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 final week of the 2023 Alaska high school football postseason saw the top two seeds in Division I and II prevail although neither game went as expected. On the college sports scene, the University of Alaska Anchorage volleyball team dropped two home conference matches, the UAA hockey team split two home games, and the Seawolves cross country team hosted the GNAC championship. On the national and international stage, several Alaska-born athletes had impressive showing in their respective sports and levels of competition.
Headlines and highlights
The 2023 Alaska high school football postseason came to a close this past Saturday and the Division I state championship was a surprisingly competitive game. However, in the end, top-seeded West Anchorage shut out underdog South Anchorage in the fourth quarter to finish the season unbeaten against Alaska competition and win the program’s first title since 2015. The only two losses on the Eagles record this year were a 33-26 nonconference loss to ‘Aiea in Hawaii and a forfeit to Dimond that same week as they traveled to Hawaii.
“At the beginning of the season, I said that we were a very dangerous team, and there were a lot of questions, but I feel like we answered them over the course of the year,” West senior Aaron Hampton said. “This group grinded all offseason, all summer, and all season, and we are that team.”
Earlier in the day, Soldotna capped off an undefeated season by blowing out Lathrop in the Division II state championship game. The Stars dominated the Malemutes from start to finish and led by more than 60 points before they allowed some late points after pulling their starters out of the game to let young players get some playoff action in the fourth quarter.
“We worked our tails off for 364 days, and it feels great when it all come together,” Soldotna coach Galen Brantley said. “I really felt this whole year they were very focused, and they were just on a mission to not leave any doubt on who the best team in the state is.”
The 2023 prep volleyball season is nearing a close and one of the hottest teams down the stretch has been Service. The Cougars won the 20-team Service-Dimond volleyball tournament over the weekend for the first time in 19 years. They went undefeated in pool play on Friday to make the double elimination gold bracket on Saturday, swept West Valley and Bettye Davis East to make it to the quarterfinals. After initially losing to reigning Division I state champion Dimond by two points, they rallied back and defeated the Lynx in the final game.
Kiara Iloilo and Paige Miller received all-tournament honors for Service and Dakota Evans was voted Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
“I think we showed a lot of growth and poise this weekend, especially in the championship after Dimond won the first set,” Service coach Austin Osborne said in a statement. “This team never gives up, and I’m proud of how hard they fought for the win. With just one game left in the regular season, I think we’re in a good position going into regions. We know there are a lot of good teams in our conference, so we have to fight for every win, but this group proved they’re capable of digging deep and finding a way to win.”
Prep football wasn’t the only postseason action in town this past weekend as the Great Northwest Athletic Conference college cross country championship was held in Anchorage for the first time in over 20 years since its inaugural event. For the second year in a row, University of Fairbanks’ Kendall Kramer claimed the top spot on the podium on the women’s side with a mark of 20:47 on a cold and crisp afternoon at Kincaid Park.
“I love the cold,” she said. “Obviously I’m from Fairbanks, so I feel really relaxed in the cold.”
Hosting University of Alaska Anchorage came in second on the men’s side as team thanks to Cole Nash (25:02) who managed to finish third despite battling a lingering injury and a six-place finish by Michael Zapherson (25:11).
“I knew I wasn’t 100% going into this race, so I was going to hang with (the top pack) as long as I could and score as little of points as I could for the team,” Nash said. “I feel like I did what I had to do to get out here and run for the team.”
The UAA men’s hockey team split its two-game homes series with Air Force, winning the first decisively and dropping the second in an overtime heartbreaker. In their victory on Friday night, the Seawolves were led to victory by a pair of local products as Anchorage’s Maximilion Helgeson and Aiden Westin each scored a goal in the Seawolves’ 3-1 triumph.
“You got to love it when you see Anchorage kids on the score sheets, especially at those home dates,” UAA head coach Matt Shasby said.
The UAA volleyball team dropped the final two matches in the second leg of their two-week homestand at the Alaska Airlines Center. On Thursday night, the Seawolves fell in four sets to Simon Fraser and got swept in three sets by Western Washington a couple days later on Saturday afternoon. The Seawolves were led in kills this past week by senior outside hitter Nicole Blue who eclipsed double-figures in both matches and racked up 29 combined between the two contests.
