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 3,500 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.

July 20, 2018

Allie Ostrander track running

Allie Ostrander

Boise State University runner Allie Ostrander of Kenai could build her own trophy case with all of medals, trophies and awards she collected during this season.

She competed in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track and captured one NCAA championship, five First Team All-American honors and Female Athlete of the Year recognition for BSU and the Mountain West Conference.

“It’s a great honor for Allie, and we’re excited for her to be recognized as the best athlete in the Mountain West,” Boise State track and field head coach Corey Ihmels said in a press release.

“Her success this year shows her effort to stay healthy and compete at a really high level for all three seasons. It’s not something that is easily done, and she works really hard to get to the highest level in all three disciplines. She continues to raise the bar for the cross country and track and field programs.”

Ostrander, of Kenai High fame, was one of just six athletes in the entire country to earn five first-team All-America honors.

In the fall, Ostrander led Boise State to its highest finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, with the Broncos finishing sixth as a team. Ostrander finished fourth individually and was named the NCAA Elite 90 Award winner – given to the athlete with the highest GPA at all 90 NCAA Championship sites.

She followed that performance with an exceptional indoor season, despite racing in only three meets. In her first season of indoor track and field since 2015-16, Ostrander would earn two All-America honors – in the distance medley relay and 3,000 meters.

Entering the outdoor season with the pressure of being a defending national champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Ostrander met those lofty expectations, becoming just the second woman in NCAA history to win back-to-back steeplechase titles.

Her time of 9:39.28 was more than six seconds ahead of second place, as she became the first underclassman to win back-to-back steeplechase titles, An hour and a half later, she was back on the track in the final of the 5,000 meters, where she took eighth in 15:46.5.

Ostrander’s efforts during the outdoor season earned her Mountain West Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Student-Athlete of the Year honors, as voted on by the league’s coaches – making her the first women’s athlete in conference history to win the award in back-to-back years.

She also continued her academic success, becoming the first Bronco to make the Google Cloud Academic All-America First Team in the sport of cross country and track and field.

July 19, 2018

Corey Cogdell-Unrein trapshooting

Corey Cogdell-Unrein

Eagle River trapshooter Corey Cogdell-Unrein teamed with California’s Jake Wallace to lift Team USA to a gold medal at the final ISSF World Cup of the season in Tucson, Arizona.

It was the second medal in trap mixed team competition this month for the three-time Olympian from Alaska.

Cogdell-Unrein and Wallace, who qualified in second place, beat top qualifiers Melanie Couzy and Sebastien Guerrero of France in the final.

Cogdell-Unrein and Wallace scored 43 points to beat the French duo by one.

Trap mixed team, which has teams of one man and one woman alternate in shooting five targets each, will make its Olympic debut in 2020.

Earlier this month at the first-ever trap mixed team tryout at Fort Carson, Colorado, Cogdell-Unrein Wallace finished won the silver after beating out 32 other teams.

They will represent the U.S. at the world championship in September in South Korea.

July 18, 2018

Austin Vanderford mixed martial arts

Austin Vanderford

Austin Vanderford’s extensive background as a champion wrestler paved the way for the 28-year-old from Ninilchik to win his fifth straight pro mixed-martial arts fight.

The former NAIA national champion and two-time state champion earned his second consecutive win via rear-naked chokehold as he got Angelo Trevino to tap midway through the second period.

The fight came was part of the Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.

Vanderford, of Ninilchik High fame, is a 5-foot-11, 170-pound welterweight.

He currently trains with Grace Barra Portland in Oregon.

July 17, 2018

Carlos Boozer basketball

Carlos Boozer

Juneau’s Carlos Boozer had the best rebounding performance of the season in the BIG3 pro basketball summer tour.

The 6-foot-9 former NBA all-star and Duke University All-American with the Ghose Ballers grabbed a league-best 16 boards in a 50-45 loss to Power in Week 4, the halfway point of the regular season.

Eight times this year a BIG3 player has reached double digits in rebounds and three of them have come from Boozer.

He is tied with Reggie Evans for the league lead with 46 rebounds.

Boozer, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, also leads the BIG3 with 27 field goals and ranks fourth with 69 points.

Despite having a one of the best post players in the world, the Ghost Ballers are 0-4 and in jeopardy of missing the playoffs.

July 16, 2018

Ariela Lewis soccer

Ariela Lewis

With her team nursing a 1-0 lead in the second half, Anchorage’s Ariela Lewis struck twice to push the Seattle Stars over the top and into the Northwest Premier League championship match.

The former Alabama State University star scored goals in each of the 73rd and 78th minute to highlight a 5-0 victory over the Washington Premier FC in Tukwila, Washington.

Seattle has won all eight matches this season.

The Stars advanced to their second straight NWPL Final against the Washington Timbers in a rematch of last year’s title match. The Timbers beat Capital FC 5-1 in the other semifinal.

