Connecting You With AK Athletes – For 10 Years Strong!!

For the last 12 years, the Alaska Sports Blog has provided comprehensive coverage of Alaska athletes all over the world. The blog came to life Aug. 24, 2009 as a way to fill a void of media coverage of Alaska athletes once they 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 written 5,000 stories on more than 1,500 Alaskans.

Follow us on Twitter: @AKsportshall, Instagram: alaska_sports_hall, and Facebook.

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

March 3, 2021

Caleb Hopkins

Campbell University wrestler Caleb Hopkins of Palmer won his weight class at the Southern Conference Championships over the weekend to secure his first berth to the NCAA Championships.

He is just the fourth Alaskan to qualify for the national championships at the D1 level in the last decade, the first from the Mat-Su Valley since 2006.

The top seed at 184 in his conference, Hopkins received a first-round bye and then picked up back-to-back decisions to improve to 11-1 on the season.

He won 4-0 in the semifinals over No. 4 seed Zach Brown of VMI and then prevailed 5-2 in the championship match over No. 3 seed Matthew Waddell of The Citadel.

Hopkins, of Colony High fame, finished 9-0 against conference opponents this season.

He will next compete at the NCAA Championships on March 18-20 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Hopkins will join a small fraternity of fewer than 10 Alaskans who wrestled in the Big Dance.

Recent qualifiers in the last decade include Kotzebue’s Joshua Roetman at Navy in 2019, Chugiak’s Cayle Byers of Oklahoma State in 2012 and Anchorage’s Nathan Hoffer of Arizona State in 2012.

Hopkins is the first qualifier from the Valley since Palmer’s Scott Jorgensen of Boise State in 2006.

Three Alaskans have earned NCAA All-American honors at the D1 level.

Byers was third in 2012, the highest finish ever by an Alaskan at the NCAA Championships. In 1997, Kodiak’s Scott Norton of Oregon placed fourth. In 2001, Palmer’s Gabe McMahan of Iowa was sixth.

March 2, 2021

Alissa Pili

Seniors Brandon Huffman of Anchorage and Jeremiah Bailey of Fairbanks both were named all-conference for the first time after having their best seasons in college.

Sophomore Alissa Pili of Anchorage was named all-conference for the second straight year after delivering a solid season for USC despite playing hurt most of the time. Talk about toughness.

Multiple ankle injuries limited but could not completely slow down Pili, who still managed to produce 11.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in 11 games in the prestigious Pac-12 Conference.

After a slow start coming off the injury, the 6-foot power forward recorded double figures in six of her last seven games. Twice, she pumped in a season-high 18 points.

When healthy, Pili is a formidable post player who overpowers opponents in the paint. She also has great footwork and a nice touch around the basket, making her hard to guard.

It’s a big reason why the Alaskan was named last season’s Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

Now the focal point of every defense, Pili doesn’t get much space down low to operate and has looked to generate scoring opportunities on the perimeter.

She has a pure stroke and can get hot from downtown. She sank 6-of-13 3-pointers in the last three games, adding another wrinkle to her game that will give opponents something to think about moving forward.

 

Brandon Huffman

Huffman has one gear – low-post banger.

The 6-foot-10 center with the Jacksonville State Gamecocks was picked second team all-conference and named to the all-newcomer team in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Huffman could have been comeback player of the year as well.

After barely playing for three years at North Carolina, he transferred to Jacksonville State and stepped right into a starting role.

Huffman is averaging a career-best 10.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in 24 games. His season highs are 20 points and 16 rebounds.

The big man is shooting the exact same percentage (.606) from the floor (106-175) as from the free-throw line (46-76).

 

Jeremiah Bailey

Bailey has risen to the occasion in his third and final season with the Pacific Tigers.

The 6-foot-6 swingman was named All-West Coast Conference after finishing the regular season ranked among the league leaders in points (11.3), rebounds (6.1), steals (1.6) and 3-pointers (24).

Bailey collected 20-plus points three times, including a career-high 28 thanks to 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point land.

He shot a career-best 83.3 percent from the free-throw line, aided by a 9-for-9 performance last week.

For Bailey, earning All-WCC honors is a family affair. His big bro Kyle was a two-time all-conference pick in 2002 and 2005 with Santa Clara.

March 1, 2021

Patrick McMahon

For the last few years, Colony basketball star Patrick McMahon has been the undisputed high school dunk champion of Alaska.

