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Alaska Sports Blog editor and senior writer Van Williams has been the driving force behind the blog since Day 1. A 30-year Alaska sports journalist, he provides comprehensive daily coverage of Alaska athletes from all over the world and serves as one of the state’s premier sports historians. The blog came to life on Aug. 24, 2009, as a way to fill a void of media coverage of Alaska athletes once they left the 907 area code. Nobody tracks Alaska athletes better than Williams, a former Anchorage Daily News sports editor and Alaska Press Club award winner.

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September 16, 2021

By Matias Saari
Alaska Sports Blog Contributor

With the strongest women’s field in the 58-year history of the Equinox Marathon, the iconic Fairbanks event is primed for a speedy race.

That because a trio of women who competed at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials — Anna Dalton of Anchorage, Megan Youngren of Soldotna and Susanna Rivard of Portland, Ore., — are racing this Saturday, along with Anchorage upstart Klaire Rhodes, race veteran Katie Krehlik and Meg Inokuma from Palmer. They could be aided by dry trails and moderate temperatures.

Though still on the roster, Christy Marvin of Palmer won’t go for a race-record seventh win (three men along with Marvin have six wins). Marvin, 41, set the course record of 3:15:06 in 2018 and has won six of the last seven Equinox races, but is dealing with knee pain after winning both the Crow Pass Crossing and Matanuska Peak Challenge this summer.

“Disappointed not to race, but I can’t afford to go through the whole surgery and recovery again,” Marvin said by text. “Very hard decision to make. (It’s) the first year I have ever felt this fit and had competition to race for Equinox.”

After being canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Equinox returns with a marathon and a first-ever half-marathon. This year’s 3-person relay, which requires bus transportation up Ester Dome, has been scratched as a mitigation measure.

On a hot day in Atlanta at the 2020 Olympic marathon trials in February 2020, Dalton led Alaska’s women in 2 hours, 49 minutes, followed a minute later by Youngren.

Anna Dalton

Dalton has dealt with injuries in recent years but comes to Fairbanks in good shape.

“Yep I am healthy!,” Dalton said by text.

Rivard, meanwhile, finished the trials race in 3:05. An account manager for the shoe company New Balance, she then left the Pacific Northwest and has been training regularly on the Equinox course for the past year.

“I arrived a year ago because my job gave me the opportunity to live remote, so I fulfilled my lifelong dream to live in Alaska, by moving to Fairbanks during a COVID winter, of course,” Rivard texted Wednesday.

Youngren, 30, became hooked on the marathon after running 4:48 at the 2017 Equinox in her first attempt at 26.2 miles. Her meteoric improvement thereafter includes a 2:43 at the California International Marathon barely two years later that qualified her for the Olympic trials. She also won this summer’s Anchorage Mayors Marathon in 3:07 despite being slowed by a moose blocking the trail.

According to Sports Illustrated, Youngren became the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the U.S. marathon trials in 2020.

Megan Youngren

Youngren is also seeking redemption after dropping out 10 miles into the 2019 Equinox with gastrointestinal issues.

On August 28, Youngren ran the full Equinox course in 3:18:43 as a training run to complete a 110-mile week.

Only Marvin and Susan Faulkner (2002) have run the course faster on race day, setting up an intriguing possibility for Youngren and others to challenge Marvin’s record set three years ago.

“I think the course record will fall. I don’t know by how much, and I don’t know if I’ll be the one,” Youngren texted Thursday. “This is a stacked women’s field.”

In addition to the three Trials runners, Krehlik enters her fourth Equinox with a personal best of 3:20:16 (sixth fastest in race history) and no result slower than 3:26.

Inokuma, 41, placed sixth in her only Equinox in 2019. Her improvement since then includes a win this August at the Lost Lake Run and a record-setting effort at the Resurrection Pass 50-miler.

The three fastest Equinox women’s races in history (2012, 2014 and 2019) have seen four runners break 3:30; that mark may fall, with this year’s field capable of producing five or more sub-3:30 performances.

