Connecting You With AK Athletes Outside the 907

The Alaska Sports Blog is sponsored by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame and provides daily updates on local athletes outside the state. The blog was created in 2009 to fill a void of media coverage once Alaskans left the 907 area code. Former Anchorage Daily News sports editor and Alaska Press Club award winner Van Williams has been with the blog since the beginning and written more than 3,000 stories on over 500 Alaska athletes.

Follow us on Twitter: @AKsportshall, Instagram: alaska_sports_hall, and Facebook.

Click here to read more about Van Williams and the Alaska Sports Blog.

November 18, 2017

Andrew Shortridge hockey

Andrew Shortridge

For two different nights, two different college hockey teams threw everything at Quinnipiac goaltender Andrew Shortridge of Anchorage.

He turned it all aside.

Shortridge made 52 combined saves in posting back-to-back shutouts over Brown and Yale – the first Quinnipiac goalie to do that since 2015.

The sophomore netminder made 22 saves in a 5-0 win over Brown.

The next night he made 30 saves to blank Yale 3-0 in the 16th annual Heroes Hat in Hamden, Connecticut.

Shortridge ranks fifth in the ECAC with a 1.85 goals against average and fifth with a .925 save percentage.

November 17, 2017

Ruthy Hebard basketball

Ruthy Hebard

After rocking the Pac-12 last season as a freshman, Oregon’s Ruthy Hebard of Fairbanks is rolling as a sophomore.

The 6-foot-4 forward went a perfect 10-for-10 from the floor as the 10th-ranked Ducks beat No. 19 Texas A&M 83-68 in College Station, Texas.

Hebard, of West Valley High fame, finished with a season-high 24 points to go with eight rebounds and is now averaging slightly better numbers than her all-conference campaign.

Through the first three games she is averaging 15.0 points and 9.0 rebounds on .692 percent shooting.

Hebard led the Pac-12 in shooting percentage last year at .588. she averaged 14.9 points and 8.5 rebounds.

She was recently named as one of this season’s top 25 players in NCAA D1 women’s basketball by ESPN.

November 16, 2017

Kalameli Matuatia volleyball

Kalameli Matuatia

One of the biggest hitters in the NWAC earned one of the biggest individual honors.

Columbia Basin outside hitter Meli Matuatia of Kodiak received an all-star nod with her All-Eastern Region Second Team selection.

The 5-foot-9 spiker was one of three Columbia Basin players picked among the 10 all-stars.

Matuatia, of Kodiak High fame, finished second on the team with 249 kills, third with a .202 hitting percentage, fourth with 154 digs and fourth with 31 blocks.

She had a 13-match streak with double-figure kill totals, including a season-high 19 kills in a four-set win against Wenatchee.

Her most memorable match was the night she had 17 kills and 17 digs in a five-set win over Spokane.

November 15, 2017

Zoe Hickel hockey

Zoe Hickel

As a new franchise in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, the Kunlun Red Stars are looking for leadership on and off the ice.

Anchorage’s Zoe Hickel has provided both.

The 25-year-old veteran forward has provided the new franchise with points and penalty-free minutes to fuel a competitive start.

Hickel has racked up five assists in the first seven games for the Red Stars, who have won three of seven games and are tied for third in the league with 18 goals.

The former University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldog ranks second on Kunlun with five points.

She’s also one the fewest penalized players on her team, receiving only one two-minute trip to the box.

Hickel joined the CWHL after two seasons in the National Women’s Hockey League.

She was an all-star in 2016 with the Boston Pride and helped the team win the league’s inaugural Isobel Cup before being traded to the Connecticut Whale.

In 38 career games in the NWHL, she collected 9-11—20 totals.

November 14, 2017

Chad Trammell (far right) with teammates

Anchorage dentist Chad Trammell is again a champion at the World’s Toughest Mudder.

