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 at the professional, international and college level 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 has written more than 2,500 stories on over 300 Alaska athletes.

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

November 28, 2015

Sam Wicks swimming

Sam Wicks

The Mountain West Conference has named Anchorage’s Sam Wicks the Swimmer of the Week for the second time in her career.

The Boise State senior was coming off a record-setting weekend at the Art Adamson Invitational in College Station, Texas, where she posted conference-best times in three individual races and three relays, and set a Boise State record in the 200 backstroke.

Wicks, of East High fame, recorded four NCAA B cuts at the event, with three coming in the 100 back, 200 back and 200 IM, and the fourth as part of the 400 free relay which finished fourth and posted the eighth-fastest time in the NCAA this season at 3:17.41.

In the 200 back, Wicks set a school record with a time of 1:54.24, surpassing the old mark by 1.96 seconds. Her time was also the second-fastest in Mountain West history, just 0.11 of a second behind the record.

November 27, 2015

Dylan Baker baseball

Dylan Baker

The Cleveland Indians have given Dylan Baker of Juneau a tip of the cap.

The MLB team added the 23-year-old pitcher to its 40-man roster, the ultimate compliment given Baker threw only five innings in 2015.

“I was pretty surprised. I knew I had a chance but also knew so many players had good years, and I have been injured the whole year,” Baker told me. “Definitely gives me a boost of confidence, especially being injured two years in a row. Just shows that they still believe in me.”

The 40-man roster is made up of players that have signed a big league contract and they can be called up to the 25-man roster at any time, which means he is just a phone call away from pitching in ‘The Show.’

Only three Alaskans have actual MLB experience – Marshall Boze and Chris Mabeus of Soldotna and Chad Bentz of Juneau.

Baker, a rocket-armed right-hander, pitched last season for the Class A Advanced Lynchburg Hillcats. In his lone start he threw five hitless innings and struck out a career-high nine batters.

Then he suffered a major right elbow injury that shut him down for the rest of the season.

“I have been rehabbing for a little over seven months now,” he said. “It’s a 12-month recovery if everything goes as planned.”

Baker has an 11-11 record and 3.68 ERA in 48 career games. He has 207 Ks in 242 innings. He is one of only nine Alaska pitchers to reach double-digit wins as the pro level.

He accepted an invitation to attend Cleveland’s spring training in Arizona but obviously won’t pitch. That doesn’t mean he won’t enjoy himself, though.

“It will be an awesome experience being around all the big leaguers,” Baker said.

November 25, 2015

Laci Effenberger basketball

Laci Effenberger

After a slow start to the college basketball season, Laci Effenberger of Ketchikan has come on in a hurry.

In Cal State East Bay’s recent two-game trip to Colorado, the senior guard set new career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals and 3-pointers in back-to-back nights.

Against UC Colorado Springs, she pumped in a career-high 18 points on 6-of-11 3-point shooting. She also collected six rebounds and three steals, both career highs.

The next night against Metropolitan State University of Denver she dished off a career-high seven assists to go with 15 points.

In four games, the 5-foot-7 starter is averaging 11.8 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds.

November 24, 2015

Mario Chamlers basketball

Mario Chamlers

It’s no accident the Memphis Grizzlies have posted a 5-1 record since acquiring Anchorage’s Mario Chalmers from the Miami Heat.

The only player in Alaska history to win championships in high school, college and the NBA brought his winning persona to Memphis.

The veteran guard is averaging 14 points in 19 minutes while coming off the bench with his new team.

Tonight he grabbed a season-high five steals, which pushed him over the 800 mark for his career; the first Alaskan to reach that total.

Chalmers, of Bartlett High fame, scored 29 points and went 13-for-15 at the foul line to key a win over Oklahoma City.

In just six games with the Grizzlies he has made 38-of-44 free throws and contributed 16 assists and 12 steals.

November 23, 2015

Griffin Toomey FootballA couple Alaska players were on the field when 10th-ranked Saint John’s beat No. 18 Dubuque 51-7 Saturday in Collegeville, Minnesota, in the first round of the NCAA D3 college football playoffs.

Anchorage’s Griffin Toomey is the punter for Saint John’s and Conor Feckley of Anchorage is the backup quarterback for Dubuque.

Toomey, of South High fame, is one of the best punters in his conference with a season-long kick of 61 yards. In this game he punted three times, with two of them downed inside the 20.

