Welcome to The Rewind, a weekly digest that puts a spotlight on the biggest stories and best performances from Alaska’s world of sports.
The first week of the 2023 Alaska high school football postseason featured blowouts as well as some stunning upsets at all three levels of competition. On the college sports scene, the University of Alaska Anchorage volleyball team split two road conference matches while the hockey team split its first two games of the regular season at home. On the national stage, several local products helped lead their respective teams to victories at the collegiate and amateur level.
Headlines and highlights
The 2023 Alaska high school football postseason got underway last weekend and while there were some unsurprising results such as the No. 1 seeds in both Division I and II advancing to the semifinals, there were some very surprising upsets as well.
Despite having the reigning Gatorade Player of the Year in Jack Nash back in the lineup, defending Division I state champion Colony was upset on its home turf by a surging Bartlett team the Knights had beaten in the regular season. The Golden Bears were powered by a four-touchdown performance by Makisi Poleo, who bludgeoned the Knights on the ground for a trio of scores and scooped up a loose ball for a long return to record his fourth.
The second shocking upset of the weekend saw seventh-seeded South Anchorage knock second-seeded Bettye Davis East out of the Division I playoffs thanks to a late goal line stand. It not only avenged a lopsided 42-14 regular-season loss for the Wolverines, it marked the first time in nearly a decade that they emerged triumphant over the Thunderbirds dating back to the 2015 season.
Elsewhere in Division I action, Service bounced back from a rough regular season finale loss to top-seeded West and earned a chance to exact revenge next weekend by dispatching Dimond for the second time this season on Friday. The Cougars forced seven turnovers of the Lynx including four interceptions and three fumbles and scored a trio of touchdowns on defense on their way to a commanding home win.
“We balled out on defense and got the job done on offense for the most part,” said Service junior Caleb Wahlman who recorded a touchdown on both sides of the ball. “We kept the ball away from them and played some Service football.”
Elsewhere at the Division II level, two-time defending champion Lathrop blew out Wasilla by more than 60 points. Eagle River beat Palmer for the second time this season to advance. Up in Fairbanks on Friday night, North Pole beat West Valley by more than 20 points.
The table for the Division III state title game this weekend was set after both of the representatives from last year’s bout were knocked out as top-seeded Kenai Central defeated defending champion Homer and second-seeded Barrow beat two-time runner-up Houston.
The first 9-man high school football season in Alaska came to a conclusion Saturday as Seward bested Nikiski for the third time this season to claim the crown. Unlike their previous two meetings, this time around, the Seahawks didn’t let the Bulldogs get on the scoreboard as they won 42-0 to complete an undefeated season.
The quarterfinals of the Cook Inlet Conference flag football postseason featured shutout victories in all but one game. Defending champion Dimond and West won comfortably over East and Bartlett, respectively. South beat Eagle River and Service defeated Chugiak.
The 2023 high school cross-country season came to a close Saturday as well with the state championship race for all three Divisions taking place at Palmer high school. There weren’t any surprises when it came to who finished first in both the team and individual Division I girls standings as Chugiak cruised to a third straight title led by Hannah Shaha and Alliyah Fields who finished first and second.
“Honestly, more than the individual win is the team, and I get to do it with all my best friends,” Shaha said.
On the boys side, Palmer’s Fischer Adams came in first after finishing 13th last year and the South boys team edged out West and Chugiak who tied for second. In Division II, Grace Christian captured their fifth straight team title led by first place finisher Robbie Annett.
“It just kind of comes full circle to be able to race state (at my) home course, win state (at my) home course,” Adams said.
The 2023 high school tennis season also wrapped up this past week with the state championship double elimination tournament. Led by a strong showing in the finals, West was able to capture its third straight title and saw five players crowned individual champions after winning the girls singles, boys doubles and girls doubles divisions.
“We’ve got great kids and work really hard at West,” head coach Bill Cotton said. “When it’s raining, we’re inside hitting it hard at the gym and practice six days a week.”
