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Earthquake sidelines high school athletes, displaces Seawolves

  • Author: Beth Bragg
    | Sports
  • Updated: 6 days ago
  • Published 6 days ago

The Alaska Airlines Center floor flooded after Friday's 7.0 earthquake. (Photo provided by UAA Athletics)

High school athletes in Anchorage are sidelined and UAA teams are practicing off campus in the aftermath of Friday’s big earthquake.

At UAA, the Alaska Airlines Center and Wells Fargo Sports Complex are closed through Tuesday and possibly longer, the school’s athletic director said Monday.

The big concern is the main gym at the four-year-old, $109 million Alaska Airlines Center. A sprinkler system that broke during the 7.0-magnitude earthquake left standing water on the floor, athletic director Greg Myford said.

There is “no word on permanent damage yet,” he said Monday.

“No scheduled athletic events have been definitively canceled as of now,” Myford added. “All of that is obviously being closely evaluated.”

At Anchorage School District high schools, the weeklong closure of schools and the subsequent cancellation of activities comes during a key week for basketball and wrestling teams. It’s the first full week of basketball practice and the final week before this weekend’s conference wrestling championships.

Because of that, the board of directors of the Alaska School Activities Association on Monday relaxed a couple of rules for those sports.

For basketball teams, the required number of practices a student needs to be eligible for the opening week of the season has been reduced from 10 to five, ASAA executive director Billy Strickland said.

That applies for games scheduled Dec. 13-15. For games on Dec. 17 or later, ASAA’s 10-practice requirement will be back in place, Strickland said.

For wrestlers, an additional weigh-in will be allowed for kids who are one weigh-in short of being able to wrestle in a lower weight class at the Dec. 14-15 state tournament. Some tournaments were canceled last weekend because of the earthquake, which possibly deprived some wrestlers a chance to get their needed weigh-ins in a lower weight class.

Wrestling’s more immediate concern is if and where this weekend’s scheduled Cook Inlet Conference championships will be held. The tournament is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Chugiak High, but right now every high school in the district needs repairs or cleanups before they can open.

“We hope to know more in the next 24 hours as maintenance works around the clock,” Ben Johrendt, an administrator at Chugiak, said via Twitter. “However, I am in the process of getting 2 or 3 alternate sites on board if need be.”

If the CIC wrestling tournament winds up getting canceled due to lack of a facility, Strickland said the conference can send its top six seeds in each weight class to the state tournament.

Strickland said he’s hopeful the state tournament can be held as scheduled at the Alaska Airlines Center next week.

“We believe there is no reason to worry,” he said.

If the arena floor is too damaged for that to happen, he said, “we’re going to get the tournament held that weekend at a Southcentral location, either the Valley or Anchorage.”

If needed, the Division I tournament for big schools and the Division II tournament for smaller schools can be held at separate locations, Strickland said. Possible hosts include Anchorage Christian School and Grace Christian School, a pair of private schools in Anchorage that survived the earthquake with no significant damage to their gyms.

ACS hosted the final day of last week’s Class 2A and Mix Six state volleyball tournaments after Dimond High, which hosted Thursday’s games, was closed after the earthquake. And on Monday, Grace Christian provided a place for the UAA men’s basketball team to practice.

The nationally ranked UAA women’s basketball team took Monday off after returning from a Lower 48 road trip. Coach Ryan McCarthy said the Seawolves will practice Tuesday at the Arctic Rec Center, a non-profit facility in Midtown.

The hockey team was at Sullivan Arena on Monday and will be back there on Tuesday, coach Matt Curley said.

The Seawolves leave town Tuesday night for back-to-back series at Minnesota State and Bemidji State, “so things actually work out well for us hitting the road,” he said by email.

Prep hockey, skiing on hold

Although at least one rink at Ben Boeke Arena is too damaged to open, ice rinks at Sullivan Arena, the McDonald Center, Dempsey Anderson Arena and the Subway Sports Center are all operating.

But Anchorage high school hockey is nonetheless on hold, at least for now. The Anchorage School District forbids coach-supervised practices when schools are closed, although practices may be able to resume later this week.

“Many comp teams are adding practices at the Subway arena as the kids are out of school,” Dimond coach Dennis Sorenson said of the city’s club hockey teams.

Poor conditions have limited high school skiers even before the earthquake, so it was no surprise that this weekend’s annual two-day Lynxloppet at Kincaid Park was canceled.

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