Next Challenge For APSU Track Star – USA Rugby Sevens

by comment: Cenitra Hudson makes our Heart Of Rugby Featured Story today. Self-proclaimed girly-girl, trains with Women’s USA Rugby Sevens team and when she feels her first hit she pops her shoulder out of socket, bites her cheek, and is feeling sorry for herself…but she gets up and goes for another hit. She knows she needs to toughen up, and we are sure she will. Good luck Cenitra. We would love to interview her in Vegas this January.


CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — Austin Peay’s indoor school record holder in the triple jump may have a chance to make the Olympics in an entirely different sport.

Cenitra Hudson finished seventh at her final Ohio Valley Conference championships last spring and took a month off, after which she intended to go back into training for her next jumping competition in December. Then she got a call from Lady Govs assistant coach James Jenkins asking if she wanted to try out for the United States rugby team.

“We had to persuade her because at first I called her, she said, ‘I don’t know, and then she hung up,” Jenkins recalled, laughing. “Then I called her back again and I said, you may want to reconsider…”

The self-proclaimed “girly-girl” decided to take her coach’s advice. After an impressive showing at a weekend camp in California late last month, she was eager to go back this week and potentially sign a contract to join the national team.

It’s exactly what Jenkins had in mind when he visited the Olympics training center as a retired triple jumper himself and saw the USA Women’s Eagles Sevens practice, led by coach Ric Suggett. The mix of speed and power immediately reminded him of Hudson, who also has a personal-best of 24.96 in the 200-meter dash, and Suggett was convinced to give her a shot.

But she didn’t even know the rules of rugby when she arrived in California, so the players and coaches had to patiently explain to her how to play the game. Contact remained a concern for Hudson until one practice when she collided with a teammate while running full-speed.

“We collapsed into each other and I fell, my shoulder popped out of place, I bit a hole in my mouth,” Hudson said. “The rugby coach, I’m thinking he’s going to come over there and help me up. He just bent down and was like “ha, ha ha,” welcome to rugby, and walked off.”

That episode convinced Hudson — who would be one of the team’s smaller players at a slender 5-foot-7 – that she needed to toughen up. She got right back up from the collision and when she got back to Clarksville, she immediately started training with Jenkins and her new rugby ball.