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 2,200 stories on over 300 Alaska athletes.

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

January 25, 2015

Damon Sherman-Newsome Basketball

Photo by Mitchell Layton

Straightforward and hard-driving, Damon Sherman-Newsome of Anchorage keeps his game plan simple.

And he keeps getting the job done.

The Colgate University senior guard struck again, pumping in 16 points and scoring the go-ahead bucket with 19 seconds left to provide a 59-58 victory over Loyola in New York.

Colgate trailed by a deuce with 1:27 left before the Alaskan took over. First he made one of two free throws, then finished off a hard drive to the rack for the game-winning bucket.

“I got the ball screen and was able to make a play out of it,” he told me. “Felt really good to get a win in such a close game and get over that hump.

The 6-foot-5 star guard leads the Patriot League in conference scoring at 18.8 points per game.

“I just try to focus on playing hard and taking what the defense gives me and stay confident and aggressive no matter if my shots are falling or not,” he said. “I think it’s good for the team and me that I keep that mindset.”

Sherman-Newsome, of Bartlett High fame, is averaging 15.8 points in 21 games. He’s scored 19 or more in seven games, including a career-high 30 against Holy Cross.

Colgate is tied with Bucknell for the Patriot League lead at 6-2.

January 23, 2015

Aminata Cole Basketball

Photo Credit: Lou Sennick, The World

When it comes to blocking shots, nobody is better in the Northwest Athletic Conference than Aminata Cole of Anchorage.

The 5-foot-11 sophomore center has led the JC league in each of the last two seasons for Southwestern Oregon Community College.

Her season high is 5 blocked shots. She’s had three other games with 4.

Cole leads the league with 2.21 blocks this season after swatting 2.64 shots last season.

She is coming off a 28-points, 14-rebound performance in an 89-82 loss to Umpqua and ranks in the top 5 in the NWAC in three different categories.

Cole, of Dimond High fame, is fourth in scoring [17.6], third in rebounding [9.2] and first in blocks.

January 22, 2015

It didn’t take long for Anchorage’s Hans Roelle and Ketchikan’s Isaac Updike of Eastern Oregon University to punch their ticket to the biggest meet of the season.

Hans Roelle Track and FieldThey did it on their first try while running at the Husky Preview Meet at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Rolle, of West High fame, earned an NAIA automatic qualifying mark in the 1,000-meter run when he finished seventh in 2:26.81 behind some of the best middle-distance runners in the country.

The winner of the event was Matthew Centrowitz, the fourth-place finisher at the London Olympics in the 1,500 and a world championship medalist. Second was Evan Jager, the U.S. record holder in the 3,000 meter steeplechase.

Roelle was the only non-professional or non NCAA D1 runner in the fast heat.

“He got drug out kind of fast for where our training is right now, but rallied late in the race to finish strong and record his second-fastest time ever in the event, behind only his prelim run at the 2014 NAIA Indoor Championships,” his coach Ben Welch told me.

Closing out the meet for EOU was Updike in the 3,000, where he recorded a very solid early season time of 8:26.10 to qualify an NAIA automatic qualifying mark.

Isaac Updike Track and FieldHe finished seventh in his heat of 19 runners and one of the individuals he picked off in the last 200 meters was UAA’s Dylan Anthony of Kodiak.

“Not bad for his first race since early May of 2014 and only third race since the NAIA Indoor Championships in March of 2014,” Welch said.

Updike redshirted outdoor last spring and ran out of college cross country eligibility this past fall, so has just been focusing on training since indoor last year.

January 20, 2015

Jared Miller wrestlingHe has won more than 100 wrestling matches at the college level and Jared Miller of Kotzebue believes more than half were decided before he stepped foot on the mat.

Confidence is a beautiful thing.

The 23-year-old NAIA All-American at Montana State University-Northern approaches every match believing he will win because he prepares to win every match.

“I’m mentally strong,” Miller told me. “Our coach really emphasizes confidence in practice. It’s a mind game. You have to approach those seven minutes thinking, ‘I’m gonna beat this guy.’”

Miller is a three-time NAIA National qualifier and defending national runner-up. He recently picked up his 100th career victory, a marvelous milestone that reflects durability and dominance in the sport he loves.

“It means a lot being a varsity wrestler and having a winning record and being able to perform at the level I’m capable of,” he said. “It’s a pretty awesome feeling.”

Miller has been a model of consistency over his career. Just look at his weight. He’s managed to stay at 174 pounds for the last four years.

