The Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) announced the Class of 2023 of the Alaska High School Hall of Fame on March 10. Among the 11 individuals who will be inducted during a ceremony at 2 p.m. on May 7 at the Lakefront Hotel will be former Kenai Central legendary distance runner Allie Ostrander.
The Hall was established to identify and permanently honor individuals who displayed “high ethical standards and integrity while achieving excellence in high school athletics and activities. It also recognizes those who, “have distinguished themselves by virtue of exemplary contributions to the advancement of interscholastic athletics and activities,” from all around the Last Frontier.
Categories include students who participated in athletics, fine art and academic activities as well as contributors who served as coaches, advisors, directors, administrators, officials and adjudicators. Former students must have graduated at least five years to be eligible for induction.
Ostrander graduated in 2015 and during her time as a Kardinal, she won the Nike Cross National Championship as a senior, 10 state titles over four years, was named Gatorade Player of the Year four times, set four school records in track and claimed six titles in the Mount Marathon race.
“Allie is a perfectionist, determined to be the best at everything she does and has done,” said veteran coach Stacia Rugstad in a statement. “Allie was kind and supportive to all her teammates, she was a complete competitor and made her teammates around her better.”
Brandon Drumm graduated from Service in 1998 after a stellar football career where he rushed for nearly 4,000 yards as a junior and senior and led the Cougars to an 11-0 record and a First National Bowl title in 1997. He ran for a state single-game record 368 yards and nine touchdowns in a game against Juneau in 1996, was named the state player and Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior, and Sports Illustrated included him as one of Alaska’s 50 greatest sports figures in 1999. He starred collegiately at the University of Colorado and was selected in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.
Joshua Gemmell graduated from Soldotna in 2001 and as a senior he won all four of his events – 100-yard freestyle and breaststroke and two relays – at 2000 state championships where he set a new state record, broke three school records and helped the Stars come in second in the final team standings. He also contributed a pair of individual titles the year before as a junior and competed collegiately at Arizona State University.
“An outstanding person and a great leader in and out of the pool,” former Soldotna coach Sohail Marey said in a statement. “As a high school swimmer, he was always a star.”
Izabelle Ith graduated from Petersburg in 2017 after she starred in academics and athletics. She won four state titles in track and field in the 100-meter hurdles and triple and two in both the 300 hurdles and long jump and was her school’s first Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior. In the classroom, Ith was her senior class’ valedictorian and a three-year National Honor Society member.
“On the track at the long-jump pit, an official nicknamed Izabelle the ‘Rocket Girl,’ and rocket she did,” former Petersburg coach Brad Taylor said in a statement. “There has been no athlete I’ve coached the last 40 years that’s worked harder or dedicated themselves more than Izabelle.”
Armand Ruffin graduated from Chugiak in 1987 and during his time as a Mustang, he was a three-sport star that excelled in football, basketball and track and field. He earned all-state honors in all three sports and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year after he helped lead the Mustangs to a track state championship as a senior.
“Armand was undoubtedly the best overall athlete to ever wear a Chugiak Mustangs uniform,” coach Tom Huffer Sr. said in a statement.
Milo Griffin coached five sports between three schools and was a lynchpin in the Fairbanks community for more than six decades after a legendary career as a player at the University of Alaska Fairbanks from 1966-69.
“Milo has made a lasting impact on Alaska athletes both on and off the field and court,” Regis University women’s basketball assistant coach Jessie Craig said in a statement. “One would be hard-pressed to find an athlete in Alaska during all these years who hasn’t been impacted by him.”
Bob Rychnovsky coached basketball at Newhalen for more than four decades and during his time there he made an indwelling impact on numerous generations of students. On the court, he coached the 2012 boys team to a state title and had mad it to the state finals four other times in which the Malamutes finished second.
“Bob’s 44-year commitment to Newhalen School and the communities of Newhalen and Iliamna is exemplary and allowed him to assume an enormous level of trust and respect by generations of Newhalen students,” University of Alaska administrator and dean, Steve Atwater said in a statement.
Stacey Wayne coached drama, debate and forensics at Sitka for a quarter century starting in 1987 and over the course of her tenure she built a powerhouse program that yielded more than 40 individual and team state titles and received coach of the year honors in 2010.
“(Wayne’s) dedication to the Drama, Debate, & Forensics activity is evident in the lasting legacy she built and the impact she had on all her students,” current Sitka DDF coach Christian Litten said. “She engaged in a way I hadn’t known other teachers to do and helped push me to be a strong actor and public speaker when I was a student.”
Lifetime Achievement Inductee
Rus Schreckenghost was an athlete, administrator, activity Sponsor, and athletic coach who spent time with both Alaska Schools Activities Association and Dimond. He had a standout high school and college career; coached coached basketball, cross country and track and field; taught math and is currently an associate director for ASAA.
“Schreck and (Alaska) high school sports really are synonymous,” Mary (Pearce) Ahonen, a 2002 Dimond High graduate and decorated athlete, said in a statement. “Our state and our high schools would not be the same without him. I’m proud to call him a mentor.”
Officials Category Inductee
Harold Wilson began officiating in 1978 after he retired from the Air Force has worked as the president and member at large of the Anchorage Sports Officials Association while still serving as an official. As a volunteer, he has helped secure sponsors and organize hospitality for ASAA’s March Madness Alaska and been a Special Olympics Alaska advocate as well.
“Harold’s positivity and zest for life have made others always want to work beside him,” said Don Winchester, one of the state’s top sports historians, in a statement. “His passion for the profession and for helping our youth has been evident all these years.”
Major Contributor Inductee
Bill Stoltze is a retired Alaska State Legislator who helped improve the conditions of athletic fields and faculties all over the state. Thanks to his leadership, artificial turf fields started getting installed in Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and Southeast. He also found avenues to help sports officials, championed the “Play for Keeps, Win for Life” educational program, and helped make the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Alaska Airlines Center come fruition.
“(Stoltze’s) vision and support have been instrumental in keeping youth and student sports and activities thriving in Alaska,” retired ASAA executive director Gary Matthews said in a statement.