Alaska News

Patterson, Engel claim top high school honors

One dominated cross-country skiing and the other shined in girls basketball, track and flag football.

Scott Patterson and Keiahnna Engel each combined an incredible competitive drive with unique talents to accomplish great athletic feats in the 2009-10 school year, earning them the Anchorage Daily News Prep Athlete of the Year awards.

Engel, a junior at Dimond High, who was the Alaska Player of the Year for girls basketball, helped the Lynx to the Cook Inlet Conference flag football title and set a state record in the 100-meter hurdles.

Patterson, who skis for South High and the Alaska Winter Stars, was named the nation's Junior Nordic Skier of the Year by the U.S. Ski Team. He won three gold medals at the Junior Olympics in March and won the both the state and CIC Skimeister titles for the third straight year. He also finished 19th in the 20-kilometer pursuit at the World Junior Championships in Germany, a rare top-20 performance for the American team.

Amid all the accolades, Engel's year included one high-profile blunder that may have cost Dimond a shot at the state basketball title. Thinking her team was ahead by a point when it was actually tied, she dribbled out the final several seconds of regulation in a semifinal game against Wasilla and the Lynx lost in overtime.

Dimond coach Jim Young said it's in Engel's competitive nature to take all losses personally, but the mistake in the semifinal didn't ruin her outstanding year.

"She had a great junior year. I've always told her, let the numbers do the talking," he said.


Engel averaged a double-double for the basketball season, and her numbers at the state track championships spoke volumes about her talents and her competitive nature.

A determined Engel came to track coach Kathleen Navarre the night after she lost to Juneau-Douglas' Emily Sharp in the 100 hurdle semifinal race. Both girls had beaten the 2001 state-record time of 15.03 seconds set by Janna Schaafsma of Kenai with times of 14.92 and 14.96, but Engel had the slower time. She told Navarre she would win the finals and set a state record the next day.

"That's all right with me," was Navarre's reply.

Navarre said Engel knew she lost the race to Sharp because of a bad start, so Engel came out the next day, focused on a perfect start, and lowered the record to 14.90. Sharp finished second in 15.04.

"The race was over when it started," said Navarre.

Navarre, who also coached flag football, said Engel is great to coach despite being so talented.

She said many talented athletes think they know it all and won't listen to coaches, but Engel, while fully aware of how good she is, always knows she can get better and is always ready to take on new challengers.

In Patterson's case, challengers seem hard to come by. Patterson makes a habit of winning races by embarrassingly large margins.

At the Junior Olympics -- which featured the best high-school-aged skiers in the country -- he won one race by 86 seconds and another by 13. At the state prep championships, he won his two individual events by 72 and 65 seconds.

And in what was perhaps his most remarkable performance, Patterson lifted South to victory in the 4x5-kilometer classic relay at the Cook Inlet Conference championships when he outskied the leader by 59 seconds in the last leg, turning a 35-second deficit into a 24-second victory over Service, the team coached by Patterson's Alaska Winter Stars coach, Jan Buron.

"He's very motivated and hard working," said Buron. "All the years I coached him, I didn't see a bad day for him."

Buron has known Patterson for six years and said Patterson has always been the best, but he has always had the ability to learn things from the other skiers he trains with. He also shows amazing focus that helps him when the stakes are high.

"You can be good and not win races, but Scott can perform when not at his best and when everyone is watching," said Buron. "He can perform really well when he has to. He is capable of racing under pressure."

Patterson plans to attend the University of Vermont in the fall, where he will compete in nordic skiing. He's currently training with the U.S. Ski team's national development team in Utah, where he won a time trial Friday.

Engel is also out of town, honing her skills in Seattle by playing on the Tree of Hope club team, a nationally ranked team full of future NCAA Division I players.

Find Jeremy Peters online at or call 257-4335.

Athletes of the Year


2010 — Keiahnna Engel, Dimond; Scott Patterson, South

2009 — Anna Simmers, Anchorage Christian; Trevor Dunbar, Kodiak

2008 — Alev Kelter, Chugiak; Jordan Clarke, Bartlett

2007 — Talisa Rhea, Juneau; Jordan Clarke, Bartlett

2006 — Michaela Hutchison, Skyview; Justin Ore, Dimond

2005 — Lillian Bullock, Service; Justin Schwartzbauer, Colony

2004 — ZeeZee Young, Dimond; Jed Wade, Wasilla

2003 — Kris Smith, West; Zack Bowman, Bartlett


2002 — Kris Smith, West; Joe Chirhart, Dimond

2001 — Kikkan Randall, East; Tui Alailefaleula, Bartlett

2000 — Kikkan Randall, East; Eric Strabel, Colony

1999 — Jessica Moore, Colony; Eric Strabel, Colony

1998 — Laura Ingham, East; Brandon Drumm, Service

1997 — Annie Berdahl, Nikiski; Wilbur Hooks, Dimond

1996 — Annie Berdahl, Nikiski; Sam Hill, Nikiski

1995 — Bev Krupa, West Valley; Jeremy Teela, Service

1994 — Brit Jacobson, Chugiak; Trajan Langdon, East

1993 — Brit Jacobson, Chugiak; Trajan Langdon, East

1992 — Stacia Rustad, Kenai; Norm Rousey, Palmer

1991 — Beth Ladd, Homer; Eric Toney, West Valley


1990 — Beth Ladd, Homer; David Killpatrick, West

1989 — Gretchen Pfisterer, Dimond, Phil Engebretsen, Homer