Mundell, Peyton, part of national-title Ladies Rugby program at Norwich
Although rugby was not a part of their high school sports resume, 2011 Chugiak graduate Sophie Mundell and 2013 Eagle River High grad Sarah Peyton are taking to women’s Sevens Rugby with a passion and were members of the Norwich Cadets national title 15s and 7s team this past year.
With the larger-team format held in the Fall, the Cadets finished out their perfect 40-0 season with a 36-10 victory over Rutgers University in the American Collegiate Rugby Association (ACRA) Division I 7s National Tournament held at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich. in May.
Both players are in Eagle River for an abbreviated summer, and will return to their Northfield, Vt. campus in mid-August.
The team is coached by Austin Hall, now in his tenth season, who has led the program to three national titles, include the two – 15s and 7s – this year.
Locals remember Mundell as the goalie for the Chugiak-Eagle River girls hockey team her freshman and senior years, having played the interim years at the North American Hockey Academy. Other sports included two years of riflery and one each of softball and flag football. She was also the Chugiak NJROTC Cadet Commander her senior year. Mundell was a flanker for the A team, and is one of five seniors returning to the program, having played rugby since the end of her freshman year.
Although not recruited as a hockey goalie, Mundell started her freshman year playing for a club team and then was called up to the girls varsity team towards the end of the season. By that time, she had already joined the rugby team and was competing in both sports the second semester. The ladies’ hockey team lost in the Frozen Four, the year-end tournament. Mundell said she swung her full allegiance to the rugby team at the end of that year, and hasn’t looked back.
Peyton was a four-year varsity letter recipient in softball for the Wolves and was new to the sport this past year. She is one of 15-plus returning sophomores in the program this fall, having played on the B-side, or development team last year.
Both were drawn to the county’s oldest private military for the academics and both are members of the Core Cadet program.
Coach Hall holds both Alaskan players in high regards.
“Sophie brings a work rate, a beautiful spirit, a wild energy, and a drive to succeed to every practice and game,” said Hall, of the flanker.
The coach appreciates the physicality of Peyton, a foundational part in team scrums and a lifter for ‘line-out’ plays.
“Sarah will lead a 17-player sophomore class next year. She’s a physical player with a ‘go-forward’ attitude,” he said.
The pair also maintains fine academic standing, in addition to the ten-hour of practices week, along with weekend tournaments, and the rigors of cadet core.
Mundell is taking 20-plus credits per semester working of a psychology and English double major with a minor in creative writing. She will be commissioned into the Marine Corp with an eight-year contract upon graduation.
As a freshman, Peyton took 15 credits a semester, and likewise entered the Core Cadet program.