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.

September 29, 2014

Rendell Burghart TennisRendell Burghart of Anchorage trusted his booming baseline game at the Eastern Washington University Fall Classic, using big forehands and backhands to make a strong showing to the start of his tennis season.

Playing on his home court, the EWU sophomore thrived in the three-day tournament by winning two singles matches, losing another in three sets and advancing to the Flight B consolation finals. He also played doubles.

“The tournament went pretty well this weekend,” he told me. “We have recently got a new coach and it felt good getting to try out what he has been working on with us.”

Burghart, of Dimond High fame, opened singles play with a gutty 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 loss to Seattle University’s Connor Leahy, who wound up making it all the way to the finals.

The defeat didn’t keep him down.

“I tried not to dwell on the loss and just focused on winning the next match,” he said.

Burghart did just that, beating Anthony Croteau of Lewis-Clark State 6-3, 6-4 and then knocking off Matt Anderson of Seattle 6-4, 6-4.

Those victories moved him into the consolation final, where he lost 6-3, 6-4.

“My baseline game was pretty solid this tournament, but I still have some stuff that I have to improve for the next one,” Burghart said. “It was the first tournament of the season, so I still have more opportunities to do better in future matches.”

Burghart and his doubles partner lost both matches.

Burghart’s career singles record in college is 5-4, including 2-1 in Big Sky matches.

September 28, 2014

Alysa Horn BasketballIt may not feel like basketball season quite yet, but the season started in Germany and Alysa Horn of Kodiak celebrated with a big game.

The second-year pro bagged a career-high 27 points to lead her new German team Osnabruck to a 64-32 victory over Opladen in second division Bundesliga play.

The 6-foot forward sank 10-of-15 field goals, including a 3-pointer. She also made 6-of-7 free throws.

Horn, of UAA fame, added five rebounds and three steals.

She played her rookie season with Viernheim and led the team with averages of 19 points and 8.5 points to go along with 2.1 steals and 2.0 assists in 22 games.

September 27, 2014

Bobbye Pendleton SoccerNormally just a reliable defender, Anchorage’s Bobbye Pendleton showed off her offensive side for the Northern State women’s soccer team.

The sophomore defender assisted on the game-wining goal in a 2-1 victory over Wayne State in NCAA D2 action in South Dakota.

Pendleton, of Dimond High fame, started the winning play in the 50th minute. It was her second assist on the season.

She has logged 90 minutes in six of the seven games.

The win pushed Northern State to 2-2 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

Silas Talbot Track and FieldSilas Talbot of Anchorage extended his streak of running an 8K in fewer than 25 minutes.

But barely.

The Dartmouth University cross-country runner pushed his streak to eight after he clocked a time of 24:59 to finish 27th out of 200 runners at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown in Boston.

Talbot, of Service High fame, is a senior three-sport star for the Big Green. He is also on the track and nordic ski teams.

September 26, 2014

Jenna Arlow VolleyballPalmer’s Jenna Arlow handed out eight of her career-high 50 assists in the deciding fifth set to help Sterling College record a remarkable victory over Bethel College in Kansas.

Down 2-0, Sterling stormed back to win the final three sets by a 65-51 scoring margin.

Arlow’s sensational play at setter led the way, orchestrating an offense that flashed a fantastic .421 attack percentage.

The junior standout had a hand in six of the final seven points for her team in the comeback win.

She added seven digs, two block assists and one kill.

September 25, 2014

Zac Naylor SoccerZac Naylor of Anchorage scored his first goal with his new team, chipping in as Concordia University beat College of Idaho 7-4 victory in the Cascade Collegiate Conference.

The junior transfer found the back of the net in the 41st minute to make it 4-2.

Naylor, of South High fame, has started five of six games for Concordia, a NAIA school in Oregon.

This is his first season at the school. He spent his first two years at Edmonds Community College, where he scored 18 goals in two seasons.

September 24, 2014

Palmer’s Allison Allison Leigh Volleyball killed it tonight.

The Quinnipiac University volleyball star hammered 16 kills and crushed a .324 attack percentage in a five-set win over Fairleigh Dickinson in NCAA D1 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action in New Jersey.

She finished one kill shy of her career high of 17 set last season against Manhattan.

Leigh, of Colony High fame, also had five blocks and a season-best four aces.

