If you’re an American meat-and-potatoes sports fan — football, basketball and baseball — you’re probably not interested when I tell you Kelly Rulon could be the greatest women’s water polo player in the world.

But if I tell you she’s the LaDainian Tomlinson of her sport, does that catch your attention?

“Absolutely, you could call her the LT of women’s water polo,” said UCLA coach Adam Krikorian.

Rulon, a UCLA senior from San Diego’s University High, is the reigning national player of the year for the two-time NCAA champion Bruins. She’s a two-time first-team All-American in addition to a 2004 Olympic gold medalist.

UCLA (21-2), ranked No. 2 in the nation, plays its final regular-season game Friday at No. 6-ranked San Diego State (24-6) at 3 p.m. Friday at the Aztec Aquaplex.

“She’s brilliant in every facet of the game,” Krikorian said. “But what separates her from other great players is her intelligence and understanding of the game. She has great vision — the ability to see the entire pool — the same as a point guard in basketball or a running back in football.”

San Diego isn’t short on women’s water polo stars. Moriah van Norman (University High) and Ericka Lorenz (Patrick Henry High) recently led the U.S. women’s water polo team to the World Championships gold medal in Australia. Van Norman was the national college player of the year in 2004 at USC.

“In my mind, what has made Kelly possibly the greatest ever to play our sport is her leadership,” Krikorian said. “She’s the finest women’s water polo player I’ve ever coached, and I’ve coached nine or 10 Olympians.”


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