The 6-foot-6 rim rocker is a highlight waiting to happen. And not once in a while either; dude hammers home three or four dunks every game.

McMahon has more jams than Motown.

Catching alley-oops and catching bodies has been his specialty as he’s turned dozens of defenders into posters.

“My favorite dunk in game is any dunk that is being contested somewhat or just any dunk on someone,” he said. “Getting dunked on is pretty demoralizing.”

McMahon’s dream dunk is going between the legs after takeoff and then bringing it back over the top. It’s called the ‘East Bay Funk Dunk’ and was made famous by high flyers like Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter.

“I’ve done it before but never in a game,” he said.

Another fav is the windmill. “Still trying to get it down consistently.”

McMahon attacks the rim like he’s trying to break something. Or prove something.

He plays with a chip on his shoulder as he tries to break the mold for Alaska players while also trying to prove he’s more than just a dynamic dunker.

The senior swingman has a nice touch around the basket. He wants to play defense. He moves well without the ball and can shoot the 3.

“I’d rather be many things than just a good dunker,” he said.

Last season, McMahon surpassed the 1,000-point career benchmark and was named Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches Class 4A Player of the Year.

This season he’s already bagged a 35-point game for the 7-0 Knights as he emerges as the state’s No. 1-ranked player for the Class of 2021.

No way a guy who only dunks could do all that. He’s a great player who dunks – not a great player because he dunks.

That’s only part of the package he brings to the court.

“It does bother me when people say that because I feel like sometimes my other qualities get overlooked,” McMahon said.

Montana State University noticed him and offered a scholarship to McMahon, who eagerly signed up to play in the Big Sky Conference.

“Playing D1 is something every hooper wants to do, so this is a huge accomplishment for me and I am very grateful,” he said.

Off the court, Montana State checked all the boxes – respectful coaches, business program, family close to the Bozeman campus.

“I have plenty of family in Montana and I go down and visit all the time, so I already have a good feel for Montana and I think it’s a great place,” McMahon said. “The coaches seem like they’re great at what they do and have always been super respectful towards me.”

Before signing with Montana State, McMahon had talked with coaches at North Dakota, Colgate, Idaho State and DePaul in addition to a few other smaller schools.

“I didn’t really have any other offers,” he said.

McMahon is believed to be the fourth Alaskan to play hoops at Montana State, joining Homer’s Scott Harry (1995-98), Chugiak’s Jason Erickson (2000-04) and Dimond’s Luke Adams (2013-15).

McMahon is ready to take that next step – and reap all the rewards.

“I look forward to all the free access to things like weights, gym, food, etc.,” he said.

February 28, 2021

Cross country runner Faith Widman of Fairbanks was named Alaska Athlete of the Week after posting her second straight victory to start the NAIA season.

The Oregon Tech University junior cross-country runner won the Lane Community College Invitational in Eugene, Oregon, over the weekend in impressive fashion, posting a 35-second win in the women’s 5-K field.  The West Valley High grad clocked a time in 18:37.7.

At the Bushnell Invitational three weeks ago in Cottage Grove, Oregon, Widman went even faster, crossing in 18:23.3. These are the first two wins for the Alaskan in 15 career starts.

The athlete of the week recipient is selected by a panel each Friday and announced Saturday at 11 a.m. on the Sports Guys on CBS Sports Radio 590AM and 96.7FM.

View past winners here.

Nathan Fromm

Anchorage’s Nathan Fromm and Gambell’s Wallace Ungwiluk were on different sides when Lewis-Clark State and Multnomah met on the basketball court.

But they teamed up for an Alaska takeover as both players dominated stretches of the NAIA game in Lewiston, Idaho.

Fromm pumped in 18 points in the 99-67 win on a night when he surpassed the 800-point career benchmark and Ungwiluk unleashed a career-high 24-point performance.

There was a six-minute stretch of the second half when the Alaskans took over the game; like, seriously, nearly every possession saw Fromm or Ungwiluk make a play for his team.

Fromm, of Service High fame, produced nine points, four rebounds and two assists in that stretch.

He finished 8-for-8 from the field to produce his highest scoring game since his season-high 19 on Jan. 9.

The 6-foot-5 junior swingman has a .550 field-goal percentage in 14 games with Lewis-Clark State.

Fromm is averaging 7.6 points per game coming off the bench this season and has scored 804 points for his career, which includes stops at New Mexico and Western Wyoming junior colleges as an underclassman.

