The second men’s qualifier for USA Rugby’s College 7s National Championships is Saturday in Lawrence, Kan.
The Heart of America conference tournament features all eight of the league’s members – Arkansas, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Lindenwood, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Truman State.
The field will be split randomly into two pools of four. The top two teams from each pool advance to the semifinals, and the bottom two move to the consolation semifinals. The bracket rounds will take place following a two-hour break.
This will be the second Heart of America tournament, but the first that’s an automatic qualifying event for Nationals.
Arkansas should be considered a contender in this event, as the Razorbacks play 7s as a team during the summer and banked some valuable experience at 7s Nationals last fall in College Station, Texas.
Missouri was competitive at the CRC Qualifier tournament at the Las Vegas Invitational in February, but have graduated the majority of that squad and will have to start from square one. Gone are Mark Menne, Matt Brotemarkle and Dan Kloeckner.
Lindenwood should also be considered a contender for this weekend. They have tremendous speed in guys like Mathius Harris and Morgan Findlay and are more talented than any team in the field. Forwards Tyler Black and Trevor Locke have skill sets that should come in handy in 7s, and James Poli and Tama Paogofie-Buyten are strong ball carriers. But the Lions haven’t played a lot of 7s as a team.
The rest of the field is filled with wildcards, as Kansas State, Kansas, Truman State, Oklahoma State and Iowa State have unproven track records in 7s.