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RUGBY

Granite Bay rugby All Stars shine in Western Regionals

Varsity and junior varsity standouts earn national recognition
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Over 90 kids from the Sacramento region loaded up in buses and took a trip to Corvallis, Oregon earlier this month for the Regional Rugby Cup Tournament - Great Northwest Challenge. Many of those athletes were from Granite Bay High School, and the Sacramento Valley All Star team was coached by GBHS Head Coach Jason Divine and Brent Bueno.

“We played All Star teams from Oregon, Montana, Washington, Southern California, and the Bay Area in front of High School All American selectors scouting for the junior national team,” Divine explained. “And we did very well.”

The junior varsity All Star team, which was coached by Bob Ericksen from Mother Lode and Inoke Waqavesi from McClatchy, went undefeated and won the tournament. Granite Bay had five local standouts on that squad including Kyle Curry, who was a consistent and physical presence at scrumhalf, Kiapono Kayoshi and Dante Banodoni, each showcasing toughness on the pitch as they won a lot of ball in the lineouts. Alex Evans — who dominated as a ball carrier and on defense — and Doug Mitchell — who was a force in the scrums — were also part of the JV squad that took home top honors.

Meanwhile, the varsity squad posted an unbeaten record up until the finals, where they came up short against a very talented Bay Area All Stars squad. The Sacramento Valley team was comprised of players from Jesuit, Solo Falcons, Mother Lode, Sierra Foothills, McClatchy, Sacramento, Vacaville, River City and locally from Granite Bay, including Desi Streater, Gavin Janis, Michael Husmann, Fotu Mokofisi, Anthony Wiley, and Justin Oles, who was selected for the High School All American team.

“Desi was excellent at flyhalf and won man of the match in one game,” Divine pointed out. “Gavin provided quickness all weekend at scrumhalf, while Fotu played prop in his eighth consecutive All Star game. Michael Husmann was a solid ball carrier at prop and Anthony scored five tries over the weekend at wing. But Justin, he had an electric performance playing flanker and center, winning man of the match twice, and being selected to the High School All American team. It is the highest level you can go in the country for high school rugby, so that’s a fantastic accomplishment.”

Oles began competing with the All American team this week in Canada and helped the squad earn an early win over British Columbia’s U19 team on Wednesday. 

“Both girls teams also did very well,” Divine added. “They have some very good rugby players and tremendous athletes, and their success capped off a strong display of rugby for the entire Sacramento Valley.”

After the tournament, a few Granite Bay junior varsity players heard their name when the EIRA (Eagle Impact Rugby Academy) U16s roster was announced. Kaipono Kayoshi, a speedy, athletic No. 8/lock from Granite Bay joins fellow locks Dante Bandoni and Isaiah Cortes in British Columbia this week as they compete for EIRA — a program dedicated to developing elite high school rugby players.