Ungwiluk has worked his way into the starting lineup for Multnomah. After making just one start in his first 24 games with the team he has now started each of the last five games.

Wallace Ungwiluk

The 5-foot-9 junior guard logged a career-best 36 minutes and posted season highs in points, field goals (8), 3-pointers (4), free throws (4) and assists (3).

Ungwiluk, of Gambell High fame, ranks fourth on his team in scoring at 8.4 points in seven games.

He is second in 3-point accuracy at .382 percent on 13-of-34 shooting.

Ungwiluk never let up against nationally ranked Lewis-Clark State, even when his team was down big.

He had a hand in 19 of his team’s 26 points during the first 10 minutes of the second half as Multnomah sliced into a 20-point halftime deficit.

Ungwiluk led the way during that stretch with 13 points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal.

February 27, 2021

Kendyl Carson

Juneau’s Kendyl Carson is no longer playing like a freshman for Pepperdine University.

She has scored as many points in her last four games as she did in her first 18 and has emerged as one of her team’s top 3-point threats.

The evolution of her game was on full display against Portland, with Carson draining 5-of-7 3-pointers and scoring a career-high 25 points in a 101-94 overtime loss in the West Coast Conference.

Carson became the 16th Alaska woman to hit the 25-point benchmark in a D1 game.

She went nuts in the third quarter, pumping in 11 of her team’s 26 points. Her previous career high of 18 points was set just a week ago.

Carson’s long-range game has catapulted the 6-foot guard into a starring role for the Waves.

Over the last four games she is shooting a scintillating 64 percent from 3-point land on 9-of-14 attempts and has averaged 16 points per game.

Compare that to her first 18 games when she made 7-of-28 3-pointers and averaged 3.6 points per game.

It took her a minute but Carson has adjusted nicely to the D1 level.

Carson, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, now leads Pepperdine in 3-point shooting percentage at .381 on the season and ranks second with 16 3-point buckets in 22 games.

She also ranks second on her team with 40 assists after dishing off four more against Portland.

February 26, 2021

Jeremy Swayman

There are three Alaska goalies in the American Hockey League. Two of them are currently undefeated – the rookie and the veteran.

Rookie Jeremy Swayman of Anchorage has won his first three starts with the Providence Bruins.

Seventh-year vet and former NHL netminder Pheonix Copley of North Pole has a 1-0-1 record with the Hershey Bears.

Copley owns a 91-56-22 record in the AHL – the primary developmental league for the NHL.

The former Michigan Tech standout owns a 1.97 goals-against average this season with a .920 save percentage.

Pheonix Copley

Last year, he matched his career-high as a pro with 17 wins and had separate unbeaten streaks of eight and seven games.

In 2017, Copley was in net for Hershey when it won a first-round series in the Calder Cup playoffs.

In 2018, he was on the roster with the Washington Capitals when they won the Stanley Cup.

Copley ranks second all-time among Alaskans with 16 NHL wins.

Swayman, on the other hand, is just getting started in his professional career.

Last year’s top college goalie ranks fifth in the AHL with a 2.0 GAA after turning aside a career-high 34 shots in a 5-2 win over Hartford.

Andrew Shortridge

Swayman owns a .928 save percentage on the season.

The former University of Maine star won the 2020 Mike Richter Award and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker.

Anchorage’s Andrew Shortridge is the third Alaska goalie in the AHL after he was recently recalled to the Stockton Heat from the ECHL.

The former Quinnipiac netminder is yet to play in the AHL this season but he has 15 games of experience in the league over the previous two seasons with the San Jose Barracuda.

February 25, 2021

Mario Chalmers

As he gets older, Mario Chalmers of Anchorage isn’t looking to shift down and cruise into the homestretch.

If anything, he’s revved it up.

The 34-year-old former NBA point guard is driving Greek League defenses nuts as he’s playing some of the best basketball of his 12-year pro career.

Chalmers is on pace to average double figures for the first time since he was with the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2015-2016 season.

The guard with Aris Thessaloniki is averaging 10.5 points per game with a lights-out shooting percentage (.484) in 13 games.

He hasn’t shot the ball this well since 2014 when he played with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.

Chalmers, of Bartlett High fame, is firing 3-pointers at a .404 clip in addition to shooting a staggering 58.5 percent on 2-point field goals.

He pumped in 6-of-14 shots from the field and scored a season-high 21 points as ninth-ranked Aris fell to third-ranked Lavrio 94-89.

