The Kutztown sevens team departed for College Park, Maryland, on October 20, 2012 – where they competed in the Northern Atlantic Coast Rugby League, sevens tournament. This was an invitational sevens tournament, where teams are given the opportunity to prepare for the national qualifiers in their respective conferences and regions. The field was to consist of Kutztown, Maryland, Navy, Va. Tech, Maryland, North Carolina State, East Carolina and Virginia.
The Golden Bears selected a roster of fifteen, from their twenty three member player pool. All of these young men have been working extremely hard and are very skilled. It was very difficult for the Kutztown coaching staff to leave any of the aforementioned, twenty three players behind. However, the tournament rules, only allow fifteen players to be placed on the competition roster. The coaching plan, is to juggle that tournament roster for all tournaments and then select a final fifteen for the national tournament on November 31- December 1, 2012. The USA National Sevens Tournament will be held on the campus of Texas A&M, located in College Station,Texas. The Golden Bears hope to improve on their 2011 Final Four appearance and fourth place finish.
The Atlantic Coast Rugby League Tournament started out with a hitch, when East Carolina University pulled out of the lineup at the last minute.The tournament organizers held an emergency meeting and asked participating teams to offer players for a “Combined Team” to fill the gap and allow the tournament to continue without any bye games. Most of the coaches agreed to offer players that they felt wouldn’t get much playing time otherwise. Kutztown declined the offer and did not allow any of their players to compete on the Combined Team. The Kutztown coaching staff planned to use all of their players throughout the tournament. Actually, as the tournament progressed, there weren’t any Kutztown players that played more then one half, per match.
The Kutztown coaching staff spent the entire day, evaluating the roster and constructing the proper playing style to fit their personnel. A personnel that is much larger, stronger and faster, than in past seasons. The main reason for that prominent factor, is the training methods of Kutztown’s strength and conditioning coach, Larry Chester. Coach L.C., as he is referred to, is a key factor in the Bear’s rise to national sevens prominence. His workouts and constant vigilance of the athletes, is paramount in the success equation, experienced by his players.
The Bears opened the tournament with the “Combined Team”, comprised of players from Maryland, Navy and Delaware. To no one’s surprise, Kutztown ran away with that contest, 43-0. The next match-up found Kutztown taking on North Carolina State in the second round. The Tar Heels were an experienced sevens program and most recently competed in the NBC, nationally televised, sevens invitational tournament, The CRC. They defeated a few “Brand” name colleges on television but on this day, where no match for the smaller school from Pennsylvania. The Golden Bears ran, passed and muscled the Tar Heels into submission 31- 7. The third round of the tournament had the Hokies from Virginia Tech, taking the field against the Bears. Va. Tech had won a sevens tournament earlier in the season and hoped to be a test for the Bears. The Hokies were tenacious in the early stages of the match, and scored the first try of the contest. The Bears shook it off and proceeded to lower their heads and shoulders, squarely into the boys from Virginia. The result was an onrush of Kutztown defense and attack. The final result was Kutztown 26 Va. Tech 5 . There was an intermission of nearly ninety minutes, when Kutztown took center stage for the tournament championship. The opponent was a familiar foe, the midshipmen, of the United States Naval Academy. Always an intense rivalry, the Bears couldn’t have been more pleased to face Navy. Not only a former D1-A league member but another CRC tournament participant. Navy came out of the blocks, on a mission. The midshipmen opened the contest with the first scoring drive of the match. Kutztown fought back to score and Navy answered with another try. Kutztown marched right back down the field to slot down under the post and convert. At half-time, the scoreboard read KU 17 Navy 12. The Bears remained calm, discussed tactics with the coaching staff and returned to the field of play with a new strategy. The second stanza opened with a Kutztown team swarming all over the midshipmen. The Bears reeled off three consecutive tries and conversions. Navy never left their half of the field and spent the entire second half, defending their goal line. The final whistle blew and Kutztown was taking home the hardware. KU 38 Navy 12.
The Golden Bears played four games and scored 138 points with 24 points against. All of the Golden Bear players performed exceedingly well throughout the tournament. A few players had a stellar day, with Robert “Smokey” Stortz being the team’s leading try scorer, with six. Freshman, Wesley Hartmann was outstanding, as was new transfer, Duke Makina. Veterans Mike Lawrenson, Gareth Lourens, Matt Fredrick, Jamie Gregory, Bruce Dolan, Andrew Abt and Tom Domino turned in their usual, outstanding efforts.
RUN WITH THE BEARS!