In prep volleyball action, both of the Hillside teams upset the top two seeds in the Cook Inlet Conference standings. South defeated top-seeded East in four sets last Tuesday and on Monday, Service defeated perennial power and second-seeded Dimond for the first time in more than a decade.
“I’m proud of the way we played together as a team and fought for this win,” Service head coach Austin Osborne said. “We’ve had a couple really close games not go our way this season, including the first time we played Dimond. (The Lynx) played some incredible defense and made us work for every point, and we knew going into the game that it wouldn’t be easy to come out with a win against such a strong team. I think we made some really smart decisions down the stretch, which is something we’ve talked a lot about and worked on all season.”
On the college scene, the UAA volleyball team went 1-1 for the second straight week except this time around both matches took place on the road. The Seawolves fell to Saint Martin University in four sets on Thursday and bounced back on Saturday by beating Western Oregon in five sets. The Seawolves leaders in kills over the course of the two contests were junior Bethany Tuchardt and senior outside hitter Nicole Blue who tied for the most with 22 apiece.
The UAA men’s hockey team officially opened its 2023 regular season with a two-game home series with University of Massachusetts-Lowell. The Seawolves spilt with the Riverhawks, winning the first in overtime on Saturday thanks to a game-winning goal from Anchorage’s Maximilion Helgeson. They would narrowly fall in the second game on Sunday in which the only goal they scored came from UMass-Lowell transfer Matt Allen on a third-period power-play.
The UAA men’s cross country team had a pair of runners crack the top 20 at the Lewis Crossover in Romeoville, Illinois this past Saturday. Junior Cole Nash came in 10th after covering the eight-kilometer course in a time of 24:15 and senior Michael Zapherson wasn’t far behind and came in 16th in a time of 24:27.
The Anchorage Wolverines were back in action in front of their home fans for the first time this season over the weekend as they swept the Kenai River Brown Bears in a two-game series. The first game took place in at the Ben Boeke Ice Arena and went into overtime but thanks to a pair of Alaskans, they were able to prevail after Trent Powell of Soldotna got an assist from Bryce Monrean of Anchorage to score the game winner.
“Two Alaska guys — you can’t write it up any better,” Wolverines head coach Nick Walters said.
The second game took place down in Soldotna and resulted in a shutout victory for the Wolverines. Monrean scored one of team’s three goals on Saturday.
Alaska stars shining Outside
Anchorage’s Mac Swanson continued his strong start to the USHL season by helping the Fargo Force remain undefeated by scoring the game-winning goal in a 5-4 overtime victory over the visiting Sioux City Musketeers on Saturday.
Anchorage’s Florian Wade recorded his third straight win as a goalie for the Rochester Jr. Americans after stopping 43 of 47 shots in a 5-4 overtime win over the Johnstown Tomahawks on Saturday.
North Pole’s Ainsley Smith recorded a match-high 31 assists in the University of Alaska Fairbanks volleyball team’s 3-0 sweep of Western Oregon University last Thursday. It marked the redshirt sophomore’s fourth highest single-contest total of the season thus far.
Chugiak’s Derryk Snell helped the Montana State University football team rattle off its third straight win in a 38-22 victory of Portland State University last weekend. The former Chugiak High standout led the Bobcats in both receptions and touchdowns with five catches for 26 receiving yards and a pair of scores. It marked the first touchdowns of the season for the senior tight end/fullback who now has a career combined total of 10 with eight coming as a pass catcher and the other two as a ball carrier on rushing attempts.