He averaged 37.3 yards per attempt, right at his season average.

Saint John’s improved to 10-1.

A junior, Toomey hasn’t had a punt blocked in 122 career attempts.

Conor Feckley football

Conor Feckley

Feckley, of West High fame, is a sophomore quarterback who saw limited playing time in his first playoff appearance.

Two weeks ago, in his only start, the 6-footer completed 17-of-31 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-21 win over Coe. All of his stats were career highs.

Feckley played in a total of five games this season. Last year he saw action just once.

Dubuque finished the year 8-3, 1-0 with Feckley as the starter.

November 22, 2015

Adam Klie basketballJunior guard Adam Klie of Anchorage scored 14 points as UC San Diego upset No. 10 Colorado School of Mines 86-74.

He made 4-of-4 free throws, grabbed four rebounds and played 35 minutes.

Klie, of Service High fame, has reached double digits in 14 of his last 15 games.

In the season opener, he led the Tritons with game-high totals of 17 points and 6 rebounds.

UC San Diego [2-0] will face another nationally ranked team Tuesday against No. 11 California Baptist.

Klie has scored 623 points in 55 career games with the NCAA D2 school.

November 21, 2015
Allie Ostrander running

Allie Ostrander

Her season ended with a silver medal, but Allie Ostrander of Kenai is still Boise State’s golden girl.

The freshman runner capped her remarkable cross country season with a second-place finish among 254 women at the NCAA D1 Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Kentucky.

Ostrander earned All-American honors and led Boise State to an 11th–place finish in the team standings.

This was only the second time the Boise State women’s team participated at the national meet. The first was last year when the Broncos placed 11th just like this year; except this time around they trimmed their point total from 392 to 330.

Ostrander, of Kenai High fame, finished first or second in all six college races this year.

Notre Dame senior Molly Seidel won the 6K race in 19 minutes, 28.6 seconds, with Ostrander crossing in 19:33.7.

Ostrander beat Seidel at the Wisconsin Invitational in October. She was trying to become the first freshman to win since 1985.

For Seidel, it’s her second national title since June when she won the NCAA 10,000 meter title in Eugene, Oregon.

Ostrander has had a long, action-packed season that started in September when she became just the second American woman to win the women’s junior title at the 31st World Mountain Running Championships in North Wales.

Other titles included victories at the Mountain West Conference and West Regional races. She was also named NCAA West Region Women’s Athlete of the Year.

For her next act, check back for track.

November 20, 2015

Dallas Dickerson BasketballDallas Dickerson of Anchorage pumped in a season-high 11 points to help Fort Lewis College beat Texas-Permian Basin 69-54 at the Lubbock Christian Tournament in Texas.

The sophomore guard didn’t score until the final play of the first half when she made at the buzzer.

Dickerson carried that momentum into the second half as the Skyhawks pulled away to win their third straight game to open the NCAA D2 women’s basketball season.

It was the fourth time in 29 career games that the former Alaska Class 3A player of the year reached double figures in college. Her career high is 15.

Dickerson, of Anchorage Christian fame, has emerged as a reliable scorer coming off the bench for Fort Lewis.

She is averaging 5.9 points per game in her career as a reserve – 3.0 ppg as a starter.

This year the 5-foot-8 Alaskan is shooting .476 percent [10-for-21], a vast improvement from her freshman season [.352].

November 19, 2015

Rachel Johnson soccer

Rachel Thompson

Highline College goalkeeper Rachel Thompson of Kenai anchored a defense that carried the Thunderbirds all the way to the Northwest Athletic Conference title game.

The freshman finished tied for second in the league with 12 shutouts and flashed a 49-9 saves-to-goals ratio in her first season of college soccer.

Thompson, of Nikiski High fame, started 21 games for the 17-4-1 Thunderbirds.

Highline College clinched a share of the NWAC’s West Division and beat North champion Peninsula College 2-1 in the league tournament’s semifinals.

In the final, Spokane beat Highline 2-0.

November 18, 2015

Jenna Arlow VolleyballPalmer’s Jenna Arlow ended her Sterling College volleyball career after a four-set loss in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals.

The 5-foot-5 senior setter collected 38 assists, 11 digs and pair of blocks against Friends University in Kansas.

Arlow, of Palmer High fame, finished second in the conference with 1,090 assists and ended her four-year career at Sterling second all-time in assists with 3,164.

