AMES — Clinton High School graduate Sarah Johnson and Northeast High School graduate Dani Lippens were members of the Iowa State University women’s rugby team that won the collegiate Division II national championship last month.

Johnson, who recently completed her freshman year at Iowa State, plays the position of lock for the Cyclones while Lippens, a junior, plays the position of hooker.

Iowa State, which was making its first appearance at nationals, was the No. 6 seed in the elite eight. In their quarterfinal the Cyclones thrashed No. 3 seed Mary Washington 63-0 in Sanford, Fla.

In the semifinals Iowa State had a much tougher time, edging No. 2 seed Norwich 20-19 in an extremely hard-fought affair.

“That was the hardest game of my life,” Johnson said. “We had about a 10-point lead with about 4 minutes to go. Luckily, we held on.”

“They missed a conversion kick that would have put them ahead right at the end of the game,” Lippens said.

In the championship in Stanford, Calif., the Cyclones defeated defending champion and No. 1 seed California-Santa Cruz 26-19.

“We got off to a 5-0 lead about a minute-and-a-half into the game,” Johnson said. “That set the tone and gave us a lot of confidence. We were leading the entire time.”

“It was more satisfying to win the semifinal,” Lippens said. “We controlled the championship game a lot more.”

Rugby is a fairly new venture for Johnson who played basketball, softball and tennis at Clinton High.

“My roommate and I knew a girl on the rugby team,” she said. “She asked us if we’d be interested in giving it a try. We thought absolutely not. We thought we’d get killed. But, we decided to try it and I loved it and she hated it. I was starting by my second or third game.”

Lippens, who played basketball, golf, softball and volleyball at Northeast, has been on the rugby team since her freshman year at Iowa State.

“Some girls on the team asked if I’d be interested,” she said. “I figured I’d give it a shot. I was hooked after the first practice.”

The team is coached by Andrew native Sara Hillebrand who played on a national championship team at the University of Northern Iowa several years ago.