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 2,900 stories on over 500 Alaska athletes.

Follow us on Twitter @AKsportshall and Facebook.

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

October 23, 2016

Phillip Fenumiai football

Phillip Fenumiai

No matter the situation, Western Oregon University quarterback Phillip Fenumiai of Juneau goes all out on the football field.

His effort isn’t dictated by the scoreboard.

So when the Wolves trailed Humboldt State by three touchdowns in the second half he just kept playing.

In the end, Fenumiai didn’t get the win. But he gained respect with his teammates, and sometimes that is more special.

The junior quarterback had four touchdowns and compiled 445 yards of total offense in a 42-37 loss on homecoming night in Monmouth, Oregon.

“I really would trade all those stats for a win,” he told me. “That’s all I care about is getting a W.”

Fenumiai, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, completed 22-of-40 passes for 300 yards and three scores, including a 68-yarder. He also rushed 15 times for 145 yards, including a 73-yard scoring run.

“I was fortunate enough to break off some runs because the middle of the field was open and receivers did a hell of a job blocking down field,” he said. “My offensive line has really come together and is allowing time for me to make throws and create running lanes.”

He led Western Oregon on four scoring drives in the second half as the Wolves kept batting despite facing deficits of 28-9 and 42-16.

For as well as he played, Fenumiai still found faults in his game and believes he could play better.

“I missed some pretty key throws that I wish I could get back because those would have been a momentum changer,” he said. “I need to dial it in during practice and make sure I’m precise with all my throws.”

Fenumiai arrived at Western Oregon as a tight end. He moved to quarterback last year but was still a work in progress. This year he has emerged as the total package.

His completion percentage has improved from 47 to 53 in the last year and his all-purpose yardage total has increased from 951 in 11 games to 1,697 in eight games.

“I have my QB coach Trey Shimabukuro to thank for getting me where I’m at as far as developing more as a QB,” Fenumiai said. “We’ve put in hours of work, whether it’s actually getting on the field and throwing or in the film room studying, and getting to know the offense like the back of my hand.”

October 22, 2016

Conor Feckley football

Conor Feckley

University of Dubuque quarterback Conor Feckley of Anchorage saved his best for last against Buena Vista.

The junior passed for 176 of his 358 yards and two of his three touchdowns after the third quarter as he rallied the Spartans to a 45-37 victory in three overtimes during NCAA D3 football action in Storm Lake, Iowa.

His 11-yard touchdown pass in the third overtime proved to be the difference as Dubuque improved to 7-1 this season.

Feckley, of West High fame, finished 24-of-41 with three touchdowns and one interception. He has a 28-6 ratio with a 56-percent completion rate on the year.

He orchestrated a 14-play, 70-yard scoring drive at the end of fourth quarter to force overtime.

The teams exchanged field goals in the first and second overtimes before Feckley sealed the deal in the third OT.

October 21, 2016

Aaliyah Lewis soccer

Aaliyah Lewis

They are twins, so of course Aaliyah and Ariela Lewis of Anchorage do things the same way.

Like dominate college soccer.

The Alabama State University forwards each rank among the top five NCAA D1 active career scoring leaders, a historic accomplishment for one family.

Both former Dimond High players added to their totals in tonight’s 3-1 win over Mississippi Valley State during Southwestern Athletic Conference play in Montgomery, Alabama.

They got after it pretty early, too, with Ariela scoring on a pass from Aaliyah in the second minute of the game. Aaliyah netted her own goal in the 62nd minute.

In four seasons Aaliyah has accumulated 142 career points, which is No. 3 on the active career list.

She is second with 32 assists and has an outside shot at catching the leader with 36.

Aaliyah ranks fifth with 55 goals.

Ariela Lewis soccer

Ariela Lewis

In three seasons, Ariela has racked up 100 career points to rank fifth on the active career list.

She has 39 goals and 22 assists.

