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Tritons second at qualifier

NEW ORLEANS — The Iowa Central rugby team took part in a national qualifier for 7s here over the weekend, finishing second to New Mexico Highlands.

The Tritons, who will play in the Final Four for 15s later this year, lost to Highlands, 24-10, in the finals. New Mexico Highlands are the two-time defending national champions.

During pool play, Iowa Central went a perfect 4-0, including a 12-0 victory over Highlands. That was the first loss for Highlands in over three years.

“We earned a lot of respect,” ICCC head coach Brent Nelson said. “Our goal was to win national championships this year in both events, but we came up just short. I’m proud of the way the kids battled, we just had trouble matching their intensity in the finals.”

The Tritons also had wins over Emory (29-7), Tulane (48-0) and the University of Alabama-Birmingham (38-0). Against Tulane, Jabaree Leopold set a new school record with five tries.

Leopold finished with six tries on the day, while Evian Akers had seven. Ani Mteto had four tries, with Shundell Williams, Khamani McQueen, Matt Barker, Ben Terrell, Victor Wong and Brock Reeves all had one each.

“With 7s, you have a roster of just 12,” Nelson said. “Of those 12, nine had at least one try.”

Mteto had kick conversion kicks, with Barker adding three and Leopold two.

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