On Sunday in Las Vegas, Nev., Trammell combined with Brian Gowiski, Glenn Racz and Ryan Woods to complete 24 laps of the five-mile course and win the International Team Relay Division in 23 hours and 56 minutes. The quartet wore USA shorts and large race bibs that displayed a rendition of the American flag.

The World’s Toughest Mudder is regarded as one of the most extreme endurance events on the planet. The Las Vegas course featured desert terrain, steep hills, mud pits and 21 obstacles on each lap, including leaping off a 35-foot cliff at night and carrying a torch through chest-deep water.

In 2015, Trammell won the men’s individual event (and $10,000) by completing 95 miles in 24 hours.

This year Ryan Atkins of Caledon, Ontario, won the grand prize of $50,000 by completing 110 miles and setting a new all-time mileage record for the individual male category.

Coverage of the event will be broadcast on CBS on Dec. 23.

Meanwhile, at Saturday’s Run the Rock event near Bend, Ore., Cody Priest of Anchorage won his first attempt at the 50-mile distance. Priest, 29, held off Ryan Kaiser of Bend by 35 seconds, crossing first in 6 hours, 47 minutes and 30 seconds.

In the accompanying 50K, Anchorage’s Mariah Graham placed fourth among women in 5:17:01.

In the half marathon, Allan Spangler of Anchorage tuned up for this weekend’s North Face Championship 50-miler in San Francisco by taking runner-up in 1:37:10, just five seconds behind the victor.

– By Matias Saari, Alaska Sports Blog Contributor

Iziah Sherman-Newsome basketball

Iziah Sherman-Newsome

Now that he’s a senior, Anchorage’s Iziah Sherman-Newsome has brought a sense of urgency to the Simon Fraser University men’s basketball team.

In the first game of the year he pumped in a career-high 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting in an 87-75 win over Hawaii Hilo during the GNAC/Pac West Challenge in Bellingham, Washington.

The 6-foot-4 guard sank 3-of-4 threes and 5-of-8 free throws to help surpass his previous scoring high of 20 set last season.

Sherman-Newsome, of Bartlett High fame, also matched his career-high with 12 rebounds to complete his third career double-double with Simon Fraser of British Columbia, Canada.

He averaged 8.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 28 games as a junior.

The team has started 2-0 after winning just four games last season.

November 13, 2017

Erica Heil soccer

Erica Heil

Anchorage’s Erica Heil and the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University women’s soccer team capped a perfect showing in the California Pacific Conference with a league title.

The team didn’t just win all 10 games – eight during the regular season and two more in the postseason tournament.

The Eagles didn’t surrender a goal.

Heil, of Dimond High fame, is a pivotal piece to Embry-Riddle’s remarkable scoreless streak that actually predates conference play, going back to Sept. 12.

In all, the team is riding a 12-game shutout streak – a stretch of 1,092 minutes – and has held opponents scoreless in 16 of 19 games this season.

Heil is a sophomore starter as a midfielder/defender and plays an average of 60 minutes per game.

She played 82 minutes in the Cal Pac Conference championship game.

Embry-Riddle [17-3] will next play Saturday against Oklahoma’s University of Science and Arts in the first round of the NAIA national tournament in Prescott, Arizona.

November 12, 2017

Travante Williams basketball

Travante Williams

His playing time has been like a roller coaster, yet Travante Williams of Anchorage has managed to stay on track with his new team in Portugal.

The first-year guard for Oliveirense has averaged 10 points over the first six games and established himself as one of the team’s better scorers when given a chance to shine.

His minutes have been all over the place, increasing in each of the first three games and decreasing in each of the last three games.

Williams, of Mt. Edgecumbe High fame, scored 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting in a 97-83 win over Ovarense that moved Oliveirense into sole possession of second place at 5-1.

The 6-foot-4 swingman made two 3-pointers, grabbed two rebounds, made a steal and blocked a shot in 19 minutes.

The 24-year-old came to Portugal from Georgia, where he averaged 32 points per game for Tskaltubo and was named Forward of the Year, Import of the Year and First Team All-League.

