This past week saw a pair of impressive winning streaks come to a stunning end as well as some great bounce-back performances at the prep, collegiate and amateur levels across the Alaska sports landscape. On the high school football front, the Colony Knights upset the previously undefeated Juneau Huskies to claim their first Division I state title. The University of Alaska Anchorage volleyball team suffered its first conference loss of the season and first defeat in nearly two months. The Anchorage Wolverines took to their home ice for the first time this season and broke even in a two-game series.
Headlines and highlights
After avenging one of its two regular-season losses in the Division I playoff semifinals with an upset over Bartlett, the Colony football team got a second chance at Juneau in the Division I title game. The Knights spoiled the perfect season of the top-ranked Huskies in the finals Friday. The 14-7 victory secured their first state title in program history since the school first opened in 1989.
“They proved about six games ago that they were done giving up,” Colony coach Robbie Nash said of his team. “They were going to fight until the end, we had the utmost confidence in them and they really showed some intestinal fortitude.”
The Knights were led by two-way star Jack Nash, who accounted for 293 yards of total offense that included 153 rushing and 140 passing. He also accounted for both of the team’s touchdowns with the first coming on a 49-yard bomb to favorite target Jayce Underwood and the second on a 10-yard run for a game-winning score.
“This is something we all dreamed of since we were little kids,” Jack Nash said. “This is all I ever wanted and the community is going to remember this forever.”
Even though it came in a losing effort, Juneau senior running back and linebacker Jamal Williams finished his decorated high school career with a strong outing on both sides of the ball for the Huskies. He led his team in rushing yards with 132, scored the team’s lone touchdown of the game and recovered a pair of fumbles on defense.
The Dimond riflery team hosted previously undefeated Eagle River and handed the Wolves their first loss of the season 7-0 Thursday night. The Lynx were led by Jacob Sims, who shot a personal best of 283-11x while Eagle River was led by Dawson Cox, who also shot a personal best and match-high score of 284-11x.
On the same night across town, the Service riflery team defeated Bettye Davis East 7-0. Ahren Peterson led the Cougars with a 278 while Samuel Woolley lead the Thunderbirds with a score of 254.
The high school wrestling season got underway this past week with a trio of duals Wednesday in which Chugiak bested West, Service beat Dimond, and Eagle River took down Bettye Davis East. The opening-week action concluded Saturday with the West Duals Tournament, in which every CIC school with the exception on South was in attendance as well as reigning Division I state champion Colony. The Knights made sure the school’s football program wasn’t the only team that took home some hardware this past weekend by topping the Cougars 60-24 in the finals to finish in first place.
“It feels good just to be back on the mat,” Colony junior and reigning state champion at the 125-pound weight class, Matthew Mitchell said. “Getting the cobwebs off, getting back into the groove has really been a good time.”
The South Anchorage volleyball team appears to be hitting its stride at the right time as the regular seasons comes to close. The reigning 4A state champions have won their last four matches dating back to the annual Dig Pink Night and are coming off of their most impressive win of the season. The Wolverines went on the road and beat No. 2 West 3-1 Wednesday a week after the Eagles upset the Colony Knights, who were the only in-state team to have beaten top-ranked Dimond this season.
The Wolverines had a pair of upperclassmen who recorded double-digit kills with junior Allison Ward recording a team-leading 13 and senior Grace Ruebling right behind her with 12. Both players recorded a trio of aces as well. Junior libero Marija Wunnicke led the team in digs with a dozen and according to head coach Amy Mestas, her serve receive was instrumental in the team’s victory.
On the college volleyball scene, No. 9 UAA suffered its first loss to a Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponent Thursday in a tightly contested 3-1 loss to Simon Fraser University. The defeat means the Seawolves will split the regular-season series with the Red Leafs. After each team won a set to start the match, Simon Fraser took the final two sets to pull off the shocking upset.
The Seawolves quickly rebounded from the stunning defeat by beating No. 10 Western Washington 3-1 on Saturday. They were led to the bounce-back victory by star senior outside hitter Eve Stephens, who smashed a conference record-setting 33 kills to break the GNAC records for a four-set match. The phenomenal performance earned her conference Offensive Player of the Week honors for the sixth time this season.
The UAA hockey team earned a split in a two-game series with Northern Michigan University this past weekend. After suffering a lopsided 9-1 loss Friday, the Seawolves responded with a 3-1 victory Saturday. Junior forward Connor Marritt scored a couple of goals against his former team, one in each game, to extend his team lead in goals scored this season to four.
Standout sophomore distance runner Cole Nash paced the UAA men’s cross country team that finished 19th out of 27 schools at the Division II Pre National Meet this past Saturday in University Place, Washington. Nash ran the 8K course in 23 minutes and 43 seconds to finish in fourth place as an individual.
The Anchorage Wolverines played in front of their home fans at Ben Boeke Ice Arena for the first time this season when they hosted the Janesville Jets for a two-game series. They won the first in thrilling fashion by rallying from down 4-0 to win 5-4 in a shootout Friday night. The Jets evened the score the following night by handing the home team a 5-2 defeat.
Last week’s results
Colony 14, Juneau 7
Chugiak 45, West 19
Service 53, Dimond 18
Eagle River 54, East 28
West Duals Tournament
1st Place - Colony
2nd Place - Service
3rd Place - Chugiak
4th Place - Eagle River
5th Place - West Anchorage
6th Place - East
7th Place - Bartlett
8th Place - Dimond
Dimond 3, East 0 (25-10, 25-14,25-20)
Service 3, Chugiak 2 (25-23, 19-25, 20-25, 25-17, 15-12)
South 3, West 1 (25-21, 25-19, 22-25, 26-24)
East 3, Juneau-Douglass 0 (25-21, 28-26, 25-19)
West 7, Bartlett 0
Dimond 7, Eagle River 0
Service 7, East 0
Simon Fraser 3, UAA 1 (23-25, 25-23, 22-25, 23-25)
UAA 3, Western Washington 1 (25-12, 25-16, 21-25, 25-23)
Northern Michigan 9, UAA 1
UAA 3, Northern Michigan 1
Anchorage Wolverines 5, Janesville Jets 4
Janesville 5, Anchorage Wolverines 2
Three things to watch for this week
Region IV Championship, Thursday - Saturday
The postseason for the high school swimming season gets underway this week with regional action. In Anchorage, the Region IV championship will take place at the Bartlett high school pool and begin Thursday with the diving prelims followed by the swimming prelims Friday and the finals for both will take place Saturday.
Midway at UAA, 7 p.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday
The sixth-ranked Seawolves tip off their 2022-2023 season with a two-game exhibition series with the Midway Eagles at the Alaska Airlines Center on Thursday and Friday. This will be the team’s first game action since falling to in-state rival UAF in the second round of the GNAC regional championship tournament 63-58 and first home game since they beat Saint Martin’s 85-76 on Feb. 26.
Wisconsin Windigo at Anchorage Wolverines, 7 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday
After splitting their home-opening series last week, the 2022 Robertson Cup runners-up will be back in front of their home fans at Ben Boeke Ice Arena for the second week in a row. The Wolverines will host the Windigo for a three-game series from Friday through Sunday. These two teams faced each other in a three-game series to close out the 2021-2022 regular season at the same venue back when the Windigo were still the Minnesota Magicians.