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Tritons win Sunshine 7s title

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Standing in the middle of what is known around the college football world as “The Swamp,” the Iowa Central rugby team successfully navigated the murky waters.

The Tritons secured an automatic bid to the upcoming College Rugby Championships later this year by winning the Sunshine 7s title this past weekend.

Iowa Central will compete against the best 32 teams in the country in Washington, D.C. April 26-27 for the first time in three years.

“We played hard and really got after it,” ICCC head coach Brent Nelson said. “I have to give (Triton assistant coach) Joe Lippert a lot of credit. He has put in a lot of work along with (assistants) Quinton Gilligan and Casey Hansen.

“Those guys have done a phenomenal job with the team.”

During the event, the Tritons finished 4-1 with the lone loss coming in the opening match to Notre Dame. Iowa Central would avenge that two-point defeat in the finals, taking out the Fighting Irish, 21-14.

They also picked up wins over Auburn, Clemson and Queens.

“We were pretty excited with what we had in terms of 7s,” Nelson said. “We didn’t have the kind of season in 15s we wanted, but we knew that we had the chance to do something special in 7s.

“We have three explosive players from the Iowa high school ranks, a couple guys from all over the country that have played high level 7s and a couple international students who are dynamic. We also got Wayne Cosper back to the team which has been great.”

The Tritons will continue to compete throughout the coming weeks before preparing for a run at the national title.

“We can’t rest now,” Nelson said. “We’ll keep pushing the fitness, pushing the linking on defense and just working to get better at all the little things.”

Nelson also made mention of the ability to prepare for the tournament thanks in large part to the recent weather conditions and installation of a new turf field on campus.

“To be able to get outside and practice on the turf with rugby lines, that was a game changer for us,” he said. “You can’t overstate enough how crucial that combination was and how thankful we are for the amenities we have.”

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