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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports water polo

Wyckoff leads emerging squad after slow start

Lauren Wyckoff’s senior season lacked an ideal start.

The IU water polo team was 2-7 after its first two tournaments and had a three-week layoff from competition. Since that start, the Hoosiers have ridden the leadership of Wyckoff to a No. 13 national ranking and a 15-9 record.

King said his senior utility player’s maturation as a leader has been crucial to his team’s turnaround.

“Up until now, it’s been a leader-by-example kind of thing. She’s earned the space and the respect,” King said. “Now she can talk to people about it and they’ll listen. That’s been really good for us in the last month.

“She’s finally gotten comfortable being a vocal leader, getting people’s heads wrapped around giving the same kind of effort she does.”

Wyckoff’s leadership skills helped guide the Hoosiers through a schedule that pitted them against five of the top six teams in the nation. During those first two tournaments, Wyckoff said the younger players received an eye-opener from the nation’s most talented teams.

Since then, IU has caught fire, compiling a 13-2 record. During that time, the Hoosiers have scored 10.2 goals per contest while allowing 5.2 goals per match. The Hoosiers enter Saturday’s contest against Michigan having scored double-digit goals in each of their last five games.

Wyckoff said the upperclassmen used their experience to provide confidence to navigate through the early season struggles.

“As seniors and juniors, we have to be leaders and tell them, ‘Keep your head up. We’ll start playing teams that are similar to us competitively,’” Wyckoff said.

At Princeton earlier this month, Wyckoff made a name for herself in the record books, becoming the fifth Hoosier in program history to have 100 career goals, assists and steals. Ever the team player, Wyckoff admitted that the record slipped past her.

“I didn’t know that until right now,” Wyckoff said. “It feels great. It’s a team. It’s not an individual sport.
“I’m just doing what I’m doing: having fun. The program’s come a long way. The teams in the past few years have been getting better and better every year since I’ve been here.”

Through the course of the prior two invitationals, King has started two freshmen: attackers Meghan Lappan and Shae Fournier. Wyckoff said she took it upon herself to smooth the freshman learning curve for her teammates.

“The leader role is a huge part,” Wyckoff said. “It’s talking to them inside and outside of the pool, giving them pointers and leading by example inside the pool.
“Talking to them after the games is a huge help. Two of them are from Canada and are not used to playing so many games against good teams. It’s just talking to them, making them comfortable, telling them, ‘I’ve been there.’”

Amidst the accolades she has garnered from her teammates and coaches, Wyckoff said there is still work to be done as her IU career winds down.

“It’s kind of upsetting,” Wyckoff said. “It’s coming to an end. I need to get these girls in a position to lead this team. That’s what I’m doing as a leader: getting them prepared for the next few years.”

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