In Portugal, his season high is 19 points as he’s logged more than 25 minutes just twice.

November 11, 2017

Allie Ostrander Cross Country Running

Allie Ostrander

Having two NCAA track champions racing on a notoriously fast cross-country course had all the makings for a course record.

Kenai’s Allie Ostrander of Boise State and San Francisco’s Charlotte Taylor didn’t disappoint.

They pushed each other the entire way before Taylor pulled away over the final kilometer to win the NCAA West Region Championships at Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle, Washington.

Taylor finished with a 6K course record of 19:14.2, with Ostrander right on her heels at 19:16.5.

At last year’s NCAA outdoor national championships, Taylor won the 10,000 meters and Ostrander won the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Ostrander, of Kenai High fame, won this race as a freshman in 2015. She sat out last year with an injury.

Her next race will be the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Nov. 18 in Louisville, Kentucky.

In 2015, Ostrander finished second at the national meet and earned All-American honors.

Jalil Abdul-Bassit basketball

Jalil Abdul-Bassit

Jalil Abdul-Bassit of Anchorage was nearly perfect from the floor as he pumped in 22 points for Albanian SK Tirana in a 79-76 win over Bulgarian Levski in Balkan League play.

The former University of Oregon standout made 9-of-11 shots, including the go-ahead 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter. He finished 3-of-5 from downtown.

The 6-foot-4 guard added three assists and three steals to earn a team-best 21 player ranking.

“I played pretty well,” he wrote on Twitter. “But most of all happy with my defense more than anything. Had three steals in the last three minutes to seal the game.”

Abdul-Bassit, of East High fame, ranks second on the team with a 17.4 scoring average in five games. His average player ranking is 14.4.

He is shooting .579 on 2-pointers, .444 on 3-pointters and .760 from the free-throw line.

He’s also averaging 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.

SK Tirana is 3-2 and in fourth place in the Balkan League.

“I’m loving the direction my team is going in right now,” he tweeted.

November 10, 2017

Sydney Dray volleyball

Sydney Dray

The Haskell Indian Nations University volleyball team is going to the conference tournament for only the second time in school history.

Dillingham’s Sydney Dray helped make it possible.

The freshman outside hitter has been a consistent scorer for the NAIA team this season as Haskell qualified for the Association of Independent Institutions tournament this weekend in Lincoln, Illinois.

Dray, of Dillingham High fame, has slammed 73 kills in 30 matches. Her season high is nine kills and twice she’s recorded a .286 hitting percentage.

The 5-foot-6 hitter also has 94 digs.

November 9, 2017

Felila Manu hockey

Felila Manu

Merrimack College women’s hockey player Felila Manu of Anchorage doesn’t miss a start, stays out of the penalty box and isn’t afraid to block shots.

Oh yeah, she’s got a little playmaker in her, too.

The junior defenseman notched the first multi-point game of her career with a pair of assists in a 5-3 win over Union in Schenectady, New York.

Manu, of East High fame, earned the primary assist on her team’s first two goals, including a power-play goal to tie the game in the second period.

In 13 games, she has posted 0-4—4 totals with 10 shots and just two penalties. She has a +1 on the year.

Manu ranks second on her team with 21 blocked shots.

Last year, she played in all 36 games and led all Merrimack defensemen in blocked shots [56] during conference play.

After playing basketball all over the world, Hydaburg’s Damen Bell-Holter is coming back to Alaska to share his experiences with the next generation of players.

The former Oral Roberts University all-star will be at Begich Middle School on Saturday for one day only.

Bell-Holter, of Ketchikan High fame, has professional experience in Italy, Finland, Turkey and with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA G-League.

In 2013, the 6-foot-9 forward participated in training camp and played in the preseason with the Boston Celtics.

Bell-Holter is currently a Nike N7 Ambassador.

November 8, 2017

Sam Tilly has come a long way from his days at Anchorage’s Dimond High School, where he failed to even qualify for its junior varsity cross country team.

