MERLINA SAN NICOLAS | Sports Editor
Lindenwood men’s rugby collected their third consecutive D1A Collegiate Sevens National Championship Saturday after defeating American International College in Tucson, Arizona.
The Lions had a hot start with the help of junior Wesley White who scored twice in the first minute to take a 12-0 lead against AIC. By halftime, the Lions had built up a comfortable 29-0 advantage. The Lions ultimately defeated the Yellow Jackets 36-0.
White, who scored a total of 20 points and finished with four tries, was named Most Valuable Player. Cristian Rodriguez had three conversions for six points total and Marnus Spangenberg and Sam Chapman each scored once.
“It feels very special, with last year a lot of seniors leaving, we made sure to win for them,” White said. “Now it feels even more incredible because we won it for the many freshmen that joined the program.”
Being named MVP came as a surprise for White, as he managed most games in his first national championship two years ago. Last year he changed positions to take on a bigger role on the field.
“I learned a lot from Chapman and Deion Mikessel and I took all the information in and tried to learn as much as possible,” White said. “It feels very special, it’s a great honor to receive this award.”
The road to the championship match wasn’t easy. The Lions encountered Central Washington in the semifinals who began with a 14-0 lead in the first five minutes of the match. Going into the break, freshman Evan Williams scored five points to get the Lions going.
A yellow card for the Wildcats turned around the match and the Lions powered up to end up with a close win 17-14.
The Lions were undefeated in pool brackets, where they defeated Ohio State, Central Washington and American International College for a perfect 3-0.
With Lindenwood-Belleville set to close down, the Lynx also came out victorious in the D1AA division. The Lynx cruised in pool play with 3-0 over and won the championship match against Western Michigan.
The Lions are now 26-5 overall for this season and will travel to Pennsylvania to try and collect another national title, the Collegiate Rugby Championships (CRC 7’s). The competition will start June 1.
“It is incredible to create memories, [it] still doesn’t feel real but now we off to go and chase the CRC championship and be the only team in history to win both championships back to back,” White said.