Last week’s results
Service 30, Dimond 6
West 49, Juneau 7
Bartlett 35, Colony 28
North Pole 46, West Valley 24
South 14, East 12
Soldotna 56, Chugiak 0
Barrow 22, Houston 18
Eagle River 49, Palmer 34
Lathrop 64, Wasilla 0
Kenai Central 21, Homer 16
Seward 42, Nikiski 0
Dimond 25, East 0
West 44, Bartlett 0
South 13, Eagle River 0
Service 15, Chugiak 6
State Cross Country Meet
At Palmer High School
Team top 5
1. Chugiak 40; 2. Juneau-Douglas 69; 3. Colony 72; 4. South 116; 5. West 148.
Individual Top 10
1. Hanna Shaha, Chugiak, 19:19.82; 2. Alliyah Fields, Chugiak, 19:26.75; 3. Morgan Ainsworth, Colony, 19:27.23; 4. Hailee Giacibble, Wasilla, 19:34.82; 5. Ida Meyer, Juneau-Douglas, 19:41.54; 6. Tania Boomstra, Soldotna, 19:55.79; 7. Ella Hopkins, Colony, 19:57.41; 8. Miyana Kam-Magruder, Service, 20:01.49; 9. Ranya Tuckwood, Juneau-Douglas, 20:02.15; 10. Etta Eller, Juneau-Douglas, 20:07.76.
Team top 5
1. South 83; 2. West 89; 3. Chugiak 89; 4. Colony 102; 5. Juneau-Douglas 104.
Individual Top 10
1. Fischer Adams, Palmer, 16:00.69; 2. Tobias Buchanan, Colony, 16:43.44; 3. Blake Hanley, West, 16:49.14; 4. Elias Litzow, Kodiak, 16:50.82; 5. Blaise Boyer, South, 16:57.30; 6. Jarrett Jackson, Dimond, 16:59.10; 7. Owen Hayes, Chugiak, 17:00.60; 8. Vebjorn Flagstad, South, 17:01.23; 9. Elias Oswald, Service, 17:03.63; 10. Edgar Vera Alverado, Juneau-Douglas, 17:04.32.
Team top 5
1. Seward 34; 2. Grace Christian 57; 3. Sitka 57; 4. Homer 109; 5. Monroe Catholic 128.
Individual Top 10
1. Clare Mullin, Sitka, 19:50.30; 2. Marina Dill, Sitka, 20:13.76; 3. Hailey Ingalls, Seward, 20:57.74; 4. Sydney Mondeel, Grace Christian, 21:07.61; 5. Tagan Rinner, Grace Christian, 21:15.74; 6. Selah Brueckner, Seward, 21:30.05; 7. Lauren Kingstrom, Nome-Beltz, 21:32.09; 8. Juniper Ingalls, Seward, 21:42.26; 9. AwaLuk Nichols, Nome-Beltz, 21:50.00; 10. Katie Vanbuskirk, Seward, 21:52.35.
Team top 5
1. Grace Christian 47; 2. Sitka 66; 3. Homer 73; 4. MCCA 111; 5. Bethel Regional 118.
Individual Top 10
1. Robbie Annett, Grace Christian, 16:39.06; 2. Gregory Fallon, Kenai Central, 16:42.24; 3. Colton Merriner, Grace Christian, 16:49.23; 4. Simon Nelson, Grace Christian, 16:54.84; 5. Connor Hitchcock, Sitka, 17:00.33; 6. Trey Demmert, Sitka, 17:14.31; 7. Rafe Caruthers, Valdez, 17:21.03; 8. Orson Hoogendorn, Nome-Beltz, 17:29.34; 9. Ned Peters, Bethel Regional, 17:31.66; 10. Preston Kopp, MCCA, 17:33.71.
Team top 5
1. Dillingham 46; 2. Kake 56; 3. Craig 74; 4. Tikigaq 82; 5. Fort Yukon 90.
Individual Top 10
1. Ourea Busk, Unalakleet, 19:38.31; 2. Taylor Eddington, Tri-Valley, 19:57.72; 3. Ariel Godinez Long, Haines, 20:40.92; 4. Pagan Lester, Newhalen, 21:57.19; 5. Adelyn McCorison, Ninilchik, 22:21.30; 6. Maria Toth, Petersburg, 22:33.31; 7. Kinley Lister, Petersburg, 23:06.24; 8. Alana Harrison, Wrangell, 23:18.46; 9. Kayla Abbott, Glennallen, 23:22.20; 10. Violet Jack, Unalakleet, 23:37.05.
