Meet the Players: All Americans in Las Vegas
Meet the Players: All Americans in Las Vegas
The Girls High School All American (GHSAA) program is nearly three years old, but it hasn’t played any real competition. During the previous two summers, Stars & Stripes camps drew the top 50 players from around the country to Colorado, where the attendees experienced a high-performance environment for a week. Those all-star assemblies culminated in inner-squad matches, and in 2014, a 15s All American team was named. But that honor was mostly symbolic, as there have been no fixtures on the schedule – until now.
The GHSAA will make its first-ever appearance at the Las Vegas Invitational (Feb. 12-14), where two 7s teams will compete in the High School Elite division against domestic all-star and international sides. The American public will finally see firsthand what the nation’s best high school athletes look like.
The 24 players were selected from the 2014 Stars & Stripes camp and Youth Olympic Games team. Many of these players are well known entities, either with their college teams (some have graduated high school and are now freshmen) or select sides like Atlantis/APEX or Tiger Cubs. California’s Fallbrook and Danville have sent three players apiece to Las Vegas, while Colorado’s Summit, Washington’s Kent, and California’s ICEF have sent two players apiece. And for those who are now playing in college, Missouri’s Lindenwood University has far and away attracted the most All Americans.
Here’s some more insight into the players who will wear the first-ever Girls High School All American jerseys:
Ashlee Byrge is currently a freshman at Davenport University. She is a Herriman (Utah) alum and also traveled with the Women Junior All Americans (WJAA) to Canada for their Canada tour.
Morgan Courtney is a senior at Summit High School in Colorado. She most recently represented Atlantis at the New York 7s and has signed with Lindenwood University for fall 2015.
Ali DeCrane is the former flyhalf for St. Joseph’s Academy, a perennial contender for, and winner of, the state title. She now plays for DI Ohio State.
Lilly Durbin is one of eight players named to first-ever GHSAA 15s teams. A speedy fullback for the four-time high school champion, Fallbrook (Calif.), Durbin also traveled with the WJAAs last summer.
Tess Feury graduated from the Morris (N.J.) program and is now a freshman at the best DI college in the country: Penn State. Also on the GHSAA 15s team, she captained the first-ever Youth Olympic Games team over the summer. Most recently, she won MVP of the DI college fall championship.
McKenzie Hawkins – The 15s GHSAA flyhalf has been leading Maryville (Tenn.) for years and she’ll head to Lindenwood University with Courtney in fall 2015.
Leti Hingano has played on her share of all-star teams and holds her own as one of the best fullbacks in the high school game today. She plays alongside Danville (Calif.) teammate and sister Mata.
Mata Hingano was named to the GHSAA 15s team as wing and selected for the WJAA tour to Canada last year. She is the current outside center for Danville (Calif.).
Joie Krahling has been a Rugby Pennsylvania all-star for years, and the GSHAA 15s flanker graduated from Downingtown (Pa.) last year and now plays for DI women’s club Keystone.
Diarr Lillie is one of two high-profile ICEF products who will be in Las Vegas and has made several appearances on Atlantis and APEX teams. She is the only athlete currently playing on a Women’s Premier League team: San Diego Surfers.
Apa'au Mailau showcased her hard-hitting style at the Youth Olympic Games last summer, just after she graduated from the Vipers’ U19 program. She now competes with the Vipers’ women’s team in Utah.
Michel Navarro is another player who’s been on the scene for years. One of three Fallbrook (Calif.) representatives, Navarro also played in China at the junior Olympics.
Tiffany Person stepped onto the international stage during the Youth Olympic Games. The TC Williams graduate has signed with Lindenwood University beginning in the spring semester.
Emily Prentice is a GHSAA 15s flanker out of Kent (Wash.) who also played at the Youth Olympic Games in China.
Kat Ramage still plays in Morris, N.J., and is a GHSAA 15s center and junior Olympian.
Ashley Rolsma came out of the Kent (Wash.) program and played for the WJAAs in Canada before joining DI varsity’s Central Washington University.
Becca Jane Rosko is one of the more familiar names on the list. She’s a junior at Summit High School (Colo.), an Atlantis/APEX/Tiger Cubs vet, and also a junior Olympian.
Emily Roskopf anchors the Pleasanton (Calif.) back attack from center and was most recently seen winning the Plate at the New York 7s with Atlantis.
Richelle Stephens is the four-year flyhalf for four-year high school champion Fallbrook (Calif.). Having attended USA 7s camps, she stood out at the Youth Olympic Games last summer.
Abby Tobias is the ninth of 10 children, and at 16 years old, making a name for herself with the West End Ruckettes in Virginia.
Fina Toetu’u was named the 15s GHSAA scrumhalf and the Danville (Calif.) alum now plays at Central Washington with Rolsma.
Nia Toliver already has an impressive international resume. During her four months in New Zealand, the ICEF player was dubbed the “American Lomu” for her crushing running style and intimidating try total. She has also played in England and France.
Danielle Walko-Suia is from Hilo, Hawaii, and represented the USA at the Youth Olympic Games. She is now a freshman at Ohio’s Notre Dame College, which won the DII college fall championship in December.
Whitney Wilson initiated her international playing career in China and the Youth Olympics. The Kingwood, Texas, native will continue her rugby career at Life University in fall 2015.
The All Americans are playing in the eight-team Elite 7s division, which could have been expanded given the exclusion of all-star teams from Minnesota, Oregon and Tennessee, among others. Three teams are from the U.S. (Atlantis, Washington Loggers and Orem) and three are from Canada (British Columbia, Notre Dame Hounds [Saskatchewan] and Edmonton).