Meanwhile, the men’s race could experience a difference extreme: its first champion slower than 3 hours since 1997.

The race appears up for grabs after the withdrawal of favorite Tracen Knopp from Wasilla. Knopp, 22, broke a long-standing record at the Resurrection Pass 50-miler in August but is now mending an injured Achilles tendon.

Who fills the gap is anyone’s guess.

Two-time champion Allan Spangler has the strongest credentials, but is not in peak form as he negotiates parenthood; his time at July’s Crow Pass Crossing was 25 minutes slower than his personal best.

Running his fifth Equinox, Franklin Dekker of Anchorage looks to improve on a personal-best 3:12.

Six-time winner Matias Saari, 51, is entered but does not expect to contend.

The top Fairbanks entrants, on paper at least, may be Devin McDowell (winner of the 2021 Angel Creek 50K); 24-year-old rookie Max Donaldson (a former standout skier at West Valley High School and UAF); and new father Tobias Albrigtsen (seventh in 2019 in 3:16).

A Lower 48 runner with unknown credentials or a late Alaskan entry could also emerge from the crowd.

Bob Baker, 63, plans to add another finish to the 40+ patches he has already accumulated. And Fred Moore of Seward, running four days shy of his 82nd birthday, seeks to become the oldest finisher in race history. Currenly 80-year-old Dale Feist holds that distinction.

Qyntyn Pilcher-Colbert

After throwing for a career-high 367 yards and four touchdowns, Qyntyn Pilcher-Colbert of Anchorage wasn’t exactly pounding his chest.

His Sierra College football team fell 55-46 to Modesto and losing is the ultimate buzzkill.

“There has been a lot of buzz around my personal performance, but we’re still 0-2,” he said.

Pilcher-Colbert measures success by winning games.

“That is the most important statistic to me,” he said.

Still, QP the QB has been a bright spot for a Sierra team that has been outscored 121-60 in two games in the California Community College Athletic Association.

“We played two very good football programs and they exposed something that we need to clean up,” he said.

Look for Pilcher-Colbert to lead the way.

The former West High star has thrown for 464 yards this year and owns a 6-to-1 touchdown/ interception ratio. The 6-foot signal caller passed for 199 yards in the first half against Modesto on his way to shattering his previous personal record of 204 passing yards set in 2019.

He threw scoring strikes of 30, 18, 20 and 18 yards and orchestrated two other scoring drives of 69 and 60 yards in the fourth quarter, with the last one putting Sierra up 46-42 with 5:16 left.

Pilcher-Colbert believes Sierra has the talent to bounce back from a slow start.

“We’re barely scratching the surface and it’s time for us to pick it up and make a playoff run,” he said. “My job is to find a way to help my team win games and that’s what I will continue to do.

“My WRs and I have a lot of trust in each other to be in the right spots when they are supposed to. I believe when we’re clicking on all cylinders, we have shown to be unstoppable.”

Pilcher-Colbert has racked up career totals of 1,627 yards with 19 TDs and 7 INTs in 13 games.

The sophomore signal caller has already fielded offers from NCAA schools for his final two years of college eligibility. And while its tempting to plan for the future, Pilcher-Colbert wants to keep his focus on the here and now.

“As far as going to a four-year school, I try to be where my feet are,” he said. “I want to go on to play at the next level and as recruitment picks up, I am talking to more coaches. But my job right now is to focus on winning at Sierra College.”

September 15, 2021

Ashton Jessee

Anchorage’s Ashton Jessee has cemented herself among the greatest blockers in Pac West Conference history.

The University of Hawaii Hilo senior has racked up 342 career total blocks to move into an eighth-place tie on the Pac West’s all-time list.

Jessee has a great chance to reach the top 5, needing just 12 more blocks to reach the fourth spot at 354.

The 6-foot-3 middle blocker ranks top-10 in Pac West history in three categories – all from the 2018 season.

During a two-match stretch in October of that year she had 13 blocks against Fresno Pacific and 11 two days later against Dominican. Her 13-block performance is tied for No. 4 in conference history.

