Connecting You With AK Athletes Outside the 907

The Alaska Sports Blog provides daily posts on Alaska athletes doing great things at the professional, international and collegiate level outside the state. The blog was created to fill a void of coverage once Alaskans left the 907 area code. Since 2009 former Anchorage Daily News Sports Editor Van Williams has written more than 2,000 stories on over 300 Alaska athletes.

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

October 30, 2014

Ryan O'Leary SwimmingUniversity of Wyoming All-American Ryan O’Leary of Seward got his senior season off to a strong start against No. 24 Denver.

The swimmer won the 100 freestyle in 46.68 and was second in the 200 free in 1:43.40.

O’Leary, of Seward High fame, was also part of the victorious 4×400 free relay team in 3:04.22.

Allison Leigh VolleyballThe Quinnipiac University volleyball team is having a down year, but middle hitter Allison Leigh of Palmer is playing at a high level.

The 6-foot-3 sophomore had nine kills and eight blocks in a three-set loss to Hartford. She also had an attack percentage of .273; the team hit .216.

It was her second-highest kill total and block total in 26 matches this season.

Leigh, of Colony High fame, leads the NCAA D1 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with 102 blocks and 1.24 per set.

She’s hitting .226 on the season, up from .222 last year. And she’s got 26 aces compared to just eight a year ago.

Leigh is moving up the Quinnipiac record book in blocks with 243 in 57 career matches.

October 28, 2014

Alysa Horn BasketballAlysa Horn of Kodiak kept her pro team Osnabruck in first place in the German second division’s North Division after a 71-68 victory over Hannover.

Horn scored 25 points and went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. She is now shooing 90 percent from the line.

The former UAA star leads her team in scoring at 18.8 points per game. She ranks second in rebounds at 5.2.

October 27, 2014

Aaliyah Lewis SoccerA tuned-up offense has Aaliyah Lewis of Anchorage back in rhythm on the soccer field.

The Alabama State University sophomore has orchestrated a scoring spree for the record book – 12 goals, 8 assists in seven games.

“I think it all has to do with our change in formation,” she told me. “My two teammates, we really work well together. I couldn’t have gotten as far as I have this season without them and my coaches constantly pushing me to do better.”

Lewis is as gracious as she is good.

The reigning SWAC Player of the Year now has 15 goals on the season. Last year she had 18 goals. Her senior year at Dimond High she had 22 goals.

She is probably the greatest goal scorer from Alaska.

Lewis has collected hat tricks against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Grambling State and Alcorn State since Oct. 10.

“It feels great because it mean I’m doing my job,” she said.

Of her 12-goal barrage, her favorite came against Jackson State when she scored the game-winner to help Alabama State extract a measure of revenge against the team that beat the Lady Hornets in the SWAC championship game.

“It was the redemption game and I was able to take it to them along with my team,” she said. “We still have battles ahead, but that game felt good.”

October 26, 2014

Kelly Cobb SoccerChugiak’s Kelly Cobb scored in her first start with the Duke University women’s soccer team four years ago and today she scored in her final home game.

The senior striker now needs one more goal in the season finale to reach the top 10 in school history.

With her team down 1-0 entering the second half, Cobb scored the equalizer in the 58th minute after she settled a long pass and beat two defenders before sending the shot into the top-right corner.

The goal was the 25th of Cobb’s career and her fifth on the year.

Duke beat Boston College 2-1 on Senior Day.

Cobb, of Chugiak High fame, ranks 13th in Duke history with 64 points on 25 goals, 14 assists in 77 games. She is tied for seventh with 0.33 goals per game for her career.

She has netted eight game-winning goals, including six as a freshman when she bagged 11-9—31 totals and led Duke to NCAA title game.

Justin Kaufman FootballHe doesn’t get the touches like he used to but Justin Kauffman of Anchorage can still be effective.

The senior running back at Adams State University scored his sixth career touchdown on a 5-yard run in a 41-34 victory over New Mexico Highlands University.

His touchdown came late in the third quarter and capped an 11-play drive, making the score 24-17.

It was the first score of the year for the former Alaska player of the year.

Kauffman, of West High fame, has 799 yards and six touchdowns for his career.

October 25, 2014

Bryan Maley FootballWagner College placekicker Bryan Maley of Eagle River kicked two field goals and remained perfect from inside 40 yards as the Seahawks beat Central Connecticut 20-10 in New England.

Maley made a pair of kicks from 23 yard fields out and both extra points.