On Sunday, Tilly handily won Korea’s JoongAng Seoul Marathon in a personal-best 2 hours, 30 minutes and 43 seconds. The race featured 17,000 runners.

The 31-year-old native of Rainbow Valley near Indian is confident he can go even faster.

“I think I can run a sub-2:25 with a good build-up and a competitive race,” said Tilly, who sometimes commutes to work by running and logs about 10 hours a week.

This is Tilly’s fourth year in Korea, where he teaches high school math and heads the robotics program at Chadwick International School in the city of Songdo not far from Seoul.

“Running aside, family and work life is awesome here,” said Tilly, whose family includes wife Tessa Rhyner and their two young children. “I work at an amazing school and I get to travel a lot.”

Tilly may be happy in Korea, but he still enjoys returning to Alaska each summer. His visits coincide with the Mayor’s Marathon, where he placed third in 2016 (2:32:10) and second in 2015 (2:32:48). In 2015, Tilly finished just nine seconds behind champion Paul Rottich and nearly overcame a two-minute deficit in the final five miles.

Another benefit to Tilly’s location is that he’ll be able to attend the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang next February.

“We have tickets to some of the cross country skiing races, so maybe we’ll see an Alaskan,” Tilly said.

– By Matias Saari, Alaska Sports Blog contributor

Nathan Fromm basketball

Nathan Fromm

Anchorage’s Nathan Fromm was a dunk machine in high school, but his all-around game was overshadowed.

It’s come to light in college.

The Western Wyoming Community College freshman has found different ways to score and already reached the 20-point plateau in two straight games, both times flirting with a double-double.

The 6-foot-4 starting forward collected 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a 112-51 win over Colorado Northwestern CC in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

“That game really helps my confidence because it’s a whole new level and environment, and I know I can be successful at this level,” Fromm told me.

Fromm, of Service High fame, sank 10-of-16 field goals.

“No 3s but I did have a dunk,” he said.

The game before he had 20 points and eight rebounds in a 91-83 loss to Snow College.

“I give all credit to my coach and teammates for putting me in positions to be successful,” Fromm said.

November 7, 2017

Peyton Young cross country running

Peyton Young

Freshman Peyton Young of Eagle River capped a strong freshman cross country season for Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee.

She was her team’s top runner at two races and never finished outside the top-3 in a half dozen races this year.

Young, of Eagle River High fame, also turned in her fastest 6-K time of 23:54 at the NCAA D2 Midwest Region Championships in Cedarville, Ohio.

She finished second on her team and 92nd out of 197 female finishers overall.

The week before she cracked the top-50 at the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Championships.

One of her best highlights came in late September at the Stegemoller Classic in Evansville, Indiana, where she set a 5K personal record of 19:23 to pace all Trevecca Nazarene runners.

November 6, 2017

The public is invited to visit our interactive voting page  and help select the people, moments and events to be inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2018.  Voting is open through Thursday, Nov 30, at midnight Alaska Standard Time.  Each year, Alaskans play a key role in selecting the group to be enshrined into the Hall.  The accumulative public vote is equal to one of the nine selection panel member ballots.

Key Points: 

  • Review selection process and criteria here
  • Drag and drop your choices for each category
  • One write-in one selection is allowed in each category.

 

Email the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame here with any questions.

November 5, 2017

Danielle VanOrd soccer

Danielle VanOrd

Anchorage’s Danielle VanOrd saw her seven-game point streak come to an end for the Lane Community College women’s soccer team in Eugene, Oregon.

The freshman forward was held scoreless for first time in a month as Lane suffered a 3-0 season-ending loss to Peninsula in the quarterfinals of the NWAC Championships in Tukwila, Washington.

VanOrd, of Bartlett High fame, led the team and ranks ninth in the conference with 35 points.

She bagged 13 goals and nine assists in 13 games.

During her seven-game point streak, she collected seven goals and seven assists.

