Connecting You With AK Athletes – For 10 Years Strong!!

For the last 10 years, the Alaska Sports Blog has provided daily updates on local athletes all over the world. The blog was created Aug. 24, 2009 as a way to fill a void of media coverage of Alaska athletes once they 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 4,000 stories on over 1,000 Alaskans.

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

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

September 15, 2019
Sean Duffy football

Sean Duffy

University of Dubuque quarterback Sean Duffy of Anchorage had to figure he was in for a big day after throwing a touchdown on his second pass of the game.

He had two TDs on his sixth throw, three on his ninth pass attempt.

The junior signal caller finished with five TDs for the second time in his NCAA D3 football career as the Spartans held off Pacific University 37-26 in Dubuque, Iowa.

Duffy, of West High fame, had two TDs in each of the first and second quarters, with his fourth giving Dubuque a 28-7 lead with 5:10 left in the first half.

He completed 14-of-29 pass attempts for 265 yards. He did have two interceptions.

The southpaw connected on scoring strikes of 13, 50, 23, 37 and 19 yards.

Duffy orchestrated a 7-play, 63-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter capped by his fifth touchdown pass to seal the victory and give Dubuque its first win of the season.

Last season, as a sophomore, he threw for 367 yards and six touchdowns in a 54-35 victory over Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Josh Cummings football

Josh Cummings

Josh Cummings of Fairbanks made a dynamic debut in the Western Colorado University backfield as the freshman running back racked up a 5-yard rushing average and scored his first touchdown.

He finished with 53 yards on 10 carries and found the end zone from 5 yards out in the second quarter of a 27-7 win over the South Dakota School of Mines in Gunnison, Colorado.

Cummings, of West Valley High fame, had 29 yards in the second quarter alone.

On his touchdown run, he took the option and danced around one defender, bounced off an arm tackle from another defender, ran over another defender and then bounced off another defender as he plowed into the end zone.

In high school, Cummings gained 3,242 yards on the ground and averaged 9 yards a carry. He was also voted Alaska Utility Player of the Year in 2016.

He sat out last season as a redshirt and then missed the season opener this season.

September 14, 2019
Tanner Sorenson hockey

Tanner Sorenson

Anchorage’s Tanner Sorenson has always done whatever it took to play pro hockey, a tribute to his desire to chase his dream.

That grind has put him in position to shine with the Vancouver Canucks.

The 26-year-old center was invited to the NHL team’s training camp this weekend in British Columbia, Canada, as a new member of the Utica Comets, the AHL-affiliate of the Canucks.

Sorenson’s signed a two-way AHL deal with Utica and the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL.

“I’m starting camp in Utica, so the main goal is to start the year there. With the season, you have ups and downs, but I’d love to get a chance in Utica for a handful of games to show what I’ve got. If I’m down in Kalamazoo, then I want to build upon last year, where everything seemed to go well,” he told uticacomets.com.

“I think anything you can do to build off the previous year is good, so that’s where I like to set my goals.”

The former Michigan State University standout is coming off his finest pro season after posting career-high totals of 22 goals, 42 assists and 64 points in 55 games with the K-Wings.

His career has come full circle in Kalamazoo. He played there right there his rookie season and then came back for his fourth season. In between he made stops in Kazakhstan and Switzerland, two places off the radar for most American players.

The international experience was humbling, insightful and only strengthened his resolve to play pro hockey. All the while he sharpened his skills and improved his game, giving an assist to Kalamazoo coach Nick Bootland for getting him on the right track.

“Booter developed me, trained me and helped me grow,” Sorenson said.

The results are remarkable.

In his first 63 pro games, Sorenson averaged 0.46 points per game with 15-14—29 totals.

In the last 179 games, he has a 0.80 points per game average with 62-81—143 totals.

Funny enough, though, it’s his improvement on defense that has paved his promotion.

“I’d say I bring a lot of offense to the table but want to be relied on as a two-way player as well,” Sorenson said.

Keegan Messing figure skating

Keegan Messing

With his skating and sportsmanship, Keegan Messing of Girdwood stole the show at the Autumn Classic International in Ontario, Canada.

The 26-year-old claimed the bronze medal in the senior men’s competition and then displayed the true character of a gentleman in the awards ceremony by holding up the Japanese flag for gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu.

Messing saw there was no flag display when the national anthem of Japan started to play, so he made his own display by unfolding a Japanese flag behind the podium and held it up while Hanyu faced it for the duration of the anthem.

