CHULA VISTA, Calif. – As Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens draws nearer, Men’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach Mike Friday has invited several athletes to the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center for the March 22-27 High Performance Camp.
Capped Men’s Eagles Alec Gletzer, Ryan Matyas, and Mike Te’o are included in the Camp squad, as are recently-debuted Walt Elder and Old Blue of New York’s Alex Schwarz. NCAA Division I football star Psalm Wooching will also attend his first HP Camp with the national sevens program after public acknowledgement of his return to the sport of rugby. A 12-man squad for the seventh and eighth rounds of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Hong Kong April 7-9 and HSBC Singapore Sevens April 15-16 – will be selected from Camp.
Matyas and Te’o combined to score five tries for the Men’s Eagles in their five matches of the Americas Rugby Championship, which they won with an unbeaten record of 4-1-0. Te’o was in the starting XV for all five matches and recorded a hat trick of tries against Canada, while Matyas scored his lone try in that same match prior to returning from injury for a substitute appearance in the final draw with Argentina XV.
Neither player is a stranger to the Series, with Matyas appearing in six rounds of the 2013-14 season and Te’o a five-time member of the Men’s Eagles Sevens between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. Te’o, a local to southern California and a veteran of the area’s club rugby scene at just 23 years of age, trained alongside the sevens team earlier this year to prepare for the successful ARC campaign.
“Mike is high on confidence and is maturing well as a rugby player with x-factor, getting the balance right on when to stay on script and when the time to go off-script is,” Friday said. “Defensively we have seen improvement in his game, especially one on one.”
Kansas City Blues’ Walt Elder benefitted from the circuit experiences in Las Vegas and Vancouver, getting match time against the likes of Australia and France. Schwarz represented Northeast Academy at the Halloween 7s Invitational tournament in 2015, while Gletzer made his Series debut in Dubai this past December.
Wooching revealed in February, following his final season with University of Washington’s Huskies football team, he would not be seeking entry to the NFL Draft, instead turning his attention to the sport of rugby. He has played with Washington’s club team in addition to senior club rugby with Seattle Saracens in recent years in both XVs and the Olympic sport of Rugby Sevens, and made his first impression on the Eagles’ coaching staff with Serevi Selects at the Las Vegas Invitational.
A native of Kailua-Kona, Hawai’I, the football linebacker also sprinted and played basketball and rugby in high school, and is intent on representing his country on the international stage.
[su_attention url=”https://www.facebook.com/usarugby/videos/10155116240853140/” text=”Hear from Wooching on getting back into rugby”]
“We’ve invited Psalm so we can assess him, more than anything, as he has a rugby background and a very good athletic track record,” Friday said. “We need to see where he is at and provide him with clarity on what he needs to do.”
Currently fifth in the Series standings following two consecutive trips to the Bronze Final in North America – a medal-winning campaign at home at HSBC USA Sevens and a defeat to Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games gold medalist Fiji at HSBC Canada Sevens – Friday’s squad scored a Series-high 47 tries in 12 matches, or an average of nearly four tries per 14 minutes. The Eagles bettered their defensive record in the tournaments close to home, conceding an average of 2.25 tries per match this month compared to the 2.72-tries-per-game average recorded between tournaments in Dubai and Sydney.
The Eagles have been drawn into Pool D in Hong Kong with Argentina, Russia, and Scotland, with the tournament set to kick off Friday, April 8 (Thursday, April 7, in the United States), from Hong Kong Stadium. A final travel squad will be announced prior to the team’s travel to Asia.
Men’s Eagles Sevens High Performance Camp | Invited Athletes
Walt Elder – Kansas City Blues [su_stats cms=”149″ class=”icon”]
Alec Gletzer – Olympic Club [su_stats cms=”309″ class=”icon”]
Ryan Matyas – Old Blue of New York [su_stats cms=”90″ class=”icon”]
Alex Schwarz – Old Blue of New York [su_stats cms=”90″ class=”icon”]
Psalm Wooching – Seattle Saracens [su_stats cms=”945″ class=”icon”]