Team top 5
1. Wrangell 28; 2. Cordova 72; 3. Petersburg 75; 4. Bristol Bay 101; 5. Haines 105.
Individual Top 10
1. Boomchain Loucks, Wrangell, 17:28.04; 2. Keegan Hansen, Wrangell, 18:12.65; 3. Floyd Widsoe, Cordova, 18:13.52; 4. Aulis Nelson, Craig, 18:16.61; 5. Daniel Harrison, Wrangell, 18:23.99; 6. Alex Holmgrain, Petersburg, 18:25.25; 7. Keilan Wassillie, Bristol Bay, 18:35.21; 8. Tegan Hesse, Cordova, 18:49.76; 9. Xzavier Munoz-Torres, Kake, 18:55.76; 10. Latrell Lake, Hooper Bay, 19:07.34.
State Tenns Championships
Aaron Griffin, South, def, Ulysses Escobar, Service, 6-1, 5-7, 10-6
Jude Cebrian, West, def, Ulysses Escobar, Service, 5-3, 4-1
Griffin, def, Cebrian, 6-1, withdrawal injury
Lana Cebrian, West, def, Skylar McCasland, Eagle River, 7-5, 6-1
Skylar McCasland, Eagle River, def, Marianna Zelazek, Bartlett, 5-4, 5-4
Cebrian, def, McCasland, 6-1, 6-0
Cyrus Clendaniel/Will Sedwick, West, def, Jaken & Logan Reinheller, West Valley, 6-2, 4-6, 10-4
Jaken & Logan Reinheller, West Valley, def, Elliot Welch/Brendan West, Juneau, 4-1, 5-4
Clendaniel/Sedwick, def, Reinhellers, 1st - 6-4, 7-6/ 2nd - 4-1, 1-4, 11-9
Ruth Green/Lavinia Li, West, def, Fiona Beardsley/Elodie Dahle, Lathrop, 6-1, 6-1
Chelsea Ligsay/Milina Mazon, Juneau, def, Fiona Beardsley/Elodie Dahle, Lathrop, 4-2, 4-0
Green/Li, def, Ligsay/Mazon, 1st- 7-5, 2-6, 10-8 - JNU/ 2nd -5-4, 4-2- West
Elizabeth Djajalie/Lucas Mattson, Juneau, def, Grace White/Theodore Kenna. Monroe, 6-4, 6-3
Sophia Bechtoldt/Noah Stahl - Lathrop, def, Grace White/Theodore Kenna, Monroe, 1-4, 4-1, 11-9 Match Tiebreaker
Djajalie/Mattson, def, Bechtoldt/Stahl, 6-2, 6-2
Service 3, Diamond 2 (25-15, 25-18, 22-25, 19-25, 15-13)
North Pole 3, Monroe Catholic (25-19, 25-17, 25-15)
Redington 3, Houston 1 (25-23, 25-11, 13-25, 25-19)
Kenai Central 3, Soldotna 1 (25-15, 25-19, 19-25, 25-17)
Nikiski 3, Homer 1
Chugiak 3, Eagle River 0 (25-11, 25-9, 25-21)
South 3, East 1 (25-19, 25-18, 16-25, 25-18)
Mt. Edgecumbe 3, Juneau-Douglas 0 (25-14, 25-10, 25-17)
Monroe Catholic 3, Ben Eielson 1 (25-17, 25-23, 15-25, 25-16)
Wasilla 3, Service 1 (25-16, 25-19, 19-25, 25-15)
Delta 3, Galena 0 (25-7, 25-2, 25-20)
Service 3,168; Dimond 3,155
Service (1,116) — Riffe 288, Wilts 281, Hoppe 274, Flatt 273
Dimond (1,107) — Cho 282, Sims 280, Ahrenholz 274, Caldwell 271
Service (1,056) — Nickerson 271, Oshiro 265, Gutierrez 261, Nelson 259
Dimond (1049) — Collins 266, Snyder 261, Delmendo 261, Kalt 261
Service (996) — Peterson 253, Anteau 251, Osborn 249, Ward 243
Dimond (999) — Humphries 257, Schaaper 253, Lin 251, Han Haz 238
South 3,207-99x; West 3,207-95x
South (1,123)— Anderson, C. 284, Stinson 281, Anderson, B. 280, McEwen 278.
