Next Generation of 7s Eagles?
Next Generation of 7s Eagles?
To help the USA Women 7s team prepare for next weekend’s NACRA Olympic qualifier, 12 elite high school players have taken residence at the Olympic Training Center for the week. These young athletes could very well be the next generation of Eagle 7s players, so let’s take a closer at those all-stars in Chula Vista right now:
Kayla Canett (Fallbrook, Calif.) has been on the radar since debuting at the 2013 high school national championship. The junior has very good field vision, is fast and slight, and has the maturity to transition from outside center to flyhalf at a moment’s notice. She was one of the biggest reasons Fallbrook got past Danville with such ease. As an aside, Canett toured Penn State when out East last month…a future Nittany Lion in the making?
Lilly Durbin (Fallbrook, Calif.) already has an impressive resume that includes the Junior All American tour to Canada and victor of the LVI 7s title with the first-ever Girls HS All American team. A fullback, the sophomore takes away the kicking option for opponents, and despite her small size, she rarely goes to ground on the first attempted tackle. Durbin is fast, and when paired with a great rugby brain, she’s make a great weapon.
Bayleigh Gable (Grandville, Mich.) comes out of the Michigan state champion program of Grandville, a team that went undefeated this year but battled through single-digit wins. The flyhalf has a rich sports background that includes basketball and soccer, and as such, the senior was a major influence in the team’s rise and success. Gable is heading to Big Ten conference’s Michigan State for some DI competition.
Delia Hellander (Morris, NJ) was in Chester, Pa., Sunday busy winning a HSRC 7s title with the New Jersey Blaze (read more). The junior has higher-level experience with Atlantis and Morris coach Tom Feury calls her “the real deal.” She has speed, strength and skill – attributes she’s been developing since she was seven years old, when she started playing flag rugby with Morris.
Mata Hingano’s (Danville, Calif.) father confessed to creating the Lady Oaks so that his daughters had a vehicle through which to improve and play in college. The High School All American has more than made her father proud, and the junior puts her strong, sturdy frame to good use as a 7s forward. She makes for a punishing center in 15s, and pairs well with her fullback sister, Leti, who is in Virginia at the NASCs.
Ellie Koncki (Mira Costa, Calif.) is the outlier in this group. The senior spent most of her life in Bolivia and Singapore, until her father’s job brought the family back to California. Koncki has played several sports, including touch rugby, and her speed made her a great addition to LA Touch Rugby team. Despite her age, she was selected to play at U.S. nationals in Florida, and she impressed selectors, who made her the youngest addition to the World Cup team that competed in Australia this May. Clearly, she’s impressing USA 7s scouts as well.
Apa'au Mailau (Vipers, Utah) is a familiar face as a High School All American and junior Olympian. The 7s forward and 15s center is very strong in contact and best remembered in Las Vegas for fending opponents en route to the try zone. She’s worked hard to pursue elite level opportunities and spent a winter assembly at the American Rugby Pro Training Center in Arkansas.
Michel Navarro (Fallbrook, Calif.) is one of four Warriors at the OTC, but she certainly doesn’t get lost in the crowd. As a 15s flanker, she added national championship MVP to her resume (Canett received MVP for the backs), which is already bursting with accolades. The 7s center/wing has deceptive speed and is a strong finisher, and showed as much at the Youth Olympic Games in China, and in Las Vegas with the Girls HS All Americans.
Brianna Vasquez (Fullerton, Calif.) is another Southern California Griffins vet making her mark at the OTC. The 15-year-old wing is actually the youngest high schooler at camp (Durbin is 16), and she’s been honing her skills with the Lady Lions for the last few years. She is tiny, but voracious, and has been a great asset to the Fullerton 7s teams that have won the California State Games the previous two years.
McKenzie Hawkins (Maryville, Tenn.) has been the heart of Maryville for the previous eight years, helping the team to numerous 7s and 15s state titles for nearly a decade. She, too, was in Las Vegas for the HSAAs’ inaugural showing, and the flyhalf scored one of a few tries against the Canada U20s during last summer’s Junior All American tour to Ontario. The senior flyhalf is heading to Lindenwood in the fall on a rugby scholarship.
Becca Jane Rosko (Summit, Colo.) is quite the coast-hopper, going from Colorado, to Chester, Pa., to San Diego in the course of week. The junior is small and evasive, and elite teams like Atlantis, Tiger Cubs, HSAAs, and junior Olympians have wanted her playing for them. She has incurred a couple of injuries during the last year, so here’s hoping she’s running at top speed in Chula Vista.
Richelle Stephens (Fallbrook, Calif.) is no stranger to injury, either, and she had to choose between playing in her senior year national championship and being healthy for this week’s camp. The HSAA/junior Olympian is a regular at the OTC, and she’s been organizing the most potent high school attack for the last four years at flyhalf. She’s taking her talent to Lindenwood as well this fall, where she’ll have to duke it out with Hawkins for #10 time.