Summit rugby ready for toughest state tournament in years Sunday in snowy Boulder
BRECKENRIDGE — With a pair of losses to in-state Colorado teams this season, the Summit High School varsity girls rugby team knows the level of competition will be high at Sunday’s state championship rugby tournament.
A few weeks back, the Tigers’ top side lost its first in-state game in 12 seasons to longtime rival Arapahoe, also knows as “Swarm.” Then this past weekend, the Tigers lost a pool play game to Glenwood Springs before rallying to win the Falcon Bluff 7s tournament in Littleton.
Earlier this season, Summit head coach Karl Barth described Summit’s effort en route to winning its Summit 7s tournament as “surfing the eye of the hurricane.” Since that victory over top in-state and out-of-state competition, Summit has continued to surf choppy waters, as injuries and sudden losses have altered the trajectory of the season.
Though Summit has remained mostly on course — winning last weekend and finishing an impressive second at the Pink 7s in Salt Lake City the weekend prior — the Tigers will be without key players Brielle Quigley and Olyvia Snyder this weekend due to injury.
Despite the losses, Barth said this year’s team is confident it can prove it’s the best team in Colorado for the 12th consecutive season.
“It’s going to be a challenge this week,” Barth said at practice Wednesday. “The weather is non-cooperative, but I think the mood is good. We were happy to get through (Falcon Bluffs), and we didn’t sustain any more injuries. Obviously, we’d love to be fully healthy, but next woman up. Some girls will have to step up and play, and I think they are confident they can do that.”
The weather Barth referred to forced the Tigers into the weight room and indoor condensed-field practice facility Wednesday. The forecast also is calling for 1-3 inches of snow at Boulder High School, where games are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and run through late afternoon.
Barth remembers the last time a state tournament was inundated by snow. It was the second title in the current string of 11, when then-senior captain and future Penn State national champion Brie Bartow led the Tigers to victory. Though the Tigers are used to it, Barth said there is an element of adjusting the game plan in snowy conditions, particularly for a speedy team like Summit on the offensive end and in terms of footing on the defensive end.
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
Weather conditions aside, Barth is hopeful the Tigers will get back junior Lily Hess, who’s been out with a hand injury. Barth is also encouraged by the recent play of freshman Paola Arredondo, who stepped up with the first team at Falcon Bluffs. Barth said senior Maggie Hoehn also played well in an increased role last weekend and is ready to fill a role this coming weekend, too.
Though Barth and the Tigers don’t yet know their full pool for Sunday, they are aware Glenwood will be in their pool. The Tigers fell to Glenwood 15-12 in pool play at Falcon Bluffs, where they defeated Vista 28-0, Monarch 38-0 and Palmer 54-0 in the final. Barth said Glenwood, with its physicality and stout defense, poses a similar challenge to Arapahoe for Summit at states this weekend.
Arapahoe, which did not play at Falcon Bluffs, was the team that last gave Summit a run for its money at states a few years back. Back then, Arapahoe’s current All-American star Tessa Hahn was a fab freshman on a team led by her older sister Carson Hahn. In the end, Summit alum Marin Pennell made a last-ditch arm tackle to save the game and state title for Summit.
Led by Tessa Hahn’s elite physicality, speed and ability to read the pitch, Summit’s offensive attack will be challenged by Arapahoe’s tracking abilities if and when the two favorites play, which would be in the state final.
With Glenwood’s quality of late, reaching the state final isn’t a foregone conclusion like it has been in years past for the Tigers. If they are to get to the title game and win, Barth said it’ll likely be because of the energy and focus Summit brings Sunday. That said, it seems the team is dialed-in after the loss to Glenwood, led by the likes of senior PK Vincze, who has picked up her form to All-American level of recent, and senior Nicole Kimball, who is the motor that makes the Tigers go from a tenacity standpoint. Barth said junior McKenna Orr and sophomore Jenna Sheldon have also been great with their energy out on the pitch.
“There’s no, ‘It’s a done deal,’” Barth said. “We’re going to have to play well.”
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