Summit rugby program honors 11 seniors in only home game of season
BRECKENRIDGE — What Summit High School rugby senior Maleena Mero appreciates most about this year’s senior group is their ability to be present.
After 12 straight state championships, the Summit rugby program wasn’t able to add another to the tally this fall due to COVID-19 rules limiting their ability to play the sport they loved. Once the Tigers returned to the pitch a week-and-a-half ago for their first game against another school, it’d been a year and a half since they last played against another team.
The seniors and program stuck together through it all. To Mero, she and the 10 other seniors were always present — from fall intramural scrimmages to physically-distanced practices to, now, with their spring season being mainly moved to the Front Range due to the county’s recent uptick to level orange.
“We’re just here for each other,” Mero said. “We bonded so tightly, even in our freshman year. We’re also strong. We’ve made it through this whole COVID thing and we’ve been there for each other. We got to play the people we’ve grown rugby with in four years, it’s kind of like our goodbye game.”
Each of Summit’s seniors were on the pitch at the end of the program’s top side, with the Green team defeating the Gold 41-0 Wednesday at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge. Technically the result counts toward both the Green and Gold sides in the new Colorado Interscholastic Rugby Association’s standings.
But more than anything, longtime Tigers head coach Karl Barth said Wednesday’s game was held to make sure the seniors — a group he described as “humble and unselfish” — got a chance to play together on their home pitch in front of their parents one last time.
After the Green victory, Barth read messages from each of the 11 seniors who were honored individually with flowers and a moment in the spotlight. The setting was different from senior night celebrations in recent seasons, which were hosted at a local restaurant.
“But that wasn’t possible, so this is back to the old school,” Barth said. “…This is an awesome class. They’ve done a lot of work and look at what they have gone through with all the challenges they’ve had.”
On Wednesday, it was a junior, Olyvia Snyder who scored two early tries for Green, touching down for scores thanks to her blazing speed down the sideline. Underclassmen Cristal Gomez scored Green’s third try before all seniors, Bryton Ferrari, Brielle Quigley, Deanna Davidson and Mero, scored the final four tries of the game.
Ferrari, who will be playing at Colorado School of Mines in Golden in the fall, said Wednesday was a special one-of-a-kind opportunity to end the game with all seniors out there. It manifested moments like the final play of the game when four seniors attempted to tackle Ferrari, but Ferrari had her own seniors flanking her in support, as Davidson, Mero and Quigley were right there. Ferrari found Quigley who dished it to Mero for a goal the future Central Washington player will never forget.
“It was due to the teamwork,” Mero said. “It was a great ending to a good game.”
The Tigers senior group includes several players who will play in college, including Rilla Long (Queens University of Charlotte), Lily Hess (Coastal Carolina), Ferrari (Colorado School of Mines), Quigley (Northeastern) and Mero (Central Washington). Other Tiger seniors honored Wednesday included Davidson, Ashley Barela, Sydney Mullins, McKenna Orr, Danna Rodriguez and Ellie Francis.
Ferrari commended Rodriguez, Long and Davidson’s play at prop Wednesday and said it was good to see heading into the season’s conclusion. Due to a COVID-19 quarantine for Palmer, Green will not play Saturday. Rather, their final game of the season will be May 1 at Cook Park in Denver versus Monarch. If Monarch avoids an upset by Denver East, it appears the showdown with Summit may be an effective state-championship matchup and chance for a 13th straight title.
“We’re definitely going to try to win the state championship, even if it’s going to look a little different than past years,” Mero said.
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