“It hasn’t been too much of a struggle,” Miller said. “I usually walk around 185, so it’s not too terrible of a cut.”

He sounds nonchalant, but he monitors his calories closely.

“Controlling your weight is a really big deal in college because you have to make weight,” he said. “I’ve ran into some instances where I haven’t made weight at a couple tournaments and coach has not been very happy. I made sure to make weight ever since and control my weight much better than I did in high school.”

Miller won’t have to sweat his weight much longer. His remarkable career at MSU-Northern will come to an end in a few months. He almost can’t believe it.

“I wasn’t really thinking much of it, and then it hit me pretty good. It’s sentimental in a way,” he said. “Leaving it kind of sucks, but at the same time I won’t have to be worrying about cutting weight every week.”

He won’t drift far from the sport once he graduates with a degree in electrical technology.

“I’d love to be involved with wrestling for the rest of my life,” Miller said. “It’s been my whole life so far, so might as well keep going with it and seeing how far it goes.”

January 19, 2015
Eric Antesberger wrestling

Eric Antesberger

West Liberty State College wrestler Eric Antesberger of North Pole picked up a pair of victories over the weekend in West Virginia.

The 174-pounder gave up a total of just two points in two matches, first beating Dan Ingulli of East Stroudsburg 4-1 and then Austin Antill of Ohio Valley 3-1.

Last month, Antesberger finished second at the Ohio Northern Invitational.

Antesberger, a junior, is coming off a 21-win season in which he marched all the way to the third-place match at the NCAA D2 Championships. He lost to the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the semifinals.

In addition to being a wrestling star, he is an Academic All-American as well.

January 18, 2015
Ryan O'Leary Swimming

Ryan O’Leary

University of Wyoming swimmer Ryan O’Leary of Seward picked up another relay win.

The 6-foot-3 senior swam the third leg for the 400-yard freestyle relay that beat the University of Denver during a meet with a time of 3:02.51.

He has been a relay winner in each of his four seasons at Wyoming and won a conference title in the 800 free relay as a freshman.

He’s also earned all-conference honors in the 200 free and 400 free relays.

In addition to his relay win against Denver, O’Leary also swam on the 200 medley relay that was fourth.

Individually, he earned a pair of top-3 showings.

O’Leary was third in the 50 free [21.18] and third in the 100 free [46.82].

January 17, 2015

Colter Lasher BasketballIt used to be that college sophomores hit the wall, but Houston Baptist University forward Colter Lasher of Anchorage has knocked it down.

He’s reached double figures in 10 of 15 games this season and he’s among the league leaders with a .512 shooting percentage.

The 6-foot-7 sophomore made 7-of-12 shots as he scored 18 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in a 74-73 win over New Orleans in Texas. That’s the second-most points and rebounds he’s had in his college career.

Lasher, of Dimond High fame, is putting up 11.4 points and 4.1 rebounds a game.

In his last two games, though, he’s bumped those averages up to 16 and 8 while shooting 59 percent.

January 16, 2015

Ramon Harris BasketballThe NBA dream is still there, and Ramon Harris of Anchorage is tantalizing close.

The 26-year-old has found his niche in the NBA D-League with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, steadily improving in each of his four years as a professional to the point where he’s now a legitimate 3-point threat.

Harris, of West High fame, deserves a lot of credit for sticking with a sport many abandon at his age after realizing that playing in the NBA won’t happen. But if anything, the journey has only strengthened his resolve.

“There was and still am working on patience and letting God handle everything,” Harris told me. “I stuck with the D-League because I believe that I can play in the NBA and it helps when the GM and head coach are telling you that they want you back.”

The 6-foot-7 forward has started all 24 games this season for the defending league champion Mad Ants and is averaging a career-best 10.1 points and .429 shooting percentage.

He’s already made as many 3-pointers and scored as many points as he did all of last season, in nearly half as many games.

“I feel that I have come a long way in developing my game as a whole,” he said. “It took a lot of hard work to get to this point; countless hours in the gym and also studying the game of basketball.

“So all the work I put in gives me confidence at the end of games. It also helps that my coaches and teammates believe in me too.”

They believe in Harris enough to make him the go-to option when the Mad Ants need a 3. He won a game with a buzzer-beater last season. Just three nights ago he made 6-of-8 3s en route to scoring 20 points.

“I have spent years working on my 3-point shot,” he said. “I’m glad to see that it’s working for me.”

His jump shot is why he’s managed to make a living in basketball for the last four years. He’s also played professionally in China in Germany.

