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Caravelli put the players through three-a-days over the course of four days at the Olympic Training Center in September, the better to get them prepares for how an international tournament works.
The US Olympic Committee provided medical staff for the team, which worked out well for the players who worked enormously hard during the assembly.
Caravelli is limited in who he can choose for the Pan-Am Games October 29-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico. The Pan-Ams and the Olympics require an athlete to be a citizen with a valid passport from the country he represents – something not required by the IRB in their Sevens World Series, which accepts players who have resided in the country for three years, or have a parent or grandparent from that country, regardless of passport.
Despite this, the coach invited Alipate Tuilevuka to camp. Tuilevuka isn’t Olympic eligible, but his form this past summer was outstanding, and the experienced former All American brings experience and leadership to camp. Caravelli had Tuilevuka in camp for that reason, and will likely invite the Old Puget Sound captain as well as Matt Hawkins into the next camp. Hawkins is just coming off injury and probably won’t be healthy to play in October, but he can train, and, with Tuilevuka, offer some experienced opposition to the Pan-Am hopefuls.
As for those hopefuls, SFGG playmaker Folau Niua was once again impressive, while Mile Pulu and Miles Craigwell also showed solid form. Nu’u Punimata is getting back to the level of play he showed before being injured at the 2010 USA 7s in Las Vegas.
Five players from the Rugby World Cup are expected to be invited to the next camp which assembles October 14 – Paul Emerick, Tai Enosa, Colin Hawley, Blaine Scully and Roland Suniula.
Of those five, Emerick was possibly the USA’s best player in New Zealand, and Suniula showed well as flyhalf, despite tracking as a center in 7s. Scully also played well, while Hawley and Enosa got little playing time. All are reported healthy, which is more than can be said of Nese Malifa, who has had a rough six months in an Eagles jersey and likely will not be invited to camp so he can heal up.
Meanwhile Mark Bokhoven is back from injury and looking strong and fit. He joined the recent camp in what amounted to a test of his fitness, and the Iowa native passed with flying colors. Bokhoven is the sort of fast, physical, big forward Caravelli wants for his team, but has run into injury troubles at key moments. Bokhoven will be expected to step in as a leader in a relatively inexperienced group of forwards. Without injured Matt Hawkins the captaincy is as wide open as the selections.
All of those players have been put into a quick 7s conditioning program as they make the adjustment from the 15s version of the game.
The Eagles will not play in the Central Coast Sevens in Brisbane, Australia as tentatively planned – the budget isn’t there. Instead they will assemble at the OTC October 14, with the Pan-Am squad to be picked a week later. On October 28 they fly into Guadalajara where they will stay in the Athletes Village.
The current Pan-Am Games pool:
Justin Boyd (Belmont Shore)
Miles Craigwell (Old Puget Sound Beach)
Paul Emerick (Life University)
Tai Enosa (Belmont Shore)
Colin Hawley (Olympic Club)
Duncan Kelm (Belmont Shore)
Rocco Mauer (Chicago Lions)
Folau Niua (San Francisco Golden Gate)
Mike Palefau (Utah Warriors)
Nu’u Punimata (Old Puget Sound Beach)
Mile Pulu (East Palo Alto)
Blaine Scully (At Large)
Roland Suniula (Boston)
Shalom Suniula (Belmont Shore)
Zack Test (Unattached)
Maka Unufe (Utah Warriors)
Don Pati (Univ. of Utah)