|JP Eloff scoring for DU at 15s Nationals. Dobson Images|
|Miami torching Nebraska in Las Vegas|
|Bowling Green against Cal Poly in Las Vegas|
The second qualifier for the finally official USA Rugby 7s national championships is Sunday in Bowling Green, Ohio. Six teams, which did not take part in the Big Ten event last week, will vie for an automatic bid to the Dec. 16-17 championship at a site yet to be determined.
The field is split into two pools (Bowling Green, Central Michigan and UW-Milwaukee in one and Davenport, Miami and Whitewater in the other) and the top two in each will crossover against one another in the semifinals.
Most of the teams competing have valid 7s experience. Miami was highly competitive in the CRC qualifier in Las Vegas in February, falling to semifinalists Delaware via a long-range, broken-play try at the death. Luke Markovich is the Redhawks' most dangerous player, and he and several of his teammates play regularly for 1823 on the Midwest 7s circuit each summer.
Bowling Green won the Bowl at the inaugural CRC in Columbus, Ohio in 2010 and was also competitive at the 2011 CRC qualifier in Las Vegas. Bowling Green, like Central Michigan, entered a team in some Midwest qualifiers over the summer. Their results weren't outstanding, but that's due in part to the fact that some of their studs, like Max Narewski, were playing club ball. Narewski came off the bench for the Chicago Lions, who were ousted in the club 7s national quarterfinals by eventual champs Belmont Shore.
UW-Milwaukee is coming off a championship appearance at last weekend's all Milwaukee 7s tournament held in conjunction with the Big Ten Championships in Cottage Grove, Wisc.
Davenport, defending DI 15s champs, are the favorite to win Sunday, however. Panther coach Kruger Van Biljon has coached Notre Dame in the first two CRCs, and flyhalf JP Eloff is a member of the inaugural 7s All American team and was a regular starter for the Lions this summer. Davenport 15s standouts Ryan Hargraves and Lance Cavanaugh will likely be playmakers for the Panthers in Bowling Green, but don't be surprised if the massive Demecus Beach steps on the 7s pitch as well.
"There’s a possibility he might be in the side. We still don’t know. I still have to talk to my other assistant coach Garrett Henderson to see who we need to drop to get him in the side, because it’s hard to get him in the side because of other guys we’ve got," said Van Biljon.
"People underestimate him because of his size, and they think he’s not fast and he can’t run. Demecus is probably one of our fastest guys over a 40-yard dash or a 40-yard sprint. He’s 275 pounds and he runs like a 5.1 40. That’s a big man that can move, and he’s got good hands. He showed that in the championship game -- he’s not afraid to take guys on and in 7s. We might just use him as an impact player if he makes the squad, but we’re looking at it. It’s another option we’ve got."