Ariela is averaging 1.89 points per game to rank third; Aaliyah is fifth at 1.85.

In goals per game, Ariela and Aaliyah are virtually tied at 0.73.

Together, they make up the country’s No. 1 scoring sister act in college soccer.

October 20, 2016

Kayla Sims volleyball

Kayla Sims

Kayla Sims of Anchorage sets up others as a setter of The Master’s University volleyball team.

So it figures she would give her teammates the assist when it comes to her success.

The sophomore playmaker credited her teammates for helping her win Golden State Athletic Conference Setter of the Week honors for the third time in seven weeks this year.

“I don’t get assists without my hitters putting it away,” she told me. “We have a strong offense this year.”

The Master’s ranks second in the GSAC with a .226 team hitting percentage, thanks to Sims and her league-leading 9.4 assists-per-set average.

She praised the passing game.

“Passing is very important because it determines how fast our offense is,” she said. “Passing also determines whether we can run all hitters or not.”

Sims, of South High fame, last week averaged 11.6 assists in victories against Menlo and William Jessup in helping earn individual recognition once again.

“It’s nice, but that’s not the end goal,” she said. “How the team does and our attitudes throughout the season is what matters the most.”

The Master’s is tied for second in the GSAC with an 8-2 record.

“We are playing well,” Sims said, “but we have tough competition coming up.”

Coach Allan Vince said the Alaskan can do more than just set up others and calls her own number once in a while.

“Kayla has continued to be a threat at the net, picking great routes for our hitters and attacking the court when given the chance,” he told the school’s website.

October 19, 2016

Allison Leigh volleyball

Allison Leigh

Palmer’s Allison Leigh surpassed a major milestone with the Quinnipiac University volleyball team.

The 6-foot-3 middle hitter collected a half dozen blocks in back-to-back matches for the NCAA D1 Bobcats over the weekend to push her career total to 306, the fifth most in school history.

Four times this year she has reached double figures in blocks, highlighted by a career-high 12 against Providence last month.

Leigh, of Colony High fame, isn’t just the best blocker in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, she is a player-of-the-year candidate as well.

She ranks No. 1 with 120 blocks and 1.38 blocks per set. She has 25 solo blocks – 10 more than the second highest total in the league.

Leigh ranks third in the MAAC with a hitting percentage of .306. She has crushed 179 kills with just 54 errors in 87 sets.

Quinnipiac [16-7] has an 8-2 record in the league. Last year, with an injured Leigh out of the lineup, the team lost 17 of 18.

October 18, 2016

Levi Thomet cross country running

Levi Thomet

Unlike most elite runners, Levi Thomet of Kodiak didn’t run off to college after high school.

Instead, he went to Germany and learned a new language and did some traveling.

Now he’s back in the States, ready for the cross country season with the University of Oregon.

Thomet finally made his much anticipated debut with the Ducks over the weekend at the Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, Indiana.

He didn’t disappoint either, turning in a top-30 finish against a men’s field that featured some of the top-ranked NCAA teams in the country.

Thomet, of Kodiak High fame, covered the 8K course in 24 minutes, 29.5 seconds to place 26th out of 263 runners.

“I’m really happy for Levi,” Oregon associate head coach Andy Powell told the school’s website. “That was a big performance for his first cross country race as a Duck.”

He was the second fastest freshman in the field, fourth on his team. The fourth-ranked Oregon men won the meet with 85 points.

A year ago, Thomet earned a silver medal at the World Mountain Running Championships in North Wales. He also won a 10K road race in Germany.

In high school, he was a 3-time Alaska Class 4A state cross country champion in 2014, 2013 and 2012.

October 17, 2016

Jordan Tufaga football

Jordan Tufaga

Anchorage’s Jordan Tufaga is racking up yards in a big way for the Central Washington University football team.

The freshman running back is averaging 6 yards per carry and 25 yards with each reception in his first seven games at the NCAA D2 level.

