Summit girls rugby team poised to scrum for next state title with biggest turnout in program history
It is a challenge to continuously produce a state championships caliber team but for head coach of Summit High School girls rugby team Karl Barth producing a state championship winning team appears to be a non-issue.
After winning a 14th consecutive state title at the end of the 2021 Colorado Interscholastic Rugby Association fall season the Summit girls rugby team is set on being awarded a 15th consecutive title at the concussion of this upcoming season.
One thing that has helped the Summit girls rugby team to be successful from one year to the next, is the amount of depth and team culture the team has established throughout its years atop the state of Colorado.
This season alone the Summit girls rugby team will return three of the seven players who made up last years’ state championship team and will be backed by a mind boggling 90 others – the biggest turnout the program has ever seen.
At a rain-filled, soggy practice on Tuesday, Aug. 16 the Summit girls rugby team’s depth was immediate to everyone at Summit High School. Despite only needing 14 players on each side of the field at one time the practice field was filled with girls — looking to learn new skills and gain valuable experience prior to the start of the season.
“We are building the airplane as we fly,” Barth joked of his massive turnout this year.
Among the state championship returners will be seniors Paola Arredondo, Joselin Roque and junior Larissa Mero. Arredondo and Roque were both fundamental in the Tigers 33-0 routing of the Monarch High School Coyotes in the in state championship match.
In the halfback position, Arredondo scored on three tries producing a total of 15 points for the Tigers while Roque in the wing position converted four out of her five kicking attempts scoring eight total points.
With 90 girls on the team, the Tigers are riddled with several other leaders including Citlali Licea, Ella Snyder, Katie McKernan and Ashley Misch.
Since the team was established by Barth at Summit High School in the spring of 1997 the depth of the program has continued to be a pillar of success for the program. Not only does the depth of the team help produce consistent talent but it has also helped breed a strong team culture.
“Our team is really unique,” McKernan. “Barth does an amazing job of getting the older girls to talk with the younger girls. You really get to experience firsthand if you struggled with one thing you get to help the girls with exactly how you learned it.”
“The key is program if you focus on teams a lot of times you get a result for a year,” Barth said. ” A lot of it is the team culture that they really enjoy. We could leave them alone for a while and they would take a care of a lot of it. I think building from that cultural end has been great.”
The team culture that Barth and athletes speak of was front and center in the program’s 14th consecutive state title last season. Summit High School class of 2022 graduates Olyvia Snyder and Jenna Sheldon talked extensively throughout last season about how members of the team would often hang outside of practice in order to foster a bond among one another.
Another characteristic that members of the Summit girls rugby team that has kept them engaged and hungry for success is the approach Barth takes to training the girls on the team.
With a large roster it can often be hard to make the athlete and coach experience feel individualized but Barth has taken an individualized approach with the team making sure that each athlete is getting an opportunity to excel in order to ultimately help the team.
“He has helped me express myself here and has been super supportive of everybody,” Arredondo said. “Even if it’s your first year joining as a senior you can still get in college for it. He gives us good opportunities and makes us feel passionate about it and enjoy it.”
Barth and the Tigers are excited for a new championship pursuit to begin and the team will get its first chance to see where they are when the team participates in a green vs. white scrimmage on Sept. 1 before opening the season at Eagle Valley on Sept. 7.
“I am really looking forward to this season — I was injured last season so I finally get to play again,” McKernan said. “We have a ton of girls and am really looking forward to learning with them, building with them and building off each other.”
Sept. 1, Green vs. White Scrimmage at Summit High School, 6 p.m.
Sept. 7, at Eagle Valley, 5 p.m
Sept. 10, at Glenwood Springs, all day
Sept. 17, Summit 7’s tournament vs. multiple teams at Summit High School , all day
Sept. 24, at RC tournament, all day
Sept. 28, vs.East, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 1, at Jesuit 7’s tournament, all day
Oct. 7, vs. Monarch, 6 p.m
Oct 8, at Palmer, 10 a.m.
Oct. 13-16, at Pink 7’s tournament in Salt Lake City, UT, TBD
Oct. 19, at Regis, 6 p.m.
Oct. 29, at Fort Collins, 11 a.m.
Nov. 5, at CIRA 7’s State Tournament, all day
Nov. 12, at CIRA All State game, TBD
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