Lane finished 6-1 when VanOrd scored a goal.

November 4, 2017

Anna Dalton running

Anna Dalton

Anchorage’s Anna Dalton turned in the highest finish among the Alaska contingent at the Moab Trail Marathon and Half-Marathon races in Utah.

Billed as an unforgettable voyage, the 26.2-mile marathon challenged runners with gnarly terrain featuring slickrock, canyons and caves. There is also a fixed rope section.

Dalton, of West High fame, finished the marathon with a time of 4;22:13, which was good enough for fourth place among 170 women.

She was 32nd overall among the 446 finishers and won her 20-29 age group.

Denali Strabel, of Seward High fame, finished 10th among women and 51st overall in 4:45:32. She was fourth in the 20-29 age group.

On the men’s marathon side, Eric Strabel cracked the top-20 and Chad Trammell finished inside the top-30.

Eric Strabel running

Eric Strabel

Strabel, of Colony High fame, was 19th among the 276 finishers in 4:02:03. He was seventh in the 30-39 age group.

Trammell was 29th in 4:22:16. He was 10th in the 30-39 age group.

This event is a qualifier for the Trail Marathon National Championships.

In the 13.1-mile half marathon, Anchorage’s Roger Kemppel won the 70-plus age group in 3:04:53.

Anchorage’s James Smith was 65th among the 250 finishers in 2:29:29 and Juneau’s Reuben Yost was 82nd in 2:38:03. Yost was second in the 60-69 age group.

November 3, 2017

Kamaka Hepa basketball

Kamaka Hepa

When most people think of Texas they think of football, but a tall teen from the Arctic Slope hopes to change that perception.

Four-star national recruit Kamaka Hepa of Barrow has committed to the University of Texas with hopes of getting the Big 12 team back to prominence under coach Shaka Smart.

The 6-foot-9 forward is entering his senior year and second season at Jefferson High in Portland, Oregon, after transferring from Barrow High after his sophomore year.

Hepa has won three state championships – a 6A title with Jefferson last season and two 3A championships with Barrow as an underclassman.

He also spent the last two summers playing in the famed Nike EYBL with the Portland Basketball Club.

In terms of national rankings, he is No. 44 by Scout, No. 50 by 247Sports and No. 62 by ESPN.

Hepa picked Texas over other offers from Gonzaga, Miami, Oklahoma and virtually every Pac-12 school.

“For me, it was not only the relationship that I had, but also that my family had with coach Smart and the rest of the staff as well as going on the trip to Austin,” he told scout.com.

“I had a great time, bonded with the players and I really liked the environment. So those were some of the key things and I know a lot of people don’t see the fit of me going there but after talking with coach Smart and coach [Darrin] Horn I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that I could go down there and affect that program.”

Texas advanced to the NCAA Final Four in 2003 and the Elite Eight in 2006 and 2008.

But since then the Longhorns have collected only three NCAA Tournament wins and missed the big dance all together last season.

Hepa is part of a promising recruiting class aimed at getting Texas back on track under Smart, who was hired two years ago after turning underdog VCU into a Cinderella in 2011 with a Final Four run.

“I feel like he cares about his players and that’s something really important and something that I was looking for in a program,” he said.

November 2, 2017

Nate Thompson hockey

Nate Thompson

Anchorage’s Nate Thompson recently became the third Alaska player to tally 50 career goals in the NHL.

He reached the milestone in style – with a shorthanded goal.

The 33-year-old center with the Ottawa Senators notched goal No. 50 last week in a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

He added No. 51 tonight on an empty netter to top off a 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.

Thompson, of Dimond High fame, has been especially efficient in the last six games, notching three goals and an assist as Ottawa racked up eight points to surge to second place in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division.

He has compiled 51-65—116 totals in 563 career games over 10 seasons.

Only Anchorage’s Scott Gomez [181] and Brandon Dubinsky [141] have scored more NHL goals than Thompson among the dozen skaters from Alaska to play in the league.

