Two Bruins Named to Team USA
IRVINE, Calif. – U.S. Olympic Men's Water Polo Team Head Coach Dejan Udovicic has announced the 13 athletes that will be nominated to represent Team USA at the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and two Bruins have been selected. UCLA's Max Irving (2013-17) and Alex Wolf (2015-19) were both chosen following a silver medal run at the FINA World League Super Final in Tbilisi, Georgia. Team USA punched their ticket to Tokyo with a gold medal finish at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. Final approval of the selections is required by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and will be announced at a later date.
Veteran Jesse Smith heads to his USA Water Polo record-tying fifth Olympic Games and joins four other returners from the 2016 Olympic Games in Alex Bowen, Luca Cupido, Ben Hallock, and Alex Obert. It's a squad with eight first-time Olympians bolstered by heavy professional experience over the last nine months.
A 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist, Smith ties the record of retired Team USA great Tony Azevedo for most Olympic Teams ever made by a USA Water Polo athlete. A world-class defender, Smith brings years of experience at the national team and international club level. Bowen has spent the last five years honing his skills abroad capping up for clubs in Hungary, Croatia and Greece bringing a next level offensive game.
Hallock and Obert have evolved into the main options for Team USA at two-meters and both are coming off strong international campaigns. Hallock, a NCAA champion, took home the ultimate club title this year as the first American man to win Champions League, taking top honors with Pro Recco. Obert also advanced to the Champions League Final 8 with Croatian power VK JUG. A physical force in front of the cage, Obert brings important size up front. Cupido rounds out the returners as one of Team USA's best scoring threats. A knack for clutch goals, he'll be counted on to find the back of the net regularly and spent time playing club ball in Italy earlier this year.
Eight newcomers join Team USA in Tokyo and while it may be their first Olympics, they have no shortage of experience. Irving and Hannes Daube were teammates for Olympiacos this season, reaching the Champions League Final 8 and will be two big pieces of the Team USA attack. There will be a brand-new look in goal for the United States in the Olympic Games as Wolf and Drew Holland take on goalkeeper responsibilities. Both competed with clubs in Greece this season and have the ability to catch fire in the cage. Holland was most recently named the best goalkeeper at the 2021 FINA World League Super Final.
Johnny Hooper heads to his first Olympic Games adding a creative element on offense while Mark Vavic has the versatility to make an impact on both ends of the pool. Both spent time abroad with Hooper competing in Greece and Vavic in Italy. Dylan Woodhead, fresh off club play in Greece, adds to the defensive rotation and with one less roster spot on gamedays, lockdown defenders will be key to advancing. Nevada native Ben Stevenson rounds out the roster bringing another hard-working attacker with a host of international club experience in recent years, most recently with Glyfada where he was on the same team as Woodhead.
The USA Men's National Team is coming off a silver medal at the FINA World League Super Final, earning their third second-place finish at the event in program history. All silver medals at the Super Final have come in Olympic years, with the prior results in 2008 and 2016. In 2008 the team would go on to win the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing, the program's most recent Olympic medal.
A total of 19 athletes in the USA Men's National Team program trained or competed with professional clubs in Europe, a record for Team USA. Learn more about which athletes played where by clicking here.
Under a new format for the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, each nation will declare 12 active players before each match of the competition. The reduction in gameday roster size from 13 to 12 was part of an expansion in the overall number of teams competing in the women's tournament. The size of the women's tournament is now at 10 countries, up from eight, while the men's tournament stays at 12 teams.
U.S. Olympic Men's Water Polo Team Nominees – Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
1. Alex Wolf (Huntington Beach, CA/UCLA/Bruin)
2. Johnny Hooper (Los Angeles, CA/California/LA Premier)
3. Marko Vavic (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA/USC/Trojan)
4. Alex Obert (Loomis, CA/Pacific/NYAC)
5. Hannes Daube (Long Beach, CA/USC/North Irvine WPC)
6. Luca Cupido (Santa Margherita, Italy/California/Olympic Club)
7. Ben Hallock (Westlake Village, CA/Stanford/LA Premier)
8. Dylan Woodhead (San Anselmo, CA/Stanford/Sleepy Hollow Aquatics & Stanford WPF)
9. Alex Bowen (Santee, CA/Stanford/NYAC)
10. Ben Stevenson (Reno, NV/Pacific/NYAC)
11. Jesse Smith (Coronado, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC)
12. Max Irving (Long Beach, CA/UCLA/NYAC)
13. Drew Holland (Orinda, CA/Stanford/Olympic Club)
Head Coach: Dejan Udovicic
Assistant Coaches: Alex Rodriguez, Gavin Arroyo
About USA Water Polo
USA Water Polo, Inc., is the national governing body for water polo in America, overseeing our United States Olympic program as well as 20 different championship events annually, such as Junior Olympics and Masters National Championships. With more than 50,000 members, USAWP also is the sanctioning authority for more than 500 member clubs and more than 400 tournaments nationwide. USAWP is committed to the development of the sport throughout the U.S., fostering grass-roots expansion while providing a national system of affiliated clubs, certified coaches, and officials.