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Aquinas Savors Showdown Win, Looks to Lindenwood Tourney

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Aquinas Savors Showdown Win, Looks to Lindenwood Tourney

The second of two intense preseason tournaments in the middle of the country will kick off this weekend with the Lindenwood Invitational, one week after the Oklahoma Showdown.

The Showdown welcomed teams from Oklahoma and surrounding states, and the Lindenwood tournament has perhaps a wider reach, but two of the top teams from the Kansas City area will be in both - St. Thomas Aquinas and the Kansas City Jr. Blues.

Those two met up in the final of Oklahoma Showdown, with Aquinas logging a 24-5 victory. Aquinas, in fact, comes into Lindenwood on a roll, having also dismissed top Oklahoma teams Jenks (19-0), Union (39-5), and Bixby (30-0) in convincing fashion.

“I was pretty pleased with the boys,” said STA Head Coach Tim Kluempers. “We’ve been running in the gym for most of the winter and three weeks ago we got outside. It was good to play some and the guys responded well, overall.”

Kluempers praised the Showdown tournament format, because it gave him a chance to see the players play, and then take a break for a little chat.

“We put in a specific tactic for one situation, and the first time it came up they kind of fell apart, but we talked about it, and how to recognize that situation, and the next time they executed it perfectly. They are a good group of kids, willing to learn and work hard, and that’s most of the battle.”

In addition, there was the competition. Kluempers said his team played the four other best teams in the Showdown and that was what it’s all about. 

“We want to see how we stack up,” he said.

Flyhalf Sam Gasparovich was the tournament MVP and looks to be an excellent pivot for Aquinas. He came up to a starting position with the team midway through last season, and has returned for this season more poised and with a greater understanding of the game.

So now to the next test, as Lindenwood welcomes several highly-thought-of teams into that university’s HS showcase.

St. Thomas Aquinas will face off with Brownsburg, currently ranked #14 among single-school teams by Goff Rugby Report (STA is #16). That’s at 8am. Meanwhile, at the same time, Penn (#4) faces St. Louis University High (not ranked but among the list of teams close to being ranked). Top HS club Royal Irish then faces unranked Eureka. Penn takes on the Chargers later in the day, while Brownsburg players Jefferson City.

At noon, the Jr. Blues (#10 HS club) play the Royal Irish,.

The afternoon sees SLU High v Chargers, Jefferson City v Aquinas, and Jr. Blues v Eureka. Several JV games are on the slate as well.

This is an excellent test for all concerned as they try to heat up quickly after the winter.

“We’re starting first thing in the morning against one of the best teams in the Midwest,” said Kluempers. “It’s not like it gets any easier.” 

Stay with Goff Rugby Report for news on the Lindenwood tournament.