Lewis, of Dimond High fame, is a rookie forward in the elite adult women’s league, which features a bunch of former NCAA D1 players like Lewis.

She finished second in the regular season with six goals.

The NWPL Final is Saturday in Kent, Washington.

July 15, 2018

Rocky Klever football

Rocky Klever

He hasn’t played football for the Grizzlies since 1981, but the University of Montana will never forget Rocky Klever of Anchorage.

The former all-time leading rusher was inducted into the Montana Football Hall of Fame, two years after he was named to the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame.

Klever, of West High fame, was the first Alaskan to play in the NFL when he took the field for the New York Jets in 1983.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder racked up 2,228 yards, which was the school record for 30 years until another Alaskan broke it.

He currently ranks No. 5 in career rushing yards and No. 10 in career touchdowns (17).

Klever is the only player in school history to receive the Terry Dillon Award (outstanding back/receiver) three times (1978, 1979 and 1981).

He played both running back and quarterback.

His senior season he rushed for a team-high 783 yards for the 7-3 Grizzlies and was selected the team’s Steve Carlson Award (MVP) winner.

In 1982, the New York Jets drafted Klever in the ninth round. He played tight end.

The five-year veteran played 65 games in the NFL and compiled 46 receptions for 514 yards and three touchdowns.

July 14, 2018

Eddie Lewis softball

Eddie Lewis

Eddie Lewis of Anchorage has accomplished a lot of firsts for Alaska tennis lately.

He’s likely the first Alaskan to play on the International Tennis Federation tour and now he’s the first to play in the ITF’s new Futures event on the clay in Morocco.

The 23-year-old dropped a 6-1, 6-2 decision to former ATP veteran and local legend Anas Fatter in the qualifying draw.

It probably felt like a Davis Cup road match, with the entire crowd rooting against the Alaskan.

That’s a tough spot for any player.

Lewis, of South High fame, has played in nine ITF events this season, mostly in Florida, where he was the No. 1 player at Eckert College.

This was his second international tournament, with the first one coming last November in Monterrey, Mexico.

July 13, 2018

Jonny Homza baseball

Jonny Homza

First came thunder from Jonny Homza’s bat. Then came lightning.

The Anchorage 19-year-old crushed his first home run of his professional career with the San Diego Padres rookie-level team in the Arizona League.

His two-run bomb came in the first inning of a 12-1 win over the Mariners in a game shortened to five innings because of lightning.

Homza, of South High fame, was a fifth-round draft pick of San Diego last year and this is his second season. He played with AZL Padres 1 last year; this year it’s AZL Padres 2.

He hit No. 3 in the lineup and finished 1-for-3 with a walk to help raise his on-base percentage to a career-high .368 in 15 games. Last year it was .304 in 52 games.

Homza got the night off behind the plate. The infielder-turned-catcher has thrown out six baserunners in six games at catcher.

He has a 1.000 fielding percentage in three games at third base.

Homza is one of just two Alaskans currently playing pro ball in the minor leagues.

July 12, 2018

– By Matias Saari;  Alaska Sports Blog Contributor

Alaska’s iconic backcountry footrace is now managed by Healthy Futures, the signature program of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.  Proceeds from the event now go toward supporting Healthy Futures work  in empowering Alaska’s youth to build the habit of daily physical activity.  Visit the new Crow Pass Crossing website at www.crowpasscrossing.com

When: The 34th Annual Crow Pass Crossing is Saturday July 28, 9 a.m.

Where: Crow Pass Trailhead to Eagle River Nature Center, 22.5 miles

In 1984, the Crow Pass Crossing began as a “28”-mile adventure from above Girdwood to the Eagle River Nature Center. Since then, the event has “shrunk” to its accurate length of about 22.5 miles. It has also grown in stature as an iconic Alaskan footrace replete with stunning mountain and glacier views (if you dare look up from the highly technical trail), sloping snowfields, chest-high brush, a crossing of the frigid and fast-moving Eagle River, wildlife including bears, bees and moose, and countless rocks and roots that make staying upright a constant challenge. Hikers typically require two or more days to traverse the trail. The fastest Crow Pass racers now take less than three hours, though anyone finishing in under six hours gains immense satisfaction and respect as a Crow Pass Crossing finisher.

Contact Race Director Matias Saari at  matias@healthyfuturesak.org or 907-529-4178

July 11, 2018

Colter Lasher basketball

Colter Lasher

Colter Lasher of Anchorage notched his seventh game of the season with a player ranking of 25 or better in the State Basketball League in Australia.

No surprise the Geraldton Bucs are undefeated when that happens.

The 6-foot-7 rookie has put together an all-star campaign for Geraldton, which has posted four straight wins to surge into first place in the SBL with an 18-3 record.

