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USA Women 7s Program Names 2023 Residents

  • 28 Nov 2022
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Natalie Bjorklund rugby

In early November, the USA Rugby Women’s 7s program held its fall high-performance camp, which included returning residents, newly signed residents, and up-and-coming players with the potential to project to the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Several camp participants are still active college student-athletes, including Life University wing Su Adegoke and Lindenwood University No. 8 Kapoina Bailey. They’ll face each other in this Saturday’s DI Elite National Championship. Univ. Michigan’s Ember Larson will be active on Sunday, as the Wolverines face Notre Dame College for the NCR DI National Championship. Read more about this weekend’s action.

A couple weeks after seeing each other in SoCal, Dartmouth wing Ari Ramsey and Davenport center Abbi Kowalczk reunited in Hanover, N.H., for their respective NIRA national championship games. Ramsey was named DI championship MVP during Dartmouth’s 15-10 win against Harvard, and Kowalczk saw the D2 final decided in overtime against Queens Univ.

USA WOMEN’S 7s HIGH PERFORMANCE CAMPERS

Name School / Club
Su Adegoke Life University
Abbi Kowalczk Davenport University
Kapoina Bailey Lindenwood University
Ember Larson University of Michigan
Ariana Ramsey Dartmouth College
Alycia Namosimalua Rhinos Academy / Loggerheads PR7s
Jessica Lu Scion Rugby / Loggerheads PR7s
Natalie Bjorklund Penn State / Loggerheads PR7s
Alex Wantlin Life University / Loonies PR7s

The other four campers are in different stages of their rugby careers. Aly Namosimalua did a couple of years at Central Washington before going full-time with Rhinos, and is one of three PR 7s Loggerheads at camp. Alex Wantlin did a year with Life University before relocating to SoCal, where she has rugby roots. Wantlin was a 2022 resident along with Natalie Bjorklund, who spent time in Chula Vista after graduating from Penn State. Bjorklund was such a dominant force in the R7CC and CRC 7s tournaments and worked with fellow camper Jess Lu on the Loggerheads and with Scion, the reigning USA Club 7s National Championship titleholder.

 

Jess Lu rugby

Scion’s Jess Lu vs. Life West / Photo: Alex Ho

 

At 26 years old, Lu is the oldest of the HP campers and has also trained with the China 7s National Team. She is one of three newcomers to the 2023 residents group.

“Jessica has shown how dynamic and dangerous she can be at the domestic level and was one of the top performers at this summer’s PR7s,” USA Women’s 7s head coach Emilie Bydwell told USA Rugby. “We will be looking to develop her in the inside/outside halfback positions and allow her to inject her speed and threaten defenses in the middle of the park.”

Ramsey and Autumn Czaplicki were also signed to 2023 contracts, bringing the number of residents in Chula Vista to 22. Czaplicki comes out of NIRA D2 West Chester Univ., and last summer played on the PR 7s circuit and with the USA U23s in Canada.

“Autumn is a strong dominant ball carrier who fits well into how we are looking to play, and good base line speed and power that we know will only develop further in a full time environment,” Bydwell said.

 

Alev Kelter at the 2021 Rugby World Cup

Kelter at the 15s RWC / USA Rugby photo

 

The 7s program also regains Alev Kelter, who signed with the Allianz Premier’s Saracens in advance of the 15s Rugby World Cup (RWC). Even while missing the 21-22 HSBC series, Kelter is the most-capped player in the USA 7s program with 36 tournament appearances. It’s also worth noting that Jordan Matyas has not returned to the program, having aligned with the USA 15s program in the RWC run-up. The loose forward played in the Eagles’ first 15s test against Italy before sustaining a tournament-ending injury.

The USA 7s team is currently in Dubai, UAE, readying for the first of seven stops on the 22-23 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Read more. The Eagles then travel to Cape Town, South Africa, for round two.

2023 USA WOMEN’S 7s RESIDENTS

Player – # HSBC Tournaments
Kayla Canett – 14
Autumn Czaplicki – 0
Lauren Doyle – 34
Cheta Emba (she/her) – 22
Joanne Fa’avesi (she/her) – 23
Jaz Gray – 6
Summer Harris Jones – 2
Nicole Heavirland – 28
Mata Hingano – 4
Alev Kelter – 36
Kristi Kirshe (she/her) – 13
Sarah Levy – 4
Jessica Lu – 0
Ilona Maher – 17
Alena Olsen – 9
Ariana Ramsey – 0
Stephanie Rovetti – 6
Alex Sedrick – 6
Rachel Strasdas – 1
Sammy Sullivan – 0
Naya Tapper – 26
Kristen Thomas – 32

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