Hanyu bowed to thank Messing after the anthem while the crowd cheered.

Messing, who skates for Team Canada, finished third with 256.02 points. Hanyu was first with 279.01 points and France’s Kevin Aymoz was second at 262.47.

This is Messing’s 12th senior medal since 2010 – with seven of them coming since 2016.

The Autumn Classic International is part of the ISU Challenger Series and features senior athletes from around the world. The event is designed to allow skaters to compete on an international stage prior to the start of the Grand Prix season.

September 13, 2019
Shiann Bontrager volleyball

Shiann Bontrager

Shiann Bontrager of Wasilla came off the bench to deliver a season-high nine assists for Auburn University at Montgomery in a three-set sweep of Erskine College in Alabama.

The junior setter added a serving ace and two digs in two sets of playing time.

Bontrager, of Colony High fame, has played in just two of six matches this season, so when her number was called, she was ready and performed well.

She is in her first season with the NCAA D2 volleyball team after transferring from Feather River College in California.

Bontrager was part of back-to-back GVC Regional championship teams and was twice named CCCAA Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2017 and 2018.

Elizabeth Balsan cross-country running

Elizabeth Balsan

Anchorage’s Elizabeth Balsan and Blake Bennett each turned in top-10 performances for Grand Canyon University at the Dave Murray Invitational hosted by the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Balsan, of ACS fame, finished seventh out of 30 women by covering the 5-K race in 19:13.4.

This was the senior’s third career top-10 finish at this meet. She was sixth in 2016, eighth in 2017, 12th in 2018 and seventh in 2019.

This season is already shaping up to be the best for Balsan, who picked up her first cross country victory in the season opener Aug. 31 by winning the Cactus Open

Blake Bennett cross-country running

Blake Bennett

She covered the 2.7-mile course in 15:57.3 to beat the second-place runner by seven seconds.

Bennett, of ACS fame, overcame a slow start to finish eighth in the men’s field of 40 with a 7-K time of 23:19.2.

The sophomore was 20th after the first kilometer. Near the halfway point, he had worked his way to 11th.

This was Bennett’s eighth career top-10 finish in cross country.

September 12, 2019
Drew Adams running

Drew Adams

Houston’s Drew Adams was one of just 13 endurance runners to complete the grueling Grand Slam of Ultrarunning Series.

In order to be eligible for the award, participants must officially complete three of the four first Grand Slam Series races and then complete the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run all in the same summer.

Adams did it in 10 weeks.

The series consists of the Old Dominion 100 Mile Endurance Run, Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, Vermont 100 Endurance Race and Leadville Trail 100 Run before wrapping up with the Wasatch Front 100 Miler.

Adams, of Houston High fame, was one of the fastest runners among the grand slammers.

He was second at Western States (21:30:28) and Vermont Trail (21:26:09), third in the Leadville Trail (24:15:39) and tied for fourth at the Wasatch Front (29:07:40).

Grand slammers were presented with the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning Series Award at the conclusion of the Wasatch Front.

The award is a beautifully sculpted eagle with engravings signifying the runner’s name and awesome accomplishment.

Maya Carle volleyball

Maya Carle

Anchorage’s Maya Carle did her part to help the Feather River Community College volleyball team make school history.

Feather River won for the first time the 20th annual San Joaquin Delta College tournament, a two-day 16-team competition that is regarded by many as the top regular-season tournament of the year.

Carle, of Dimond High fame, was fifth on her team with 32 digs in the tournament. She added four aces on serve.

Feather River went 8-0 in the tournament and won 24 of 30 sets.

Fresh off that championship, Feather River was selected No. 1 in the first CCCWVCA State Women’s Volleyball Top 25.

September 11, 2019
Jordan Laughlin orienteering

Jordan Laughlin

Palmer’s Jordan Laughlin was part of the Team USA squad that competed at the World Orienteering Championships in Norway.

This was his first appearance at the world championships as a senior racer. He competed at the junior world championships in 2008.

Laughlin, 29, finished 35th out of 41 men in his heat in the middle race.

The next day in the long race, he placed 60th out of 76 men.

Laughlin is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York. That’s where he developed an interest in orienteering.

In 2008, he became a member of the World University Orienteering Championship squad. In 2010, he competed in the O-Ringen, a five-day orienteering competition in Sweden.

Greyson Adams soccer

Greyson Adams

If dependability and durability are defined by playing time, then Greyson Adams of Anchorage is an MVP candidate for the Colorado School of Mines men’s soccer team.

