SHS girls rugby club ready for nationals |

SHS girls rugby club ready for nationals

ADAM BOFFEYsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

FARMERS KORNER If the members of the Summit High School girls rugby club have had trouble focusing on their academics this week, its probably because the Tigers will be playing in the national tournament this weekend in Milwaukee, Wis. Im so excited, I cant concentrate in school, senior Catherine Clark said. Ive been going through all the plays in my mind. … I dont think any of us can concentrate on anything else.The kids are really fired up, echoed Summits 10th-year coach, Karl Barth. You can tell.For the Tigers, anticipation of this weekend has been growing since last fall, when Summit defeated Fort Collins 15-14 in the state championship. Since 2004, the Colorado state champion has automatically represented the West region at nationals unless a team from Wyoming or New Mexico challenges, which they never do, according to Barth. The Tigers last trip to nationals was in 2004, when they took fifth place.Senior co-captains Kyle Armstrong and Mallory Ives are the only remaining players from that squad, which could be problematic for the Tigers, who will play Budd Bay of Olympia, Wash., in Saturday mornings first round.Its definitely one disadvantage for us, Barth said. A lot of the teams in the tournament were there last year.Another inherent disadvantage for the Tigers could be the fact that Colorado is one of only two states (Wisconsin is the other) that plays high school rugby during the fall.May has been a productive month for the Tigers, however, who came together a few weeks ago to shed their offseason rust. After victories over New Mexico state champion Los Alamos (54-5 and 65-5) and the Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union (31-13), the Tigers seem to have regained their state championship form.We have a very good team this year, said Armstrong, whos a member of the U19 girls national team along with Ives and Jozy Gessner. What will help us is that we really want to win this championship.If Summit gets past the Northwest region representative in the first round of the eight-team tournament, it will likely clash with three-time defending champions Lake Divine Savior of Milwaukee.Savior, which like Summit is unique in that it draws all of its players from a single school, could be especially formidable this year because they have the luxury of playing at home.I know their coach and he told me it was the best team theyve ever had, Barth said. If we had to be giant killers against Fort Collins in the state championship. … I dont know whats bigger than a giant.An experienced coach at the helmAn accomplished, veteran rugby coach, Barth has become known for his attention to detail and preparation. On Monday, he assembled the Tigers in his chemistry classroom at SHS for an in-depth review of plays and tactics as well as a video session. Some 20 players watched tape of themselves against Los Alamos last Saturday as well as footage of Budd Bay in action.On paper, we look good, said the coach, who has taken five Summit teams to nationals during his tenure (the Tigers were national champions in both 1998 and 99). Although Barths name has been synonymous with Summit rugby for the last decade, this will be the first tournament in which the Tigers will compete under the Summit High umbrella.Weve been talking to the school about this for a few years, Barth said. We figured out a situation that would work for everyone.Summit ruggers still exist in some gray area, however, because rugby is not sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association. Interscholastic play and varsity letters are not currently available as a result. Still, players must conform to the same academic standards for eligibility as all other SHS athletes.Barth, the former head coach of both the U19 boys and girls national teams, is clearly well-liked by his players.This is why I play rugby since hes such a good coach, said Armstrong, who tentatively plans to play at Penn State University next year. Hes determined, positive, focused and he really cares about us.He knows the ins and outs of every play, echoed Gessner, whose international experience gained with Ives early this spring in England could be a helpful factor for Summit this weekend.As the Tigers assembled Monday in SHS room 2324, they listened intently to their coachs advice regarding Saturdays big game.Technique beats size every time, unless technique has size, he said. If we execute against Budd Bay, then we will win.Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at

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