Although it’s a small sample size, the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder deserves a chance to get the ball more.

Tufaga, of Dimond High fame, carried the ball a team-high seven times for 31 yards in a 35-0 win over Western Oregon University.

He has racked up 32-193-1 totals on the ground and 4-76-1 totals in the passing game.

Caleb Holley football

Caleb Holley

The more familiar the Saskatchewan Roughriders get with Anchorage’s Caleb Holley the more he becomes an integral part of the offensive playbook.

The 25-year-old wide receiver hauled in his second touchdown, ran the ball for the second time and returned his first kickoff during a 29-11 victory over the Toronto Argonauts.

Holley, of East High fame, has 47 touches in just eight games of his rookie season in the Canadian Football League.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders won their fourth straight game.

The 6-foot-4 wideout caught a 5-yard scoring strike in the fourth quarter. He finished with 3-16-1 totals – his lowest yardage of the season. He came into the game averaging 73 per game.

Holley has posted 44-529-2 season totals with the Roughriders.

October 16, 2016

Caleb McLaren FootballIn his first game in more than a year, Caleb McLaren of Delta Junction didn’t skip a beat.

The junior quarterback provided an offensive spark for Montana State University-Northern in a 52-31 loss to No. 16 Eastern Oregon during NAIA football action in Havre, Montana.

Making his first start, McLaren accounted for 176 of total offense against one of the toughest defenses in the country.

He threw for 118 yards on 11-of-16 completions and orchestrated three scoring drives in the second half.

McLaren, of Delta High fame, transferred from the University of Minnesota Morris, where he broke a 40-year school record with a 95-yard touchdown pass play.

Allie Ostrander running

Allie Ostrander

The injury bug has bit Kenai’s Allie Ostrander, the NCAA’s top-ranked cross country runner.

The Boise State University sophomore standout will likely miss the rest of the season because of an injury, as first reported by

The All-American has not participated in each of Boise State’s first four meets, including this weekend’s Wisconsin Invitational, which is the race she won last year in her national breakout party.

Ostrander’s last race came during the Olympic Trials in July when she was the only college runner to qualify for the 5,000-meter finals, finishing eighth.

It seems like the injury bug is the only thing capable of slowing down the dominant diminutive runner.

After a fabulous freshman cross country season that saw her finish first or second in all six stars, including a runner-up showing at the NCAA Championships.

She kept it going during the indoor track and field season, where she broke the Mountain West Conference record for the 3,000 and 5,000.

However, she was forced to withdraw from the national championships during the 5,000 when she stepped off the track with a stress fracture to her tibia. She missed the outdoor season.

Ostrander, of Kenai High fame, was a three-time state cross country winner and won the 2014 Nike Cross National race. But she missed the track and field season as a senior due to tendinitis in her right hip.

When healthy, Ostrander is the runner to beat. She entered her second season with Boise State as the No. 1 ranked cross country runner in the nation by FloTrack.

October 14, 2016

Corey Cogdell-Unrein tranpshooting

Corey Cogdell-Unrein

Palmer’s Corey Cogdell-Unrein closed a productive trapshooting season with her third major medal.

The world’s third-ranked shotgun shooter overcame a string of uncharacteristic misses to win the bronze at the ISSF World Cup today in Rome, Italy.

Cogdell-Unrein beat Lebanon’s Ray Bassil by a 12-10 score to claim a spot on the podium.

The two-time Olympic bronze medalist overcame a string of three straight misses in the bronze-medal match, but her opponent missed three straight in the final five targets to give Cogdell-Unrein the win.

The 30-year-old Alaskan advanced to the bronze-medal final by defeating world No. 1 Catherine Skinner of Australia in a shootoff.

The bronze is Cogdell-Unrein’s first podium finish at a World Cup Final.

In addition to her two Olympic bronze medals from 2008 and 2016, she had won a total of seven World Cup medals, including two golds, two silvers and three bronzes.