Jessee, of South High fame, paced the Pac West in 2018 with a league-leading 136 blocks, which is tied for ninth most in a Pac West single season. Her 1.31 blocks per set average ranks No. 9.

She led the conference last year with 75 block assists, 81 total blocks and a 1.23 blocks per set average.

Jessee has slammed 541 kills for her career, which is among the leaders among Alaskans playing at the college level.

Her career high of 16 kills was set in 2017.

This weekend, she collected 11 kills on 15 attempts in a sweep over Montana State Billings and leads the Pac West with a .438 hitting percentage. Oddly enough, she didn’t have a single block for only the second time in 66 sets over the past two seasons.

Jessee looks to get back to the block party this weekend as Pac West play gets started.

September 14, 2021

Brandon Joyner

Brandon Joyner of Fairbanks made the longest house call of his college football career, hauling in an 80-yard touchdown reception for Elizabeth City State University.

The senior wide receiver made the play on 3rd-and-15 in the third quarter when he got behind the defense after his quarterback was from flushed from the pocket.

It was an off-balanced throw and Joyner had to come back for the ball before making the catch and racing to the end zone.

Joyner’s first TD of the season gave Elizabeth City a 27-21 lead in a game the Vikings lost 35-27 to Bluefield State at the NCAA D2 level.

Joyner, of West Valley High fame, finished with two catches for 83 yards.

He also serves as the punter for Elizabeth City and had a 36-yard average on four punts, placing two of them inside the 20-yard line.

This is his first season as a college punter. His bread and butter is wide receiver, where he has posted 69 career receptions for 865 yards and seven touchdowns.

The 80-yard scoring strike almost doubled his previous longest TD reception of 42 yards set in 2017 when he was with Cheney University.

He also set the Cheney school record for the high jump at 6 feet, 9.75 inches, shattering the previous record that had stood for 42 years.

September 13, 2021

Juneau’s Sadie Tuckwood was named the Alaska Athlete of the Week after winning in her first collegiate race for the Gonzaga University cross country team in impressive fashion.

The Juneau-Douglas High School grad won outright the Clash of the Inland Northwest in Cheney, Washington.

Her winning time of 14:15was fifth-fastest four-kilometer time in women’s program history.  The freshman seized control early and never relinquished it with a wire-to-wire win in a women’s field of 72 runners from surrounding schools.

The athlete of the week recipient is selected by a panel each Friday. View past winners here.

September 12, 2021

Edefuan Ulofoshio

Anchorage’s Edefuan Ulofoshio is the most productive University of Washington Huskies defensive player from Alaska in 30 years.

The All-Pac-12 linebacker has averaged 10.2 tackles over his last nine games after making 13 stops against Michigan in a 31-10 road loss.

Ulofoshio has surpassed the century mark for his career with 114 tackles in 22 games.

Not since David Killpatrick in the early 1990s have the Huskies had an Alaskan reach the 100-tackle benchmark. Killpatrick, the 1989 player of the year out of West High, racked up 150 tackles in 44 games from 1991 to 1994.

Ulofoshio, of South High fame, has reached double figures with tackles in six of his last nine games, highlighted by his 18-tackle effort against Stanford last season.

That’s the most tackles by an Alaskan at the NCAA D1 level since Fairbanks’ Ward Dobbs had 18 tackles in 2005.

September 11, 2021

Josh Cummings

Josh Cummings of Fairbanks went to the house the first time he touched the ball. And his day just kept getting better from there.

By the end, the Western Colorado University running back had racked up a career-high 124 yards – which is believed to be the third-highest rushing total for an Alaskan at the NCAA D2 level since the turn of the century.

Cummings scored on runs of 47 and 30 yards and matched his career high with 14 carries as the visiting Mountaineers rumbled to a 49-14 victory over Western New Mexico in Silver City.

The 205-pounder rumbled for a 47-yard score on his first touch of the game. On his tenth carry he busted off a 30-yard scoring scamper.

This was his third career game with two TDs. He now has 10 career TDs in 15 career games with Western Colorado.