He prefers playing in the D-League, and living in Fort Wayne, Ind., where he can be close to his family.

“Life off the court isn’t like the NBA, but it could be a lot worse,” Harris said. “There are a lot of flights, bus rides and going from hotel to hotel and from state to state. I’m thankful, though, that I have an opportunity to play the game I love and also represent Anchorage as a positive influence for people who want to play ball from Alaska.”

January 15, 2015

Derrick Wilson BasketballDerrick Wilson of Anchorage played in his 100th consecutive game for the Marquette University men’s basketball last night.

His performance was typical, too.

The starting senior guard collected 6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and a blocked shot in 32 minutes in a 53-52 win over Creighton in Big East play.

Wilson, of East High fame, also made several defensive plays that don’t show up. But his coach, former Duke point guard Steve Wojciechowski loves having the Alaskan as his floor general.

“I think Derrick is a winner,” he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He’s a guy who is all about Marquette winning. He’s been a very good senior leader for us. He’s a kid with a great deal of character. He’s a guy that any coach would want on their team.”

January 14, 2015

Two coaches who have built championship programs and two female athletes with tremendous resumes and quality characters make up the 2015 Directors’ Awards class.

The 2015 Directors’ Awards recipients will be recognized along with the Class of 2015 inductees during the annual Alaska Sports Hall of Fame ceremony at the Anchorage Museum on Thursday, March 5th at 7:30pm.  Winners are selected by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame board of directors.

“The Directors’ Awards give our organization the opportunity to shine a light on some of Alaska’s sports figures who are making history right now,” said Harlow Robinson, Executive Director of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.  “It’s a nice bookend to the inductee enshrinements.”

“We’re very excited about this year’s recipients,” said Robinson. “In looking at the winners and all the other outstanding nominees that were considered,  it’s apparent just how high the bar is set in the Alaskan sports world.”

The 2015 winners:

Joe Floyd Award–For Significant and Lasting Contribution to Alaska through Sports. Mike Friess 2 

Michael Friess –  For the past quarter century as head coach at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Friess has built the men’s and women’s track and field and cross country programs into national collegiate powerhouses and has raised the popularity and visibility of the university.   The numbers are staggering under his tutelage – 17 Coach of the Year honors, 12 league titles, 5 NCAA champions, 62 All-Americans. If that wasn’t enough, he also directs the Mayor’s Marathon and Crow Pass Crossing.

 

Trajan Langdon AwardFor Leadership, Sportsmanship and Inspiration. 

Copy of AliyZirkle2-copyAliy ZirkleNobody has made second-place look so good. Known for her trademark smile, this 45-year-old Iditarod musher is as gracious as she is good. She puts her dogs first, always praises the competition and never makes excuses. Zirkle showed tremendous character when she finished the 1,100-mile race in second for the third consecutive year. And she did it with a smile. After being caught in the eye of a brutal storm, Zirkle nearly chased down eventual winner Dallas Seavey, losing by a mere 2½ minutes in one of the most dramatic finishes in the race’s 40-year history.

 

Pride of Alaska Award (female)--For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition. 

 Allie-Ostrander-2_fullAllie OstranderThis tiny titan of a runner turned 2014 into one of the most dominating seasons in Alaska running history. The Kenai High School standout shattered state records in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters on the track and in cross country, and won her third straight state championship.  In December she won a national championship at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore. Wait, there’s more. The 5-foot-1 Ostrander made history at Mount Marathon in Seward when she became the first girl to beat the boys for the junior title en route to setting a girls record and winning her sixth straight girls title.  A senior, Allie maintains a 4.0 GPA and has helped establish a running series in Kenai.

Pride of Alaska Award (male)–For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition. 

Erik-Flora-286x180Erik Flora As director of the Alaska Pacific University Nordic ski program, Flora has done more than just develop Olympians. He has helped build the gold standard for American Nordic skiing and has elevated American skiers to new levels of international success. He coached to APU/US Ski Team athlete Kikkan Randall to the first female World Cup Gold Medal to make US Skiing History.  In 2014, four of the American skiers who competed at the Winter Games in Sochi came from APU.  In 2013, he was named National Coach of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee. It was an overdue honor because for years Flora has been tied to our country’s top talent, most notably Randall, but several others that have won national championships and made podiums internationally.

Director’s Award recipients will be recognized on a plaque at the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame gallery at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International airport.

For more information on the Directors’ Awards and the past winners visit the Directors’ Awards homepage.