He is now 8-for-8 on short field goals, making all five from 20 to 29 and all three from 30 to 39 yards.

Maley, of Chugiak High fame, has hit on 8-of-14 attempts in seven games. He came into the year with three career field goals.

The Alaska kicker leads Wagner College with 39 points.

Chris Pasquale Cross Country RunningViterbo University runner Chris Pasquale of Anchorage was his team’s top runner at the Wisconsin Private College Cross Country Championships.

Viterbo finished second, two spots better than last year.

Pasquale, of Bartlett High fame, finished sixth out of 73 runners in the 8-K race in 27:54.

The Alaskan was nearly a half minute ahead of his next teammate.

October 24, 2014

Kari Hancock EquestrianSuper sophomore Kari Hancock of Anchorage maintained her undefeated record despite No. 7 Texas Christian University losing 11-8 to No. 3 Baylor in Texas.

The Alaska rider improved to 3-0 on the season and in the process earned her third Most Outstanding Player award.

This follows her TCU Athlete of the Week honors after MOP performances against Delaware State and Centenary.

Hancock, of South High fame, is 7-4-1 for her college career.

October 23, 2014

Doron Perkins

Photo by Euroleague.net

The most traveled professional basketball player from Alaska is on the move once again.

Doron Perkins of Anchorage will play his 10th international season in his 10th different country, signing with Euroleague team Laboral Kutxa of Spain’s top division.

“Playing in the Euroleague and Spanish liga is pretty cool,” he told me. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Perkins, of Bartlett High fame, is a two-way threat as a defender and playmaker.

Last year with Besiktas in Turkey, he averaged 10 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in EuroCup action. His season high for scoring was 25 points, just three shy of his career high.

Even at 31, the 6-foot-2 point guard remains relevant.

“I don’t know how many years I have left but I feel great as of now and I think I’m better than when I was younger,” Perkins said.

Perkins is joining a new-look Laboral Kutxa team that revamped after finishing sixth in the league, the first time it hadn’t been in the top five since 2003. This is the same Spanish team Brad Oleson of North Pole led to a La Liga title in 2010.

Laboral Kutxa needed a fresh start and turned to a man with a reputation for resurrecting teams.

He did it in Turkey, Greece, Urkaine, China, Germany, Belgium, Japan, Israel and Italy.

Why not Spain, too?

“This is a pretty good team. A lot of changes were made because the team hasn’t done as well as in the past,” Perkins said. “It should be a good opportunity to continue to play at a high level.”

Perkins has had opportunities with NBA teams in summer league and preseason, and he famously dropped a triple-double on the LA Clippers when he played with Israeli power Tel Aviv, but he never stuck with a team.

He turned to the international game, which turned him into a man and a millionaire.

“I would love to play in the NBA, but I definitely wouldn’t trade my overseas experience for anything,” Perkins said. “So many different cultures and people … I have learned way more than any school or university could teach me.”

October 21, 2014

Zac Naylor SoccerWhen the Concordia University men’s soccer team recruited Anchorage’s Zak Naylor it was because of his strength, technique and ability to score goals.

He hasn’t disappointed.

Naylor bagged two more goals in a 4-0 road win over Northwest University in Washington in a battle for first place in the Cascade Collegiate Conference.

The junior transfer has four goals and one assist in 13 games this season. His nine points are tied for third most on the NAIA team out of Portland.

Naylor, of South High fame, came to Concordia from Edmonds Community College, where he scored 18 goals in two seasons.

He has always had a nose for the goal and proved it against Northwest in the 12th minute when he pounced on a loose ball off a header and then again in the 53rd minute when he cleaned up a sloppy clear by the goalkeeper.

It was a big weekend for the Naylor family – Zac scored two goals and lil sister Jordan was named Miss Alaska High School for 2015.

October 20, 2014

kelsey_griffin_basketball_action4Kelsey Griffin of Eagle River returned to the basketball court in Australia and picked up right where she left off.

The two-time Grand Finals MVP resumed her role with the two-time league champion Bendigo Spirit, asserting herself as one of the best players in the WNBL with a 22-point, 5-rebound effort in the season opener.

Bendigo actually lost the game 70-67 on the road to Townsville in a rematch of last year’s championship game.

Griffin, of Chugiak High fame, made 8-of-12 field goals and 5-of-6 free throws. The 6-foot-2 forward typically shoots the ball well.

One more point will be No. 700 for her career in Australia. She has averaged 15.2 in 46 regular-season games, a number that climbs to 24-per-game in the WNBL Grand Final.