Lasher, of Dimond High fame, leads the team in points (21.5) and rebounds (8.1) per game.

His best game over the weekend came in a 109-104 win over Cockburn when he collected 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

July 10, 2018

Bentiu Panoam basketball

Bentiu Panoam

If personal relationships drive college recruiting, then the camaraderie Anchorage’s Bentiu Panoam built with the coaches at the University of North Dakota basically chauffeured him to the NCAA D1 school.

They didn’t charm him as much as show love, loyalty and trust.

“North Dakota kept it real with me,” Panoam told me. “I talked to Coach Grabowski one day and the next day he flew out to see me. That surprised me. He was that serious in getting to know me and seeing me play in person.

“Then two weeks later they flew me up on a visit. I met with the rest of the coaching staff Coach Jones and Coach Craig and same with them; kept it upfront with me and it was all good vibes.”

Panoam, of Bartlett High fame, will transfer to North Dakota as it enters a new era in the Summit League, leaving the Big Sky Conference.

The 6-foot-1 guard will join a Fighting Hawks program after just one season at Northwest Kansas Tech of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

He averaged 10.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 30 games, playing his best basketball in the second half of the season when he notched double figures in 15 of the final 17 games.

“My coaches told me I need to get more aggressive. That gave me confidence, and from there my season kept going up and I finished strong,” Panoam said. “Having that level of trust with my coaches was huge.”

The Alaskan had his two highest scoring efforts of 20 and 25 points in the final two games of the season, thanks to a combined 7-for-12 shooting from 3-point land.

Panoam’s long-range shooting buoyed his second-half scoring surge as he shot .348 (16-for-46) in the first 13 games and .500 (33-for-6) in the final 17 games.

His shooting totals were .476/.462/.709 on the season.

“Hats off to my teammates and coaches this year for trusting me,” he said.

Panoam had another season of eligibility left at Northwest Kansas Tech. He could have stayed at the JC level and put up impressive numbers to maybe attract offers from big schools from more prominent power conferences.

But he believes he found a home at North Dakota.

“The program has so much history. Like I didn’t know Phil Jackson went to North Dakota back in the day,” Panoam said. “They still have their old gym with cement floors and another gym was from 1913. It was crazy that it’s still there.

“The history got me, but the relationship I built with the coaches and players over my visit was big time for me.”

July 8, 2018

Carlos Boozer basketball

Carlos Boozer

He might be older, but Juneau’s Carlos Boozer is still a beast in the post.

The 6-foot-9 forward collected his second double-double in his third game with the Ghost Ballers of the BIG3 pro basketball summer tour.

The 13-year NBA veteran scored a team-high 17 points on a game-high eight field goals to go with a game-high 11 rebounds. His team lost 50-40 to the Ball Hogs.

After three weeks, the Alaska Sports Hall of Famer leads the BIG3 with 27 rebounds and is fourth with 54 points.

Ghost Ballers are 0-3, one of two winless teams in the 8-team BIG3. The team includes Mike Bibby, Ricky Davis, Marcus Banks and is coached by George ‘Iceman’ Gervin.

They will play Power (2-1) in Week 4. That team features Corey Maggette, ‘Big Baby’ Glen Davis, ‘Birdman’ Chris Anderson and is coached by Nancy Lieberman.

The game is a rematch of last year’s BIG3 third-place game won by the Ghost Ballers in the league’s inaugural season.

July 7, 2018

Dylan Baker baseball

Dylan Baker

They say getting the final out in a professional baseball game is the toughest.

Sometimes pitchers make life harder on themselves, but if they throw a 95-mph fastball like Juneau’s Dylan Baker, then mistakes can be erased.

The Tulsa Drillers closer was summoned to save the day with ducks on the pond and his team nursing a 7-6 lead in the ninth inning over the Frisco RoughRiders.

He needed only one out. Seemed easy enough, right?

Baker, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. That brought to the plate red-hot hitter Juremi Profar, who came into the game hitting .400 on the week.

The Alaskan got Profar to strike out swinging to end the game.

Baker has now converted 7-of-10 save opportunities for Tulsa, the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

July 6, 2018

Willy Homza baseball

Willy Homza

Summer ball is treating Anchorage’s Willy Homza well.

The Plymouth Pilgrims slugger from Brown University ranks among the top power hitters in the New England Collegiate Baseball League with five home runs in 18 games.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound infielder is batting .263 with a .561 slugging percentage. Six of his 15 hits have gone for extra bases.

Homza, of South High fame, has collected 17 RBIs and owns a 16-to-10 walk-strikeout ratio to buoy his steady .427 on-base percentage.

He wrapped up his junior season in the spring at Brown, where he has started 89 of 95 career games.

Homza has hit just two home runs in his college career so this power surge is a pleasant surprise.

But it’s not totally out of left field.