January 13, 2015

Jesse Ellis BasketballWhen the Central Methodist University women’s basketball team needs to ice a game from the free-throw line, it turns to Skagway’s Jesse Ellis, who must have ice-water in her veins.

The senior guard has been money at the foul line this season, making 33-of-37 attempts to lead the NAIA Heart of America Athletic Conference at .892 percent.

Ellis made 4-of-5 free throws, including a pair with 25 seconds left, to help Central Methodist hold off Avila 71-62 in Missouri.

She finished with 17 points, including eight during a terrific two-minute stretch late in the second half.

This was the 10th time she’d reached double figures in 13 games this season.

Ellis, of Skagway High fame, is averaging 11.7 points and 7.4 rebounds.

Bryn Tennyson of Anchorage scored a season-high 17 points for Clark College in an 84-70 win over tonight Pierce College in Washington.

The freshman guard made 6-of-9 field goals, including a season-best four 3-pointers.

Besides shooting the ball well, Tennyson grabbed 5 rebounds, passed off 5 assists and made 4 steals.

Her previous season high was 11. That night she also collected 13 rebounds for her first double-double in college.

Tennyson, of Anchorage Christian fame, is averaging 5.7 points and 5.8 rebounds in 11 games with the junior college.

Clark College features another Alaskan in Megan Pyles of Kodiak. The freshman forward has two double-doubles and a season-high 20 points. She missed tonight’s game.

January 12, 2015
Kevin Rima basketball

Kevin Rima

Foul trouble in overtime didn’t slow down Northwest Nazarene University big man Kevin Rima of Fairbanks.

The 6-foot-7 senior center played overtime with four fouls but still managed to score four of his team’s nine points, leading the Crusaders to a 72-68 win over Saint Martin’s in NCAA D2 play in Washington.

Rima, of Hutchison High fame, finished the game with 16 point and 11 rebounds. It was the 12th double-double of his career.

He made 5-of-7 field goals and 6-of-7 free throws. He added 2 assists, 2 steals and a blocked shot.

Rima is approaching some severe milestones with 882 career points and 527 career rebounds.

This season in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Rima ranks third in rebounding [7.2], 10th in FG% [.548], 11th in blocks [0.7] and 23rd in scoring [10.7].

January 11, 2015

Adam Klie basketballThe defense was up-close and aggressive, but UC San Diego guard Adam Klie of Anchorage knew exactly what to do.

He hit them with a little dribble and a little drive.

The result was a season-high 20 points as UCSD beat San Francisco State 71-58 in NCAA D2 men’s basketball action in California. Four of his six buckets came on layups and he went to the foul line a season-best12 times.

“They were playing real tight on our shooters, which opened up lanes to drive. I was just trying to be aggressive out there and get to the rim and make plays,” Klie told me.

“For me it was really about playing looser within the system. I think the shots kind of come when you’re aggressive and playing hard with a purpose.”

Klie, of Service High fame, has reached double figures seven times in 12 games and pushed his season scoring average to 10.3.

“I don’t think getting double digits is a goal as much as is just making plays to help the team win,” he said. “Whether that’s on the offensive or defensive end or scoring or passing, it doesn’t really matter.”

The former Alaska player of the year grabbed a season-high 8 rebounds.

“Some of the rebounds were just being in the right place at the right time,” he said. “Part of it was just playing my normal game and trying to compete on the glass.”

Klie was solid late in the game, sinking 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch. He finished 7-for-12.

Making his free throws has been bit of a bugaboo for the 6-foot-4 guard this season. He’s actually shooting better from the floor [.573] than the charity stripe [.556].

“I will tell you one thing,” Klie said. “I definitely need to get up some more free throws this week.”

January 10, 2015

Nani Ostrom basketballLauded by her coach for working hard behind the scenes, Pacific University women’s basketball player Nani Ostrom of Juneau is starting to see the limelight.

The senior guard took her game to another level last week with a career-high 19 points against Linfield followed by an 18-point performance against Lewis & Clark.

Her excellent effort was good enough to get recognized by a news group, Women Play Ball, which named her NCAA Division 3 Player of the Week.

“Nani played two outstanding games over the weekend to help lead our team to two road victories,” Pacific coach Sharon Rissmiller told the school’s website. “I am ecstatic for Nani to be recognized because of all her hard work. She is a true team player and a fantastic person that gives her best effort at all times.”

Ostrom is averaging a career-high 11.2 points in 12 games this season. She has reached double figures six times, including the last three games.

