June 24, 2010 at 10:12 a.m.

Late change ends with sixth place for CL

Late change ends with sixth place for CL
Late change ends with sixth place for CL

The Chisago Lakes Spartan rugby club wrapped up their season in early June, and only one thing prevented them from having the complete dream season.

Throughout the year, the girls dominated almost all the competition they faced in Tier II, which is the lower class of rugby in Minnesota.

But, as a second year program, that was right on track with Head Coach Tony Randall's schedule. However, one of the Tier I teams, the more competitive tier, wasn't going to be able to field a team for the state tournament because of graduation falling on the same day.

Because of their dominance in Tier II, the Wildcats were a prime candidate to move up and replace the team that was bowing out.

Unfortunately, most of the seniors for Chisago Lakes weren't going be able to make it because of the Senior All-Night party from the night before.

However, Randall took his squad to the Tier I tourney anyway, and even though they would've been the favorites to win the championship in Tier II, they challenged themselves.

Unfortunately, they came up short in the challenge, and finished in sixth place, losing to Minneapolis South early in the tournament.

"We were disappointed with the Tier II results, but we were OK with how we did in Tier I," Randall said. "We played well against South for the first 20 minutes. We can certainly play with them, we just have to get to that next level."

When Randall said he was disappointed with the Tier II results, he went on to explain that Chisago's top team, their 'A' team, beat the second place finisher in Tier II 52-7 earlier this season, and his 'B' team lost to the champions by a score of 10-7. He was convinced with the squad he did have at the state tournament, they would've made short work of the Tier II field en route to the championship.

However, the girls and Randall himself were still rewarded at the end of the year banquet.

Two girls, Marissa Alliegro and Leah Nelson, were named to the All-State second team.

The first and second team feature only 15 players each, so only 30 players received such a high honor of about 400 girl rugby players throughout the state.

Also, Randall won the Coach of the Year award. The neat thing about Randall's award is that it's for the whole rugby union, boys and girls. Randall was selected the top coach among all the rugby clubs in the state. It's quite the accomplishment for only a second year coach in a second year program.

"It's been a lot of hard work, but also a lot of satisfaction," he said. "Everyone has a lot of positives in their life, and this is one of mine. It'd be nice to turn your avocation into your vocation, but it's nice, and I love being out there."

Randall, though, said his biggest joy comes from watching the girls develop into better people because of the sport. "It really helps these girls with their self-esteem and their courage, because it takes a lot of both of them to be able to play this game."

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