‘Quads’ tourney a success
As the clock wound down in the championship game of the Quad Rugby Division III National Championships at Park City High School on Sunday, it was all smiles for the Sin City Skulls [Las Vegas] who completed a sweep of the tournament 5-0. Well, smiles and a lot of sweat.
With four quarters of non-stop wheelchair pounding and top speed back-and-forth action, it seemed that conditioning triumphed over strategy in the end. The Denver Harlequins, led by standout Joy Rondeau, made scoring look easy, but in the final minutes of the game, the team got winded and allowed the Skulls to maintain the lead.
"What it comes down to is conditioning in this sport," Sin City head coach Brad Oram said. "Every possession matters."
"We are a fourth-quarter team," agreed Skulls player Eric Wolfe. "We come back from deficits to take it. Our conditioning lets us coast to the end."
Last year, the Skulls only won one game last year, but after instituting a rigorous training program, the squad is now 15-15 and consistently beats top teams.
"We’ve come a long way," Oram said.
Wolfe is the perfect example. Besides the twice-weekly Skulls practices, he hops in his wheelchair and completes at least eight miles a week worth of hill climbs.
He says that the top Division I players like the guys that play in the Paralympics, like Mark Zupan of "Murderball" movie fame will log at least 12 hours of week of hill workouts to stay in elite-level shape.
Sin City also maintains a rigorous schedule, only taking off two weeks to rest during the year.
Wolfe said that passion played into their tournament domination as well.
"We came out on fire," Wolfe said. "It started in the first game and went all the way through."
In the final game, Wolfe said it took a lot to overcome Denver’s strategy and skill.
"You have to stay disciplined. You have to be on them all the time," he said.
Two of Denver players, Rondeau and Josh Staples also play on the Division I Denver national quad rugby squad, which kept Sin City on their toes.
"You can’t let them outsmart you," Wolfe said.
The Sin City Skulls’ discipline stems from their high aspirations of eventually sending a Skulls player to the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London.
Also in attendance were the Northridge Knights of California and the Utah Scorpions, who hosted the tournament. Although the tournament was just a Division III-level event, Scorpions head coach and tournament organizer Tim Daynes said the caliber of play was much higher.
"These teams are more of a Division II," Daynes said. "We brought the very best
Division III teams."
Daynes hopes to make the tournament an annual event. Not only did he receive an overwhelmingly positive response from the out-of state teams, but he added that the support of the Park City community was the reason the event was so successful. Not only did a laundry-list of sponsors come out to help stage the tournament, but Daynes also noted how supportive the community is of disabled people and disabled sports.
"They know how to run a town," he said.
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