Last summer, he was the cleanup hitter for the Rockville Rock Hounds of the California Collegiate League and ranked first or second on the team in home runs [6] and RBIs [38].

July 5, 2018

Jonny Homza baseball

Jonny Homza

Anchorage’s Jonny Homza is thriving in his second season as a minor-league professional baseball player.

The 19-year-old utility player is trending the right direction with fewer strikeouts and better defense behind the plate with the San Diego Padres rookie-level team in the Arizona League.

Homza, of South High fame, has reached base in 10 of the first 11 games of the season and boasts a .377 on-base percentage.

He hits third in the order and ranks second on his team with 10 walks and third with three doubles.

The 6-foot, 185-pounder appears to be seeing the ball much better as his walk-to-strikeout ratio is much better than his rookie season:

2017 16 BBs / 54 Ks
2018 10 BBs / 7 Ks

Defensively, he’s played catcher the majority of his season but has seen time at third base. Last year, he also saw time as a middle infielder.

Homza, who rarely played behind the plate during his youth career, was a fifth-round draft pick last year by the Padres, who want him to catch.

The transformation isn’t easy, but the Alaskan is holding his own.

He’s thrown out six baserunners in six games – nearly doubling his range factor from a year ago.

July 3, 2018

Corey Cogdell-Unrein trapshooting

Corey Cogdell-Unrein

Eagle River’s Corey Cogdell-Unrein is finding new ways to dominate the sport of trapshooting.

The two-time Olympic bronze medalist and World Cup gold medalist participated in the first-ever Team USA trap mixed team tryout near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

There was plenty on the line with the top two duos out of 33 teams earning the right to represent the United States at this fall’s ISSF World Championship in South Korea.

As usual, Cogdell-Unrein brought her A-game.

The 31-year-old Alaskan teamed with Jake Wallace to place second overall after two days of competition. She will be part of the U.S. contingent going to the world championships, which will hold the trap mixed team event for only the second time.

Trap mixed team made its world championship debut in 2017 and makes its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“Being a returning Olympic medalist in individual trap, my goal is to make the next Olympic team with my partner and go out there and win a medal,” Cogdell-Unrein said in a press release. “I think we are both very capable of that. I’ve proven that, and Jake is one of the top in the world, so I think we have a great chance to win an Olympic medal.”

The new format has caused shooters to shift how they think about the sport.

At the international level, the qualification round consists of each athlete shooting at 75 targets for a total of 150 targets per team. The top six teams advance to the final where athletes alternate in shooting a series of five targets.

From there, an elimination process begins until the remaining two teams finally shoot two additional five-target sequences for a total of 50 targets to decide the gold.

“It is a different mental aspect,” Cogdell-Unrein said. “You are not only shooting for yourself, but you are shooting for someone else as well.”

July 2, 2018

– By Matias Saari;  Alaska Sports Blog Contributor

1. Allie Ostrander, age 22 (PR 49:19, 2017 champion)

Allie Ostrander track running

Allie Ostrander

If she decides to race, it’s hard to imagine Allie O getting beat.

The Soldotna native and current Boise State University standout won the junior girls’ race six times, is the defending women’s champion and boasts the 2nd (49:19) and 3rd fastest (50:28) times in women’s race history.

However, in an interview after winning her second straight NCAA steeplechase championship on June 9, she hedged when asked whether she’d participate in Mount Marathon. Ostrander’s concern was that she’d have too little time to prepare properly and that racing the demanding mountain would require a lengthy recovery.

Ostrander hadn’t announced her decision by Monday and told the Peninsula Clarion she might decide on race day.

Ostrander, who has two years of college eligibility remaining and could make a bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics, was spotted recently training on Mount Marathon.

Ostrander climbed the mountain last year in 36:58, a time no woman in this year’s field can come close to matching. Then she descended in 12:21, thirty-four seconds faster than Christy Marvin.

It would take a rough day for Ostrander and a career day for Marvin or another woman for Ostrander to be dethroned.

If she shows up, that is. If not, a handful of women have a shot.

2. Christy Marvin, 37 (PR 51:02, 2-time champion)

Christy Marvin

Marvin, a two-time champion, already has dominant wins this year at Crazy Lazy, Knoya Ridge and the 30-mile Kesugi Ridge Traverse on June 23. But she showed a chink in her armor when Jessica Yeaton edged her by 11 seconds at Bird Ridge.

Her advantage on the downhill, however, should keep her ahead of anyone who fails to considerably gap her while climbing.

3. Jessica Yeaton, 26 (MM rookie, 2018 Olympian)
Yeaton, of Anchorage, certainly gain confidence by pulling away from Marvin in the final minutes at Bird Ridge to become that race’s second fastest woman ever. She’s also a 2018 Olympian, as she represented Australia (her mother’s homeland) this February in Korea.

