Summit girl’s rugby wins eighth consecutive state championship
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a dynasty.
On a warm Saturday at Denver’s Infinity Park — the only dedicated rugby pitch in Colorado — the Summit girl’s rugby team beat Chaparral 64-7 in the varsity state championship match to remain undefeated for eight years.
Yep, you read that right: This is the Tigers’ eight consecutive state championship, all under head coach Karl Barth. He’s built a rugby dynasty at Summit High School, along with the culture of technical know-how and tough-as-nails grit that all dynasties share. His two all-star seniors, captain Meg Rose and All-American Becca Jane Rosko, will go on to play collegiate rugby next season, most likely on the surprisingly tough East Coast.
And sure, I know the argument — rugby isn’t nearly as popular as football or volleyball or most other statewide sports, especially girl’s rugby. But, when a team goes undefeated on the season and allows just one try to the second-best team in the state, well, you’re playing some mean rugby. This is a dynasty.
“Chaparral came out pretty hard,” Rose said after the game. “We were expecting it because they wanted retaliation for earlier in the season, and they came out hard. But we knew what kind of game we had to play.”
The game was a typical Tigers affair, with relentless scoring and smart, patient play. Rosko and sophomore Cassidy Bargell scored three tries apiece in the match, giving the team a boost after it “struggled in a few areas,” according to coach.
And by that, he means they led 21-0 after 15 minutes.
“I thought we adjusted well in the second half and created some nice tries,” Barth said. “I am really happy for the girls. They worked really hard and played some very intelligent rugby.”
His team hardly let up, allowing just seven points thanks to a game plan that called for stamina and dominating the field. Rose says the team studied Chaparral film before the championship to pick out weaknesses, something coach does before every game, just like a football tactician. Dynasties begin with intelligence.
“We played a style we knew that chaparral would have trouble with,” Rose said. “We were just trying to outrun them, use the field to our advantage. We have some fast players and knew we could play our game better.”
For Rosko, the game wasn’t a win before they took the field. She and her team had beat Chaparral once already at home, but she knew they hit hard. How did the Tigers respond?
“Chaparral always hits hard, but I think we responded well,” Rosko said. “We just hit them harder.”
Not only did the Tigers maintain the state title — about half the team won All-State individual honors. Along with Rosko and Rose (also the Colorado student athlete of the year scholarship winner), a whopping seven players made the All-State crew: Bargell, Holly Minor, Karolina Kincinaite, Jodi Losch, Natalie Gray, Elle Scott-Williams and Ally Pothier. The team as a whole won the state Team Sportsmanship Award, and Bargell rode her three tries to 200 career points. As a sophomore.
“It’s all about the culture of what we do here,” Rose said. “We stress the family thing. Going to practice isn’t something you hate doing. You want to go there at the end of the day.”
Rose should know. After the state championship, she takes a short breather off before heading to New York with a few teammates for a club tournament in New York.
“I don’t have a break these days,” Rose laughs, “Not at all.”
But it’s paid off. This fall, between club practices and tournaments, she’ll be waiting to hear from a few college rugby recruiters. The first one should reply in December, then another few in January and February before the final school gets back to her in March. It’s a waiting game, absolutely, but this is a dynasty. Colleges want Summit Tigers, and they’re willing to compete for alums.
“I just love this sport,” Rose said. “I love the culture of it. Anywhere you go I can find people who play rugby, and I love that.”
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