He started the game in the backcourt and logged 26 minutes. He had played fewer than 20 minutes in each of the last two games, yet still ranks third on his team at 20.9 minutes per game.

His 21 points were his second-highest scoring total in 32 career games in the Greek League. Last year he played with AEK Athens and scored 26 points in one game.

February 24, 2021

Sullivan Menard

Sullivan Menard of Wasilla is making up for lost time at Western Wyoming Community College.

After sitting out last season as a redshirt, the DePaul transfer is back on the court and playing his first starring role since high school.

The 2019 Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year ranks third on his team in scoring at 11.1 points per game to help fuel Western Wyoming’s red-hot 8-2 start.

Menard is averaging 12.5 points during his team’s current six-game winning streak.

The 6-foot-3 freshman guard is adding 3.4 rebounds per game, tied for tops at the guard position.

Menard, of Colony High fame, has drained a team-high 20 3-pointers on the season and has made at least one 3-pointer in nine of 10 games.

He bagged a career-high 19 points to lead Western Wyoming to a 79-66 win over Trinidad State after scoring 13 points in the first half on 6-of-9 shooting.

February 23, 2021

Nate Yockey

Being injected into the starting lineup has brought Coffman Cove’s Nate Yockey to life.

The junior transfer at Aurora University racked up 25 points in two games over the weekend to match his scoring total from the previous five games combined.

The 6-foot-3 junior exploded for a season-high 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting in an 83-81 loss to Concordia Chicago in D3 action.

He scored eight points in the second half after hitting 3-pointers on back-to-back possession at the midway point and then converting a layup near the final minute.

Yockey, of Klawock High fame, a night earlier pumped in nine points in Aurora’s 86-79 victory over the same team.

His weekend performance pushed him over the 500-point benchmark for his college career. He played his first two seasons at Highline in the NWAC.

Yockey ranks fourth on his team in scoring at 7.1 points per game through seven appearances.

He’s one of nine guys averaging double figure minutes.

February 22, 2021

Faith Widman

Faith Widman of Fairbanks liked winning so much she did it again.

The Oregon Tech University junior cross-country runner has posted victories in back-to-back meets to start the NAIA season.

These are the first two wins for the Alaskan in 15 career starts.

Widman, of West Valley High fame, won the Lane Community College Invitational in Eugene, Oregon, over the weekend in impressive fashion, posting a 35-second win in the women’s 5-K field that featured 27 runners.

She clocked a time in 18:37.7 with teammate Delani Dietrich second in 19:12.5.

At the Bushnell Invitational three weeks ago in Cottage Grove, Oregon, Widman went even faster, crossing in 18:23.3.

Aniak musher Richie Diehl was named Alaska Athlete of the Week after winning the Kuskokwim 300, a race he grew up watching and dreaming of winning.

Diehl, 35, posted a time of 36 hours, 8 minutes and took a 43-minute win over his good friend, Pete Kaiser, a five-time champion from Bethel who finished second.

His victory came two weeks after a win in Bethel’s Bogus Creek 150. Diehl finished 3rd in his previous two Kusko 300 efforts.

The athlete of the week recipient is selected by a panel each Friday and announced Saturday at 11 a.m. on the Sports Guys on CBS Sports Radio 590AM and 96.7FM.

View past winners here.

February 21, 2021

Alissa Pili

With Pac-12 defenses collapsing on Anchorage’s Alissa Pili down low, scoring points in the post has been a challenge this year.

Rather than force it, she let it fly.

Pili ramped up her 3-point attempts this weekend and showed off a smooth stroke from the perimeter with the post locked down.

For a premier post player to have the ability to step out and knock down 3-pointers is next level.

That’s exactly what makes the hard-to-guard Pili one of the best players on the conference.

Her long-range game was on full display during USC’s two-game weekend homestand as she made 4-of-9 3-pointers and scored 27 points against Oregon State and Oregon.

Pili, of Dimond High fame, also surpassed the 600-point benchmark over the weekend to put the underclassman on pace to reach the elite eight among Alaska scoring leaders at the D1 level.

The 6-foot forward is averaging 10.4 points per game, down from her 16.4 average as a freshman.

An ankle injury forced her to miss the first 10 games of this season and her return was slowed by limited minutes as she worked her way back.

But over the last three weeks, Pili has come alive.

She has improved her scoring average from 5.5 points in the first four games to 13.7 points in the last six games.