Last year the 6-foot-3 middle blocker was the No. 1 blocker in the MAAC and this year she ranks fourth at 1.05 per set.

September 23, 2014

Whitney Williams TennisAlaska isn’t necessarily known for producing top-notch college tennis talent, but Whitney Williams of Anchorage is changing that perception.

The freshman at Abilene Christian University won a women’s doubles title at the University of Oklahoma Fall Invitational. This was just her second college event.

Williams teamed with Carli Knezevich to go 3-0 in the Switzer Draw, beating fellow NCAA D1 doubles teams from Kansas, Denver and Kansas State.

“These girls are tough,” Williams told me. “Mentally and physically they are on a completely different level than junior tennis.”

The former Alaska state champion also competed in singles and placed fifth in her draw with a 3-2 mark.

“I felt amazing the first two days and on the third day I got cold,” she said. “But the entire tournament I played some pretty high level tennis, so that made me happy.”

Williams, of South High fame, went the distance of three sets in three different matches, winning two of them.

“It took me a full set in all of my singles matches to really get warmed up,” she said. “Then I played my best.”

A week earlier, Williams made a dynamic debut for Abilene Christian by advancing to the finals in singles and doubles at the Walmart Open in Texas.

September 22, 2014

Griffin Toomey FootballHe didn’t score a touchdown, make a tackle or rush the ball, but Griffin Toomey of Anchorage was arguably the player of the game for the Saint John’s football team.

The sophomore punter routinely pinned Concordia deep in its own territory with booming kicks in a 23-14 loss in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener.

Toomey averaged 42 yards on three punts, with each one landing inside the 20-yard line, the benchmark for punting.

He was named MIAC Special Teams Athlete of the Week for his work.

His first punt was downed on Concordia’s 3-yard line. His second rolled out of bounds at the 14 and his third was caught for a fair catch at the 18.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Toomey, of South High fame, leads the MIAC with six punts downed inside the 20 as well as five fair catches. He ranks third with a 36.2 average for Saint John’s [2-0].

September 21, 2014

Julia Rumley TennisJulia Rumley of Anchorage has been unbeatable lately for the Grinnell College tennis team.

The junior has won her last four doubles matches to go with a 4-0 record in singles for the NCAA D3 team in Iowa.

In doubles, a new partner has made all the difference.

After she lost her first four matches, Rumley got a new partner and hasn’t lost. She is 3-0 with her new partner Hannah Cook.

Her perfect singles record has pushed her career record to 25-10. She’s gone 15-3 over her last 18 matches.

Rumley, of East High fame, has gone 27-24 in doubles.

September 20, 2014

Zach Lujan FootballThe good times continue to roll for South Dakota State quarterback Zach Lujan of Anchorage.

The sophomore transfer threw a pair of touchdown passes in a 41-3 victory over Wisconsin-Oshkosh before a home crowd of 13,731 fans at the annual Beef Bowl.

Lujan completed 13-of-19 passes, including scoring strikes of 38 yards [first quarter] and 5 yards [third quarter].

He improved to 3-0 as the starter.

Lujan, of South High fame, has connected on 65-percent clip of his passes in four games. He has six touchdowns and four picks.

He is averaging 188 yards through the air per game.

Kelly Cobb SoccerKelly Cobb of Chugiak is usually the one scoring goals for the Duke University women’s soccer team.

This time, though, she was the one setting up her teammates.

The senior striker collected two helpers in a 3-0 victory at Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener.

Cobb, of Chugiak High fame, set up her first goal just three minutes into the game when she forwarded a pass to Christina Gibbons, who found the net.

Four minutes later her through ball to Imani Dorsey made it 2-0.

Cobb has four goals and two assists in nine games this season.

With 62 career points on 24 goals and 14 assists, she is knocking on the door of Duke’s all-time top 10 scoring list.

September 19, 2014

Kendra Bulawa SoccerWith a record conference winning streak on the line, the Colorado School of Mines women’s soccer team needed a fast start against Colorado State-Pueblo.

And Chugiak’s Kendra Bulawa provided the spark.

The senior defender converted a rebound off a corner kick in the 24th minute for the game’s first goal as Mines won 4-1 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opener.

The Orediggers remain 13th in the NCAA D2 record book in consecutive conference wins with 20 and moved into a tie for 15th in consecutive conference games without a loss at 27.

It was the fourth career goal for Bulawa in 50 games. She also has five assists, including one this year in the first game of the season.