The redshirt junior midfielder has played every minute of both games this season and has logged a full 90 minutes in four of his team’s last six games.

Adams, of West High fame, doesn’t come off the field even if you don’t often see his name on the score sheet. He contributes in other ways.

Against St. Mary’s of Texas, he added a little offense as he racked up his first career assist in the 43rd minute of a 3-1 loss in NCAA D2 nonconference game.

He now has one goal and one assist in 26 career games.

Adams last season ranked No. 8 on the team with 1,279 total minutes, which is even more impressive when you consider he started only 13 of 21 games whereas the six players above him started 20 or 21.

September 10, 2019
Aislinnn Waite soccer

Aislinnn Waite

When Southern Oregon University needed to convert a penalty kick, they knew exactly who to call on.

Aislinnn Waite of Anchorage.

The senior midfielder/forward cashed in on a penalty shot in the 84th minute to lift the Raiders to a 1-0 win over Sonoma State in Turlock, California.

It was the NAIA team’s first win over a NCAA D2 opponent since 2012.

Waite, of Service High fame, has scored two game-winning goals this season and assisted on another.

She has recorded points in four of five games and ranks second on the team with six points.

Carson Reed football

Carson Reed

Anchorage’s Carson Reed booted a career-long 44-yard punt in his debut for Riverside of the California Community College Athlete Association.

The 6-foot sophomore averaged 34.5 yards on five punts in a 55-17 win over El Camino.

Reed, of East High fame, also averaged a career-best 62.5 yards on kickoffs and had four touchbacks on 10 kicks.

By comparison, he averaged 55.3 yards on kickoffs last season at Chadron State.

Reed is currently the backup field goal kicker for Riverside. He made 5-of-8 attempts at Chadron State with a long of 42 yards.

Reed was one of two Alaskans on the field as El Camino featured freshman Simeona Tuinei of Anchorage.

The 6-foot-2, 390-pound offensive lineman made his college debut.

September 9, 2019
Malia Miller soccer

Malia Miller

One of the most prolific high school soccer players from Alaska is off to a great start in college.

Juneau’s Malia Miller ranks second on Bellevue College with five points on two goals and an assist in her first four games.

The freshman forward is coming off her best game in the NWAC with a goal and helper in 4-0 win over Pierce in Seattle, Washington.

Miller, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, scored 105 goals as a prep player and last season was the Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year.

Jonny Homza baseball

Jonny Homza

He had been hitless in the postseason and was dropped in the batting order, yet Jonny Homza of Anchorage kept his head high.

Then he went out and delivered the biggest hit of his professional career.

The Tri-Valley Dust Devils catcher hit a grand slam in the first inning to highlight a 9-1 victory over the Hillsboro Hops in Game 2 of the Class A Northwest League championship series.

Homza, of South High fame, has four career home runs in three pro seasons. But this was the first bomb as a Class A player; the other three came in the Arizona Rookie League.

The homer was his first playoff base hit and snapped an 0-for-8 start to his first postseason.

Homza is now 4-for-10 with seven RBIs in first-inning at-bats this season.

He usually bats in the middle of the order, but was moved down to the No. 8 spot in the NWL championship series after going hitless in the semifinal series.

He didn’t pout – he pounded a home run.

Homza has been nothing short of spectacular since turning pro on his 18th birthday, the same day the San Diego Padres made him their 138th draft pick – the second-highest overall MLB selection from Alaska.

The Padres moved him from infielder to catcher; hardly an easy transition for a position with equipment dubbed ‘tools of ignorance.’

But he made it work and after two years of rookie ball was promoted to Class A, where he threw out a career-high 18 baserunners and smacked a career-high 14 doubles.

September 8, 2019
Ashton Jessee volleyball

Ashton Jessee

The top three career blocker leaders in Pac West Conference history are from Hawaii Pacific University.

But look out for Anchorage’s Ashton Jessee of Hawaii Hilo.

The 6-foot-3 junior is on pace to become the first Pac West player to record 400 total blocks.

Hawaii Pacific currently holds the top three spots on the Pac West’s career list, including the No. 1 mark of 394.

Jessee, of South High fame, owns an updated career total of 225 blocks.

She leads her team with 17 stuffs through the first four matches of the season.

Last year, Jessee led the Pac West with 136 blocks and earned all-league honors.

The netminder is capable of throwing a block party at any time.

She has delivered as many as 13 blocks in one match – the most in the Pac West since 2013 and one shy of the school record.

