CATS ADD 22 WALK ONS, CLOSE IN ON CENTURY MARK IN POST-OLYMPIC SURGE
Marek Easton '20 is one of this year's walk ons who has already made an impact, scoring a key try in Arizona's win over UTEP.
Sept 26- Arizona Rugby has formally welcomed their final batch of players to this year's roster, as 22 walk ons have joined the program taking the team to nearly 100 players for the 2016-2017 season.
This year's crop of players is one of the most diverse groups in recent memory, with a mix of Rugby experience and other sport experience spanning five states and five foreign countries.
This year includes a score of talented forwards, with a number of new additions to the front row in particular. At Prop, Arizona adds a diverse mix of student-atheletes, with Soltansanjar Gybyrov (Monaco), Reed Hirshman (Arizona), Jack Keys (Colorado) and Karl Steffany (American Samoa) joining the ranks. At Hooker, Noah Argallon (Guam), Matt Conforth (Arizona), and Christopher McBride (Arizona) start their first year as Wildcats. "Really strong front row group here, with a nice mix of athleticism, experience, youth, and some international flavor" said Head Coach Sean Duffy "while recruiting helps, a handful of these players have already come in and made a huge impact." In the back row and second row, a mix of athletic Forwards join the program, starting with two Locks in Robert Boghosian (California) and Nick Overleas (Arizona). Joining these two are Flankers Tim Becker (Germany), Austin McNichols (Illinois), and Number Eight Jake Griffiths (California).
In the backline, the Wildcats add a number of players who have already made an impact in the program, starting in the halfbacks where Scrumhalf Jackson Wells (California) and John Crepea (Arizona) join the team. Center is perhaps the deepest area of talent in this year's walk on group, with a number of players already pushing for promotion. At Inside Center, Marek Easton (Delaware) and Anthony Steffany (American Samoa) have already made their presence felt, with Easton scoring a key try in Arizona Developmental Side's 50-15 win over UTEP to start the year. At Outside Center, a talented trio of Lucas Bartzis (Illinois), Nathan Chen (California), and Nick Fadelli (California) join the program. "Really special group of centers this year, so much so that a couple are working at Wing and Fullback because we want to get them on the field" said Duffy "Bartzis and Easton have been really strong, playing big roles in our first win of the year, and Fadelli is transitioning nicely back to Rugby from a highly successful Football career here on campus." Fadelli is a crossover athlete of sorts for the Wildcats, having played for Arizona Football his Freshman year following a successful Football and Rugby career in high school. Rounding out the backline is a group of crossover athletes, with Diego Bardales (California), Blair Kessler (California), and Leo Rusch (Malaysia) having joined the team.
For the Wildcats, this year's group is a testament to the University of Arizona's strong reputation, Arizona Rugby's rich history, and the re-inclusion of the sport in this Summer's Olympics. "Arizona has a strong tradition of providing Rugby opportunities for both experienced and inexperienced players, and we're happy to continue that. While recruiting has definitely helped our talent pool, once they get here, it doesn't matter to us whether they were recruited or not- the best player plays." said Duffy. This year's group joins the 27-player recruiting class to add nearly 50 student-athletes to the program. This year's team will benefit from additional programming by way of the Arizona Developmental Side, which has joined the Rio Grande Rugby Union (DII) and will play matches in Fall and Spring. This training group mirrors closely the team's "Rookie Program" which was run in the past in Tucson. "While we're realistic that we will likely not end the year with this high a number in training, it is an exciting time and our hope is that all will stick with it and be a part of the Wildcat Rugby family for life."
Arizona's Fifteens preseason continues this weekend, as their Junior Varsity takes on Grand Canyon University Junior Varsity on Saturday.
For the Wildcats' full Fall Schedule, click here.
2016 WALK ONS LIST