Tundra Wins Inaugural MW 7s
Tundra Wins Inaugural MW 7s
It was time for an all-star 7s event for girls high schools, and Wisconsin took that first step by hosting the Midwest All Star 7s Invitational last weekend in Cottage Grove, Wisc. Four teams from Wisconsin (2), Minnesota, and Iowa convened at the Wisconsin Rugby Sports Complex, and solid competition ensured that none of the matches were decided by more than two scores. Just as importantly, the tournament leadership learned some key lessons that will sustain the evolution of this event.
None of the teams were untouchable, including tournament victor Minnesota Tundra. A leader in girls high school all-star programs, the select side brought some notable players in High School All American Renee Gonzales and eventual tournament MVP Ellie Fromstein, who led by way of defense and veteran confidence. Her guidance allowed breakout performances from members like Marisa Hall.
The Tundra went 3-1 on the weekend, but lost 29-22 to newcomer Iowa in round 3. That win – that weekend – was arguably the most important for Iowa, which finished 2-2 on the day. Iowa’s girls high school league has only ever played fall 7s, and the all-star tournament was the players’ first taste of Midwest rugby (read more). Josline Osman, the state league MVP, led all try-scorers with eight on the day.
Wisconsin has a long history of 15s success, but the state has been emphasizing 7s the past couple of years.
“We are modeling our program on what Minnesota has done with the Tundra,” said tournament director Rick Bellis, who is also Wisconsin’s U19 all-star 7s director. “The idea is we may potentially travel to Las Vegas or Atlanta next spring, maybe to Surfside 7s in New Jersey next July, etc. We wanted to give as many girls a chance to play competitive rugby as we could, so we split the teams up evenly.”
Wisconsin sent two teams – Red and White – into the tournament. The Red team proved more successful, fueled by Divine Savior Holy Angels backs Meg Walker and Shamice Cole, Catholic Memorial freshman sensation Allison Koenig, and Atlantis alumni Megan Bird. The four combined for 13 of 16 tries during the team’s second-place run. Atlantis alum and Lindenwood recruit Reina Anderson (4 tries), Emily Winter (3), and Morgan Pinzer (3) were all major contributors to the Wisconsin White side, which finished third with a 1-3 record.
"We were happy with how both teams played," added Bellis. "Of the 20 girls on both rosters, only four were seniors. Some of our young players really stepped up. Freshman Areliz Rivera from the White team had a great tournament. In the 3rd place game, she chased down Iowa's Osman from 50 meters to force a knock-on in the try zone. Oak Creek freshman Lauren Bucholz had a couple of tries for the Red team and looked comfortable running with the ball."
The Midwest All Star 7s Invitational was a success by all accounts; however, Bellis is already looking to adjust the event for 2016.
“Next year we are looking to push this back to later in July before teams start up their fall season,” Bellis explained. “This year, we ran into coach burnout from the spring season and the 15s RCTs [Regional Cup Tournaments].”
Player availability is also an issue in the summer, as the schedule crowds with elite player camps and select side tours. Finding that perfect date between burnout recovery and higher-level assemblies will be key.
But Bellis is confident and many area coaches have expressed interest in next year’s event, including Jaime Cleary (Ohio), Adrian Sharkey (Indiana), Chris Milojevich (Illinois), Karl Barth (Colorado), and Tom Feury (New Jersey). There will be a push to get Southern California teams interested, too. If all goes well, then next year will see the addition of a DII, with JV and B teams filling the lineup.
The Midwest event was a good start to building a wider network of high school 7s, something that the region desperately needed.
Shanice Cole (Divine Savior - WI Red)
Ellie Fromstein (Hopkins - MN)
Renee Gonzalez (Armstrong - MN)
Marisa Hall (East Metro - MN)
Allison Koenig (Catholic Mem. - WI Red)
Juice Osman (Dowling, Iowa)
Morgan Pinzer (Brookfield - WI White)
Kassi Schultice (SE Polk, Iowa)
Hayley Thull (Armstrong - MN)
Meg Walker (Divine Savior - WI Red)
Shannon Wertz (SE Polk, Iowa)
Emily Winter (Brookfield - WI White)
Minnesota 24-10 Wisconsin White
Minnesota 30-19 Wisconsin Red
Wisconsin Red 29-19 Iowa
Wisconsin Red 25-10 Wisconsin Red
Iowa 26-22 Wisconsin White
Iowa 29-22 Minnesota
Pool Play Standings
Minnesota (2-1) +18
Wisconsin Red (2-1) +14
Iowa (2-1) +1
Wisconsin White (0-3) -33
3rd: Wisconsin White 26-22 Iowa
1st: Minnesota 29-17 Wisconsin Red
Head Coach: Kelsie McDowell
Head Coach: Steve Martin, Richie Fromstein
AnnaMarie Combs (Faribault)
Blaire Dormanen (Orono)
Renee Gonzalez (Armstrong)
Andreana Freytis-Voss (Armstrong)
Ellie Fromstein (Hopkins)
Marisa Hall (East Metro)
Samantha Holmes (Armstrong)
Sabrina Mellema (North Suburban)
Kristin LeFebvre (Hastings)
Jaelah Lymon (Armstrong)
Brijana Tulimasealii (Armstrong)
Haylee Thull (Armstrong)
Kristin Tanner (Armstrong)
Wisconsin Red & White
Head Coach: Linda Niemela
Megan Bird (Oak Creek)
Lauren Bucholz (Oak Creek)
Aliana Cervera (Oak Creek)
Mercede Champlin (Vernon)
Sarah Clarke (DSHA)
Shamice Cole (DSHA)
Monique Foster (Vernon)
Maeve Hanley (DSHA)
Allison Koenig (Catholic Memorial)
Meaghan Schmidt (Catholic Memorial)
Meg Walker (DSHA)
Reina Anderson (Brookfield)
Abby Andler (Brookfield)
Sam Bartz-Kolp (Brookfield)
Maggie Kelley (Fond du Lac)
Nicky Lehto (Brookfield)
Aliana Passarella (Fond du Lac)
Morgan Pinzer (Brookfield)
Aiyanna Primer (Brookfield)
Areliz Rivera (Brookfield)
Ally Rusch (Muskego)
Emily Winter (Brookfield)