Like Rosie Frankowski, she’ll need a decent downhill to hold her place from the climb. Perhaps she can get some tips from her significant other, David Norris.
4. Rosie Frankowski, 26 (MM rookie, 2018 Olympian)

From Left: Frankowski, Yeaton and APU teammate Becca Rorabaugh

This APU Nordic skier was a late addition to the field by virtue of her impressive victory at Government Peak on June 2 (sans Marvin).

Frankowski also competed at the 2018 Olympics, making the most of her only start by placing 21st in the 30-kilometer event.

Like most skiers, she is expected to excel on the climb but her descending skills are unknown.

5. Denali Foldager-Strabel, 28 (PR 53:40)
Her mother, Patti Foldager, and husband, Eric Strabel, are both Mount Marathon champions, and Denali longs to join that club some day. Fourth last year, she had her best race of the season at Bird Ridge (3rd) and is among the fastest downhillers. If she can stay within striking distance of Yeaton and Frankowski on the climb, she could pick them off on the descent. However, that will be easier said than done.

6. Anita Ortiz, 54 (MM rookie)
Ortiz, of Colorado, has been to Alaska at least once before. In 2002, she raced Wolverine Peak, a qualifying race for the US Mountain Running Team and defeated Nina Kemppel by an astounding five minutes. Kemppel was in good form, too, having competed in her fourth Winter Olympics that winter and a few weeks shy of winning her record 8th Mount Marathon. One wonders what Ortiz might have done at Mount Marathon in 2002.

Now 16 years later, Ortiz is still achieving solid results in her mid-fifties. The 50-59 age-group record (59:23 set by Sheryl Loan) is in serious jeopardy.

7. Najeeby Quinn, 38 (PR 54:07)
A long-time mountain and trail racer who now also competes in ski mountaineering events, Quinn was second at Knoya and fourth at Bird Ridge. But Mount Marathon’s field is much deeper, so she’ll probably need to crack 55 minutes for a shot at the Top 5.

8. Allison Barnwell, 26 (PR 55:08)
Barnwell, a Seward native living in Anchorage, placed second at Mount Marathon in 2013. The field is stacked this year, so unless she can improve on her typical result of 55-57 minutes, Barnwell will be relegated to the back half of the Top 10.

9. Hannah LaFleur, 30 (PR 56:41)
The Boulder, Colorado, resident had an impressive debut a year ago. If she achieves another strong race she exceed this prediction.

10. Abby Jahn, 25 (PR 59:31)
Jahn broke an hour for the first time in 2017 and continues to improve. Watch out for her to make a jump in a couple years, but not quite yet.

Top 10 Hopefuls Who If They Feel Slighted Should Prove Me Wrong:
– Mackenzie Barnwell, 24 (PR 1:00:55)
– Julianne Dickerson, 30 (PR 1:06:17)
– Rachel Dow, 39 (PR 58:07, 8 top 10s)
– Heather Edic, 26 (MM rookie)
– Lauren Fritz, 30 (PR 54:47)
– Sarah Glaser, 29 (PR 1:00:27)
– Ruby Lindquist, 18 (2nd junior female, 2017)
– April McAnly, 36 (PR 59:08)

Wildcard:
Hillary Allen — In September, 2017, Allen took a horrific 150-foot fall off an exposed ridge at a race in Norway, an accident that broke 12 bones and could have killed her. Nine months later, she has returned to competition and was a close second at the Broken Arrow Vertical Kilometer June 15, finishing just 24 seconds behind Morgan Arritola, last year’s Mount Marathon runner-up.
Allen reportedly is coming to Seward for the holiday. She’s not registered for Mount Marathon, but might she seek entry at the auction on July 3?

Signed Up But Not Racing:
– Anna Dalton, focusing on Berlin Marathon (PR 59:13)
– Ann Spencer, recovering from injury (PR 55:11)

Other Top 2017 Finishers Not Returning:
– Morgan Arritola, 2nd in 51:09

Guest Picks:
Holly Brooks — Ostrander, Yeaton, Marvin, Frankowski, Quinn, Foldager-Strabel, Ortiz, LaFleur, Jahn, McAnly
Scott Patterson — Ostrander, Marvin, Yeaton, Foldager-Strabel, Quinn, Barnwell, Frankowski, LaFleur, Jahn, McAnly
Harlow Robinson — Ostrander, Marvin, LaFleur, Frankowski, Yeaton, Barnwell, Foldager-Strabel, Jahn, Ortiz, Quinn

July 1, 2018

Carlos Boozer basketball

Carlos Boozer

Just because Carlos Boozer of Juneau has retired from the NBA doesn’t mean he is finished playing basketball.

The 36-year-old is hooping in the BIG3 – a 3-on-3 pro basketball summer tour founded in 2017 by Ice Cube featuring former NBA players.

