Logan Kightly arrived at Santa Fe Christian High last year as a junior transfer ready to make a splash on the boys water polo team.
The newcomer proceeded to help the Eagles, absent from the playoffs the previous season, reach the San Diego Section Division III final.
Now, as a senior captain, Kightly has stepped forth further as Santa Fe Christian is again in contention for a playoff berth while moving up to Division II this year. The Eagles stood at 14-13 to start this week, which closes the regular season.
In the middle of it all is Kightly, usually at center forward and often in the center of the pregame team huddle.
“I love to lead by example, but I’m not afraid to open my mouth,” Kightly said. “I’ll bring my team together before games. I’m the one whose duty it is to encourage the team.”
Consider his message heard.
“Logan’s a leader,” sophomore goalie Josh Wozniak said. “He really wants the team to succeed. I can feel a sense of disappointment in him when we don’t give it our best. He wants his final (prep) year to be a really great year.”
Kightly arrived from San Jose, where he competed at Bellarmine College Prep, an all-boys school, known for a top-flight aquatics program.
“I transferred in and we got started with the season (training) early, and we saw guys on the team who wanted to win,” Kightly said. “We worked really hard in practice and saw a lot of personal growth in each player.”
The Eagles (21-11) went unbeaten (8-0) to win the City Central League championship and earned the No. 2 seed for the postseason. In the final, they lost 14-7 to top-seeded Steele Canyon.
Pacing Santa Fe Christian was Graydon Church, a fourth-year letterman, named the Central League’s Player of the Year. Though he has graduated, his impact remains on the program’s 10 returning players.
“Graydon was a guy who made something happen,” Kightly said. “He muscled through any defender to make a play to create an opportunity. That’s something that I definitely learned. If you work harder than your opponent, you’re going to have an opportunity to score.”
Along with an increase in skills, Kightly has truly grown up in high school. The former 5-foot-8, 135-pound freshman has turned into a 6-0, 180-pound senior.
Kightly helps form the offensive core with Luke Moody, the only other senior on the team. Also among the field mainstays are junior Luke Creal and sophomores Seth Kading and Jason Lynn.
Wozniak started in goal as a freshman last season, backed by two years of club play prior to high school. In a highlight showing, he made 11 saves in the Eagles’ 12-9 semifinal victory over Mission Bay.
“Josh is the best goalie we’re ever going to get, for sure,” Kightly said. “He’s definitely got the heart of a champion. He’s a really good listener and really good at motivating his team. He lets some things get to his head, but it’s only because he cares about the game a lot.”
The 6-2 Wozniak notes the benefits of another year’s experience.
“I used to get really angry if I missed a (save),” Wozniak said. “I’ve tried to fix that, and I feel it’s changing my game.”
Kightly hopes to play at least club water polo in college with plans to attend a West Coast school.
“Any game, I’m a very competitive person, but in the water, I’m most comfortable,” Kightly said. “It’s just the dynamic of the game, very fast-paced, intense, a lot of physical contact. If you work hard, you see results, and I really like that.”
by Glae Thien