Cummings, of West Valley High fame, surpassed the 500-yard benchmark for his career.

This day was special for him as he joined an exclusive club of 100-yard rushers from Alaska at the NCAA D2 level.

Here is a list of Alaska’s top NCAA D2 rushing games over the last two decades:

145 Phillip Fenumiai (Juneau) Western Oregon 2016
127 Justin Kauffman (Anchorage) Adams State 2012
124 Josh Cummings (Fairbanks) Western Colorado 2021
103 Brandon Miles (Kenai) Bemidji State 2011
90 Jordan Tufaga (Anchorage) Central Washington 2017

Phillip Fenumiai

Justin Kauffman

Brandon Miles

Jordan Tufaga

September 10, 2021

Conor Feckley

The ultimate pocket passer, Conor Feckley of Anchorage picked apart defenses on the gridiron with surgical precision.

The quarterback threw for nearly 12,000 yards in high school and college combined – the most for a player from Alaska at both levels.

His 2016 season at the University of Dubuque was one for the ages.

His 634 yards in the season opener against Bethel University were the fifth-most in the history of NCAA D3 football. His eight TD passes in the game were a school record.

That season also included a 353-yard, 5-TD game against Loras, a 349-yard, 5-TD game against Central and a 358-yard, 3-TD game against Buena Vista.

Feckley finished third in NCAA D3 football with 37 touchdown passes in 10 games and ranked No. 15 nationally with 3,129 yards.

In 2017, he threw for 1,289 yards and 11 scores as a senior. In 2018, he was selected to the NFL Draft Diamonds Small School Prospect list.

Feckley finished his career with 4,700 yards and 51 TDs – the most for an Alaskan at the college level. By comparison, Sean Duffy, who also played for Dubuque, ranks second in both categories with 4,347 yards and 49 TDs.

In high school, Feckley threw for a state record 7,106 yards during his career with the West Eagles between 2010 and 2012. He accounted for 87 TDs – 67 through the air and 20 on the ground. In 2011, Feckley set the state’s passing record with 2,559 yards to beat out Service’s Amu Aukusitino (2,471) in the same season.

Friday Flashback is a series created by Alaska Sports Hall of Fame blog editor Van Williams that looks back on great Alaska athletes from the past. To read about other Alaskans featured in this series, click here.

September 9, 2021

Alex Nowka

Anchorage’s Alex Nowka of the University of Jamestown has anchored her soccer team’s 3-0 start to the NAIA season.

The junior goalkeeper has allowed only one goal while posting two shutouts as the Jimmies have outscored the opposition 8-1 so far.

Nowka, of South High fame, has posted 13 shutouts and a sparkling 0.92 goals against average in 39 career college games.

She made seven saves in a 3-0 win over Governors State to push the team’s record to 3-0.

Nowka owns a 24-12 career record and is entering her second season as Jamestown’s primary goalkeeper.

September 8, 2021

Naomi Bailey

After not having a women’s GNAC Cross Country Runner of the Week for almost a decade, the University of Alaska Fairbanks has claimed two in a row.

Fairbanks’ own Naomi Bailey took home this week’s honor to give the Nanooks back-to-back recipients after another Fairbanks runner, Kendall Kramer, won week one.

Bailey, of West Valley High fame, bagged her first college win at the Seawolf Throwdown in Anchorage after the freshman clocked a 6-K time of 22:37.8.

She won by a whopping 45 seconds over teammate Rosie Fordham as the Nanooks beat the Seawolves for the second time in two weeks after never having defeated UAA previously in school history.

“We’re all very proud of Naomi,” UAF assistant coach Josh Sanderlin said. “The women have all done a fantastic job of developing chemistry and lifting each other to new heights.”

Bailey is the reigning Gatorade Alaska Cross Country Runner of the Year who swept state and region titles as a high school senior.

Sadie Tuckwood

Juneau’s Sadie Tuckwood posted her first college victory for the Gonzaga University cross country team at the Clash of the Inland Northwest in Cheney, Washington.

