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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. October 18, 2011 – A young and improving New Mexico Tech's men's rugby club reveled in two comfortable wins Saturday at the 40th annual High Desert Classic tournament in Albuquerque. Yet Sunday morning's match against New Mexico State University reminded them in equally certain terms they still have work to do.


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 New Mexico Tech forwards (right) scrum against New Mexico State University in Sunday's High Desert Rugby Classic semifinal in Albuquerque. Tech flanker Tyler Fletcher pushes while Jerod Aragon awaits the emergence of the ball. The Chiles won the match and eliminated NMT from the championship

Tech's student team, established in 1973, will host the NMT alumni Ancestors in the annual Black and Blue match at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21. The graduates scored a thrilling 24 - 17 victory in this 49ers celebration fixture last year.

In Albuquerque, Freshman wing Ben Long opened Tech's scoring with a try five minutes into in a 9:30 a.m. matchup against Fort Lewis College of Durango, Colo. Scrum half Jerod Aragon followed with a touchdown five minutes later and it was one-way traffic for the Pygmies after that with lock Tyler Augster, center Jason Lee, and Ben Long's twin brother, Aaron, playing the opposite wing, chipping in five-pointers. The match was a breakthrough for the muscular and hard-running Lee, a first-season player seeing his first action in the back line. Veteran fly half Brock Romero connected with six out of seven conversion kicks, some from difficult angles, to complete Tech's 47-0 whitewash.

Tech swamped a second string side from New Mexico Highlands University 39-0 in an early afternoon match. Jason Lee, a 2010 graduate of Albuquerque Valley High, showed speed as well as power in scoring a hat trick of three five-point tries, one after Aragon charged down an attempted kick. Captain Isaiah Sanchez scored two blazing tries from his fullback position. Romero was good with four conversion kicks and two penalty goals for a 14-point haul, all while coolly dissecting the Vatos' defense with well-timed passes to Lee.

On Sunday the Pygmies reunited bright and early at U.S.S. Bullhead Park, but youthful enthusiasm only lasted so long against the superior technical skills of a tested NMSU squad. The Chiles parlayed an advantage in scrums and lineouts into a 5-0 halftime lead on the strength of flank forward Khan Muhammad's breakaway try, and then added two more converted tries (7 points each) and a penalty goal (3 points) for a final 22-0 shutout.

NMHU's first-team Vatos beat the Chiles in the 12:30 collegiate division title match. The Atomic Sisters won the 12-team women's division, and the Provo, Utah, Steelers wore down the Denver Highlanders to claim the men's club side championship.

– NMT –

Photo and article by Dave Wheelock/Tech Rugby Director