Her name appears twice in the top 10 for single season assists; in 2014 she finished with 1,345 and 2015 with 1,090.

Arlow also currently ranks 38th in the nation in assists per set [9.56].

She was named Second Team All-Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference for the second straight year.

November 17, 2015

Colter Lasher basketball

Colter Lasher

Anchorage’s Colter Lasher played perhaps his best game for Houston Baptist University.

The 6-foot-7 forward scored 17 points on 8-on-10 shooting and blocked a career-best four shots in a 102-62 win over Crowley’s Ridge in Texas.

The junior made his only 3-point attempt and grabbed five rebounds.

Lasher, of Dimond High fame, is averaging 14.0 points on 57 percent shooting in two games.

He has reached double figures in 25 of 56 career games with the NCAA D1 Huskies.

Doron Perkins BasketballAt 32, Doron Perkins of Anchorage should be entering the twilight portion of his basketball career.

Yet he isn’t slowing down.

The 6-foot-3 guard collected 14 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists for Yesilgiresun in a 76-67 loss to Istanbul in Turkey.

Perkins, of Bartlett High fame, sank 7-of-12 shots in 37 minutes.

He is tied for second in the league with 8.0 rebounds per game. He is also averaging 9.0 points and 4.2 assists in five games.

November 16, 2015

Whitney Williams tennis

Whitney Williams

There is something about the Grand Canyon Invitational in Phoenix, Arizona, that brings out the best in Anchorage tennis player Whitney Williams.

Maybe it’s doubles partner Erin Walker.

The Abilene Christian University teammates were paired for the first time this fall and it resulted in another title.

Williams and Walker went 3-0 and won the top flight women’s doubles draw for the second straight year after beating a Grand Canyon duo 7-5 in the championship match.

“I was really excited to get back with her, specifically for this tournament,” Williams told me. “It was awesome.”

Williams, of South High fame, is a sophomore at Abilene Christian, a NCAA D1 school in Texas. Walker is a junior.

They have won 14 of 21 matches together since last season. However, their latest victory was perhaps the most memorable given how the women had to rally from a 5-3 deficit.

“I think we wanted it more,” Williams said. “But I don’t think we were focused on winning as much as we were with just sticking with the game plan.”

Williams plays singles and doubles for Abilene Christian but she’s had more success in doubles with four career titles. She won at Oklahoma and Air Force with different partners.

She is attracted to the teamwork, increased net play and aggressive strategy that doubles provides.

“It’s more fun because you have that person next to you, lifting you up when you make a bad decision or make a really good play,” Williams said. “I’m more comfortable with doubles.”

November 15, 2015

Taylor Ostrander cross country running

Taylor Ostrander

Kenai’s Taylor Ostrander was instrumental in helping the Willamette University women’s cross country team maintain its grasp on the NCAA D3 West Regional title.

The senior runner finished second on her team and third overall among 133 finishers as Willamette upset top-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and reigning Northwest Conference champion Whitworth to win the championship for the second straight year.

Ostrander, of Kenai High fame, finished the 6K race in 21 minutes, 46.3 seconds.

A day earlier her younger sister Allie won the NCAA D1 West Regional individual title for Boise State University.

This was the second team championship for Ostrander at Willamette of Salem, Oregon.

Her footprints are all over the program’s success in the last three seasons.

She won the NWC individual title in 2014 and was second in 2013 and 2015.

At the West Regional, she finished in the top-5 as a sophomore, junior and senior.

This year will mark her third appearance at the NCAA D3 Championships.

Trevor Dunbar running

Trevor Dunbar

Kodiak’s Trevor Dunbar turned in a top-10 finish at today’s USATF 12K Championships in Virginia.

The 24-year-old runner finished eighth with a time of 34 minutes, 49 seconds.

Sam Chelanga won in 34:35.

Dunbar, of Kodiak High fame, was an eight-time NCAA All-American at Oregon and Portland before turning pro this season.

Click here to watch the race.

Three weeks ago Dunbar won the 8K race at the 25th annual Boston Mayor’s Cup Cross Country meet.

November 14, 2015

Zach Lujan football

Zach Lujan

How does South Dakota State football spell relief?


Junior quarterback Zach Lujan of Anchorage came on in relief of the starter late in the game and orchestrated a pair of scoring drives in the fourth quarter that led the Jackrabbits to a 30-23 win over South Dakota.

He entered the game with 21 seconds left in the third quarter and No. 5 South Dakota State trailing 20-10.