The 6-foot-9 Alaskan last played in the NBA during the 2014-15 season for the Los Angeles Lakers and played in China last year.

With the BIG3, Boozer is playing with Ghost Ballers, which is coached by the great George ‘The Iceman’ Gervin. Prominent teammates include Mike Bibby and Ricky Davis.

In Week 2, Boozer scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 50-44 loss to the Killer 3s and Stephen Jackson, Metta World Peace and Mike James.

The Ghost Ballers are 0-2 on the season.

In Week 1, Boozer had 15 points and six rebounds in a 50-48 loss to 3 Headed Monster.

Boozer, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, was a second-round draft pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2002 out of Duke University.

He made two NBA All-Star games with the Utah Jazz and averaged 16.2 points and 9.5 rebounds over 13 seasons.

June 30, 2018

Zoe Hickel hockey

Zoe Hickel

Anchorage’s Zoe Hickel is on her way to the Calgary Inferno in a move she hopes will help her find her way back to the Clarkson Cup final in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

The 25-year-old free agent will reunite with her former University of Minnesota Duluth coach Shannon Miller, who recently took over as Inferno bench boss.

Hickel played last season with the league’s Kunlun Red Star and tallied 12-26—38 totals in 28 games. She led the CWHL in assists and played a key role in helping her team to the Clarkson Cup final in its inaugural season.

“The speed and talent of the CWHL is second to none and I am excited to be a part of it with the Calgary Inferno. I am thrilled to accept the offer to play for such a hard-fighting, professional organization,” she said in a press release.

Hickel, of Service High fame, also has professional experience in the National Women’s Hockey League. She was an all-star and champion in her two years.

The 5-foot-6 forward played her first season in 2016-17 with the Boston Pride and collected 4-6-11 totals in 19 games and won the Isobel Cup.

She was traded to the Connecticut Whale in her second season and posted 5-5–10 totals in 19 games.

The Calgary Inferno appear primed to make a strong run at the Clarkson Cup as they return a handful of Canadian Olympic team veterans and welcome a new coach and a promising Alaska newcomer with a track record for success.

June 29, 2018

– By Matias Saari, Alaska Sports Blog Contributor

Picking the top-10 for the men’s race at Mount Marathon is a crapshoot as perhaps 20 guys are capable of achieving that result.

Standing out from the crowd are the course record holder, a couple of pros sponsored by Salomon, the “Gang of Four” mountain fanatics, a 40-something fan favorite and a pair of young guns.

1. David Norris, age 27 (PR 41:26)
An elite Nordic skier in Anchorage, Norris made Alaskans proud when he reclaimed the race record from Spanish star Kilian Jornet two years ago in his Mount Marathon debut.

He’s in excellent form now, having lowered his own record at the Bird Ridge Hill Climb on June 17 (after skiing 5 hours a day all week on the Eagle Glacier).

Norris won’t have APU teammate and defending MM champion Scott Patterson (out with a broken toe) helping push him up the hill, so unless someone like Max King hangs with him, Norris may need to self-motivate. And no one is betting against him.

For someone to join Norris on the climb, they’ll have a difficult task: in 2016, he ascended the mountain in an astounding 30:35, a full 51 seconds faster than the previous uphill record.

Sometimes APU skiers back off on the dangerous descent (to protect their skiing livelihood), but if Norris is challenged he may let it rip. This could set him up for a new course record, although the forecasted 70+ degree temperatures may slow runners down a bit. 

2. Max King, 38 (MM rookie)
He’ll race any distance, any surface. Max King of Bend, Oregon, is the most versatile runner in the country.

Twice he placed Top 20 at the US Olympic Marathon Trials (running 2:14 and 2:17). He took 6th in the steeplechase at the 2012 Trials. He won the Warrior Dash World Championship obstacle course race (and $30,000). More relevant for Mount Marathon, he’s placed exceptionally well representing Salomon in trail and mountain races across the globe in distances ranging from a Vertical Kilometer to 100 miles.

Most recently, King handily won the 26-kilometer Broken Arrow Sky Race in California on June 17.

These are all impressive accomplishments. But what can he do at Mount Marathon?

King arrived in Alaska a week before race day, giving him plenty of time to recon the mountain (he joined Erik Johnson for a lap on Thursday, then called the course “intimidating as hell” on Facebook).

King’s road speed will get him to the mountain’s base in the lead group, if not off the front. Being a light guy with a huge engine and trail-runner strength, a strong climb is expected.

But his technical mountain descending ability is unknown, and that’s what will determine whether he can chase down Norris or hold off his pursuers.

3. Lars Arneson, 28 (PR 58:14)
Top 3 might be a stretch for a guy who’s only raced MM once (taking 45th a decade ago at age 18). But Arneson is on the rise, having earned a coveted bib by winning Mat Peak last August and scoring a victory at Knoya Ridge this May.