Meanwhile, her rebounds average jumped from 2.8 to 4.8 and her 3-point percentage skyrocketed from 20 percent to 36 percent.

She did this even though opponents have keyed on the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year with what looks like a box-in-one defense, limiting her space to operate in the middle of the court.

Between the injury, COVID and USC’s disappointing seventh-place standing in the Pac-12, it looked like a lost season for the Alaskan.

Nonetheless, Pili has persevered by doing whatever it takes to score and provide the Trojans a bright spot in an otherwise dim 10-loss season.

February 20, 2021

Clair DeGeorge

Some of Alaska’s biggest and brightest offensive stars in college hockey enjoyed a red-light special this weekend.

Eight players got in on the action with a goal or an assist, including the state’s active points leaders for both women (Clair DeGeorge) and men (Mike Curran).

Nolan Walker, Caleb Moretz, Daniel Haider and Mikayala Lantto scored goals while Bella Hanson and Olivia Matson picked up assists.

This weekend was a reminder of the terrific talent coming out of Alaska.

Mike Curran

DeGeorge, of Anchorage, leads the way for top-shelf Alaska players as she nears the end of a remarkable career at Bemidji State University of Bemidji, Minnesota.

The senior forward earned an assist on her team’s lone goal in a 9-1 loss fourth-ranked Minnesota in the WCHA.

DeGeorge leads her team with 10 points and has now amassed 27 goals and 50 assists for 77 points in 126 career games.

She ranks No. 11 in school history with 50 assists, one shy of the top 10.

Nolan Walker

Curran, of Anchorage, is also seeing the sun set on a great career at Aquarius College of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The senior forward bagged his second goal of the season in a 7-2 win over Hope in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

Curran has racked up 41 goals and 29 assists for 70 points in 65 career games.

Walker, of Anchorage, has matched his career-high of eight goals for St. Cloud State University of St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Caleb Moretz

The junior forward scored a goal and assisted on another in a 4-0 win over Colorado College in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

St. Cloud (14-8) sits in second place in the conference.

Walker is third on the team with 17 points this season. He has 18 goals and 38 assists for 56 points in 89 career games.

Moretz, of Fairbanks, continued to show off his scoring touch for Rochester Institute of Technology of Rochester, New York.

Daniel Haider

The sophomore forward buried his sixth goal of the season in a 6-1 win over Robert Morris in the Atlantic Hockey Association.

He has delivered five goals and two assists in his last six games.

Moretz has recorded 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points in 48 career games.

Haider, of Anchorage, has played overtime hero twice in three games for the Army Black Knights of West Point, New York.

Mikayla Lantto

The junior forward has matched his career high with five goals and five assists. He’s tied for third on his team with 10 points.

Haider is currently riding his second three-game points streak for an Army team that owns a 11-5-1 record and remains in the hunt for an Atlantic Hockey title.

He has registered 13 goals and 16 assists for 29 points in 84 career games.

Lantto, of Palmer, scored her first goal of the season in just her second appearance with Penn State of University Park, Pennsylvania.

Bella Hanson

The sophomore forward scored late in the first period in a 5-0 win over RIT in the College Hockey America conference.

Lantto joins a Penn State team that is 15-1-2 and ranked eighth in the country.

Hanson, of Eagle River, earned an assist in the season opener for Elmira College Soaring Eagles of Elmira, New York.

The senior defenseman set up her team’s first goal in a 5-1 victory over Nazareth in the United Collegiate Hockey Conference.

Olivia Matson hockey

Olivia Matson

Hanson has gathered one goal and 14 assists for 15 points in 50 career games.

Matson, of Wasilla, is a senior forward for Aurora University Spartans of Aurora, Illinois.

She helped set up her team’s second goal in a 2-0 win over Trine in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association.

This was her second point of the season and gives her 31 points in 69 career games on six goals and 25 assists.

February 19, 2021

Butch Lincoln

Kotzebue’s Butch Lincoln broke down social and racial barriers with the same easiness that he used to break down an opponent’s press defense on the basketball court.

More than just an all-star player in high school and college, he was a trailblazer for Alaska Natives and a role model for all players because of his courtliness and court sense.

Lincoln starred at the University of Alaska Anchorage between 1993 and 1997, helping the Seawolves win 69 games, capture three Pac West Conference titles and secure three berths to the NCAA Tournament.