Lucas Updike RunningA pair of Alaskans helped the Eastern Oregon University men’s cross country team enjoy one of the best days in school history.

Buoyed by Ketchikan’s Lucas Updike and Anchorage’s Hans Roelle, the Mountaineers finished with the third best time in school history on their way to winning the Inland Empire Championships in Idaho.

Updike was 14th in the 8K race with a time of 24:43 – the 12th fastest time in Eastern Oregon history.

Two weeks ago, the senior was the team’s No. 1 runner at the 40th annual Willamette Invitational in Oregon, where he finished ninth overall in 25:19.

Hans Roelle Track and FieldRoelle was 18th in the race at the Inland Empire Championships in 25:40 – the 13th fastest time in school history.

Roelle, of West High fame, is also a senior.

The Eastern Oregon women’s team features Anchorage’s Rachel Roelle and Copper Center’s Kailey Wilson and finished fourth at the meet.

October 19, 2014

With 36 colleges and more than 250 runners, the Wisconsin Invitational is so massive you could get lost on the way to the starting line.

Silas Talbot Track and FieldYet somehow a couple of Alaskans from different schools managed to finish just a few strides apart.

Anchorage’s Silas Talbot of Dartmouth finished 84th with a time of 24:32.

Three seconds later, Anchorage’s Aaron Fletcher of BYU crossed 92nd in 24:35.

If it seems like these guys are connected, they are in a way. Both were state runner-ups in high school, Talbot in 2009 for Service and Fletcher in 2008 for South.

Now they are both at NCAA D1 schools.

Talbot was Dartmouth’s No. 1 runner at the Wisconsin Invitational.

The senior has posted sub-25 times in nine consecutive 8K races dating back to 2012.

Aaron Fletcher RunningFletcher was BYU’s fifth runner as the Cougars placed 13th as a team.

The junior has enjoyed a strong 2014 calendar year, especially during the track season when he set career-best marks in the mile, 3K and steeplechase.

October 18, 2014

D.J. Whittemore isn’t involved with the oil business, but the Western Nevada College baseball coach has tapped into the Alaska pipeline to strike it rich.

First it was Juneau’s Dylan Baker, who has graduated to pro ball in 2012.

Then it was Anchorage’s Max Karnos, who anchored the pitching staff last season as a freshman.

Now newcomer Johny Meszaros of Anchorage has joined the team.

Max Karnos BaseballKarnos, of South High fame, is a valuable and versatile piece of the puzzle that developed into the team’s workhorse. He led Western Nevada with 75.1 innings pitched and three complete games to go along with a 5-2 record and 3.58 ERA.

“Max came to us a confident and polished pitcher that experienced a great deal of success at all levels of youth baseball,” Whittemore told me. “He was a strike thrower when he arrived on campus and we set off to work to improve the quality of his stuff. He worked hard and improved his velocity 3 to 5 mph, and also developed a breaking ball that was college average from almost non-existent at the start of the year.”

Karnos started 12 of his first 13 games before he was moved to the bullpen for the playoffs. When Western Nevada beat Salt Lake 5-0 to reach the Scenic West Athletic Conference finals, it was Karnos that closed it out with two shutout innings.

“Max is capable of pitching in any role – as is almost every pitcher,” Whittemore said. “Throwing quality pitches is the art of starting or relieving. The role of ‘closer’ doesn’t really exist in our program. We have relievers that generally pitch when the game is the most tense and at the most crucial moments.”

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound right-hander has a strong sinking fastball that helped him average nearly seven strikeouts per game.

“The chief difference between a starter versus a reliever is the ability of a reliever to erase inherited runners via the strikeout,” Whittemore said. “Starters need to be strike throwers that can keep their pitch count down and get outs without velocity.”

Johny Meszaros baseballMeszaros, 19, did not play college baseball in 2014, although it was only a year ago that he was picked in the 39th round of the MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder righty is ripe with potential.

“Johny is a hard worker that has a clear goal in mind. He is educated in the art of pitching and has confidence as well,” Whittmore said. “His maturity as a student, person, and pitcher is growing each day and it will be fun to continue to watch his development.”

Meszaros, of Service High fame, has been limited since his arrival to Western Nevada because of some inflammation in his elbow.

“He needs to throw strikes to be successful. His fastball is good to great and comes out of his hand very easily and with some life. The key for him to be successful is command of the baseball,” Whittmore said. “He certainly has the breaking ball and the body of a professional pitcher.”

