensive prowess shut down the opponents’ offenses, he is also the trigger man to the Gators offense and it is his precision passing to jump-start the offense that puts Price in the elite category.
“If you have a great goalie, not only does he run the defense, he also starts and runs the offense,” Kreutzkamp said. “He can throw the ball full court. He can fit [passes] in tight windows. Griff can hit all those windows. Now we have a breakaway.
“He changes everything. … He changes the entire game. The entire (opposing) team’s game plan is, how are you going to score on him? It allows us to take all kinds of chances (offensively).”
To Price, being an offensively-minded goalie is simply the next step in the progression of the position. He understands that a good pass can lead to good things on the other end of the pool.
“You start off focusing on defense,” Price said. “Once you give yourself a great foundation, then you need to focus on passing. Theoretically, I’m the last line of defense, but you’re also the front line for offense. That dime pass you drop is key.
“I have a big impact on how we can utilize five seconds (on the 30-second shot clock). Once you get used to … fueling the [counterattack], it starts clicking a little more.”
Price hasn’t been resting on his laurels since the end of the season, earning a call up to the U.S. Men’s National Team camp. While there will see more club and country play this summer, he will also turn his attention toward being ready to compete for playing time at Stanford.
“(The national team camp was for) prospects for the 2024 and 2028 Olympic teams,” said Price, adding there were only a handful of high school players invited.
“Day 1 coming in, I was a little intimidated. This was an opportunity to block the best shooters in the country. As the days progressed, I got more comfortable.”
Which doesn’t surprise Kreutzkamp at all.
“He was just about 14 years old (when he came to SHP) and had a lot of potential. He was not nearly as polished as he is today,” Kreutzkamp said. “When he was coming, I just wanted him to be a serviceable goalie. You just don’t know if these kids will reach their potential. But he got better every single year and I think there is another level he can go.”

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Founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, SHS is a Catholic, independent, co-ed day school for students in preschool through grade 12