Baker High School graduate Angie Henes (in black and orange) tries to turn the corner on a Humboldt State defender. Henes plays rugby for the Oregon State University women's squad, which went 12-1 this season. (Submitted photo
By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
One was recruited by her sisters boyfriend, the other decided to try rugby just to have something to do. Today, both individuals are members of the Oregon State University womens rugby program, ranked fifth in the nation.
Coach Craig Young and senior Angie Henes are Baker Citys connection to the OSU contingent.
Young, who graduated from Baker High School in 1992, played four years on the OSU mens team before taking over as womens coach in 1997.
I was looking for something to get involved in, Young said as to why he initially joined the rugby program while in school at OSU.
Young said that after he graduated from BHS he first went to Willamette University where he played one year of football.
I just decided I didnt care for college football, and just didnt like the situation at Willamette, he said.
Then when I transferred to Oregon State I was looking for something to get involved in.
This past Saturday at Orlando, Fla., Youngs Lady Beavers suffered their first loss of the season, 18-12 to top-ranked Princeton in the second round of the NCAA national tournament.
The OSU team was eliminated from the national tournament with the loss. OSU finished the season with a 12-1 record.
The eighth-seeded Beavers defeated ninth-seeded Central Michigan 35-0 in their first game at the tournament.
We did a good job, but we could have done better, Young said.
After seeing some of the other teams at the tournament, I thought our girls could play with almost all of them.
This is the third straight year the Beavers have been in the playoffs. They hosted the Final Four in 1992. Last year, the Beavers went 10-4 and advanced to the Pacific Coast Championships, but lost to Stanford in the opening round.
When Young played for the Beavers mens team he was joined by former Bulldogs Chris Young, his brother; Dan Goodrich, Cory Rahn and Travis Bloomer.
That group advanced to the mens NCAA Sweet 16 in April 1997 at Penn State University at College Park. Pa.
The winners of the Pacific Northwest League championship, the OSU team finished league play 5-0 and was 15-3 overall. The Beavers were ranked 10th nationally that year. Young said that two years later, OSU was ranked fifth in the nation.
At the regional playoffs, the 1997 club lost its opening round match 33-23 to the University of Florida. OSU then defeated West Chester 34-13 for the consolation title.
The current OSU mens team lost 24-16 to Navy at Columbus, Ohio, Saturday. Another former Bulldog, Aaron Still, is a member of that team.
Angie Henes, another former BHS grad, is a starting center and fullback for this years OSU womens club. She is a five-year starter and letter winner for the Beavers.
Angie was recruited by Travis Bloomer, who was dating her sister at the time, Young said.
Bloomer is now married to Angies sister, Tish. The Bloomers live in Ontario, where Tish is teaching and coaching girls track.
Young said Angie had a somewhat rocky start in the OSU program, but he wouldnt trade her for any other player now.
Early on Angie had kind of an attitude, Young said. But, I sat her down and took her out of her starting position.
Now, Angie is a dream. Shes always on time, always at practice. Shes also one of our best shots.
Young said that Henes, along with a number of her teammates, is being considered for All-American status.
Young and Henes are just part of a solid Eastern Oregon contingent on the OSU squad. Megan Kleck of Union, Mandy Baker of Ontario and Kelsey Sandoz of La Grande are other squad members.
The Beavers, nicknamed the Black Plague, are part of the Pacific Northwest Rugby Football Union, which includes teams from the University of Oregon, Central Washington University, Washington State and Western Washington.
The sport is not fully recognized by the NCAA but has been tabbed as an emerging sport, Young said.
OSU has about 40 players. The players are recruited on campus and most have high school experience in other sports. Fifteen players are on the field at one time.
Girls generally dont have a lot of an idea about contact sports because there has been nothing for them to play, Young said.
Some of our best converts are former soccer players. Were always looking to recruit. We just need athletes.
We need all kinds of body types, Young said. Were not just looking for big people. A lot of the game focuses around intelligence.
Young said he has dealt in the past with OSU officials about backing for the rugby program.
Rugby is listed as a club sport at OSU and receives some funds from the university. Players earn a letter like any other varsity sport, but all of the participants pay to play, he said.
It costs $100 in dues per season, plus the players conduct find-raisers year-round for meal and travel expenses.
It cost each player about $130 to go to the national tournament, Young said.
Its a grass-roots program. The team members probably spend about $500 each a year, plus dues.
Young said that now that the NCAA is beginning to recognize the sport, maybe Ill go back to the OSU officials and try to get more backing again.
Thats a huge step to where we need to be with the program, Young said.
C.J. Gish, sports reporter for The Observer in La Grande, contributed to this story.