“We’ve got a great opportunity in front of us, and we talked about that, hoping to go on maybe on a little redemption tour here,” UAA head coach Stacie Meisner said. “But ultimately, it’s just, you know, taking it day by day and just getting a little bit better each day and taking it one game at a time.”
While Seawolves weren’t able to find success on the court, the Nanooks of their their sister school University of Alaska Fairbanks stayed hot and defeated perennial GNAC power Western Washington for their first win against the Vikings since 2008. They were led by junior outside hitter Karli Nielson who earned conference Offensive Player of the Week honors for averaging 3.29 kills and 1.00 service aces per set.
The Anchorage Wolverines spilt their two-game series with the Janesville Jets over the weekend, dropping the first and prevailing in the second. On Friday, they fell 4-1 with their lone goal coming from Fyodor Nikolayenya and on Saturday night, they came from behind to win a high scoring affair 8-6 and were led by the a pair of two-goal performances by Anchorage’s Bryce Monrean and Japanese forward Taisetsu Ushio.
Anchorage Biathlon coach Jean Paquet was recently named National Coach of the Year during the U.S. Biathlon’s annual awards ceremony that took place couple weeks ago. The Canadian Olympian coaches the Anchorage Biathlon Team and coached eight Alaskan biathletes that took part in the Schutzenski Festival that was held at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center where the ceremony was held. Anchorage’s Elias Watson reached the podium with a second place finish in the Sprint and came in third in the Pursuit. Anchorage’s Vanessa Wing came in third in the Pursuit on the girls side.
Anchorage’s Alexandra Fouts will be signing a full-ride four-year scholarship to play Division I women’s soccer Syracuse University this November, where she’ll be playing forward for the program starting in the 2024 season.
Alaska stars shining Outside
Anchorage’s Tyree Wilson recorded his first career strip sack on the last play of the first half in the Las Vegas Raiders’ 30-12 road loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday in Week 7 of the 2023 NFL regular season. He also matched his single-game season high for total tackles for the second week in a row by recording a solo and one assisted in 28 total defensive snaps (39 percent).
Anchorage’s Jeremy Swayman improved to 2-0 on the season as a starting goaltender for the NHL’s Boston Bruins after stopping 32-of-34 shots in the team’s 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
Anchorage’s Brooke Dexter helped lead the Simon Fraser University Red Leafs to their victory over UAA this past Thursday. The redshirt junior outside hitter and former West High standout recorded a season and match-high 18 kills against her hometown team and logged six digs and three aces as well.
Eagle River’s Vanessa Aniteye was announced as a top-30 finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year award on Monday. The Seattle Pacific University and Chugiak High alumnus won the 800-meter at the 2023 Division II NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships and finished her illustrious career as a nine-time U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-American including five first-team honors.
Soldotna’s Allie Ostrander grinded her way up the Golden Trails World Series standings after a pair of strong performances overseas on the Il Golfo Dell’Isola Trail in the Ligura region in Italy in the final of the races that feature some of the best mountain and trail runners from across the globe. The legendary Kenai Central High School star, went from being ranked 28th to 22nd after finishing seventh in last Thursday’s Prologue race by covering 5.4 miles in 43 minutes, 18.26 seconds. On Saturday she moved up to 20th in the longer race by finishing the 16.2-mile race in 2:40:38.32 to finish in 19th place. The top 20 in the standings receive free entry to all World Series races in 2024.
Region IV Swimming Championship, Thursday-Friday-Saturday at Bartlett
The 2023 postseason will get underway this week with regional action across the state and in town the Anchorage teams will be dueling it out at the Bartlett High School pool to see who can punch their ticket to the state championships down in the capital city of Juneau next week. The prelims for diving will be on Thursday, the prelims for swimming will be on Friday, and the finals for both will take place on Saturday.
Service at Chugiak, Tuesday at 7:30 pm
The regular season portion of the 2023 season will come to the a close this Tuesday ahead of regions next week and the surging Cougars will be looking to head into the postseason on a high note when they take on the Mustangs on the road in their finale. Even though Service currently ranks third in the Cook Inlet Conference standings, they’ve racked up some impressive wins as of late including over defending champion Dimond three times in the last four matchups with the first being in a full conference match and the others in abbreviated tournament play.
