Harkrader at the heart of North Penn success

Matt Harkrader savors the competitive aspect of the sport of water polo.

And in addition to having swam his whole life, he has “a pretty good arm from (his) old baseball days,” as he aptly describes.

All of those components help make Harkrader a driving force for North Penn High School.

“Matt was the only major minute contributor returning from our 2019 State Championship team, which made him the main focus of the other team’s shut-down efforts,” Knights coach Jason Grubb said. “Matt was our primary center but is a versatile player that allowed for movement at all positions.

“Matt was our leading scorer and the go-to offensive presence.”

Selected Athlete of the Year for Boys Water Polo, Harkrader brought a lot to the pool this fall, and helped the Knights make it through unprecedented adversity.

“First of all, I feel really fortunate that we were able to even have a season and be able to end it with a state tournament,” said Harkrader, a First-Team All-State player and a finalist for State Player of the Year. “I’m sad the season is over and so are my four years of water polo at North Penn, but I am happy with my season and our success.

“We had a very young team this year and we kept getting stronger as the season progressed. I am very proud of the growth the team accomplished.”

Powered in large part by Harkrader, North Penn made it all the way back to the state final.

“I knew going into the season there were big shoes to fill with losing the whole starting line of seniors from last year,” he said. “I knew, as a senior, I had to step up as a player and a leader. Coach Grubb was instrumental in getting the team ready to compete and play at a championship level.

“Although we came up a little short this year in the championship game, the team continued to improve each game, which was great to see and be a part of.”

With safety restrictions due to the pandemic, the 2020 season was far different than any other.  “The season got off to a late start to begin with and practices at first were no contact and completely outside,” Harkrader said. “By the time we finally were allowed to have contact and move into our indoor pool, we only had about a week to get ready before our first game.

“Even with all these restrictions, we were proactive as a team and did a lot of dryland, film study, and virtual team meetings to make sure we stayed ready to go at all times for any chance to get to play. In years past, the crowd energy at the NP pool for the games was awesome and it was definitely tough and different playing with empty bleachers or limited fans.”

Harkrader enjoyed his water polo experience so much at NP, he wants to take it with him – he would like to play on the college level.

“I am undecided of where I am going to go to college, but I am looking to play water polo at the next level,” the senior said. “I am currently talking to college coaches and figuring out what school would be the best overall fit for me.”

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