Iowa Central cruises to Upper Midwest 7s crown

Submitted photo Iowa Central poses together on Saturday after securing the Midwest 7s title in Cottage Grove, Wis.

COTTAGE GROVE, Wis. — The Iowa Central rugby team dominated their way to a spot at the upcoming Div. II 7s National Championships by winning the Upper Midwest 7s title here Saturday at the Madison United Rugby and Wisconsin Rugby Sports Complex.

The Tritons scored wins in pool play over Winona State (45-0), Wisconsin-Eau Claire (26-10) and Northern Michigan (50-0).

In the knockout rounds, they topped Minnesota-Duluth, 36-0, and secured the automatic qualifier with a 31-5 win over Wisconsin-Whitewater — the defending national runner-up.

“It was a total team effort,” ICCC head coach Brent Nelson said. “You get a roster of 15 for the day and choose 12 per match. Throughout the day, we had 10 of our 15 score tries.”

Nathan Epplett and Pierre Wansbury each had five tries, with Aaron Krah, Jordan Sanderson and Ben Holman recording three each. The Tritons outscored their five opponents by a combined differential of 188-15.

“It was domination at its finest,” Nelson said. “Without a key piece to our roster, to come out like we did really says a lot about the guys that were there. They put their front foot forward and pushed on the gas.”

Nelson also thanked his coaching staff for “keeping the guys rested and prepared for the day.”

“It’s a long day, and you have to be smart with how you handle it,” he said. “Tournament-style rugby is brutal; you survive more than just play the day. I’m really proud of everyone and thankful for what we’re doing with the program.”

Nationals are Memorial Day weekend in Tucson. A total of 12 teams will compete with eight earning automatic bids and the remaining four being at-large selections.

The field also included Kent State, Northern Iowa, IUPUI, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin-Stout, MSOE, Wisconsin-Platteville and North Central College.

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