The Colorado School of Mines squad is 4-0-1 so far this season and features other Alaskans Sam Zumbro, Alex Susich, Maddie Woodard of Anchorage.

September 18, 2014

Rachel Topf VolleyballWhen State University of New York at Potsdam needed a new setter, the Bears turned to Rachel Topf of Eagle River.

Just a freshman, she has responded like a veteran.

Topf leads the team in assists and is only one of two players to play in all 44 sets this year for the 5-6 Bears entering this weekend’s Oswego Invitational in New York.

The 5-foot-6 starter has racked up 264 assists for an average of six per set. Her season high is 35.

Topf, of Chugiak High fame, has already emerged as one of the team’s best all-around players.

She ranks third in aces [16], third in digs [65] and third in points won [57.5]. She is fourth in blocks [10].

Topf can also get offensive, having smacked five kills in three different matches. What’s more, she has only two attack errors on just 77 total attempts.

September 17, 2014

Silas Talbot Track and FieldTwo-sport star Silas Talbot of Anchorage continues to deliver remarkable results for Dartmouth University.

After a stellar ski season, the senior standout has carried over that success to cross-country running and he nearly won the Dartmouth Invitational in New Hampshire.

Talbot finished second out of 81 runners, just missing a victory in the 8-K race by two seconds. He finished in 24:27 and improved on his 11th-place finish a year ago.

“I’m very happy,” he told me. “This result was significantly better than last year and the fact that I am healthy and had a great summer of training is really promising for the season. I think I am leaps ahead of where I was at this point last year, so hopefully this season holds big things both for myself and the Dartmouth team.”

Talbot, of Service High fame, is coming off a ski season in which he finished 11th at the NCAA Championships in March, narrowly missing an All-American finish. In May, he helped the Dartmouth 4x-mile relay team run 16:27, the second-fastest time in New England history.

“In terms of skiing versus running I don’t’ think I am necessarily better in one,” he said. “I strongly believe my success in running is largely due to the hard work I put into skiing and vice versa.”

He is one of the best dual-sport college athletes from Alaska, yet Talbot still surprises himself, like in the Dartmouth Invitational.

“I struggled in the heat during a tempo workout a week before. Now that fall temperatures have moved into New Hampshire I’ve found my stride again and was a bit surprised by the result, “ Talbot said. “My strategy in the race was to hang with the top group as long as possible and this proved easy until a very large hill at 5-K mark. I got dropped from the group but got a second wind at the top and was able to make up ground.”

September 15, 2014

Griffin Toomey FootballTeams that score a lot of points don’t keep their punters busy, yet when Griffith Toomey’s name is called he usually delivers for the Saint John’s University football team.

The Anchorage punter was named to the all-conference team as a freshman last year and he has had a punt downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line in 11 of 12 career games at the NCAA D3 school.

Toomey, of South High fame, is averaging 33.7 yards on seven punts in the first two games of the season.

Saint John’s has outscored its first two opponents 58-15.

Last year, Toomey booted a career-best 64-yarder and led the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in punts inside the 20 [14] and fair catches [19].

He gets good air time and he gets it away quick, never having one of his punts blocked in 48 career attempts.

September 14, 2014

Caleb McLaren FootballUniversity of Minnesota Morris quarterback Caleb McLaren of Delta Junction inched closer to etching his name in the record book once again.

Already the NCAA D3 school’s single-game record holder with 412 yards, the second-year starter tossed his 20th career touchdown pass over the weekend and now needs only two more to move into the top five on the all-time list.

McLaren completed 6-of-16 passes for 122 yards and a score in a 44-9 loss to Greenville. He was replaced in the second half.

The Alaskan didn’t play poorly. He didn’t throw an interception and orchestrated the only two scoring drives, both coming in the first half.

With his team trailing 13-0, McLaren he completed a 23-yard scoring strike to make it 13-6 with 1:15 left in the first quarter. It stayed that way after a missed PAT.

Then early in the second quarter he led a 71-yard drive that culminated with a field goal.

Chris Pasquale Cross Country RunningChris Pasquale of Anchorage led the Viterbo University men’s cross country squad to a third-place finish at the inaugural Border Battle Invitational in Wisconsin.

The junior placed seventh out of 80 runners and broke the 28-minute barrier in an 8-K for the first time in his college career.