The 5-foot-7 guard was a passing wiz and deft dribbler who was effective against aggressive defenses aimed at slowing him down. In 1996, he famously zigged and zagged around Kentucky’s famed press to the delight of the crowd at the Great Alaska Shootout.

Lincoln was a fan favorite, a dynamic dynamo who brought excitement and energy to the game.

Not since Wally Leask and Herb Didrickson in the 1940s had an Alaska Native hoops player garnered so much attention. Lincoln was the third Alaska Native to play at UAA, but the first to receive a scholarship.

Lincoln proved he belonged and still ranks among UAA’s all-time top-10 leaders in assists and free-throw percentage almost 25 years after his eligibility expired.

At Kotzebue High, Lincoln was a living legend.

In 1990, he led the Huskies to the Class 3A state championship game – the team’s only finals appearance before or since. In 1991, he averaged 23 points per game on a 25-win team and was a candidate for Alaska player-of-the-year honors.

In 1999, Lincoln was honored by Sports Illustrated as one of Alaska’s 50 greatest sports figures of the 20th century.

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.

February 18, 2021

Kendyl Carson

It’s one thing to crack the starting lineup. It’s another to deliver in the big moments like Juneau’s Kendyl Carson.

Credit the freshman for stepping up her game when the Pepperdine University coaches rewarded her with a larger role on the D1 women’s basketball team.

In her first game as a starter, she set up the game-winning basket against Loyola Marymount that gave the Waves their first win in the West Coast Conference.

Two games later against Pacific, she reached double figures for the first time in 19 games.

Carson, of Juneau-Douglas High fame, logged career highs in minutes (30), points (14), rebounds (5), field goals (5) and free throws (3).

The 6-foot forward is averaging 4.1 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.

February 17, 2021

Caden Gerlach

The top two leading scorers for the California Baptist University wrestling team are from Alaska.

Glennallen’s Caden Gerlach and Anchorage’s Evan Bockman have combined to score 47 of the team’s 123 points in seven dual meets against D1 competition.

That’s 38 percent of production from two guys. Impressive stuff.

Gerlach, a redshirt freshman, has really emerged as the team’s most successful wrestler.

The 184-pounder leads the team with six wins, three pins and 31 points.

Nine of his 12 career victories have come on pins.

Evan Bockman

Gerlach, of Glennallen High fame, last year wrestled unattached in open tournaments during his redshirt season.

This year he’s a centerpiece of the starting lineup, posting a team-best 6-1 record.

Bockman, a redshirt sophomore, has racked up a 4-3 record in his first year of competition.

He did not complete last year after redshirting the season before that.

Bockman, of Grace Christian High fame, has one pin and one major decision on his way to scoring 16 points on the season.

February 16, 2021

Daniel Haider

Daniel Haider of Anchorage made sure the Army Black Knights remain one of the hottest teams in college hockey.

The junior forward recorded points in both games of a series sweep of Bentley as Army improved to 7-0-1 over the last month.

Haider played hero in the first game after scoring the OT winner to secure a 3-2 win in Waltham, Massachusetts.

The next night in West Point, New York, the Alaskan assisted on the first goal in a 5-1 victory.

Haider, of South High fame, has registered a point in five of the eight games during this unbeaten streak.

He is tied for fourth on the Army team in scoring with four goals and five assists for nine points in 16 points.

For his college career, Haider has compiled 12-16-28 totals in 83 games.

February 15, 2021

Isaiah Saville

Isaiah Saville of Anchorage is only a sophomore in college yet already he’s among the goaltender giants from Alaska.

The University of Nebraska-Omaha standout moved into the top 10 for The Last Frontier in career wins after racking up back-to-back victories against Colorado College.

Saville turned aside 26 shots in each game and allowed only three goals in the series, improving his season record to 11-6-1.

His 11 wins are a career best and moved his career record to 21-17-5.

Saville, of West High fame, is riding a red-hot streak with an 8-3 record over his last 11 games.

With two weekend wins, he moved past Anchorage’s Chris King for tenth place on the Alaska all-time wins list for D1 goalies.

King posted 20 wins for UAA between 2000 and 2004.

Saville needs 13 more wins to catch Anchorage’s James Konte, who posted 34 wins at Princeton between 1992 to 1996.

In eighth place with 42 wins are Fairbanks’ Wylie Rogers (UAF) and Anchorage’s Andrew Shortridge (Quinnipiac).

