Sports

Alaska sports week in review: South girls snap Dimond swimming streak and UAA men’s basketball opens season with series sweep

october, basketball, college sports, UAA, University of Alaska Anchorage

This past week featured several impressive performances at the prep, collegiate and amateur levels across the Alaska sports landscape. On the high school swimming front, the South girls varsity team broke Dimond’s Region IV stranglehold by claiming their first title in over a decade. The University of Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball team opened its 2022-23 season on a high note and the UAA volleyball squad completed a regular-season sweep of in-state rival University of Alaska Fairbanks for the first time in half a decade.

Headlines and highlights

For the first time in more than a decade, a girls varsity swimming and dive team other than Dimond finished first at the Region IV tournament. The Lynx came into Saturday’s finals favored to finish in first place again but the South Wolverines were able to pull off the stunning upset thanks to strong showings and finishes by their female swimmers.

Zoe Fencil came in second in the 200-yard IM and first in the 100 backstroke, Charlotte Griffith came in second in both the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle, Kaia Reeg finished first in the 500 freestyle and second in the 100 breaststroke where Stella Baldessari finished right behind her at third, and their 400 freestyle relay of Griffith, Megan McLaughlin, Fencil and Reeg bested Dimond’s ‘core four’ to finish first.

A swimmer competes in the 500 freestyle

While the 2022 high school football season came to a close last weekend with the Division I state championship game, the best seniors from around the state at all three divisions came together to put their skills to the test one last time for a good cause at the All Alaska Shrine Football Classic. The annual event allows the graduating class of players a chance to showcase their talents against the cream of the crop while raising money for Shriners Hospitals for Children.

“This is going to be an event they’ll never forget,” West Anchorage’s Tim Davis said. “Not only is it a last hurrah for Alaska, for a lot of them, it’s going to be a bridge for the next level.”

Davis was the coach of the Maroon team and said as good of an opportunity as it is for the players to put good tape on film, they never lost focus of the main goal of the event, which was giving back and raising both funds and awareness.

Lathrop’s Tyler Clooten was back on a field for the first time since he helped his team win its second straight Division II state title earlier this month. The Malamutes were well represented at the event as expected, and he said he was just happy to be able to play with them against the best in the state.

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“This is a good opportunity to have fun with my friends one last time,” Clooten said.

He’s been in contact with a couple of colleges, including Valley City State (N.D.) and most notably the University of Cincinnati, a Division I powerhouse in the American Athletic Conference. In college, Clooten intends to major in sports medicine with the hopes of becoming a physical therapist or chiropractor.

West Anchorage aced Dimond in precision air riflery Friday with a score of 7-0. The Eagles’ Tristyn Cunningham shot a match-high 280-11x while Kolter Kalt led the Lynx with his score of 279-9x.

The high school wrestling season was in its second week and saw several lopsided dual meet results Wednesday before an action-packed weekend at South, where the Monster Bash Duals took place. Soldotna bested reigning Division I state champion Colony and 2021 state runner-up South to finish in first place in the duals tournament while Palmer claimed the girls title with 49 combined points.

In a rematch of the 2021-2022 state championship game, the first game of the girls high school hockey season ended the same way last year’s title game did as Dimond/West beat South/Bartlett 3-0. Freshman Aurora Morton started the scoring with her first high school goal at 3:38 of the first period with an assist from Renee Doyle. Tana Carlson added to the lead with an unassisted goal at 1:11 of the first period. Lauren Grier finished the scoring with a third-period goal (13:52) with assists from Molly Sillers and Amelia Nascimento. Three goalies combined for the 21 save shutout (Zoie Campbell, Siena Lardizabel and Abby Blevins). South/Bartlett’s Brielle Akagi made 49 saves.

The prep volleyball regular season came to a close this past week with the majority of the final matches taking place Wednesday. The lone match that took place on Thursday was between top-ranked Dimond and surging South Anchorage. The Lynx extended their current win streak to 16 straight while snapping the Wolverines’ streak at five by winning in three straight sets.

On the college volleyball scene, No. 6 UAA returned to its home court and accomplished a feat that had not been accomplished since 2017 when it completed the regular-season sweep of in-state rival and sister school program UAF. After dropping the first set, the Seawolves won three straight and were led to victory by their dynamic senior duo of Eve Stephens, who led the team in kills with 19, and Ellen Floyd who led the team in assists with 35 and recorded a career-high nine kills.