October 17, 2014

Julia Rumley TennisA perfect effort on the court earned Julia Rumley of Anchorage a nice reward.

The junior tennis player was named Grinnell College Athlete of the Week after winning all six matches in singles and doubles as the Pioneers swept three conference opponents.

Rumley, of East High fame, won her first match at No. 4 singles and picked up two more wins at the No. 5 position.

She also teamed with Sydney Banach to win No. 3 doubles three times.

On the season Rumley has an 8-2 record in singles and has won eight doubles matches with three different partners.

Grinnell is playing at the Midwest Conference Championships in Wisconsin this weekend. In 2012, Rumley was the No. 6 singles champion and half of the victorious No. 3 doubles team.

October 16, 2014

Jenna Arlow VolleyballPalmer’s Jenna Arlow of Sterling College is one of the top setters in NAIA volleyball, ranking 15th in the nation with 921 assists in 27 matches.

Sometimes, though, she’ll hit the ball to catch the defense off guard.

It happened against Kansas Wesleyan.

The 5-foot-5 junior match her season-high with seven kills to go along with 36 assists in a four-set loss.

Arlow, of Palmer High fame, has used good judgment when calling her own number this year. She has 81 kills compared to just 25 hitting errors for a career-high .243 attack percentage.

She has 136 kills and 1,650 assists for her career.

October 15, 2014

Bryan Maley FootballEagle River’s Bryan Maley scored eight points, including two in the first and second overtimes, as Wagner College beat Saint Francis 46-39 in NCAA D1 football action.

The senior placekicker made five PATs and a season-long 42-yard field goal.

Maley, of Chugiak High fame, leads Wagner with 31 points.

On the season he has made 6-of-11 field goals and 13-of-14 extra points.

October 14, 2014

Aaliyah Lewis SoccerWhen you average more than a point per soccer game, chances are you’re going to have huge games.

Well, Anchorage’s Aaliyah Lewis had a humongous week.

The Alabama State sophomore striker scored eight goals in three games over seven days, including back-to-back hat tricks.

The former Alaska player of the year torched Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Grambling State, matching her career-high with 3-1—7 totals. She also scored twice against Howard.

Lewis, of Dimond High fame, now has 11 goals and five assists in 13 games this season.

She has an incredible 29 goals and 12 assists in 34 career games for Alabama State, a NCAA D1 school in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Oliver Querin SoccerSomething about playing Regis University brings out the best in Colorado Mesa University men’s soccer player Oliver Querin of Palmer.

He has four goals in 44 career games – all four of them against Regis.

Querin struck again, scoring the lone goal as Colorado Mesa beat NCAA D2 No. 8 Regis 1-0 in a matchup between the top two teams in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

The senior defender found the net in the 58th minute for his first goal of the season. It came off a throw in that was headed his direction.

“It settled perfectly for me and I slaughtered it,” he told the school’s website. “It wouldn’t have come through to me if our team wasn’t challenging for those [50/50] balls.”

Querin, of Colony High fame, was honored by the conference by being named RMAC Defender of the Week.

In addition to his goal, helped the Mavericks earn back-to-back shutouts and allow just six shots on goal in two wins. Colorado Mesa leads the RMAC at 7-2 and is 9-2-1 overall.

October 13, 2014

Zack Bowman FootballThe New York Giants didn’t do much well in last night’s 27-0 loss to Philadelphia, but the loss wasn’t a complete waste for Anchorage’s Zack Bowman.

The seventh-year cornerback picked off Nick Foles in the second half, moving closer to Reggie Tongue’s Alaska record for interceptions in the NFL.

Bowman, of Bartlett High fame, now has 11 picks in 79 games.

In 2009, Bowman had an Alaska record six interceptions with the Chicago Bears.

Tongue, of Fairbanks, had 15 in 145 games from 1996 to 2005.

October 12, 2014

Brad Oleson BasketballBasketball has taken Brad Oleson of North Pole all over the world, but never China.

He got the chance with Spanish power Barcelona on its Euroleague Asia Tour.

The veteran shooting guard started both exhibition games, a 94-83 win over Zhejiang Lions and 123-57 win over the SBL All-Stars. He finished with a combined 17 points.

Oleson, of UAF fame, scored seven points in 14 minutes the first night. In the second game he collected 10 points and scored a bucket that put Barcelona over the century mark.

“Someone pointed out to me that geographically, playing in Hangzhou and Taipei is as close as I have come, playing professionally, to my home in North Pole, Alaska,” Oleson told Euroleague.net. “That is interesting; however, China and Alaska are still about eight time-zones apart.”

