Summit girls rugby edges Arapahoe, Fort Collins en route to Valkyrie 7’s title

A glimpse of the hard-hitting action from the Summit 7's girls rugby tournament on Sept. 7, at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge. This past weekend, the Summit High girls rugby team won the Valkyrie 7's tournament in Glenwood Springs.
Liz Copan /

For a program that has won 11 consecutive state championships, it may seem on the surface that the Summit High girls rugby team coasts through each campaign. But that’s not the case, as each year there are rivals and other top teams here in Colorado that challenge the Tigers. Often, these early season tests help Summit to work through elements of their own game that need improving, properly preparing them for tougher tests later in the year.

This weekend at the Valkyrie 7’s tournament at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs was one of those situations, as Summit fought through tough tests versus Arapahoe High School and Fort Collins High School before capturing the tournament title.

Summit took on the rival Arapahoe after first defeating Mountain Vista 36-0 and Glenwood 41-0 in pool play. The tilt versus Arapahoe would decide who’d advance to the tournament’s championship. It also was the first time the two rivals faced off this year, later than usual after Arapahoe bowed out early at the Terror 7’s tournament in Colorado Springs the weekend before.

Summit head coach Karl Barth said Arapahoe began the game with a sharp focus and energetic edge, taking their physical brand of rugby straight to the Tigers early on.

“It was definitely one of the most physical games we played all season,” Summit junior Bryton Ferrari said. “They definitely brought a fight.”

Ferrari and Summit junior Maleena Mero and senior Natalie Anderson all said Arapahoe’s physicality knocked Summit out of sync in the first half. They said the team played more scattered and sloppy than they would have preferred. Barth credited Arapahoe’s game plan with frustrating the Tigers until intermission, the score deadlocked 0-0.

“They slowed a lot of things down,” Barth said, “kind of got up real fast on us in defense. And you throw in that in that the game was on a narrower field, and we didn’t really get a chance to do what we wanted to do.”

In the second half, Summit bounced back to open up the game side to side, using their speed to move Arapahoe “around the park,” as Barth put it. Summit got on the board on a wide run by senior PK Vincze before a score by senior Logan Simson effectively put the game away at 14-0. The Tigers ultimately won the game 21-0, with Kimball converting all three of her extra points.

Summit girls rugby

Aug. 29: Green, 40, vs. White, 37
Sept. 7: First at Summit 7’s, Tiger Stadium
Sept. 14: First at Terror 7’s, Colorado Springs
Sept. 21: First at Valkyrie 7’s, Glenwood Springs
Sept. 25: Win at Glenwood Springs
Sept. 28: Second at Lumberjackie 7’s
Oct. 8: Win vs. Glenwood Springs (Homecoming), Summit High School
Oct. 11-12: Second at Pink 7’s, Regional Athletic Complex, Salt Lake City
Oct. 19: First at Falcon Bluffs
Oct. 26: Colorado State 7’s Tournament, Boulder High School, 9 a.m. start
Nov. 2: Glendale 15’s, Glendale, TBD
Nov. 9: Palmer 15’s, Palmer, TBD

Nov. 16: Glendale 15’s, Glendale, TBD

In the championship game, the Tigers took on familiar foe Fort Collins. With renewed focus after the back-and-forth game with Arapahoe, Summit knew they were in for another tough test. Fort Collins had scored first on the Tigers early this month at the opening game of the Summit 7’s tournament and the Valkyrie 7’s format gave the Tigers a short turnaround from the Arapahoe game to the Fort Collins game.

Without a banged-up Vincze on the field, Summit battled exhaustion against a versatile Fort Collins squad. Barth noted Fort Collins’ ability to play either fast or direct makes the team a particularly tough matchup.

“So we had to dig a little deeper,” Barth said, “and some kids stepped up, which was nice. Jenna Sheldon came in and played pretty big after not playing much during the day.”

The Tigers got up early in the first half, including a score from junior Brielle Quigley, who led the Tigers in the game with two scores. Once up, the Tigers weathered two scores from Fort Collins before taking the tournament with a 35-12 championship win.

“In the second half they played us pretty even, they kind of fought back,” Barth said. “It’s hard to keep your foot on the gas pedal that long when it’s kind of a tired foot at that point. We’ve got to work on a few things, because we are going to end up in that situation where we have to play two or three tough games at the end of the day instead of one or two.”

Barth said moving forward — with a road game for non-seniors slated for Wednesday at 6 p.m. — the Tigers need to continue to strive to improve their defense while also working on better adjustments to play on narrower fields and against bigger, faster teams.

Wednesday’s road trip for non-seniors is part of a special home-and-home pair of games between Glenwood and Summit. Glenwood will return the favor to take on a team of Tiger seniors for Homecoming at Tiger Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m.

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