The Alaska career wins leaders are Anchorage’s Jordan Pearce (Notre Dame) and Anchorage’s Eric Schierhorn (Minnesota) with 59.

Saville this season has posted career bests in winning percentage (.639), goals-against average (2.52) and save percentage (.921).

The Alaska netminder is a big reason why Omaha is 13-6-1 and ranked 10th in the country.

Estee Frantz

Anchorage’s Estee Frantz has always had a knack for scoring goals, so it should come as no surprise that she found the back of the net in her first hockey game of the 2021 season.

The University of St. Thomas forward lit the lamp five minutes into the first period of a 5-2 road win over Saint Benedict in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

This was the most goals scored by a St. Thomas team on opening day in 13 years.

Frantz, of South High fame, has four goals in her last five games dating to last season, increasing her scoring totals to 17-10-27 in 82 career games for the D3 school.

The senior skater is coming off a career-best eight goals last season and ranks among Alaska’s active college scoring leaders with 17 goals.

February 14, 2021

Jordan Todd

Jordan Todd of Anchorage ripped down a College of Southern Idaho women’s basketball team record 23 rebounds to highlight her double-double against Utah State Eastern in the NJCAA.

She corralled 11 offensive rebounds and scored 14 points to go with two blocked shots in the 64-52 home win.

The 6-foot-1 sophomore post player leads her team with an average of 8.1 rebounds per game through 10 games. She averaged 5.9 as a freshman.

Her previous career high was 14 rebounds, accomplished three times.

Todd, of ACS fame, is believed to be the first Alaska woman to grab 23 rebounds in a game since 2015 when Juneau’s Gabi Fenumiai pulled down 23 boards for Peninsula of the NWAC.

Todd is averaging a career-best 9.4 points this season, up from her 6.4 average last season. She has reached double figures five times, keyed by her career-high 21 points Jan. 28 against Western Nebraska.

Akiak’s Agatha Andrews was named Alaska Alaska Athlete of the Week after defending her No. 1 national wrestling ranking in style by winning the Grand View Open title in Des Moines, Iowa.

She pinned all three opponents, including the fourth ranked wrestler in the championship match.

The University of Jamestown star sits atop the NAIA rankings in the 191-pound weight class.

Andrews, a junior, is a two-time WCWA All-American who last year advanced all the way to the national finals in her weight class. The Mt. Edgecombe graduate’s second-place finish tied her for the highest finish in Jamestown women’s wrestling history.

The athlete of the week recipient is selected by a panel each Friday and announced Saturday at 11 a.m. on the Sports Guys on CBS Sports Radio 590AM and 96.7FM.

View past winners here.

February 13, 2021

Daishen Nix

Alaska basketball’s new generation of elite players isn’t waiting to get next.

They got it going on already.

Five of Alaska’s finest scorers were on full display all over the country today as Daishen Nix, JT Thor, Jeremiah Bailey, Bentiu Panoam and Da’Zhon Wyche each produced big scoring efforts.

Nix netted a career-high 25 points – the third most points for an Alaskan in the NBA G League.

Thor tore up Kentucky for a career-high 24 points – the most points for an Alaskan at famed Rupp Arena.

Bailey bagged a career-high 28 points for Pacific and became the 12th Alaskan to drain six 3-pointers in a D1 game.

Panoam pumped in a career-high 25 points for North Dakota – the most points for him since his JC days in 2018.

Wyche scored a season-high 30 points for his first 30 piece of his NCAA D2 career.

It was the kind of day that should remind everybody finally and forever that Alaska has, can and will produce elite players on the national level.

Nix and Thor are leading the way for Alaska’s we-got-next generation. They represent the next wave of NBA talent and their success would allow Alaska to step out of the shadow of Langdon-Boozer-Chalmers.

Nix was the first Alaskan since the Big 3 to earn high school McDonald’s All-American status before skipping college and going straight to the pro level in the NBA G League.

The 6-foot-5 rookie guard from Anchorage is under enormous pressure to perform in the G League with critics already questioning his game and his fitness just one week into his career.

But Nix seems unfazed.

JT Thor

Even after going scoreless in his second pro game, he stayed cool and responded by celebrating his 19th birthday in grand fashion – draining a halfcourt shot to beat the first-quarter buzzer and delivering the dagger late in the fourth quarter in one of the greatest games by an Alaskan in the G League.