Hannah Mattson BasketballNow that she’s starting again for the University of Portland women’s basketball team, Hannah Mattson of Fairbanks is finding her way into the scoring column a lot more.

The sophomore has scored a season-best 8 points in back-to-back starts to help nearly double her season scoring average [2.4] with the NCAA D1 team in Oregon.

The 5-foot-9 guard has made 6-of-8 field goals in those two games in addition to grabbing six rebounds and making two steals.

She played a season-high 28 minutes against Santa Clara. Then today against San Francisco she had 8 points and 4 rebounds in 18 minutes.

Mattson, of West Valley High fame, has earned 15 starts in 42 career games.

January 9, 2015

Willy Homza baseball

Willy Homza

Hands down the coolest thing to happen to teenage Anchorage baseball player Willy Homza was being invited to participate in an academic all-star game at the Arizona Fall Classic.

“That’s where all the good schools are watching and you only get in if you have good grades,” he told me.

This kid values good grades as much as base hits and it shows. Homza carries a 4.1 GPA into his senior year and he hit .400 in high school last year and was named all-conference at shortstop.

The switch-hitting, smooth-fielding 17-year-old played well in Arizona and immediately caught the interest of college coaches. He stands 6 feet and weighs 185 pounds.

“I expected D2 schools from the Northwest,” he said. “Then I started getting calls from the Ivy League. I don’t know how to describe it. It just felt so good to get offers from such awesome schools.”

Homza, of South High fame, picked Brown University over Dartmouth College and has already signed his National Letter of Intent to make him eligible to play NCAA D1 baseball in the fall of 2015.

“Willy is a great kid, a hard worker and his improvement over the last 18 months makes his future look bright,” Alaska Baseball Academy director Tony Wylie told me. “I believe he will be successful at Brown based on his work ethic and skill.”

Homza played for Wylie’s ABA that took a trip to the Arizona Fall Classic. It was there that Homza made his name, especially in the academic all-star game that was open only to high school players with a 3.5 GPA and 1,700 SAT score.

“I hope the message it sends is how work ethic in the classroom is equally important as work ethic on the field,” said Wylie, a member of the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau.

Homza visited the Brown campus located in Providence, Rhode Island, where he met the coaches and the players, and toured the college facilities. He’s already familiar with the East Coast as he has family in Connecticut and spends a month there every summer.

He said the Brown coaches told him that he would get an opportunity to earn a starting infield job as a freshman. It was an open competition.

“I like the sound of that,” Homza said. “I think I work pretty hard. I wouldn’t say I work hard at it because it’s my goal to keep advancing. I do it because I love it. I don’t even call it work. I think it’s so much fun to go to the cage and hit and take groundballs. I’m super happy I can keep playing.”

January 7, 2015

Damon Sherman-NewsomeColgate University senior Damon Sherman-Newsome of Anchorage became the newest member of a very exclusive club tonight.

He became just the seventh men’s basketball player from Alaska to reach the 30-point benchmark in a NCAA D1 game.

The 6-foot-5 guard pumped in a career-high 30 points in impressive fashion, draining 11-of-14 shots, including 6-of-8 3s, to help Colgate beat Holy Cross 74-60 as the Raiders moved to 3-0 in the Patriot League for the first time since 1999.

Sherman-Newsome had 29 points earlier this season and is averaging a career-best 15.5 points in 16 games.

Duke’s Trajan Langdon of Anchorage created the 30-point club in 1997.

The more guys to do it, the more respect the state receives in the national conversation. It’s pivotal in earning us more respect.

Coincidently, Sherman-Newsome became the third former Bartlett High star to join the 30-point club. Here is a look at the list:

Points, Player, College, High School
39 Kevin Winford, Eastern Washington, Bartlett
35 Damen Bell-Holter, Oral Roberts, Ketchikan
34 Trajan Langdon, Duke, East Anchorage
33 Carlos Boozer, Duke, Juneau-Douglas
30 Jason Erickson, Montana State, Chugiak
30 Mario Chalmers, Kansas, Bartlett
30 Damon Sherman-Newsome, Colgate, Bartlett

Eli Sponseller BasketballThanks to a hot hand from outside, senior guard Eli Sponseller of North Pole bagged a season-high 16 points for the Coast Guard Academy.

He sank a season-best five 3-pointers in the 74-63 loss to Connecticut College.

Sponseller had gone three straight games without dialing a 3 from long range.

He also had 16 points in November during a victory over Framington State.

