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Celtic Elite Busy During All-Star Season

  • 21 Jun 2019

Photos courtesy Celtic Rugby Facebook (see more)

The Celtic Elite out of the Cleveland region is arguably the most active girls’ high school all-star program during the summer. Run by Jaime Cleary, former coach of Ohio’s St. Joseph Academy, the girls’ team has competed in the Midwest All-Star Challenge in Elkhart, Ind., is readying for the Midwest Regional Cup Tournament in Cottage Grove, Wisc., and also has games against the Western New York Lightning in Buffalo on the books.

RELATED: HS All-Star RostersMidwest RCT Schedule

After 11 years as head coach of St. Joseph Academy, Cleary took a break, albeit a short one. Once those coaching pangs returned, Cleary resumed her role as the girls’ Celtic Elite head coach in time for the high school all-star season. Cleary hadn’t been able to see as much spring rugby as is necessary to scout an all-star team; however, the the addition of Jackie Harter, a St. Joseph alumna and now assistant coach, on staff bridged that gap.

The Tier 1 (juniors and seniors) team pulls from seven high schools, and started putting it all together at the Midwest All-Star Challenge last weekend. Celtic Elite lost to Illinois 32-24 and then Allegheny 36-30.

“The games in Elkhart were close so we are headed to Wisconsin for some wins,” Cleary looked toward games against host Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indy Speed and Illinois.

“At center, Regina Ginley was able to score a hat trick of tries,” Cleary noted standout performances. “Look for some quickness from her, [wing/fullback] Sia Schraff and [wing/fullback] Molly Cancian. All play well off of each other and I like that we have lots of control in the back field.

“Our 8-Man, Allexus Zielinski, has toughness to drive through and her defense is spot-on,” the coach turned focus to the pack. “Grace Hoch with her fiery red hair looks innocent until she runs you down. Look for some ball movement and good set-up from the forwards.”

The Tier 2 team (freshmen and sophomores) pulls from six high schools and the young, powerful squad went 2-0 against Indy Speed in Elkhart.

“Tier 2 shows they have technique and can come together as one team,” Cleary praised. “Wait until you see Jenna Ito run with the ball. She is probably my favorite prop to watch this year! Rosa Treece is commanding as scrumhalf and also has her share of tries this summer. Maggie Sweeney is the third sister in this family that I have been able to coach and I see her sisters have taught her to tackle well.”

There is only one other Tier 2 team at the Midwest RCT this weekend, but fortunately it’s from Wisconsin, traditionally a very strong state all-star team. The RCTs are a core element of USA Rugby’s talent I.D. process and also serves as a scouting venue for college recruiters.

The Celtic Elite will play another set of matches on July 13, when it renews its relationship with Western New York and plays games in Buffalo, N.Y.

Stay tuned for results and follow-ups on the Midwest RCT.


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