Monster Bash Duals/Girls Tournament
One of the biggest girls wrestling tournaments will take place this week as the 2023 regular season enters its second week of action. The two-day event will take place on Friday and Saturday is being hosted by the reigning state champion South Anchorage High School.
UAA alumni game, Saturday at Alaska Airlines Center, 7 p.m.
The Seawolves will be taking the court for the first time this weekend for an exhibition bout against some familiar faces that previously suited up for the program. The annual event will take place on Saturday night at the Alaska Airlines Center.
Anchorage Wolverines v. Wisconsin Windigo at Ben Boeke Arena, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.
The hometown junior hockey franchise will be back at Ben Beoke Ice Arena for the fourth weekend in a row where they will host another Midwest division foes for a three-game series. The first game will take place on Friday at 7 p.m., the second at the same time on Saturday night and the third will take place on Sunday at 4 p.m. This will be the two teams first time playing each other this season and Wisconsin is 2-6 in its last eight contests.
Last week’s results
Division II championship
Soldotna 64, Lathrop 14
Division I championship
West 34, South 21
Ben Eielson 3, Monroe Catholic 2 (25-19, 15-25, 22-25, 25-13, 15-11)
Delta 3, Hutchison 0 (25-23, 25-10, 25-9)
Houston 3, Grace Christian 1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-21, 25-21)
Mountain City Christian Academy 3, Redington 2 (25-10, 25-13, 15-25, 18-25, 15-13)
South 3, Chugiak 0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-13)
Service 3, West 0 (25-12, 25-19, 25-11)
Dimond 3, Bartlett 0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-21)
East 3, Eagle River 0 (26-24, 25-15, 25-14)
Redington 3, Lumen Christi 0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-19)
Petersburg 3, Haines 0 (25-10, 25-10, 25-12)
Wrangell 3, Skagway 0 (25-13, 25-13, 25-16)
White Mountain 3, Brevig Mission 0 (25-17, 25-11, 25-23)
East 3, Thunder Mountain 0 (25-13, 25-13, 25-13)
Palmer 3, Lathrop 0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-20)
Klawock 3, Petersburg 0 (25-18, 25-11, 25-17)
Mountain City Christian Academy 3, Houston 0 (25-19, 25-12, 25-23)
Wrangell 3, Craig 0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-17)
Sitka 3, Kotzebue 0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-12)
Brevig Mission 3, Tanalian 0 (25-23, 25-12, 25-15)
Service 3,255; East 2,787
Service (1,119)— Riffe 286, Flatt 283, Ward 276, Oshiro 274
East (1,001) — Orchitt 254, Sabado 253, Woolley 249, Whitson, Evelyn 246
Service (1,086) — Hoppe 274, Peterson, Ahren 271, Wilts 271, Peterson, Addyson 270
East (947) — Yim 241, Reusser 237, Whitson, Everett 249, Harstad-Bell 234
Service (1,050) — Nickerson 266, Nelson 265, Osborn 260, Gutierrez 259
East (839) – Sobrepena 225, Martin 218, Fosi 204, Dezzeeuw 192
Eagle River 3,259-98x; Dimond High 3,161-77x
Eagle River (1122-48x) - Aviana Bierl (289-17x), Wyatt McDonald (280-15x), Sadye Ryan (278-10x), Henry Greidanus (275-6x)
Dimond (1116-43x) - Rachel Cho (281-11x), Jacob Sims (279-14x), Brooke Ahrenholz (279-11x), Elly Caldwell (277-7x)
Eagle River (1090 -30x) - Luke Foger (274-8x), Richard Jr. Greidanus (273-8x), Katelyn Bell (272-9x), Chloe Bierl (271-5x)
