A novice on the rugby field in 2014, it didn’t take long for Alev Kelter to master the sport.
Today, the Eagle River native is American rugby royalty – a two-time Olympian, three-time World Cup veteran and former Pan Am Games silver medalist who on Saturday became just the second U.S. player to convert 100 career tries at the World Rugby Sevens Series.
Kelter joined current teammate Naya Tapper of South Carolina (120) as the only Americans among the 13 women to reach the century mark in all-time tries.
Kelter made history in Toulouse, France, where she scored on a beautiful play in the fifth minute of a 31-0 victory over Poland. It was a typical run by Kelter, a skilled rusher who made a vicious cutback move on her way to the end zone to avoid two defenders – sending one to falling to the grass and leaving another in her wake.
Bringing up your 100th #HSBC7s try in style!#France7s | @kelteralev | @USARugby pic.twitter.com/KOo7unLXGV
— World Rugby 7s (@WorldRugby7s) May 13, 2023
Kelter, of Chugiak High fame, finished with nine points after scoring a five-point try and adding a pair of two-point conversions. Later in the day, the 5-foot-6 Alaskan also converted her 101th career try in a 22-17 win over Fiji as the U.S. team advanced to the Cup final, losing 19-14 to New Zealand in Sunday’s gold-medal match.
Team USA finished third in the final World Sevens Series standings with 108 points through seven events, trailing only first-place New Zealand (138) and Australia (118). New Zealand won six of the seven tournaments, with the Americans finishing third three times and second twice.
Kelter finished sixth on the team in scoring with 45 points despite missing four of the seven tournaments. She had 18 points in Vancouver, Canada, 13 in Hong Kong, China, and 14 in France.
She practically doubled her production from last season but it’s a far cry from her glory years from 2017 to 2020 when she was among a handful of players considered the greatest in the world. In 2020, Kelter ranked No. 1 in the series with 171 points; she was fourth in 2018, seventh in 2019 and tenth in 2017.
ALEV THE ALL-TIMER
Kelter’s Points in World Sevens Series
2023 – 45
2022 – 23
2021 No Season
2020 – 171
2019 – 148
2018 – 168
2017 – 127
2016 – 79
2015 – 99
2014 – 10
Total – 870 (#5 all-time; #1 U.S.)
Kelter was born to play rugby. A star flag football and soccer player in high school, she went on to become a two-way star at the University of Wisconsin, where as a soccer player she was named to the All-Big Ten Team and as a hockey player was named to the NCAA Frozen Four All-Tournament Team.
She ranks fifth all-time in World Seven Series history with 870 points and is one of only two ‘Century Club’ players with 100 career tries and 100 career conversions, with Canada’s Ghislaine Landry being the other.
At 32, Kelter remains a dynamic player. If you think she’s lost a step you’ve lost your mind.
After rugby shut down for nearly two years because of COVID, Kelter emerged stronger than ever. She showcased her field prowess in the English Premier League and then at the 2022 World Cup before getting back to business as usual in the World Sevens Series.
In her first tournament of the season in March, Kelter made a highlight-reel play after she drew the attention of two defenders and found teammate Cheat Emba for a walk-in score as Kelter was dragged to the grass.
This was an awesome try @USARugby
Cheat Emba with the try – setup pass by Alev Kelter
— TeamUSATracker 🇺🇸 (@TeamUSATracker) March 4, 2023