Trujillo, Arko Win USA Rugby Academic Honors

SOCORRO, N.M. November 6, 2014 – Two members of the New Mexico Tech men’s rugby club, The Pygmies, have been selected to USA Rugby’s National Collegiate Rugby Scholar Honor Roll. Blaine Trujillo, a graduate Mechanical Engineering student, and Brian Arko, a junior studying chemical engineering, qualified for the honor society by “being a consistent starter on his/her intercollegiate rugby team and posting a cumulative grade point average of 3.7 or higher.”

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Brian Arko (left) and Blaine Trujillo show off their certificates, along with rugby coach Dave Wheelock.


Trujillo, 25, is the son of Leona Jiron and Gary Trujillo of Isleta, N.M.Trujillo grew up working on the family ranch instead of playing sports and graduated in 2008 from Los Lunas High School. He began playing rugby at New Mexico Tech the following autumn and received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in spring 2013. Now pursuing a graduate degree with specialization in mechatronics at Tech, he looks forward to a career in the aerospace industry.         

Standing 5’9” and weighing 185 pounds, Trujillo is comfortable at a variety of rugby positions but usually slots in at a loose forward role, either at flanker or number eight. He has served as team captain and at the conclusion of the 2012-2013 rugby campaign was elected by his teammates to receive the Jeremiah Wright Memorial Award as New Mexico Tech’s outstanding male player. Trujillo quietly commands the respect of his teammates, yet they listen when he speaks to them.

Of his success so far Trujillo said, “I am committed to academia which requires a lot of dedication and time. Rugby is important to me and making time in order to practice is an issue of time management. The best way to handle both is to treat academics as a full time job and make time for rugby on the side. My goal is to do well at both and not settle for average.”  

Brian Arko, 20, majors in chemical engineering with a minor in polymer science. He grew up in Angel Fire, N.M., with his parents Marsha Gibb and William Arko. He graduated from Rio Rancho High in May 2012. Arko began playing rugby that fall at New Mexico Tech. He is 5’11”inches tall and 160 pounds, and is consistently among the Pygmies’ fittest athletes. Another versatile player, his high energy, dependability, and skill at passing the ball with distance and accuracy have earned him the pivotal position of scrum half for his team. He is a self-confident and jovial team member who enjoys the company of his teammates and understands the importance of maintaining a fun atmosphere.

In addition to excelling in the classroom and devoting several hours a week to rugby, Arko works at Tech’s hazardous waste and safety office. He is also a research assistant involved in making hollow fiber membranes that could be used to generate electricity. Other interests include rock climbing, snowboarding, wakeboarding, “and the occasional book never hurt.”

How does he keep all the balls in the air? Besides crediting rugby as a crucial factor in keeping him at New Mexico Tech, Brian thanks his mother for teaching him to try hard on any task and his father for showing him the importance of “having a good time through all the chaos.” 

When asked for his advice for incoming students, Arko put his unique spin on his more senior teammate’s counsel: “Keep it up. Life with everything done is so much better than life in McDonald's.”  

– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock/Tech Rugby Director