The freshman seized control early and never relinquished it with a wire-to-wire win in a women’s field of 72 runners from surrounding schools.

Tuckwood’s time of 14:15 was the fifth-fastest four-kilometer cross country time in women’s program history, nearly six seconds ahead of second-place finisher Maya Kobylanski of Idaho.

“I was really impressed with Sadie’s run,” said Zags coach Jake Stewart. “She started herself in the lead really early and never really was challenged – great composure.”

Tuckwood was joined in the top 10 by teammate and fellow Alaskan Grace Farney, who finished eighth overall and fourth on the team in 14:51.7.

Grace Fahrney

Together, they helped Gonzaga score a 10-point win over Idaho in the team standings that also featured Eastern Washington, Lewis-Clark, Montana, Whitworth and Whitman.

Tuckwood, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, is a former Gatorade Alaska Cross Country Runner of the Year.

This was her first cross country race in college. She did compete in track last season, running a season best 10:27.03 in the 3-K and a 17:35.84 5-K.

Farney is a sophomore out of Anchorage. In 2019, she was 11th at the Clash of the Inland Northwest in 14:50.

A week later she earned her first top-10 finish as a NCAA D1 runner. And now she has her second with this recent result.

September 7, 2021

Palmer’s Eve Stephens was named Alaska Athlete of the Week after leading the University of Alaska Anchorage volleyball team back from the dead in a wild five-set victory over Biola.

Down two sets to none, the Seawolves rallied behind the 6-foot-1 All-American from the Mat-Su Valley as she slammed 15 of her 20 kills over the final three sets.

Stephens, of Colony High fame, finished 20-of-52 with four errors for a .308 attack percentage. She added 12 digs to give her a third straight double-double.

Stephens increased her career kill total to 1,087 to move into No. 7 on UAA’s all-time kills list.

The athlete of the week recipient is selected by a panel each Friday. View past winners here.

September 6, 2021

Danae Stokes

Anchorage’s Danae Stokes carried the Multnomah University Lions to a four-set win over Warner Pacific in NAIA volleyball.

The 5-foot-9 outside hitter hammered 20 kills for a .239 attack percentage on 46 attempts to finish the match as the top offensive player. She added seven digs and an ace.

She finished one shy of her career high of 21 kills set last season.

Stokes, of Dimond High fame, took over the first set as she provided five kills in a 10-1 run that gave the Lions a commanding 20-12 lead.

In the second set there was a stretch when she scored three consecutive kills.

Stokes has racked up 150 kills in her last 15 matches dating back to last season.

September 5, 2021

Tristian Merchant

They won a state title together in high school, but now Anchorage’s Tristian Merchant and Blake Bennett are on different sides in college.

They faced off for the first time at the George Kyte Classic in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Both former ACS standouts landed in the top 10, but Merchant earned bragging rights as the top Alaskan.

Merchant – a freshman at Northern Arizona University – finished the men’s 4.5-mile race seventh out of 96 finishers in 23:37.4 while Blake – a junior at Grand Canyon University – crossed tenth in 23:47.6.

They’ve come a long way since leading the Lions to the 2017 ASAA D2 state championship team title.

This was Merchant’s first college race. He ran unattached and placed sixth among the powerhouse Lumberjacks, who claimed six of the top seven finishers.

Blake Bennett

He wrapped up his high school cross-country career with three straight D2 state titles. He was a three-time Gatorade Alaska Runner of the Year.

Merchant owns what is believed to be the fastest 5-K time for an Alaska high school runner in 14:41.

Bennett has posted five top-10 finishes in 13 college cross country races.

In 2020, he placed 19th at the WAC Cross Country Championships and broke the Grand Canyon school record in the men’s 3,000-meter run in 8:29.47.

Sione Tuifua

Senior tight end Sione Tuifua of Utqiagvik has never lost a season-opening game in his four years with the Morningside University football team.

This time he got into the scoring act in a 63-7 win over Concordia with a touchdown in the third quarter of the NAIA matchup in Sioux City, Iowa.

