Summit rugby earns top spot in nat’l poll
summit daily news
During its dominating run through the fall season, the Summit High girls’ rugby team picked up quite a few rewards: 10 all-state players, state player of the year (Heidi Gruber), state coach of the year (Karl Barth), team sportsmanship award and, of course, a third straight state title, seventh overall.
Now, even though the Tigers hung up their cleats nearly four months ago, the accolades continue to come in.
In its initial rankings to start the official girls’ U-19 season (the majority of states play in the spring), Summit is ranked No. 1 in the country by Rugby Magazine, just ahead of perennial national powers the Sacramento Amazons (Calif.) and Divine Savior-Holy Angels of Wisconsin.
“Obviously, it’s a lot of speculation, because I don’t think anyone’s played each other outside of state play,” SHS head coach Karl Barth said, downplaying the attention. “It’s still cool for the girls, though. They were really excited when they saw it. They played really well (last fall), and it’s nice for them to get the attention for it.”
It’s the third time Summit has received the top national ranking, Barth said. The team finished at No. 1 after both the 1998 and ’99 seasons, when the Tigers won back-to-back national championships. It’s the ninth time Summit has been somewhere in the top-6.
Unfortunately, the Tigers won’t get to defend that ranking this spring, as they’ve elected not to make the trip to the national tourney. Cost, travel and scheduling conflicts all played into the decision.
In order to be officially eligible for nationals, Barth said Summit would likely have to play in two regional or national tournaments prior to the championships. With so many girls playing spring sports, it puts those players in a tough situation where they have to choose their commitments, Barth said. Plus, nationals are set for the same weekend as graduation, and one of the qualifying tournaments is the same weekend as prom.
“Last time we went (to nationals in 2009) it was almost a drag,” he said. “Kids were going to morning rugby practice before school and going to their spring sports after school. Some kids would leave their (spring) teams, some couldn’t. We never get to go into (nationals) at full strength.”
The Tigers will have two players entering the mix for the U.S. U-20 team in the coming weeks, as both senior Hannah Price and junior Haley Anderson were invited to the initial try-out camp. Anderson played on the team last summer and became the youngest player in national team history to record a try in an international match.
Summit will also have at least six girls competing for spots on the Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union all-star squads.
For a complete list of the national U-19 girls’ rankings, visit http://www.rugbymag.com.
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