October 13, 2016

Brandon Pili football

Brandon Pili

Brandon Pili of Anchorage has improved many aspects of his game on the football field, and major colleges are taking notice.

The senior defensive lineman has received recent scholarship offers from Colorado, Southern Cal and Central Florida to go along with standing offers from Hawaii and Oregon State.

“I do not have a leading contender,” he told me. “I’m still doing research on all schools that have offered and showing interest.”

Pili, of Dimond High fame, transferred to Westview in Portland, Oregon this season in attempt to gain more national exposure. It worked beautifully as offers started to pour in after his first game.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder is a beast of a run stopper on defense. Some schools, including Washington, expressed interest but wanted him to move to the offensive line.

“I’m trying to play defense in college because offensive line really isn’t my thing,” he said.

In terms of his development on the field, Pili said his biggest improved has been his ability to read plays.

Yet he admits he’s still a work in progress.

“I need to get faster, stronger and in better shape,” he said.

October 12, 2016

Conor Feckley football

Conor Feckley

Anchorage’s Conor Feckley is making a case for the Gagliardi Trophy – the NCAA D3 football version of the Heisman.

The University of Dubuque quarterback has guided his team to a 6-0 start while putting up some of the best numbers in the country.

The junior signal caller ranks third nationally with 23 touchdown passes and his 1,966 passing yards rank fifth nationally.

Feckley, of West High fame, has a 152.1 passer efficiency.

In the season opener, he passed for eight touchdowns and a school-record 634 yards – the fifth highest total in D3 history.

He owns a 23-4 TD-to-INT ratio for the season.

The Gagliardi Trophy was created in 1993 and former Dubuque wide receiver Michael Zweifel won the award in 2011.

October 11, 2016

Lorrie Clifford

Lorrie Clifford

Six weeks after a vicious vehicle accident left her with major spinal cord injuries, Lorrie Clifford of Eagle River in working hard in physical training to get back to life.

Once an athlete, always an athlete, and her drive, discipline and desire that made her special on the athletic field is showing up when she needs it most.

The 25-year-old Team USA women’s rugby player and former college basketball standout is pushing the limit in her recovery at a long-term treatment center in Denver, Colorado.

“She usually gets on a regular tilt table to help her body get used to being upright again and getting some weight on her legs while trying to keep her blood pressure stable,” her mother Julia wrote on Clifford’s GoFundMe page.

“This tilt table is combined with the electric stimulation to get her legs moving.”

The Craig Hospital is exclusively dedicated to the specialty rehabilitation and research for patients with spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury.

Clifford, of Chugiak High fame, fractured two vertebrae and suffered other spinal injuries after a car accident in mid-August in Honolulu, Hawaii, that put her in the Intensive Care Unit.

An all-around athlete known for her toughness and tenacity, Clifford was the first Alaskan named to the Women’s Eagles 7s rugby team in 2013 after a stellar four-year basketball career at Western Oregon University.

In high school, she was an all-state basketball and all-conference flag football player.

She works just as hard in rehab as she did on the sports field.

“Every day our girl works harder to meet her goals,” Julia wrote. “She loves the [functional electrical stimulation] bike and pushes herself to do better. Her right arm gets stronger all the time. The left one is trying to catch up.”

Clifford has other family and friends at her side.

“They help keep Lorrie’s spirits high,” her mom wrote. “She has had visitors every weekend and that brings a lot of support too.”

In the last month, Clifford’s GoFundMe page has raised close to $42,000.

“Thanks for all your continued support posts and prayers,” her mom wrote. “It all keeps Lorrie strong.”

October 10, 2016

Damen Bell-Holter basketball

Damen Bell-Holter

Get out of the way when Hydaburg’s Damen Bell-Holter is about to dunk the basketball.

Or risk getting posterized.

Some defenders in Italy have learned the hard way.

