Michigan commit Claire Tuttle named state’s top water polo player

Hudsonville’s Claire Tuttle’s junior year started off great and it only got better and better.

It started last fall when Tuttle won her second consecutive Division 1 state 100 breaststroke championship. She verbally committed to swim for the University of Michigan in the spring, then helped the Hudsonville water polo team win its third consecutive Michigan Water Polo Association state championship.

Hold on because there’s more.

Tuttle was awarded MWPA Player of the Year honors for the second consecutive season. Tuttle recorded 119 goals, 46 assists and 89 steals, and she had five goals in the state title game against Rockford.

“She is just a special athlete,” Hudsonville coach Ian Hewett said. “She is a crazy good swimmer, which definitely helps her water polo abilities. She also is super strong, super physical and works extremely hard.

“One thing that really helps her is that she has a really good shot and she can throw the ball extremely well. She played really well all season and especially in the state tournament.”

Hewett got some props from the association, too, because he was named MWPA Coach of the Year for the second-straight season. The Eagles went 37-4 record, and in his two years at the helm has an overall record of 67-6.

Grace Boeve earned all-state honors after scoring 93 goals and registering 67 assists and 92 steals. In addition, Sofia Biriouk, a sophomore, was named second-team all-state.

“Grace is a senior and a great leader for us the last two years,” Hewett said. “She has been a focal point with her being a hole set and a two-meter defender, two of the more physically demanding spots in water polo. But she played really well all season as well. She is certainly deserving of the accolades that she has received.”

The Eagles beat Saline in the state quarterfinals 11-2 at Zeeland, followed by a 10-4 victory against Skyline in the semifinals. Hudsonville then defeated Rockford 7-4 in the state championship game, giving Hudsonville its fourth title overall. The Eagles also won the 2007 state championship.

“That was our fifth time we played Rockford this season, and every time we played them it got closer and closer,” Hewett said. “It was a great game. Rockford is a great team and well coached.”

“We definitely faced some challenges throughout the season, which made us prepared and much better for the end of the year,” Hewett added. “We really started playing our best water polo at the right time, at the end of the year. It was a special season and a lot of fun.”

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