Tritons on to nationals

—Photo by Paul DeCoursey The Iowa Central 7s rugby team stands with their trophy after winning in Des Moines.

The Iowa Central rugby team is ranked No. 1 in the country, but over the weekend they completed a task not for the faint of heart.

The top-ranked NSCRO squad qualified for the 7s national tournament on Saturday in Des Moines and then qualified for the 15s national tournament in Indiana on Sunday.

Iowa Central won five games in Des Moines, surrendering only 10 points. They left Iowa at 7 p.m. and arrived in Indiana at 4 a.m. (5 a.m. after losing an hour) on Sunday, before cruising to the one match victory in Indiana.

The 7s nationals will be in June and the 15s nationals will be April 27 in Marietta, Georgia.

“It was a tough task for the guys, that’s for sure,” said Iowa Central head coach Brent Nelson. “Sevens takes a toll on the body. You play, you sit, you play you sit. We got up on Sunday and got ready for the 15s.

“You obviously play with different strategies in both disciplines, but to be able to do what our guys did was phenomenal.”

In Des Moines, the Tritons defeated Simpson (60-0), Winona (48-0), and St. John’s in pool play. They earned the top seed for the championship round and beat Wisconsin Eau Claire (49-0). They defeated St. John’s 33-0 in the finals.

“We missed an opportunity last year, so it was important for us to punch that ticket,” Nelson said. “We have a good squad and we like our chances.

“It was a big weekend for us and it took the entire team to win both.”

The Tritons cruised to the victory in 15s and Rich Felton was named the Man of the Match. Felton was 16 of 19 on conversions and had a try. He scored 37 points for the Tritons.

The Heart and Soul Award also came back with Iowa Central, as Bobby Piangentini was the recipient.

“Felton had a really strong match and did a great job for us,” Nelson said. “The Heart and Soul Award is given out to a player that shows perseverance and what the rugby mentality stands for.

“Bobby only played one year of high school rugby and has stuck with it this year and has been playing at a top level.”

Nelson was proud of the way his team was able to play tough over a weekend.

“The guys did a nice job of taking care of their bodies and our strength and conditioning coach Miguel Secor had these guys ready,” Nelson said. “They performed at a top level.”