Tuifua caught two passes for 8 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown grab on the first drive of the second half to make it 42-0.

Morningside has won 33 of 34 games with the Alaskan on the field, including two NAIA titles.

Tuifua, of Barrow High fame, has racked up 26 receptions for 238 yards and four touchdowns in his career.

One of those scores came in the 2019 national title game.

September 4, 2021
Qyntyn Pilcher football

Qyntyn Pilcher-Colbert

Not even a 652-day break could disrupt the rhythm of Sierra College quarterback Qyntyn Pilcher-Colbert of Anchorage.

The sophomore signal caller threw a 36-yard touchdown pass on the first drive of the game against San Francisco on opening day in the California Community College Athletic Association.

He finished 8-for-15 for 97 yards and two scores, throwing his fist TD on fourth down in the first quarter and adding a 51-yarder in the second quarter.

Pilcher-Colbert, of West High fame, has thrown 11 TD passes in his last six games dating back to 2019.

He has thrown two or more TDs in four of 12 career games while compiling a total of 1,200 yards and 15 TDs through the air.

Emilye Grace Williams

Emilye Grace Williams of Anchorage continues to be a sparkplug for the Master’s University volleyball team.

The senior spiker registered 22 kills on a .275 hitting percentage in back-to-back sweeps as the Mustangs improved to 3-0 since Aug. 27 when the Alaskan reaches double figures.

She collected a .300 attack percentage on 11-for-30 hitting with six digs in a three-set win over Occidental.

A day later she had a .250 attack percentage on 11-of-24 hitting with five errors and five digs in a three-set sweep of Marymount California.

“Emilye Grace Williams offensively had one of her strongest showings of the season,” said coach Annett Davis. “In order for us to win more often we need her senior leadership.”

Williams, of South High fame, has averaged 7.8 kills per match and has reached double figures five times, with a season high of 12 kills.

The senior surpassed the 350-kill career benchmark over the weekend series, putting her in the top 5 among active college players from Alaska.

September 3, 2021

Harry Weigle

Anchorage’s Harry Weigle is one of many two-sport college athletes from Alaska.

But he’s unique. He’s the only golfer-bowler combo.

Weigle is entering his third season of competing in both sports for Waldorf University, an NAIA school in Forest City, Iowa.

“I am lucky the competition schedule really doesn’t overlap,” Weigle said.

His two practice schedules do intersect, however, and that can lead to some very long days that require discipline and determination.

“A big thing is communication with coaches and trainers,” he said.

Training for golf and bowling on the same day can be a struggle at times, but Weigle makes it work. It helps that Waldorf provides the tools needed for him to successfully pull off the juggling act.

“My school requires all athletes to train a certain number of hours a week and they assign each team a trainer to make schedules for us as well as training regimens that we have to complete as a team throughout the week,” he said.

“When having to miss practice or training sessions for one sport I end up having to reschedule sessions on my own time to keep up with my coach’s expectations and requirements.”

There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day sometimes, but Weigle likes to stay busy and doesn’t mind the constant work load.

This is the whole reason he came to Waldorf.

He was recruited as a bowler but was encouraged to play golf as well.

“My coach made a great case for the school and that this was a great place to be able to compete at the college level for both sports,” he said.

Weigle, of West High fame, is having the time of his life at college.

“Waldorf has been a wonderful school for so many reasons, but the most important to me has been the friends I’ve made on the bowling and golf teams,” he said. “The teams, coaches, and trainers have all been the absolute best I could have asked for.”

In bowling, Weigle has rolled multiple 300 games and owns averages of 238 for house shots (rec leagues) and 205 for sport shots (college level).

Last season, turned in a solid season that saw him earn a third-place finish out of 71 bowlers at the Mustang Invitational in Sioux City, Iowa. He racked up a four-game series total of 850, just 10 pins from the win. He put himself into contention with games of 233, 169, 234 and 214.

Weigle also posted a top-100 finish at the United States Bowling Congress’ Intercollegiate Sectionals in Addison, Illinois.