Tall and lean, Arneson is among the Gang of Four (joining Adam Jensen, Matt Shyrock and Peter Mamrol) who have been logging major vertical with plenty of hard workouts and intra-group competition in the mountains all season.

Arneson and Mamrol also smashed the 12-peak Front Range Linkup record by 4 hours in 18:10 not quite a year ago.

However, 45 minutes of steep mountain racing is a different beast than 18 hours of backcountry scrambling, so we’ll see if Arneson can hold his race together at such a high intensity.

4. Matt Shryock, 32 (PR 44:44)
The Montana native and Anchorage nurse is due to excel after an exceptional debut in 2015 followed by placing outside the Top 10 the past two years.
He’s missed all four Grand Prix races so far this season so there’s no gauge of his racing fitness. But he has been putting in the work, and reportedly likes the heat, which will benefit him on Wednesday.

5. Adam Jensen, 37 (PR 45:21)
Another of the Gang of Four who has shown he’s capable of getting up and down quickly. Known more as a power climber than a runner, the Anchorage dentist put in a stellar runner-up result at Bird Ridge in 39:05. That bodes well for MM, though Bird is not always a good indicator of success on July 4. Jensen may benefit if he, Shryock and perhaps Arneson link up for the climb.

6. Kenny Brewer, 26 (PR 46:13)
A young guy with wheels, Brewer placed 3rd in 2017. He’ll need to speed up considerably to hold that result this year.

The Chugiak native has been traveling in the Lower 48 a bit this season (therefore not training and racing in Alaska), which could cost him time at MM.

7. Rickey Gates, 37 (PR 42:56)
Rickey Gates only 7th, really?!

Where’s the respect for the guy who holds two of the Top 5 times in Mount Marathon history, climbed the mountain in 31:26 three years ago and helped put MM on the map with his Salomon-sponsored videos?

The Colorado native and Oakland, California, resident has taken a nearly two-year hiatus from racing (last summer he ran across the country for fun), and his result at the Broken Arrow Skyrace Vertical K on June 15 wasn’t encouraging: 12th place and 4:37 off the win against a field that arguably isn’t as deep as Mount Marathon’s.

Perhaps I’ve been duped by that result and Rickey can pull a rabbit out of the hat, but I’ll believe that when I see it.

8. Erik Johnson, 41 (PR 45:22)
The Seward Parks Service employee shocked many when he emerged from the cliff last year wearing board shorts and a big beard en route to a second-place finish. Fans shouldn’t have been surprised, however, as Johnson spends a lot of time on the mountain and now has three sub-45:30 results to show for it.

However, Johnson’s early season results have been hit or miss. The highlight was winning Government Peak, albeit against a so-so field.

9. Peter Mamrol, 25 (PR 48:02)
He completes the Gang of Four. Law of averages says at least one of these guys will lay an egg, but who that will be is anyone’s guess.

10. Lyon Kopsack, 22 (PR 45:39)
This member of the Kopsack clan of mountain goats has produced average results after an impressive 2016 season. He currently seems to be building fitness as evidenced by a decent run at Bird Ridge. A fearless descender, he’ll pass a few guys on the downhill and sneak into the Top 10. He also has a MM junior victory to his credit.

Top 10 Hopefuls Who If They Feel Slighted Should Prove Me Wrong:
– Luke Jager, 18 (Junior champion 2015-17; making senior race debut)
– Jacob Kirk, 26 (PR 49:21; owns 3rd fastest downhill in history of 10:12)
– Ben Marvin, 37 (PR 46:14)
– Matt Novakovich, 44 (PR 44:07, 2012 champion)
– Matias Saari, 47 (PR 44:53, 2009 champion, 10 Top 10s)
– Jim Shine, 41 (PR 43:11 in 2015)
– Derek Steele, 20 (PR 49:09)

Signed Up But Not Racing:
– Scott Patterson, broken toe (PR 44:30, 2017 champion, 2018 Olympian)
– Eric Strabel, stress fracture (PR 42:55, 3-time champion, 15 Top 10s)
– Lars Kjerengtroen, Utah (10th in 2017)
– Chad Trammell (16th in 2017)

Other Top 2017 Finishers Not Returning:
– Alexander Eckert, 4th
– Matthias Messner, 5th
– Allan Spangler, 15th

Guest Picks:
Clint McCool — Norris, King, Arneson, Johnson, Jensen, Gates, Shine, Novakovich, Jager, Brewer
Holly Brooks — Norris, King, Gates, Arneson, Shine, Jensen, Brewer, Johnson, Novakovich, Saari
Scott Patterson — Norris, King, Gates, Johnson, Brewer, Jager, Jensen, Arneson, Saari, Kirk
Harlow Robinson — Norris, Gates, Johnson, Arneson, Kopsack, Mamrol, King, Jensen, Steele, Saari
Allan Spangler — Norris, Mamrol, Arneson, Jensen, Johnson, Gates, King, Kopsack, Brewer, Jager
NOTE: A women’s Top 10 prediction article will run on Monday, July 2.