September 7, 2019
Sean Duffy football

Sean Duffy

Anchorage’s Sean Duffy threw for 171 yards and a touchdown as University of Dubuque suffered a 42-7 defeat to Wisconsin-Whitewater in NCAA D3 football.

The junior pocket passer tossed a 40-yard scoring strike in the second quarter to pull the Spartans within 21-6.

Duffy, of West High fame, surpassed 2,700 passing yards for his college career.

He has compiled 2,247 with Dubuque and had 459 as a freshman with City College of San Francisco.

Duffy has also thrown 32 touchdown passes, including 27 at Dubuque, thanks largely to his 26-TD total last year.

Five of his TD passes at Dubuque have been to tight end Karletty Faamatuainu of Eagle River.

Parker Kizer football

Parker Kizer

Luther College quarterback Parker Kizer of Palmer guided the Norse to a pair of second-half touchdowns in a 38-26 loss to Whittier College in NCAA D3 football.

The run-first signal caller rushed for a career-high 103 yards and scored on a 24-yard keeper in the fourth quarter.

Kizer, of Colony High fame, also led his team to a touchdown in the final two minutes, thanks to his career-best 68-yard run.

The sophomore had more rushing yards in the season opener (103 yards, 7 carries) than he did all of last season (100 yards, 14 carries).

The 6-foot, 200-pounder now has three career TDs on the ground.

After coming up empty on his first two drives, Kizer got things cooking with back-to-back scoring drives.

He accounted for 50 of his team’s 55 yards that he capped with a 24-yard TD run.

Then he had a hand in 73 of the 78 yards that ended with a teammate’s TD run.

September 6, 2019
Madison Childers soccer

Madison Childers

Shortly after Madison Childers of Anchorage joined the Southern Oregon University women’s soccer team her world was turned upside down.

She was moved from defense to offense after the coach changed her position.

“I usually play center back so striker has actually been a change,” she told me. “I definitely have to be more creative and dynamic and I get tackled a lot more versus on defense I tackled more.”

Despite the changes, Childers has thrived in her new role.

The freshman has bagged two goals and an assist in four games to rank second on the NAIA team with five points.

Childers, of Dimond High fame, doesn’t start but instead comes off the bench to provide instant offense.

“I normally sub on and just try to score right away to pick up the energy,” she said. “My team is very hardworking and supportive, which has made the transition easier, because the team allows me to make mistakes and learn from them rather than get down.”

Thing is, though, she seems to only elevate Southern Oregon’s offense.

Against Westmont, she came on in the 65th minute and assisted on the winning goal in the 79th minute.

Against The Master’s, she entered in the 64th minute and scored in the 66th minute.

Against Stanislaus State, she came on in the 27th minute and scored in the 45th minute.

“We work a lot on crossing and finishing in game-like situations in practice,” Childers said. “The best thing about playing college soccer is continuing what I love at such a high intensity with amazing teammates.”

Kyle Dearborn soccer

Kyle Dearborn

For the second time in five years, the Concordia University men’s soccer team won its season opener after an Alaskan scored the winning goal.

In 2015 it was Anchorage’s Zak Naylor.

Last night it was Kyle Dearborn of Wasilla.

Dearborn, of Colony High fame, scored his first college goal on his first shot to power Concordia to a 1-0 win over Adams State in NCAA D2 action in Portland, Oregon.

The freshman forward converted at the goal mouth a crossing pass from Nicholas Denley in the 18th minute.

“I saw Denley going to the left, so I made my run to the near post,” Dearborn said. “He played me the ball and I took a turn. I was not expecting that much time, so I just put it in the back of the net.”

Dearborn was captain of the Colony team that won the Alaska state championship last spring.

He scored in his final high school game and he scored in his first college game.

Concordia coach Dan Birkley, who also coached Naylor, likes what he sees in his new Alaskan.

“Kyle has it in him, and this will boost his confidence,” he said.

September 5, 2019
Nelson Centeno soccer

Nelson Centeno

Nelson Centeno of Anchorage provided the bookends for the Spokane Community College men’s soccer team’s 5-3 win over Bellevue after assisting on the first goal and scoring the final goal.

The freshman midfielder set up the first goal of the game just two minutes after kickoff.

Then in the 85th minute, he scored to seal the NWAC victory.

Centeno, of East High fame, has registered three goals and one assist in five games to lead his team in scoring and rank No. 7 with seven points.

Maxwell Dye golf

Maxwell Dye

Alaska doesn’t produce many college golfers, but we got two from the Kenai Peninsula playing this year at Marian University.