Pasquale, of Bartlett High fame, clocked a time of 27:37. He was the top runner and the only top-10 finisher for Viterbo, a NAIA school.

His previous PR was 28:00.

September 13, 2014

Aaron Fletcher RunningBrigham Young University’s Aaron Fletcher of Anchorage finished seventh out of 50 runners at the BYU Autumn Classic in Utah.

He covered the four miles in 20:27.

Fletcher, of South High fame, was fourth among BYU runners.

There was only a 10-second gap between the Cougars No. 1 runner and No. 5 runner.

Zach Lujan FootballIt wasn’t his best performance, but Zach Lujan of Anchorage still managed to pick up his first road win and remain undefeated as a starter for the South Dakota State football team.

Alaska’s lone NCAA D1 starting quarterback threw for 162 yards and a touchdown in a 26-6 victory over Southern Utah.

The sophomore transfer completed 13-of-24 passes and threw a pair of interceptions, including one in the red zone.

He tossed an 18-yard score in the second quarter to make it 21-0.

Lujan, of South High fame, is now 2-0 as a starting quarterback. He came on in relief in his first game, a loss at Missouri.

For the season he has completed 46-of-72 passes for 585 yards, four touchdowns and four picks.

September 12, 2014

Allison Leigh VolleyballTaken out of the Quinnipiac starting lineup six days ago, Allison Leigh of Palmer returned and took out any frustration on Fairleigh Dickinson.

The 6-foot-3 middle hitter responded with the best volleyball match of the season in a five-set loss in Rhode Island.

She matched her season high with six kills and set season highs with seven blocks and two aces. She also scored a season high 11.5 points.

Leigh, of Colony High fame, is hitting .186 and is averaging a block a set in eight matches.

Aaliyah Lewis SoccerAaliyah Lewis of Anchorage saw her three-game point streak snapped as Alabama State lost to Georgia Southern 3-0 in a game stopped in the 71st minute because of lightning.

The sophomore striker just ran out of time.

Lewis, of Dimond High fame, has three goals and one assist on the season. She has scored or assisted on every goal Alabama State has netted.

Her three-goal streak started when she scored in a 1-0 win over South Carolina-Upstate. She assisted on the winning goal in a 1-0 win over North Carolina-Asheville. Then she scored in a 5-1 loss to Presbyterian.

September 10, 2014

Dylan Faber SoccerAnchorage’s Dylan Faber was having his best day in goal until a late goal messed up everything.

The Northeastern University goalkeeper matched his career high with six saves in a 1-0 loss to Old Dominion during NCAA D1 men’s play in Virginia.

It was his first start in four matches this season.

Faber, of West High fame, started 17 games last season and finished second in the Colonial Athletic Association in shutouts [6] and third in save percentage [.779].

The junior made a strong save early in the second half before Old Dominion beat the Alaskan in the 77th minute.

Chelsea Peterson VolleyballChelsea Peterson of Juneau had to wait an extra year to experience what it was like to play college volleyball.

Once on the court, she did what she does best.

The freshman outside hitter slammed seven kills on 14 attempts for a .286 attack percentage as Linfield College beat New Hope in five sets in Oregon.

Peterson was an all-state player at Juneau-Douglas her final two years and signed with UAA, but redshirted last season and transferred to Linfield.

September 9, 2014

Rachel Roelle RunningAlaskans Rachel Roelle and Lucas Updike of Eastern Oregon University each posted cross country victories at the season-opening competition at the Whitman Invitational in Washington.

Anchorage’s Roelle won the women’s 6-K race in 23:36, 10 seconds ahead of the second-place runner. She was one of only two Eastern Oregon runners among the top 14 finishers, so she prevailed on her own.

“Rachel ran an excellent tactical race,” EOU coach Ben Welch told the school’s website.

Roelle, of West High fame, sprinted to the front at the start and stayed with the lead pack of Whitman runners. She looked as if she would drop back near the halfway point, Welch said, but was able to stay strong and eventually pull away for the win over the final 400 meters.

Lucas Updike RunningHer time was 85 seconds faster than her effort at this race last year.

In the men’s race, Ketchikan’s Updike outsprinted an opponent down the stretch to collect the 8-K win by two seconds in 26:29. Like Roelle, Updike jumped to the front and was near the front the entire race.

Anchorage’s Hans Roelle was eighth in 28:04.