Lujan, of South High fame, completed passes of 34 and 14 yards to set up a touchdown run. On the next possession he set up pass plays of 25 and 38 yards to set up another rushing touchdown.

He finished 6-of-8 for 128 yards.

Last week he stepped in relief in the second quarter and completed a 14-yard touchdown pass, the go-ahead score in a 25-20 win over Illinois State.

South Dakota State has won 10 of 15 games he has started and Jackrabbits win when he comes off the bench. Bottom line, he is a big reason why the team has posted a 17-5 record since he’s been on campus.

Matt Ilalio football

Matt Ilalio

Anchorage’s Matt Ilalio continues to make plays for the Sacred Heart University defense.

The sophomore defensive back grabbed his first career interception in today’s 28-19 victory over Bryant during NCAA D1 football action in Rhode Island.

Ilalio, of Service High fame, picked off the pass early in the third quarter.

The 5-foot-9, 205-pounder is one of only three players on the Sacred Heart team to have a sack, tackle for loss and interception this season.

The Pioneers are 5-5 this season.

Ilalio has 20 tackles, 9 solo, in eight appearances.

November 13, 2015

Allie Ostrander running

Allie Ostrander

She was 1,500 miles from Kenai, but Allie Ostrander felt right at home today in Seattle.

The conditions were wet and windy, similar to Alaska.

And she won the race, just like she did so many times in Alaska.

The Boise State freshman achieved arguably her greatest accomplishment by winning the NCAA West Regional title, powering through a steady rain to post a 6-K time of 20 minutes, 10 .9 seconds.

“It felt really good,” Ostrander told the school’s website. “It was a fun race, kind of adventurous out there with it being muddy and slick, but it was fun and it made it all the better that we had a good team race.”

Ostrander, of Kenai High fame, is just the second Boise State runner to win the West Regional title.

Her victory led the Broncos to a second-place finish to secure the team’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championships next weekend in Louisville, Kentucky.

Ostrander put the hammer down at the 4-K mark to pull away from the field and finish 22 seconds ahead of the runner-up.

She was coming off a victory at the Mountain West Conference Championships.

Aaron Fletcher running

Aaron Fletcher

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, Aaron Fletcher of Anchorage helped BYU finish third at the NCAA Mountain Regional to help the Cougars advance to the NCAA Championships for the 17th straight season.

Fletcher placed second on his team and 16th overall with a 10-K time of 30:23.4.

The senior captain won the West Coast Conference championship in his last outing.

Fletcher, of South High fame, has placed in the top-20 in all six races this season.

November 12, 2015

Travis ThompsonIt’s only been two games, but Travis Thompson of Anchorage is blowing up in Germany.

The rookie guard is averaging 18.5 points and has made a team-high eight 3-pointers for the Fraport Skyliners in Frankfurt.

Thompson, of Dimond High fame, is also grabbing 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 35.5 minutes. His team is 1-1.

The 6-foot-1 playmaker is coming off an All-American career at UAA, where he finished as the No. 2 scorer in school history with 1,667 points. He is also the all-time leader with 302 3s.

November 11, 2015

Miami Heat v Dallas MavericksMario Chalmers of Anchorage has always been booed in Memphis.

The animosity stems from the 2008 NCAA championship game when he made a game-tying 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and allow Kansas to beat Memphis for the national title.

The hard feelings carried over to his NBA career with Miami Heat as Memphis Grizzlies fans continued to remind him how they felt.

Let’s see what they think of him now.

The 29-year-old point guard was traded from the Heat to the Grizzlies as part of a four-player trade.

Chalmers, of Bartlett High fame, left an indelible mark on the Miami Heat franchise. He was the starting point guard on the 2012 and 2013 NBA championship teams and holds the team record with nine steals in one game.

As a starter, the Heat went 292-164 including the playoffs. He had many memorable performances, most notably his 25-point effort in Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals against Oklahoma City and his 2013 game in Sacramento when he made 10 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 34 points.

“Rio can hold his head high, leaving on a great note here,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters. “He’ll always be remembered as a two-time champion point guard here in Miami, welcomed in Miami from here on out.”

Chalmers is the only Alaska basketball player to win a championship at the high school, college and pro level.

He also ranks among the greatest players in Miami Heat history.

