Cal Announces New Rugby Additions

September 15, 2016

Cal Announces New Rugby Additions


Cal Athletics Release

BERKELEY – Seventeen new student-athletes have joined the California Gold Bears rugby program for 2016-17. They are comprised of 16 freshmen and a transfer junior, with the majority of the new group hailing from Northern California, followed by two new additions from Southern California, one from Washington, D.C., two U.S. passport holders who were educated abroad and three new members of the team who come to Berkeley from the United Kingdom.

The crop of new players is comprised almost evenly of backs and forwards and more than half of the class are veterans of the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp. Many of the new student-athletes have Cal connections in their families and many also have family members who share a rugby background.

“The boys are settling in and we have been thus far impressed with the abilities and maturity,” said head coach Jack Clark. “You can see the promise in them and we’re very hopeful for each and every one of them.”


Three graduates of De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., two of whom also played rugby for the Danville Oaks, comprise the biggest group of student-athletes joining the Golden Bears this year from the same high school.
A 5-7, 197-pounder slated to play scrumhalf for the Bears, Keanu Andrade (“an-DRAH-DEE”) arrives at Cal as the 2016 High School Rugby Player of the Year. Andrade led his football team in tackles as a linebacker his junior and senior season as De La Salle won the state championship in 2014 and ’15. He is a veteran of the Danville Oaks Youth Rugby Club, for which began playing continuously from the age of eight and captained his senior year en route to the NorCal Varsity Premier and Pacific Cup championships in 2016. Andrade attended Cal football games with his uncles as a youngster. Andrade, who was raised by his mother, Sandra Vella-Andrade, a law-office comptroller, and grandmother Kay Vella, has not declared an academic major.

Damon Wiley is a 5-11, 217-pound prop who was born in Oakland and resides in San Ramon, Calif., with his grandmother Yui and uncle Sompol, an alumnus of San Francisco State. Wiley was a two-way starter on the 2014 and ’15 state champion teams and was named the NorCal and East Bay Defensive Football Player of the Year for 2015 by the East Bay Times and Maxpreps. He played one season of rugby for the Danville Oaks, earning Most Valuable Forward from his coaches. Wiley has not yet declared an academic major at at the University, where two of his aunts are alumnae.

Charley Lagomarsino returns to his birthplace of Berkeley with his entry into Cal, where he has not yet declared an academic major. Standing at 5-11 and 175 pounds, Lagomarsino started in rugby for the Spartans, was a member of De La Salle’s football teams and was a two-time DLS Scholar Athlete. A 2015 attendee of the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp, Lagomarsino is slated to play on the wing for the Bears. He has two uncles and five aunts who graduated from the University. His mother, Jennifer, is an interior designer and alumna of Cal Poly; his father, Brian, is a senior vice president at Colliers International Commercial Real Estate who was a member of the Ashton Rugby Club.


McClain Marks is a 6-2, 211-pound flanker/No. 8 who hails from Lafayette, Calif., and graduated from Miramonte High School, where he was an all-league middle linebacker on the gridiron for the Matadors. Born in Berkeley, Marks played his youth rugby for the Lamorinda Rugby Club, starting for the varsity side as a sophomore and junior, and captaining the team as a senior. His mother, Beth, is a teacher; his father, David, is an engineer and alumnus of Cal Poly. Marks, who attended the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby camp in 2014 and ’15, has not yet declared an academic major.

Arriving at the University from Canyon, Calif., as a fifth-generation Cal student and a Rugby Bear legacy is Blake Peterson. Peterson is also a graduate from Miramonte High School, where he received the California Scholarship Federation award for academic proficiency all four years and also played football for the Matadors, starting the final two years on both sides of the ball. Peterson also played for the youth varsity on the Lamorinda Youth Rugby Club as a 5-11, 175-pound center. Blake’s father, Steve, is a commercial real estate broker who played rugby for head coach Jack Clark from 1986-90. An uncle, Peter Hess, played rugby and football at Princeton in the 1990s. His mother, Liz, is an alumna of the University of Colorado. Other Cal alumni in Peterson’s family include his aunt Carolyn Baxter, grandparents Barbara and Edward Peterson, four great grandparents and one great-great grandparent. An attendee of the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp in 2014 and ’15, Peterson has not yet declared an academic major.

Christian Dyer comes to Cal as a 6-2, 210-pound center from Sacramento, where he was an Honor Student and played rugby for 2016 national runner-up Jesuit High School, starting as a junior and captaining the team as a senior. He also played gridiron football for the Marauders, starting at safety as a junior and senior. His also played two seasons as a youth with the Land Park Motley RFC. His mother, Nancy, is a real-estate agent who graduated from San Diego State; his father, Ken, is a developer and graduate of Ohio University. His sister, Maddie, also attends Cal. Dyer, who attended the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp for three summers, has not yet declared an academic major.

Chase Halverstadt is a transfer student-athlete from Santa Monica College who enters Cal as a third-year. The 6-0, 190-pound scrumhalf who graduated from Jesuit High School and attended the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camps in 2014 and ’15 intends to major in Political Science with a minor in Political Economy. At Jesuit, where he was a member of the Student Scholars Program and listed on the Presidents Honor Roll four times, Halverstadt helped his rugby teams win state championships from 2012-14 and finish as national runner-up in 2014. During his time studying in Southern California, he also played for the Santa Monica RFC in 2015. Both parents – Laura, a teacher; and Kurt, a financial advisor – are graduates of Sacramento State. His aunt Gina Rutherford is a Cal alumna.