June 27, 2018

Caleb Holley football

Caleb Holley

Anchorage’s Caleb Holley isn’t satisfied with just being the first Alaskan in 20 years to play in the Canadian Football League.

He’s leaving his mark.

The third-year wide receiver with the Saskatchewan Roughriders recently reached the 100-reception milestone in 37 games

Holley, of East High fame, has also racked up 1,381 yards and seven touchdowns.

Virtually every time the 27-year-old does anything on the field it’ll be a record because he’s only the third player from Alaska in the CFL. The other two were kicker Nick Mystrom of Anchorage and defensive back Delvin Myles of Anchorage.

Undrafted out of East Central in Oklahoma, Holley signed with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills in 2014 and was on the practice squad for nearly two years. Then he injured his knee and his career was in jeopardy.

But it didn’t end there.

Holley got back on the field in 2016 in the Indoor Football League, where he won a championship with the Sioux Falls Storm. He put up huge numbers (21 TDs in 11 games), which opened the door to the CFL.

A couple weeks after scoring a touchdown in the IFL title game, the 6-foot-4 was on the field with Saskatchewan. A couple weeks later he was in the end zone.

Last year, he scored five TDs in 13 games.

June 26, 2018

Colter Lasher basketball

Colter Lasher

Anchorage’s Colter Lasher scored 22 points to lead Geraldton to a 96-88 win over East Perth and complete the season sweep in Australia’s State Basketball League.

The rookie forward improved his player ranking five points from his first game of the series, thanks to in part to a season-high six steals.

Lasher, of Dimond High fame, sank 8-of-17 field goals and grabbed six rebounds and handed off four assists.

Geraldton is 15-3 and one game out of first place in the SBL with a handful of games left in the regular season.

The 6-foot-7 leads the team in scoring at 21.5 points per game.

June 25, 2018

Travante Williams basketball

Travante Williams

Travante Williams of Anchorage was an absolute game changer in his first season in the Portuguese League.

A reliable scorer and relentless defender, the 6-foot-6 forward helped Oliveirense run the table in the playoffs en route to winning the league title.

The league crown was just one of the many honors in this Alaskan’s superb season.

Williams, of Mt. Edgecumbe High fame, was named Portuguese League Defensive Player of the Year to headline the All-Defensive Team. He also earned Second Team All-League and First Team All-Import honors.

He finished third in the league with 2.1 steals per game and made more steals (86) than turnovers (42) in 41 games.

Three times he had five steals in one game.

The former University of Alaska Fairbanks star averaged 12.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 23.1 minutes per game.

Williams posted season highs of 28 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists.

Oliveirense swept Porto 3-0 in the championship series to cap a 9-0 playoff showing and 36-5 overall record.

June 24, 2018

Trevor Dunbar track and field

Trevor Dunbar

Kodiak’s Trevor Dunbar and Ketchikan’s Isaac Updike were among the country’s best track and field stars to compete on the national stage at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

Dunbar, of Kodiak High fame, was 12th among 19 finishers in the men’s 5,000 meters, crossing in 13 minutes, 46.20 seconds.

The former NCAA All-American from the University of Oregon was 10th after 1,000 meters.

Dunbar recently signed with the Boston Athletic Association.

Isaac Updike track and field

Isaac Updike

Updike, of Ketchikan High fame, finished 14th in men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase in 8 minutes, 40.22 seconds.

He was in sixth at the halfway point of the race.

The former Eastern Oregon University star set a PR with the fastest semifinal time of 8:25.82.
Updike runs for Team Run Eugene in Oregon.

He was the NAIA steeplechase national champion in 2013 and earned All-American honors in the event all four years in college.

June 23, 2018

Dylan Baker baseball

Dylan Baker

As a relief pitcher, Dylan Baker of Juneau never knows when or if he’ll enter a game.

Sometimes the situation changes at a moment’s notice.

That’s what happened when the Tulsa Drillers beat the Northwest Arkansas Naturals 4-3 in Double-A Texas League action.

Trailing 3-1 entering the eighth inning, Tulsa exploded for three runs to take its first lead of the night.

Baker got warm and then was called on with two outs in the ninth inning to close the door with the tying run in scoring position. He did with a flyout to centerfield, securing a 4-3 victory.

The sixth-year pro and Alaska’s lone professional pitcher currently in the game earned his sixth save of the season, in this his first year as a reliever in his first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization after signing as a free agent before the season.

Baker, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, has converted 6-of-9 save opportunities this year.

The right-hander worked two innings in his last appearance to earn a save.

In his last 10 games, he is 1-2 with four saves and a 3.86 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 11.2 innings.