He started bowling at age 4. He was an eight-time junior league champion and four-time state champion. He still holds the Alaska junior state record with an 834 series.

“It’s really just like any sport where you put the time in to be good it will get you to college and even the PBA,” Weigle said. “Every day from kindergarten to my senior year I bowled 8 to 10 games every day after school from August to May. Then I also never missed a day of league or any tournaments for over 14 years.”

Alaska has roughly a dozen men and women bowling in college, but there are only a handful of college golfers from The Last Frontier.

“Representing Alaska is one of my favorite things actually,” Weigle said. “Every time you play in tournaments you are almost always looked down upon as the underdog immediately. I even had a guy apologize to me after he found out I was from Alaska.”

He just laughs.

“That’s exactly why I like it. Being looked upon in that light really gives me even more drive to beat the other golfers as well as show them that we Alaskans know how to play.”

Weigle credits his father for getting him into sports. He was a varsity baseball player in high school and earned an international ranking as a table tennis player.

“He taught me everything there is to know about being an athlete and a competitor,” Weigle said of his father. “Without him I would never have accomplished everything I did in my life to this point.”

September 2, 2021

Eve Stephens

Palmer’s Eve Stephens came alive down the stretch to bring the University of Alaska Anchorage volleyball team back from the dead in a wild five-set victory over Biola.

Down two sets to none, the Seawolves rallied behind the 6-foot-1 All-American from the Mat-Su Valley as she slammed 15 of her 20 kills over the final three sets.

Stephens increased her career kill total to 1,087 to move into No. 7 on UAA’s all-time kills list, passing Anchorage’s Chrisalyn Johnson (1,083) in this match.

Fairbanks’ Julia Mackay (1,130) ranks No. 6 and Anchorage’s Jackie Mattisen (1134) is No. 5 in the record book.

Stephens, of Colony High fame, finished 20-of-52 with four errors for a .308 attack percentage. She added 12 digs to give her a third straight double-double.

She rescued the Seawolves many times, having a hand in key kills in the third and fourth sets before taking over in the fifth set with three kills and an ace on UAA’s final four points.

Anchorage’s Reilly Plumhoff – the other Alaskan on the UAA squad – played in all five sets and contributed nine digs, two assists and an ace.

August 31, 2021

Kendall Kramer

Kendall Kramer and Naomi Bailey of Fairbanks represent a new era for the University of Alaska Fairbanks women’s cross country team.

Never had the Nanooks defeated the University of Alaska Anchorage in a head-to-head meeting before Kramer and Bailey came along.

The dynamic duo placed first and third in the 5-K race on their home turf to propel the Nanooks past the Seawolves in the season opener for both teams.

Kramer and Bailey are both out of West Valley High and represent the last four Gatorade Alaska Cross Country Runners of the Year; Kramer won for the 2017-2018, 2018-1019, 2019-2020 seasons and Bailey in 2020-2021.

Naomi Bailey

This was the first college race for both runners.

Kendall clocked a winning time of 18:34 in the 5k race. Fordham pushed right behind, placing second with a time of 18:41 and Bailey followed behind in third with a time of 19:21.

UAF was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Team of the Week and Kramer was picked as the GNAC Cross Country Women’s Athlete of the Week.

Kramer became the first Nanooks runner to earn GNAC Athlete of the Week honors since 2010.

August 30, 2021

Anchorage basketball star Mareng Gatkuoth  was named Alaska Athlete of the Week after being selected to the 12-man squad to represent South Sudan at the FIBA Africa Championships.

The 21-year-old sophomore at Montana State University is one of only four college players on the team that will compete in the tournament starting tomorrow in Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali.

Gatkuoth is helping South Sudan usher in a new era. Ten years after the country gained its independence, the South Sudanese have punched their ticket to FIBA Africa for the first time.

Since being selected for the weekly honor on Friday, Gatkuoth logged important minutes and delivered several big plays in South Sudan’s victory over Uganda in Group play, helping them advance to the next round of the Africa Championships.