Josh Warnock enters Cal as a 6-4, 223-pound lock who captained Peninsula Green Youth Rugby Club as a senior. He graduated from St. Francis High School, where he was a member of the Honor Roll, and hails from nearby Los Altos, Calif. His brother, John, is a fourth-year student-athlete at Cal and member of the rugby team. His mother, Barbara, a graphic designer, and father, Christopher, the former CEO of Ebrary, are Utah alumni. Mrs. Warnock also competed in cross-country running and downhill skiing at UC Davis before transferring to Utah. A three-time attendee of the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp, Warnock has not yet declared an academic major.

Sam Cusano graduated from Granite Bay High School, where he was a two-year varsity starter at safety and running back, and played rugby for the 2016 open club national champion Granite Bay Youth Rugby Club, which the 5-10, 186-pound winger captained as a senior. On the gridiron, Cusano earned first-team All-Sierra league and metro honors for his play on the defensive side of the ball. Both parents are alumni of the University of Oregon: Pamela, a homemaker, played soccer; and David, a loan officer, played football for the Ducks. Cusano, who attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp for three summers, has not yet declared an academic major.


Taylor Damron is a 5-11, 175-pound scrumhalf from Newport Beach, Calif., where he was a two-time Academic Scholar at Corona Del Mar High School. On the rugby pitch he played locally for the Back Bay Sharks. On the gridiron for the Sea Kings, Damron was a starting defensive back and captain. Both parents are graduates of UCLA, where his father, Jeff, played football, then played rugby in Washington, D.C., and Luxembourg at the club level during the 1990s, before embarking on a career in the tech sector focused on renewable energy; and from which his mother, Lauren, has gone on to become a Strategic Account Director at AOL. Damron’s aunt and uncle Deane and Richard Hildebrand are graduates of the University, and Taylor attended the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp in 2015. He has not yet declared an academic major

Owen Duvall is a 6-0, 242-pound prop who graduated from Cathedral Catholic High School, where he was a member of the Campus Ministry, on the Honor Roll for all four years and a member of the National Honor Society. He played football, starting at guard his third year on varsity, and rugby at Cathedral Catholic, where he started as a prop for three years and was voted Most Valuable Forward and selected captain as a senior. His rugby also extended to the Coastal Dragons Youth Rugby Club. Duvall, whose parents, Kim and Nick, are the owners of Pac-West Rubber Products, has not yet declared an academic major

Patrick Hesse (“HESS”) captained the single-school national champion Gonzaga College High School rugby team in its third straight run to the national title in 2016, which ended with the 6-2, 218-pound No. 8/flanker being named the High School Forward of the Year. Born in Mississippi, Hesse was a member of the National Honor Society and Scholar Athlete at his Washington, D.C., school, where he also earned first-team all-league honors as a gridiron tight end and linebacker for the Eagles. Hesse’s father, Will, is a government contractor who graduated from The Citadel, where he played rugby and continued playing in the U.S. Navy. His mother, Kathy, is a teacher and alumna of LSU. An attendee of the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp in 2015 and a current member of the NROTC program at Cal, Hesse has not yet declared an academic major.

Sebastian Bader (“BAY-der”) arrives at Cal as a 6-6, 246-pound lock who spent a year in New Zealand playing for the Crusaders International High-Performance Unit after his graduation from the St. Julian’s School in Portugal, where he earned his International Baccalaureate degree. A dual U.S./Danish citizen who was born in London, Bader played representative rugby for Portugal from the U-13 through U-17 levels. His father, Davis, is a market analyst and UCLA alumnus; his mother, Mette, is a graduate of Copenhagen Business School and the foreign trade officer at the Danish Embassy in Lisbon. Bader has not yet declared an academic major.

Thomas Spradling is a 6-0, 204-pound flanker who was born in Florida and attended The British Schools in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, where he was a two-year starter and 2015 captain for his school rugby team. Spradling was twice winner at The British Schools of the Friendship Award as bestowed by his peers. His family’s rugby pedigree includes his three brothers who also competed for The British Schools, the last of whom, John, was also a member of the Golden Bears in 2013-14. His mother, Marta, is a homemaker; his father, Richard, is a business owner and CEO who graduated from the University of Buenos Aires. He has not yet declared an academic major.


Coming from the United Kingdom is Sid Holland, a 6-0, 199-pound flanker who graduated from the Whitgift School and played representative rugby for the Saracens Academy. His brother, Tom, played for England at the U-16 level. His mother, Samantha, is a graduate of the Fine Art Sculpture program at the City & Guilds of London Art School and a member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors since 2001. His father, Paul, is a marine engineer and hybrid energy system designer who graduated from Hatfield Polytechnic (now called University of Hertfordshire). Holland has not yet declared an academic major.

Ken Kurihara was born in Japan and arrives at Cal as a graduate of the Millfield School in Somerset County, England, where the 5-10, 169-pound wing played rugby from the age of eight. Kurihara also competed as a skier and swimmer for Millfield, and his brother, Rio, currently swims for the University of Sydney in Australia. Their mother, Emili, and father, Shigeru, are both medical doctors and graduates of Toho University. Kurihara, who attended the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp in 2015, is in the University’s College of Engineering in pursuit of a degree in the engineering of math and statistics.

George Salter is a graduate of the Tonbridge School in England, from which the Bears’ Elliot andRussell Webb also arrived at Cal. A 6-4, 236-pound flanker, Salter was a school prefect, a member of the Ani-Bullying Council and a member of the First XV at Tonbridge, where he helped his school win the 2016 Roslyn Park 7s tournament. Hailing from Haslemere, Surrey, in the U.K., where he played representative cricket at the age of 13, Salter has also lived in Uzbekistan, Dubai and Russia. He attended the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Camp in 2015. His mother, Alison, is a homemaker, and his father, Andrew, is a retired lawyer who graduated from Liverpool and Aberdeen Universities. Salter has not yet declared an academic major.

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