This is Oleson’s 10th professional season in Spain.

The 6-foot-3 shooter has averaged 12.7 points in 502 career games with Rosalia, Fuenlabrada, Caja Laboral and Barcelona.

October 11, 2014

Zach Lujan FootballThe Zach Lujan legacy is gaining steam.

He’s already an Alaska treasure as one of the few very players from here to start at quarterback for a NCAA D1 football team.

And he’s already turned heads at South Dakota State University after playing well in relief in Week 1, on the road no less, and orchestrating a three-game winning streak in his first three starts.

Now the Anchorage native has added another chapter: furious fourth-quarter comeback.

Lujan, of South High fame, led No. 19 South Dakota State to a pair of scoring drives in the final 15 minutes to highlight a 32-28 victory over Missouri State in South Dakota.

The sophomore signal caller set career highs in yards [310] and touchdowns [3]. He threw for 59 yards in the fourth quarter.

With his team down 28-17 at the start of the fourth quarter, he led his team back by throwing for a 26-yard touchdown followed up by throwing for the two-point conversation.

South Dakota State went ahead on its next drive, capped by a 1-yard TD run.

Lujan completed 17-of-28 passes, including one that went for a career-long 78 yards.

keely_jelinek_soccerJust a freshman, Keely Jelinek of Anchorage is already logging big minutes and making big plays for Carnegie Mellon University, ranked fourth in NCAA D2 women’s soccer.

The center defender scored the game winner in a 2-1 win over No. 12 University of Chicago, which pushed Carnegie Mellon’s record to 9-0.

Jelinek’s first college goal came in the 22nd minute off a corner kick. It was good enough to win her ECAC Rookie of the Week honors.

Jelinek, of South High fame, is one of five players out of 28 that have started every match this season.

October 10, 2014

anthony_cousin_basketball_sm1When Anthony Cousin of Anchorage ended his college basketball career at Illinois State University, he opted to settle down rather than chase down professional teams overseas.

After making basketball his priority for a decade, he wanted to appreciate the finer things in life.

“I’ve been catching up on the missed times with my family,” Cousin told me. “I was away for college for some years and wasn’t able to make it home as much. To finally come back and enjoy their time … it was all love.

“I got to see my first niece and nephew’s birth, so a lot of uncle duties were required, but I loved it. Also my brother was diagnosed with cancer, so once I heard that, everything was on pause, even basketball. But my brother wanted me to keep grinding because it’s been his dream as well to see me become successful at the professional level. So that was motivation.”

If anything, being away from the game only cemented his court commitment. He worked on his game, trained hard and traveled to Spain to get more exposure with international teams.

Cousin’s patience, and preparation, paid off nicely as the 5-foot-11 point guard has signed his first professional basketball contract with Jedinstvo, a Euroleague team out of the first division in Montenegro.

“It’s unreal. Growing up I had dreams of going pro but the way my previous situations have been I thought my dreams were over,” Cousin said. “By that I’m referring to my college years; senior year I didn’t play at all. I didn’t have the stats or a strong enough resume to get me anywhere. But with God, faith and a strong support cast, my dreams became a reality. To this day I’m still in shock.”

Cousin, of South High fame, was the Alaska runner-up for player of the year in 2008. He went to Butler Community College in Kansas and in 2010 helped the team win its first league title in nine years. From there he went to Illinois State of the Missouri Valley Conference and helped the team reach the NIT Sweet 16 in 2012.

He averaged 19.9 minutes, 4.3 points and 1.8 assists in 92 career games with Illinois State.

Cousin said he’s a better player than he was in college, he said, thanks to the tutelage of personal trainers, private coaches and professional representation.

“Yes, I can say I’m ready for the pro level. I worked hard day after day with trainers who trained guys at this level for a whole year. I believe in my hard work so now it’s time to put it to the test,” he said. “I think this was the best opportunity for me. I took the long route, but I never lost hope, so I feel this was well deserved.”

He didn’t know much about Montenegro, and he had never heard of Jedinstvo. But he’s all-in now.

“I got the call, told my family and packed up right away. I’m here now so I kinda know a little,” he said. “My role is to run the point and run it well. Run sets and run them properly while also attacking in transition as well. Put points on the board and to contribute as much as possible on both ends.”

The game is played differently in Europe than in the United States, but Cousin isn’t worried. Playing the right way translates in any language.

“I know it’s slower than the States, a lot of pick and roll basketball, less individual play,” he said. “That’s a huge advantage on my side.”