Sponseller has started 10 of 11 games this season for the NCAA D3 team and is averaging 5.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting 36 percent from the floor.

January 6, 2015

colter_lasher_basketballHe got ‘em from inside, midrange and the 3-point line. By the end, Houston Baptist University sophomore Colter Lasher of Anchorage had accumulated a career-high 25 points.

His excellent effort powered a 68-56 victory over McNeese State and gave the Huskies their first-ever road win as members of the Southland Conference.

The 6-foot-7 forward sank 10-of-16 field goals, including a pair of 3-pointers. He was also 3-for-3 from the foul line.

Lasher, of Dimond High fame, bumped his scoring average to 12 points in 12 games in this his breakout season.

He had 14 by halftime in this game, and then took over late. His reverse layup pushed the lead to 60-51. In the final two minutes he drove for a short jumper and then sealed the deal with two free throws.

He is shooting the ball extremely well across the board:

FG% .527
3FG% .424
FT% .800

January 5, 2015

Justin Kaufman FootballAdams State University senior Justin Kauffman of Anchorage enjoyed his best shooting night of his college career.

The 6-foot-2 guard dropped in 6-of-8 3-pointers en route to scoring a season-high 21 points in an 80-66 win over Chadron State in Nebraska.

Kauffman, of West High fame, also made all three foul shots.

It was his second-highest scoring performance in 63 career games. His career high of 27 was set in 2013 against South Dakota Tech.

He has reached double figures 19 times, including twice this year.

Kauffman is shooting 46 percent from 3-point land, ranking him near the top five in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

He is averaging 6.8 points in nine games.

He is a two-sport athlete for the NCAA D2 school in Colorado. He also played fullback with the football team and scored touchdowns in each of his three seasons on the gridiron.

The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame ceremony to honor the Class of 2015 inductees and annual Directors’ Awards winners will be held on Thursday, March 5 at the Anchorage Museum auditorium at 625 C Street in downtown Anchorage.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a receiving-line reception to follow in the museum atrium.

In the case of overflow seating in the auditorium, there will be a catered live-stream viewing of the event in the atrium with a hosted bar.

The induction class includes Olympic biathlete and Anchorage Nordic Skiing pioneer Dick Mize, Ketchikan basketball icon John Brown, and Mountain running legend Nancy Pease.

Soldotna’s Michaela Hutchison’s groundbreaking state wrestling championship in 2006, to become the first girl in the nation to win an outright high school wrestling will be honored in the “Moment” category.

The grueling Iron Dog snowmobile will be recognized in the “Event” category.

January 4, 2015

kelsey_griffin_basketball_action4Something has gotten into Kelsey Griffin, because she has looked like a totally different player in the last month.

Let me show you:

First 7 games
PPG 10.7 FG% .419

Last 7 games
PPG 18.7 FG% .567

The 28-year-old professional basketball player from Eagle River continued her recent revival with today’s Bendigo Spirit victory in Australia.

Griffin poured in 27 points to highlight an 83-70 win over the West Coast Waves. She also grabbed 9 rebounds, just missing another double-double.

The 6-foot-2 forward sank a remarkable 12-of-18 shots from the field. She missed all four 3-point attempts, so her midrange game must have been on point.

Griffin, of Chugiak High fame, is in her third season Down Under. She plays in the WNBA in the summers, crossing continents every six months.

She won back-to-back championships in her first two years in Australia, asserting herself as one of the top offensive players in the league.

January 3, 2015

Damon Sherman-Newsome basketballDamon Sherman-Newsome reached double figures for the 13th time in 15 games after netting a game-high 24 points as Colgate University beat Bucknell 68-62 in New York.

The Anchorage native made 6-of-11 shots to go along with a career-high 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. He made his final 10, including six to ice the game in the closing moments.

The 6-foot-5 senior guard helped Colgate start 2-0 in the Patriot League for the first time since 1999.

It didn’t come easily as Colgate rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit.

Sherman-Newsome, of Bartlett High fame, spearheaded the comeback.

“Obviously, Damon was huge down the stretch for us,” Colgate coach Matt Langel told the school’s website. “We battled a lot of adversity. Our seniors were in foul trouble. We kind of had to throw some other guys in there and Damon stepped up and became stable for us on the offensive end as well as on the defensive end, which is critical to winning league games. After missing his first two, he nailed 10 straight and iced the game there at the end.”

Sherman-Newsome, of Bartlett High fame, raised his season scoring average to 14.5 points in 15 games.

He is shooting 48 percent from the floor and making an average of two 3s per game.