This is where he ranks among the team’s all-time leaders:

Games: 4th 525
Minutes: 6th 14,571
3-Pointers: 4th 657
Assists: 4th 2004
Steals: 2nd 791

“It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to be a part of the Miami Heat championship family for more than 7 seasons,” Chalmers tweeted. “It is with great sadness and excitement that I end one amazing chapter on my NBA career to graciously begin another with the Memphis Grizzlies.”

November 10, 2015

Thanks to all of you that tune in to the Alaska Sports Blog!  Here is a look at the stories with the most social shares over the past six months.


November 9, 2015

Visit our interactive voting page and help select the people, moments, events to be inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2016!

Every year, the public plays a key role in selecting the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame inductees.  Please forward this message along and make sure to get your vote in by midnight AKST, November 30th!

Kari Hancock equestrian

Kari Hancock

After earning All-America honors last season, Kari Hancock of Anchorage is showing her success with the nationally ranked Texas Christian University equestrian team was no fluke.

The junior is currently 4-1 this season in Equitation on the Flat and recently set a Big 12 Conference and National Collegiate Equestrian Association regular-season record by scoring 98 out of 100 points.

Hancock set the record on Halloween as No. 7 TCU beat South Dakota State 15-4 at Turning Point Ranch in Springtown, Texas.

She rode her favorite horse on the team, Carmeline.

“Carm is very talented but she can be difficult to ride and extremely sensitive,” Hancock told me. “Being able to connect with her and pull out a score like that is one of the most rewarding feelings. I’ve competed on her three times total, but this last weekend was the first time we really pulled everything together.”

Hancock, of South High fame, received the Most Outstanding Player (MOP) award for her record-setting ride and was also named a TCU Muscle Milk Athlete of the Week.

“I’ve really been working hard on perfecting the details, polishing up my style now that I’ve really gotten a handle on the collegiate format,” she said. “We are given a pattern the week before the match, which we have to memorize and perfect on a variety of horses at home because we never know who we will end up riding on game day.”

Having a good relationship with a horse is crucial to having a good ride.

“Essentially we have specific movements that we have to complete between set points in the ring which are marked by letters. The goal is to be accurate and smooth as possible, while still being able to direct the horse through each maneuver,” she said. “The difficulty often comes with the experience of the horse, as some have experience with the movements while other can be resistant to your direction.

“I had to make sure I was riding every stride, really listening to the feedback she was giving me, and adapt to make every movement as smooth as possible. I knew that my ride was well done, but I never expected to get a score that high. It was an amazing feeling to feel so much pride in how hard I’ve worked to reach these kinds of moments.”

Hancock carries a 3.95 GPA with a major in Biochemistry in the Honors College and a minor in Biology. She is also an NCEA Academic All-American.

“I put a lot of time and effort into both my schoolwork and the equestrian team, which is often exhausting but at the same time extremely rewarding,” she said. “The work is tough but I love what I’m doing and know it’s going to serve me well in the future.”

November 8, 2015

Sam Wicks swimming

Sam Wicks

Boise State swimmer Sam Wicks of Anchorage won the 100-yard backstroke and scored 14 individual points during a 199-101 loss to Nevada on the road.

The senior had a hand in a total of 18 points and posted one of the team’s three wins.

Wicks, of East High fame, posted her third victory in the 100 back this season.

She also finished second with the 200 medley relay while placing third in the 200 IM and fourth in the 200 back.

November 7, 2015

phillip_fenumiai_footballIt hasn’t always looked pretty, but Western Oregon University quarterback Phillip Fenumiai of Juneau is sure effective.

And winning make everything beautiful.

The sophomore improved to 4-0 as the team’s starting signal caller after tossing four touchdown passes and accounting for a season-best 223 yards of total offense in a 33-15 win over South Dakota School of Mines.

Fenumiai has completed only 37-of-78 passes [47%] as a starter but his team has a perfect winning percentage.

“Yeah, not the greatest completion percentage,” he told me. “Miscommunication on routes that weren’t completed, so we have some things to fix.”

His durability and dual-threat capabilities as a thrower and runner make him dangerous and difficult to stop.

In his four starts, Fenumiai has averaged 174 all-purpose yards [133 passing, 61 running] and two touchdowns [6 passing, 2 running].

“This system is playing to my strengths and coach is doing a great job scheming the offense to play to those strengths and our strengths as a whole,” Fenumiai said. “We just got to keep this up and carry it to our next game against Humboldt State, which is a huge game.”