Bell-Holter, of Ketchikan High fame, has made a big splash with his new team.

The 6-foot-9 forward just missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds in Agrigento’s 73-56 win over Agropoli in the country’s second division.

He also blocked three shots in 23 minutes on the court.

October 9, 2016

Jordan Smelker hockey

Jordan Smelker

Anchorage’s Jordan Smelker assisted on the would-be winning goal in the second period as the Boston Pride beat the New York Riveters 6-3 in NWHL play in Buffalo, New York.

The 5-foot-8 forward set up Brianna Decker’s second goal to give Boston a 4-1 lead.

It was Smelker’s 20th career point with the Pride.

Smelker, of Service High fame, has posted 9-11-20 totals in 19 career games.

Fellow Anchorage skater Zoe Hickel also earned an assist in the win for her first point of the season.

The 5-foot-6 forward has posted 3-4-7 totals in 17 career games.

Both Alaskans were part of last season’s Isobel Cup championship for Boston in the inaugural season of the NWHL.

Jonah Theisen cross country running

Jonah Theisen

Jonah Theisen of Kenai was the top runner for the top team at the Yellowjacket Open in Billings, Montana.

The sophomore clocked a 4-mile time of 19 minutes, 44 seconds in the men’s race to place second out of 59 finishers. He was 14 seconds off the winning clip.

Theisen, of Kenai High fame, led No. 14 Black Hills State to the team win with 30 points – nearly half of runner-up University of Mary [59].

Six of his 11 career starts in college have ended with a top-10 finish.

October 8, 2016

Phillip Fenumiai football

Phillip Fenumiai

Juneau’s Phillip Fenumiai today accounted for his 21st career touchdown with the Western Oregon University football team in a 33-7 win over Simon Fraser in Monmouth, Oregon.

The junior starting quarterback tossed a 27-yard scoring pass in the first quarter, his seventh of the season. He also surpassed the 1,000-yard mark.

The converted tight end moved under center last season and combined for 15 touchdowns – eight through the air, four on the ground.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder caught a pair of scoring passes as a freshman.

Kelsey Griffin basketball

Kelsey Griffin

Her shot was a little off, but Kelsey Griffin of Eagle River found other ways to help the Bendigo Sprit open the season with a win.

The 29-year-old forward contributed 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists, a steal and a blocked shot in a 77-63 victory over the Adelaide Lightning in Australia’s WNBL.

She made just 4-of-11 shots from the field and 1-of-4 from the foul line – uncharacteristic numbers for a 50-percent career shooter.

Her jumper with 2:03 left in overtime provided a 73-63 cushion.

Griffin, of Chugiak High fame, is entering her fifth season with the Spirit.

In 2013 and 2014 she led Bendigo to the league championship and was twice named grand finals MVP.

In 2015 she got back to the finals and won the league’s defensive player of the year award.

Last year she was named all-league first team for the second straight year after averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds before a hamstring injury cut her season short. Bendigo missed the playoffs.

In 102 career WNBL games, Griffin has amassed 1,417 points, 827 rebounds, 151 assists, 137 steals and 79 blocked shots.

October 7, 2016

Holly Morehouse volleyball

Holly Morehouse

One of the hottest stretches of her Carroll College volleyball career has Anchorage’s Holly Morehouse among the league leaders in attack percentage.

The junior right-side hitter ranks fifth in the NAIA Frontier Conference with a .282 hitting percentage and 2.9 kills per set.

Morehouse, of South High fame, hit .529, .412 and .407 in three consecutive victories for Carroll College of Billings, Montana.

Her season high is .632.

The 6-footer has compiled 221 kills in 77 sets, which is the third most in the Frontier Conference.

Carroll College [16-4] leads the league with a 5-1 record.

October 6, 2016

Holly Brehmer soccer

Holly Brehmer

She arrived in Sillwater as an unknown walk-on, but Eagle River’s Holly Brehmer has created quite the reputation with the Oklahoma State University women’s soccer team.

