The Ballard rugby season ended in a tough state semifinal match-up with Van Meter. It was a close one, but Van Meter scored with about two minutes left in the game to put them up 28-21. Ballard couldn’t get any more points on the board and finished the season losing to a team they had defeated earlier in the year, 26-12.
“Hats off to Van Meter,” said Ballard head coach Anthony Frein. “They just had too much speed for us. They were much improved from our first meeting of the season.”
Frein said the future is bright for Ballard rugby and a loss in the state semi-finals is nothing to be disappointed about. More than 20 players worked hard all season, and he expects even more guys to be on the team next year. If enough players join for the 2019 season, Frein hopes to add a freshman team to the mix.
Two Ballard seniors received all-state recognition. Ben Lee was named to the Elite All-State Team and Josh DeTar was named to the Class 1A All-State Team. DeTar was also the Class 1A leading scorer. Lee plans wrestle for Grand View University next year, while DeTar will go on to play rugby at Iowa State, along with fellow senior Nate Briggs.
Frein said he will miss his seniors, but there are some great underclassmen who will step into leadership roles next year. Junior Blake Hughes in particular had a strong season and is getting some college looks, and freshmen Donovan Bertrand and Wyatt Borg will be integral parts of the varsity team next year.
Ballard rugby finishes the season with a 9-2 record, and is up for the “New Program of the Year Award” at the annual rugby banquet in June.
The coaching staff is looking forward to next year and continuing to build a rugby tradition. “I hope we’ve started a new tradition at Ballard. I’d be lying if I said I thought we were going to be as good as are, but we ended up with a team that I think could have won it all. Looking forward — we’ve got a good thing going.”