[UAA volleyball pulls off season sweep of UAF for the first time in 5 years]

The UAA men’s basketball team took the court for the first time last week in a two-game series with Midway University. The new-look Seawolves scored exactly 87 points and claimed victory in both contests. Junior Jaedon Bradley is the team’s leading scorer through two games with a combined 31 followed by local prep hoops star Da’Zhon Wyche with 26.

[New-look UAA men’s basketball team takes season opener]

The Anchorage Wolverines played in front of their home fans at Ben Boeke Ice Arena for the second straight weekend when they hosted the Wisconsin Windigo for a three-game series. The Wolverines took an early 2-0 lead and got outscored 7-1 after the first period on Friday night, bounced back with a 5-3 win on Saturday, and lost 7-2 on Sunday. Anchorage native Aiden Westin led the team in scoring during the series by recording a pair of goals in each of the first two games.

[After building an early lead, Anchorage Wolverines fall to Windigo on Friday]

Last week’s results

Prep Football

Saturday

All Alaska Shrine Football Classic

Silver 21, Maroon 3

Prep Wrestling

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Wednesday

West 55, Dimond 18

South 65, Eagle River 6

Chugiak 66, Bartlett 6

Service 48, East 24

Hutchinson 36, Delta 18

Saturday

Monster Bash Duals Tournament

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1. Soldotna

2. South Anchorage High School

3. Colony High School

4. Palmer High School

5. Wasilla High School

6. Chugiak High School

7. West Anchorage

Monster Bash Women`s Tournament

1. Palmer 49

2. Bethel 44

3. Soldotna 41

4. Colony 38

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5. South Anchorage 35

6. Nome High 21.5

7. West Anchorage 13.5

8. Chugiak 13

9. Dillingham 13

10. Dimond 9

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Swimming

Region IV Swimming and Diving Meet

Team Scores

Combined

1. Dimond High School 805.5 2. South Anchorage High School 682.5 3. Robert Service High School 584 4. Chugiak High School 557 5. Eagle River High School 531 6. West High Swimming & Diving 474 7. East High School 183 8. Bartlett High School 78

Girls

1. South Anchorage High School 441 2. Dimond High School 422 3. Chugiak High School 299 4. Eagle River High School 243 5. West High Swimming & Diving 229 6. Robert Service High School 169 7. East High School 96 8. Bartlett High School 44

Boys

1. Robert Service High School 415 2. Dimond High School 383.5 3. Eagle River High School 288 4. Chugiak High School 258 5. West High Swimming & Diving 245 6. South Anchorage High School 241.5 7. East High School 87 8. Bartlett High School 34

Prep Volleyball

Tuesday

West 3, Eagle River 0 (25-22, 25-17,25-12)

Dimond 3, Chugiak 0 (25-21, 25-6,25-18)

South 3, Bartlett 1 (25-16, 25-22, 28-30, 25-13)

Bettye Davis East 3, Service 2 (20-25, 18-25, 25-23, 28-26, 15-12)

Thursday

Dimond 3, South 0 (25-18, 25-22, 30-28)

Riflery

West 7, Dimond 0

Prep Hockey

Girls

Friday

Dimond/West 3, South/Bartlett 0

Service/East 2, Chugiak/Eagle River 0

College

Volleyball

Saturday

UAA 3, UAF 1 (18-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-15)

Men’s Basketball

UAA 87, Midway 63

Friday

UAA 87, Midway 65

NAHL

Friday

Wisconsin Wendigo 7, Anchorage Wolverines 3

Saturday

Anchorage Wolverines 5, Wisconsin Wendigo 3

Sunday

Wisconsin Wendigo 7, Anchorage Wolverines 2

Three things to watch for this week

Prep Swimming and Diving

State Championships, Friday and Saturday at Bartlett High

The postseason for the high school swimming and diving season will come to a close this week with the state championship meet. Just like the Region IV championship, the state tournament will take place at the Bartlett pool and begins with prelims Friday and finals Saturday.

College

Volleyball

Northwest Nazarene at UAA, 7 p.m. Thursday, Central Washington 7 p.m. Saturday

The Seawolves will play the final two home matches of their regular-season schedule against a pair of GNAC opponents at the Alaska Airlines Center this week 72 hours apart. They’ll be looking to complete regular-season sweeps of both the Nighthawks and Wildcats with the second being the “Pack the House” night where their sensational senior class will be honored among other festivities.

NAHL

Fairbanks Ice Dogs at Anchorage Wolverines, 7 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday

Coming off a three-game series against the Windigo, the Wolverines will be looking to get back on track and stack a pair of wins when their in-state rivals come to town for a two-game series. This will be Anchorage’s last slate of games in town until it hosts the Kenai River Brown Bears for a two-game series Dec. 9-10.

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

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