The junior forward is known for providing an instant spark coming off the bench.

Coach Colin Carmichael even has a name for it.

“Every time she comes off the bench, Colin will say ‘Do your Holly thing,’ which basically means score in three minutes,” Oklahoma State’s Tori Ruszkowski told the school’s website. “She follows through and makes the most of situations, which is why I think she has the ability to be a leading scorer for us.”

Brehmer, of Chugiak High fame, has scored a goal and added two assists in 13 games.

The former Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year has emerged from a mystery player to a proven commodity.

“Through Holly’s hard work and dedication, she’s gone from a kid who just got a few minutes here and there to being a contributing player,” Carmichael said. “Hopefully her goal for moving into next season is to compete for a starting position. If she continues on that right path, she could be in line to possibly go from being a contributing player to a starting player.”

Brehmer has bagged four goals on just 12 career shots on net.

“Holly has a way of making an impact whenever she comes on the field,” said Ruszkowski.

October 5, 2016

Ryan Perdue football

Ryan Perdue

Mendocino College wide receiver Ryan Perdue of Fairbanks hauled in his first touchdown catch in college.

The freshman caught a 12-yard scoring strike in the first quarter of a 35-20 loss to Los Medanos.

Perdue, of Lathrop High fame, has posted 12-195-1 totals in five games.

His longest catches this season went for 46 and 34 yards.

Kayla Sims volleyball

Kayla Sims

Kayla Sims of Anchorage is proving to be the best setter in the Golden State Athletic Conference.

The sophomore at The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, California, has earned conference setter-of-the-week honors for the second time this season.

Sims, of South High fame, collected 90 total assists and averaged nine sets per set in a pair of GSAC wins over its conference opponents against Life Pacific and Hope International.

The 5-foot-11 playmaker leads the conference with 680 assists and 9.2 per set.

The Master’s improved to 14-5 overall, 6-1 in league.

Sims tallied 27 assists in a sweep of Life Pacific and then posted 45 assists in a five-set thriller over Hope International.

This was her seventh career match with 40-plus assists. Her season high is 50, set earlier this season.

Sims also racked up 42 serving aces, which ranks 12th in NAIA.

October 4, 2016

Brad Oleson basketball

Brad Oleson

North Pole’s Brad Oleson kicked off his 13th professional basketball in grand fashion.

The 33-year-old starting guard scored 10 points in 29 minutes as Barcelona beat Manresa 56-50 in a low-scoring affair to open league play.

He added three assists, two rebounds and a blocked shot.

Oleson, of North Pole High fame, is in his fifth season with Barcelona, a perennial power in La Liga.

Last season the 6-foot-3 combo guard averaged 5.2 points and just 15.4 minutes per game in mostly reserve duty.

His 3-point shooting percentage was .442 – tops on the team.

Barcelona advanced to the Spanish League Finals last year but lost to arch rival Real Madrid.

Oleson competes for minutes in the backcourt against guys that have NBA experience, were drafted by the NBA or played big-time NCAA D1 basketball.

When the Alaskan arrived in Spain in 2006 he was a virtual nobody out of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His only professional experience was a season with Dodge City of the United States Basketball League, which no longer exists.

But Oleson made a name for himself in Spain.

He started in the country’s second division with Rosalia before being promoted to the premier league with Caja Laboral.

In 2010, he led underdog Caja Laboral to a surprising sweep of Barcelona in the league finals. A few years later, Barcelona traded for Oleson and together they won a championship in 2014.

October 2, 2016

Audrey Michaelson cross country running

Audrey Michaelson

Loyola University Chicago senior Audrey Michaelson of Palmer clocked a season-best 5-kilometer time during the women’s open race at the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Indiana.

She finished 50th out of 96 finishers with a time of 19:04.

Two weeks earlier, Michaelson finished 10th out of 95 women in a 5-miler.