Night and Day Results for Tech Ruggers

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. October 8, 2014 -- New Mexico Tech's Queens Rugby Club failed to notch a win while the Pygmies captured second place honors in the 34th annual Northern Arizona Tens tournament in Flagstaff over the weekend. In unseasonably hot conditions the Queens lost three matches while the men won three of four.  

The white rugby ball is caught in mid-flight as Brian Arko (#9) passes to Jason Lee after a tackle made on teammate Carl Peart (on ground). Rucking over Peart to secure possession are Josh Ownbey (L), Blaine Trujillo (R), and Andrew Duff (partially obscured). The Pygmies won this match against Thunderbird School of International Business 54-0 on their way to the championship of the Northern Arizona Tens Tournament.


Tech's Man of the Day Brian Arko (#9) challenges University of Nevada-Las Vegas defenders as teammate Aaron Long (#14) maneuvers to receive a lateral pass. Tech beat UNLV 17-10 to advance to the championship of the Northern Arizona Tens Tournament.
The Queens got into action with a 9:45 a.m. kickoff to Northern Arizona University Lady Landsharks. Robin Skelton, Cassi Coleman, Lisa Sanchez, and Abigail Montoya each had promising breakout runs for Tech. But in a pattern that would repeat throughout the day, Tech’s inability to string together sustained ball possession prevented a scoring play from developing. Final result: NAU 39, NMT 0.

At 10:30 a Pygmies team diluted by academic commitments found themselves in a desperate struggle with a Dixie State College team that appeared to test the boundaries between collegiate and men's division status. The St. George, Utah side brought a physicality to the contest not encountered for several years by a Tech team, but the Pygmies gave as good as they got.

The teams went into halftime tied at seven with Tech's points coming from a five-point try by Aaron Long and a two-point conversion kick by fullback Joe Wilch. Dixie State added two tries in the second spell to go ahead 19-7, but Wilch struck back with a surprise length-of-the-field run from a free kick, which he then converted to trim the lead to 19-14. In the final minute scrum half Brian Arko, later named Tech's Man of the Day, picked the ball up at the back of a ruck and bolted through the defense 35 meters to score. Wilch's conversion gave Tech a 21-19 winning start but the Pygmies had scant time to celebrate as a scheduling pinch meant their second match was just 20 minutes away on an adjoining field.

Thanks in part to significant contributions from first-year players including Jordan Cassell, Andrew Duff, Matt King, Ernest Miramontes, Josh Ownbey, Chris Schmittle, and Jake Wilkins, the Pygmies had enough left in their tank to dispatch the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, 17-10. Wing Aaron Long added two more tries to his tally, the freshman King touched down after a nice bit of teamwork by his teammates, and Wilch was good on two of three conversions.

After an hour's rest the Pygmies were back in action, this time against the Thunderbird Graduate School of International Business. Sadly for the TBirds, Tech had settled into the groove and nine Pygmies paraded across the line for 10 tries: freshman center Matt King with a brace, prop Stephen Albritton, standoff Rourke Nakai, Josh Ownbey, Ben Long, Jason Lee, Joe Wilch, Blaine Trujillo, and halfback Brian Arko. Thunderbird's only break was Wilch's momentary loss of touch on conversion kicks – three of 10 – for a final score of 56-0.

As the Pygmies awaited the collegiate division championship match, the Queens finished out their day against two highly experienced women's open division teams, Las Vegas Slots and the Tucson Lightning. Tech hung tough for a half against Las Vegas in a 34-0 loss but couldn't get anything going against Tucson in a 60-0 setback. The Queens later named Abigail Montoya as their Woman of the Day.   

NAU brought an experienced team to the men's collegiate championship and Tech had their hands full. Even so the Pygmies scored first after a crushing tackle from lock Ben Turner popped the ball free for freshman Jake Wilkins to dive upon in the try zone. Wilch could not convert from a difficult angle and NMT led 5-0. But scoring from this point was all by the home team, fueled by strong play by both forwards and backs. The final score of 35-7 ended Pygmy hopes but brought no shame for a team short on experience yet long on heart.

The Pygmies next see action in the annual 49ers classic "Black and Blue match" against the Tech alumni team, the Ancestors. Match time is 4:30 p.m. Friday, October 17 at the Tech rugby ground. 

– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock/Tech Rugby Director