West (1,112)— Bittner 281, Cunningham 281, Maeda 276, Larson 274.
South (1091) — Gust 278, Kincaid 278, Saugier 274, Barker 261.
West (1068) — Stam 272, Osgood 266, Wally 266, Nemeth 264.
West (1027) — Moore 263, Snelling 262, Jordet 257, Peterson 245
South (993) — Kersten 257, Eltrapolsi 254, Porter 252, Garzel 230
Eagle River 3,210; East 2,644
Eagle River (1,116-36)
Eagle River (1071-25)
Eagle River (1023-21)
Chugiak 3,007; Bartlett 1,636
Chugiak (1,103) — Cook 285, Mosteller 273, Twohy 273, Moncur 272.
Bartlett (1,021) — Stryken 274, Tovar 259, Willett 248, Moua 240.
Chugiak (1,034) — Yaniec 269, Ryan 266, Cantrell 252, McArthur 247
Bartlett (615) — Lau 239, Stapley 195, Ross 181
Chugiak (870) — Craig 233, Clements 218, Yager 211, Loughman 208
Saint Martin’s 3, UAA 1 (25-20, 22-25, 29-27, 25-11)
UAA 3, Western Oregon 2 (25-21, 22-25, 22-25, 25-17, 15-11)
UAA 3, UMass Lowell 2 (OT)
UMass Lowell 2, UAA 1
Anchorage Wolverines 3, Kenai River Brown Bears 2 (OT)
Anchorage Wolverines 3, Kenai River Brown Bears 0
Service at West, Friday at 7 p.m.
The top-seed Eagles will welcome the Cougars back to the Nest on Hillcrest for the second time in the past three weeks in the semifinal round of the Division I playoffs. The two teams faced off in the regular season finale and the West claimed the CIC conference title with a dominant 41-0 shutout of the Service at home.
South at Bartlett, Saturday at 2 p.m.
The two lowest remaining seeds who pulled off the most shocking results of the weekend will play each other for a chance to advance to Division I state title game. It will be the second time that the two teams meet this season after the Golden Bears throttles the Wolverines 48-21 during the regular season in Week 7.
Barrow vs. Kenai Central, Saturday at Service at 2 p.m.
After knocking off the two teams that made it to the Division III state title game last year, the Whalers and top-seeded Kardinals and second-seeded Whalers will face off for the third time this season with a championship on the line.
CIC Conference championship
The 2023 season will come to close this week with the final two round of the playoffs. The semifinals take place on Tuesday and the championship game to be played on Thursday. Top-seeded Dimond will host Service and second-seeded South will host West in the semifinal round for a chance to make it to title bout.
East at Dimond, Tuesday at 7:30 pm
The top two teams in the Cook Inlet Conference will face off for second time this season and the Lynx will be looking to avenge their early-season road loss to the top-seeded Thunderbirds on their home court. Both teams currently have 9-3 records against conference competition in nontournament contests so the winner of this match will take over sole possession of the top spot heading down the final stretch of the regular season.
UAA vs. Central Washington, Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Seawolves will begin the their two-week homestand with their first matchup with the Wildcats of the season. Two days later, they will be welcoming the Northwest Nazarene University Nighthawks to the Alaska Airlines Center for a Saturday night GNAC bout.
Anchorage Wolverines vs. Minnesota Wilderness, Saturday at 7 p.m.
The hometown team will be back at Ben Boeke for the second straight weekend where they will be looking to build off their sweep of the Brown Bears in a stand-alone games against their Midwest division foes.