Dimond (1066-25x) - Raine Delmendo (268-9x), Captain Kolter Kalt (266-6x), Samantha Humphries (261-5x), Shu Lin (259-3x)
Eagle River (1047-25x) - Landon Vorhes (266-9), Robert Bonis (266-8x), Rachael Floyd (258-5x), Shalea Davies (257-3x)
Dimond (979-9x) - Anthony Schaaper (258-4x), Chloee Snyder (257-2x), Ashley Duke 242-2x), O’ryon Han Haz (222-1x)
Chugiak 3,272, South 3,226
Chugiak (1143) - Cook, 283, Mosteller 285, Moncur 284, Twohy 282
South (1129) - Gust 288, Anderson 282, Kincaid 280, Saugier 279
Chugiak (1103) - Ryan 280, Schwan 278, Yaniec 278, Pavegilo 268
South (1079) - Anderson 276, McEwen 270, Kersten 268, Porter 265
Chugiak (1025) - Astle 262, Ccantrell 259, Brown 259, Moore 245
South (1018) - Eltrapolsi 262, Barker 259, Garzel 255, Chlup 242
1. Dimond 211.8
2. Chugiak 86.05
3. West 45.5
1. Miya Hattori Daquioag, Dimond 8.325; 2. Anniston Healy, Chugiak 8.05; 3. Lili Muniz, West 7.95; 4. Audrie Bowman, Dimond 7.75; 5. Kepler Bowman, Dimond 7.7
1. Kepler Bowman Dimond 7.15; 2. Miya Hattori Daquioag Dimond 7.1 (tie); 3. Abby Edwards Dimond 7.1 (tie); 4. Audrie Bowman Dimond 6.95; 5. Mollie Witt, Dimond 6.85
1. Kepler Bowman Dimond 8.35; 2. Abby Edwards Dimond 8.25; 3. Miya Hattori Daquioag Dimond 8; 4. Audrie Bowman Dimond 7.65 (tie); 5. Ashley Greckoff Dimond 7.65 (tie)
1. Kepler Bowman, Dimond 8.7 (tie); 2. Ashlyn McCubrey, Dimond 8.7 (tie); 3. Audrie Bowman, Dimond 8.375; 4. Abby Edwards, Dimond 8.35; 5. Miya Hattori Daquioag, Dimond 8.15 (tie); 6. Reese Bautista, Dimond 8.15 (tie)
1. Kepler Bowman, Dimond 31.9; 2. Miya Hattori Daquioag, Dimond 31.575; 3. Abby Edwards, Dimond 31.25; 4. Audrie Bowman, Dimond 30.725; 5. Mollie Witt, Dimond 29.45
Simon Fraser 3, UAA 1 (26-24, 16-25, 25-16, 25-22)
Western Washington 3, UAA 0 (26-24, 25-23, 25-16)
UAA 3, Air Force 1
Air Force 4, UAA 3 (OT)
Saturday at Kincaid Park
Women’s 6,000 meters
1. Western Washington 49; 2. Saint Martin’s 71; 3. Alaska Fairbanks 86; 4. Simon Fraser 103; 5. Alaska Anchorage 137; 6. Western Oregon 141; 7. Seattle Pacific 153; 8. Northwest Nazarene 184; 9. Central Washington 272; 10. MSU-Billings 273.
Men’s 8,000 meters
1. Western Washington 37; 2. Alaska Anchorage 51; 3. Simon Fraser 80; 4. Western Oregon 142; 5. Northwest Nazarene 145; 6. Central Washington 161; 7. Saint Martin’s 187; 8. Seattle Pacific 217; 9. Alaska Fairbanks 220; 10. MSU-Billings 259.
1. Kendall Kramer, Alaska Fairbanks 20:47; 2. Rosie Fordham, Alaska Fairbanks 20:56; 3. Annika Esvelt, Seattle Pacific 21:05; 4. Ashley Reeck, Western Washington 21:17; 5. Nell Baker, Alaska Anchorage 21:19; 6. Cassidy Walchak-Sloan, Saint Martin’s 21:20; 7. Ila Davis, Western Washington 21:30; 8. Alisha Saucedo, Saint Martin’s 21:41; 9. Sara Sabra, Saint Martin’s 21:43; 10. Elke Wijkmans, Saint Martin’s 21:44
1. Kevin McDermott, Western Washington 24:44; 2. Johan Correa, Central Washington 24:48; 3. Cole Nash, Alaska Anchorage 25:02; 4. Sebastian Brinkman, Simon Fraser 25:02; 5. Andrew Oslin, Western Washington 25:08; 6. Michael Zapherson, Alaska Anchorage 25:11; 7. Brody Kemble, Northwest Nazarene 25:12; 8. Isaac Cortes, Saint Martin’s 25:17; 9. Ryan Clough, Western Washington 25:22; 10. Jeret Gillingham, Western Washington 25:22
Janesville Jets 4, Anchorage Wolverines 1
Anchorage Wolverines 8, Janesville Jets 6