The former Anchorage Christian Schools star signed with Montana State in the spring after spending the previous two seasons at the NJCAA Division I level.

The athlete of the week recipient is selected by a panel each Friday. View past winners here.

August 29, 2021

Mareng Gatkuoth

The South Sudan Basketball Federation is headed to the quarterfinals of the FIBA Africa Championships. And Anchorage’s Mareng Gatkuoth played a pivotal part in making that happen.

The 21-year-old guard logged key minutes down the stretch and delivered several big plays in the second half as the South Sudanese eked out an 88-86 win over Uganda in the final game of Group D.

South Sudan finished second in Group D and advanced to its first-ever elite eight appearance Tuesday against Kenya.

Gatkuoth, of Anchorage Christian High fame, came off the bench to log 18 minutes and produce five points, four steals, three rebounds and two assists.

He was right in the middle of the biggest basketball win for South Sudan, which gained its independence in 2010 and became FIBA certified in 2013.

This is the first time the country qualified for the Africa Championships.

Gatkuoth is making the most out of his opportunity. The Montana State University newcomer made several big plays in the game, including a 3-pointer late in the third quarter that tied the game at 53.

In the fourth quarter, he made two steals and at the 3:30 mark grabbed a defense rebound and had the assist that pulled South Sudan within 80-78.

August 28, 2021

Malia Miller

Juneau’s Malia Miller continues to tear it up in the NWAC – no matter which soccer team she plays for.

The Peninsula College newcomer had a dazzling debut after notching a goal and two assists for a career-high four points in an 11-0 win over Centralia in Tukwila, Washington.

Miller racked up two assists inside the first 13 minutes to kickstart an early 3-0 lead. She scored in the 34th minute.

The Bellevue College transfer has built a reputation as a reliable scorer in the NWAC with 21 points in 18 career games on five goals and 11 assists.

This was her fourth game with three points or more.

The former Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year out of Juneau-Douglas High ranked second in the league in 2019 in assists.

Ellie Scherffius

Eagle River’s Ellie Scherffius produced a career day at net to lead the University of Montana to season-opening win over Kennesaw State.

The sophomore middle blocker had 15 kills and six blocks in a five-set win at the College of Charleston Invitational in South Carolina.

Scherffius finished with a scintillating .650 attack percentage on 15-of-20 hitting with two errors.

The 6-footer scored 18 points, including a block in the fifth set that gave Montana match point at 14-10.

Scherffius, of Chugiak High fame, had four kills in the second set and five kills in the third set.

She played in 15 sets as a true freshman, seeing action in six matches and recording four kills and three blocks.

August 27, 2021

Michaela Hutchison

Michaela Hutchison of Soldotna put women’s wrestling on the map in 2006 when she became the first girl in the country to win a high school state title against boys.

But she didn’t stop there.

Hutchison, of Skyview High fame, went on to wrestle for Oklahoma City University, where she was a four-time All-American and three-time national champion for the women’s team and an occasional fill-in for the men’s team.

In 2009, she became the first woman in school history to win a match for the men’s team against, beating Bacone College’s Tyler Kinslow 13-4 in a major decision.

Hutchison finished her college career with 71 pins and a sparkling 142-21 record, including a 1-3 mark on the men’s team.

Her 142 career wins at the college level is believed to be the most for an Alaska wrestler – male or female.

She was champion of the 2015 U.S. Senior Nationals and became the first Alaska woman to qualify twice for the Olympic Trials in 2012 and 2016.

Hutchison gave women’s wrestling credibility after she made history in 2006 with a 1-0 win over Colony’s Aaron Boss in the 103-pound state final.

The match was scoreless before Hutchison scored an escape with 16 seconds left, cementing her place in history. Other girls had made the state final, but she was the first champion.

The victory capped a 45-4 sophomore season for Hutchison, who earned 33 of her wins with pins. She also finished second, fourth and fifth at the state meet.

Friday Flashback is a series created by Alaska Sports Hall of Fame blog editor Van Williams that looks back on great Alaska athletes from the past. To read about other Alaskans featured in this series, click here.