Kenai’s Maxwell Dye is a junior for the men’s team and Soldotna’s Sydney Clark is a sophomore for the women’s team at Marian, a NCAA D3 school in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Both participated with the Sabers in the first event of the new season.

Dye, of Kenai High fame, carded a two-day, 36-hole total of 160 to finish fourth on his team and 62nd out of 119 golfers in the men’s field at the Glen Erin Golf Course in Janesville, Wisconsin.

He shot an 84 and then a 76, with the eight-stroke improvement being the third greatest turnaround in the tournament.

The Marian men placed seventh out of 23 teams at the Culver’s Edgewood Fall Classic

Sydney Clark golf

Sydney Clark

Last season, Dye averaged a score of 79.5 in 16 rounds. He shot 76 three times. As a freshman he averaged 78.2 in 19 rounds with a low round of 70.

Clark, of Kenai High fame, helped the Marian women team post its best tournament score since 2016.

The Sabers took ninth at the UW-Oshkosh Titan Classic in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Clark was fifth on her team with a two-day score of 239.

September 4, 2019
Lincoln Tulimasealii football

Lincoln Tulimasealii

Anchorage’s Lincoln Tulimasealii of Faulkner University has been picked for the inaugural NAIA Senior Football Classic.

The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder is an all-conference linebacker but will line up at defensive end for the national showcase Dec. 14 in Savannah, Georgia.

Tulimasealii, of West High fame, is a senior for the Faulkner Eagles and has registered 85 tackles and five sacks in 21 career games.

In last weekend’s season opener, he had four tackles – including two for loss – and a sack in his team’s 38-19 win over Bluefield College.

Last season he posted career highs in tackles (46), tackles for loss (8), sacks (2.5) and pass breakups (5) and was named second-team All-Mid-South Conference.

September 3, 2019
Britton Clifford soccer

Britton Clifford

Anchorage’s Britton Clifford recorded his first career game-winning goal in his Whitworth University men’s soccer career.

The senior midfielder cleaned up a loose ball off a corner kick in the 79th minute as the Pirates beat the University of Redlands 2-1 in Redlands, California.

The sequence started off with a Pirate corner kick that made its way into traffic for Clifford to tap in the goal.

He had an assist last game to give him points in back-to-back games for the first time.

Dating back to last year, Clifford has two goals and an assist in the last five games.

September 2, 2019
Ellie Mitchell Cyclocross

Ellie Mitchell

Ellie Mitchell of Anchorage has been named to the Team USA roster for the Iowa City Cyclocross World Cup on Sept. 14.

The 19-year-old was one of three riders named to the U-23 women to compete in the elite race.

Mitchell is a freshman at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, where she is competing with the women’s cycling team.

This summer she participated at the Montana Cross Camp, where she won the second climb and was a two-time bike derby champion.

The Iowa City Cyclocross World Cup will be a serious step in competition.

The weekend event will feature 80 races for amateurs and professionals in one of the largest gathering of international cyclocross riders.

The two-mile course features steep hills, technical portions and ramps.

September 1, 2019
Gezim Konjuhi soccer

Gezim Konjuhi

After missing the first three games of the season because of an ankle injury, Tacoma Community College forward Gezim Konjuhi of Anchorage returned to the field with one mission.

Score a goal.

Konjuhi did just that as he buried a 20-yard laser in the 56th minute as Tacoma turned up the offense in a 7-1 win over Shoreline in the NWAC.

“I was just super happy to score the first goal after a long time of not playing,” he told me.

Konjuhi, of West High fame, has five career goals for Tacoma, yet he hadn’t scored since Sept. 4 2018.

He took a pass from teammate Gilbert Da La Luz, created an open scoring lane around two defenders and blasted the ball top shelf to beat the Shoreline goalkeeper.

“I put all my power on that shot,” Konjuhi said.

A video of the goal revealed it to be technical and terrific.

Konjuhi has posted five goals and four assists in 22 career games.

“My role with the team is to bring a different game to the field, which is speed and finishing,” he said.

Konjuhi was part of Tacoma’s NWAC championship last season.

This year the Titans have started 3-0-1 and outscored opponents 13-4.

“As the defending champs I feel like we get the best games out of every team we play, which makes us take every game serious,” he said. “After every game we feel like we are improving a lot and we look to hit the peak at the end of the season to bring our best game to the playoffs.”

Tacoma is currently riding a 13-game unbeaten streak dating to last year.