November 1, 2017

Eric Fan wrestling

Eric Fan

An undefeated weekend propelled Eastern Oregon University senior Eric Fan of Wasilla to Cascade Collegiate Conference Wrestler of the Week.

He was so good that no other wrestler was even nominated.

Fan, of Colony High fame, went 3-0 at the Lassen CC Duals in Susanville, California, helping lead the Mountaineers to a 3-0 record as a team.

Eastern Oregon defeated Grays Harbor 29-18, Sac City 32-13 and Umpqua CC 41-10.

Fan is ranked No. 9 nationally in NAIA at 197 pounds and pinned all three of his opponents over the weekend.

Last season, Fan won 19 matches and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NAIA Championships.

October 31, 2017

Sterling Magnuson wrestling

Sterling Magnuson

Warner Pacific College’s Sterling Magnuson of McGrath turned the page to the next chapter of her wrestling career.

Turns out it’s the same success story.

The freshman won five matches and advanced to the bronze-medal match at the annual Blue Chip Open in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Magnuson, of Mt. Edgecumbe High fame, finished fourth in the college open 191-pound class and scored 46.5 points for Warner Pacific.

The former Alaska state champion started her college career with a pin at the 3:42 mark. She followed that up with a 6-4 decision win.

She lost her third match but bounced back to pin her next two opponents, including McKayla Kerr in 2:15 in the quarterfinals.

In the third-place match, Magnuson lost to All-American Solove Naufahu by technical fall.

October 30, 2017
Paul Matyas soccer

Paul Matyas

Anchorage’s Paul Matyas has been with the Southern Oregon University men’s soccer team since 2015 when the program was started from scratch.

He wanted to be part of history and made it this weekend.

The Raiders captured their first Cascade Conference regular-season championship and earned an automatic bid in the NAIA National Tournament with a 2-1 overtime win of the Carroll Saints in Ashland, Oregon.

The Southern Oregon team features three Alaskans – Matyas and Anchorage’s Andrew DePaepe and Lucas Wagar.

Matyas, of East High fame, played all 100 minutes and took two shots in the OT win.

Andrew DePaepe soccer

Andrew DePaepe

The junior starting center midfielder leads the Raiders in minutes played [1,559] in 18 games. Last year he was second on the team in that category.

DePaepe, of South High fame, made his 15th appearance of the season in the regular-season finale.

The freshman forward came off the bench all season and collected an assist against Walla Walla for his lone point of the season.

He scored 17 goals as a senior in high school.

Lucas Wagar soccer

Lucas Wagar

Wagar, of East High fame, is a freshman midfielder. He played in one game this season.

Southern Oregon [11-6-1] will be the top seed at the upcoming CCC Tournament before making its first showing at the 30-team NAIA National Tournament, which begins Nov. 18.

October 29, 2017

Eric Schierhorn hockey

Eric Schierhorn

University of Minnesota goaltender Eric Schierhorn of Anchorage is as durable as they come.

The junior has been on the ice virtually every moment this season for the nationally ranked Gophers hockey team – minus the two minutes it played with an empty net.

The two-time Big Ten Conference Goaltender of the Year has started a school-record 83 consecutive games dating back to his freshman year.

In terms of NCAA all-time marks, the record for consecutive games started by a goalie is 104 set by Cornell’s Ben Scrivens in 2007-10. The record for consecutive games played by a goalie is 122 set by Clarkson’s Dan Murphy in 1994-98.

Schierhorn spearheaded the No. 7 Gophers weekend series of No. 9 Clarkson, turning aside 62 of 65 shots in the two games as Minnesota won 3-1 Friday and 2-1 Saturday.

He is 3-1 with a 1.75 goals-against average in his last four games.

This season he is 5-3 with a 2.13 GAA and .923 save percentage – that puts him on pace to better last year’s career-high numbers of 2.61 and .908.

Schierhorn needs two more wins to reach 50 for his career and become the 12th Minnesota goalie to reach the benchmark.