Alaska Sports Hall of Fame honors 5 with Director's Awards

bbragg@adn.comFebruary 18, 2014 

Five people -- an Olympian, a pioneer, a four-minute miler, a record-breaker and an inspiring amputee -- will be presented with Directors' Awards at next month's Alaska Sports Hall of Fame ceremony in Anchorage.

The group includes :

• Anchorage skier Kikkan Randall, the leader of the U.S. cross-country team at the Winter Olympics, winner of the female Pride of Alaska Award, given for consistent excellence in competition.

In 2013, Randall became the country's first world champion in nordic skiing when she and Jessie Diggins won the team sprint at the world championships. She also earned her second consecutive World Cup sprint title and finished third in the World Cup overall standings, achievement that are unmatched in U.S. history.

• Kodiak runner Trevor Dunbar and Anchorage runner Eric Strabel, co-winners of the male Pride of Alaska Award. Each man had an epic performance in 2013.

Dunbar, a University of Oregon runner, is the first and so far only Alaskan to break the four-minute barrier in the mile. At a race in Portland last summer, he clocked 3:59.06.

Strabel, a Colony High graduate, broke Alaska's most revered record at last summer's Mount Marathon. He posted a time of 42 minutes, 55 seconds to shatter Bill Spencer's 32-year-old mark of 43:21.

• Alaska skier Dick Mize, a trailblazer for nordic skiing in Alaska, winner of the Joe Floyd Award for significant contributions to Alaska through sports.

Mize, who came to Alaska in 1958 as a Fort Richardson soldier, was an Olympic biathlete who settled in Anchorage after his Army service ended. He helped build some of the first ski trails in Anchorage -- his namesake loop at Kincaid Park is one of the most-used ski trails in town -- and has been a central statewide figure in skiing, among other things helping it became a thriving high school sport, for more than 50 years.

• Anchorage runner Marko Cheseto, a double amputee who is the winner of the Trajan Langdon Award for leadership, sportsmanship and inspiration.

Cheseto, an All-American track and cross-country runner for UAA, lost both of his feet to amputation in late 2011 -- depressed over the suicide of a cousin, he took an overdose of prescription pills and disappeared outdoors on a cold, snowy night for two days. Since then, he has spoken publicly about depression, and he has returned to running, on carbon-fiber running blades. He proved an inspiration and effective assistant coach for Chugiak last school year and has hopes of becoming a Paralympic runner.

The Directors' Award winners will be honored along with this year's inductees into Hall of Fame at a March 19 ceremony at the Anchorge Museum. The Class of 2014 inductees include basketball's Mario Chalmers and Jeannie Hebert-Truax, the Yukon Quest and the UAA men's basketball team's 1988 upset of top-ranked Michigan.

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