Nix’s became the third Alaskan to score 25 points in a G League game, joining Sitka’s Roderick Wilmont and Anchorage’s Ramon Harris. But it wasn’t just his scoring. Nix also grabbed eight rebounds, handed off six assists, made a steal and registered his first blocked shot.

He also played the entire fourth quarter in a 113-105 win that moved the Ignite to 3-0 on the season.

At Auburn University, Thor is looking more and more like a future pro.

The 6-foot-10 forward from Anchorage has a hard-to-guard offensive skill set that can create mismatches by stretching a defense from the perimeter to the post.

 

Jeremiah Bailey

Thor had it all working against Kentucky with a 24-point, 9-rebound, 2-block takeover type performance.

He drained 8-of-11 shots, including 5-of-6 3-pointers, and scored 12 of his team’s final 14 points in an 82-80 loss.

“That’s why he’s one of my best NBA prospects because he has the ability to elevate his game,” said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. “You have 24 and 9 as a freshman in Rupp, that’s pretty good. He’s got a great future, and he’s a pretty good player right now. I’m really proud of JT. He’s a great teammate, too. He’s so unselfish.”

At the University of the Pacific, Bailey has emerged as one of his team’s most explosive scorers.

The 6-foot-6 forward from Fairbanks has eclipsed the 20-point mark three times this season and has now done it in back-to-back games.

Bentiu Panoam

He made 10 field goals for the first time in his career and went 6-for-11 from beyond the 3-point arc in an 80-76 loss to Loyola Marymount.

Bailey is 21-of-53 from downtown this season for a .396 percentage, his highest since his sophomore season. He ranks second on the team with a career-best 12.3 points per game average.

At the University of North Dakota, Panoam has got to be in the running for Summit League Comeback Player of the Year award.

The 6-foot-2 guard from Anchorage continues to play his redemption song, this time to the tune of 25 points in an 85-76 win over South Dakota.

Two months ago, he seldom got off the bench. Now he seldom leaves the court.

 

 

Da’Zhon Wyche

Panoam has increased his scoring average from 0.5 points per game on Jan. 8 to a career-best 7.9 on Feb. 13 after reaching double figures in six of the last 10 games.

At the University of Texas Tyler, Wyche has resurrected his season after restoring his confidence following a slow start.

The 5-foot-9 guard from Anchorage cashed in on 9-of-14 field goals and all eight free-throw attempts to give him 30 points.

Wyche has thrived in his new role of coming off the bench. Rather than pout, he pounced on the opportunity to carve out a new niche as a microwave oven.

He heats up quick and has averaged 19 points per game during his team’s current four-game winning streak.

February 12, 2021

Angelline Nageak

After chipping away game after game, Adams State University freshman basketball player Angelline Nageak of Anchorage finally broke through with her first signature performance.

The starting guard racked up season highs of 16 points, five assists and three steals to help the Grizzlies prevail 68-60 for the school’s first-ever win over Black Hills State.

Nageak, of Dimond High fame, knocked down 6-of-14 shots, including her first 3-pointer.

The 5-foot-5 Alaskan set the tempo early for the historic victory in the NCAA D2 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

She had a hand in 11 of her team’s first 13 points, assisting on her team’s first two buckets before calling her own number and draining back-to-back jumpers and a pair of free throws.

This was the first game for Adams State in 29 days after five games got postponed due to COVID.

Nageak totaled 11 points in six assists in her first four college games. She also went from starting to coming off the bench.

But she was back in the starting lineup against Black Hills State and led her team to its biggest win of the season.

Caleb Hopkins

Another undefeated week carried Caleb Hopkins of Palmer to another Southern Conference Wrestler of the Week honor, his second in the last three weeks.

The Campbell University redshirt sophomore posted wins in both matches to finish a perfect 7-0 this season in the conference.

Hopkins has a 9-1 record on the season and was ranked No. 23 at 184 pounds in the first coaches ranking for the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

His only loss of the year was to No. 2 Hunter Bolen of Virginia Tech.

Hopkins, of Colony High fame, posted another 2-0 week for the Camels and finished the conference dual season undefeated for the second straight year.

His first win of the week came by pin against Bellarmine’s Samuel Woolf in just 41 seconds, a season best time.

Hopkins then took down No. 12 Matthew Waddell from Chattanooga, 5-2, a crucial part of CU’s come from behind win over the Mocs.

Campbell is ranked No. 23 in the NWCA poll and No. 19 in the InterMat dual rankings. The team will be off until the Southern Conference Championships on Feb. 28.