Pride of Alaska Award: For Consistent Excellence in Athletic Competition
For an athlete or athletes, team or coach who have not only excelled in sports in the past year or recent years, but have done so with integrity and sportsmanship and been a positive role model. Categories include Adult and Youth.
The 6-foot-2 forward led the Utah women’s basketball team to the Sweet 16 and was named a second-team All-America pick by both the Associated Press and the US Basketball Writers Association. The Dimond High graduate was named Pac-12 Player of the Year and ranked in the top 20 nationally in scoring (20.0 points per game) and shooting percentage (59.1) for the 8th-ranked Utes. Pili, a junior, was a semifinalist for the Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year award.
DeGeorge, of Anchorage, helped Ohio State win the NCAA D1 women’s national championship by scoring a goal and assisting on another in Buckeyes’ 3-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth. She also scored the game-winning goal in the double overtime win over Quinnipiac to send Ohio State to the Frozen Four. DeGeorge finished her college career No. 3 among Alaska’s all-time women’s scorers delivering 125 points (on 44 goals and 81 assists) in 166 games.
The Alaska Pacific University veteran became only the second American cross-country skier in U.S. Ski Team history to win back-to-back World Cup races after claiming the 1.5K sprint and 10K titles in the Swiss Alps; this placed her atop the World Cup overall standings at the time. Brennan is one of only six Americans and the second Alaskan to win a World Cup race. She also placed 6th overall in the grueling 8-stage Tour de Ski.
A basketball player from Fairbanks, Hebard recently wrapped up her college basketball career at the University of Oregon, where she became just the second Alaska woman ever to record 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. This season as a senior she won the Katrina McClain Award given to the country’s top power forward and earned consensus First Team All-American honors. She was drafted into the WNBA with the 8th overall pick by the Chicago Sky.
A UAA senior from Kenya, Kurgat won national titles in the 5,000 and 3,000-meter runs at the NCAA indoor track and field championships, leading the Seawolves to a program-best fourth-place in the women’s standings. That brought her total of individual national championships to five. In early 2019, Kurgat also ran the fastest 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000-meter times in NCAA Division II history.
Kikkan Randall & Roxy Wright (co-winners)
Kikkan Randall: In her 18th and final attempt at an Olympic medal, Randall teamed with Jessie Diggins to win a gold medal in the Nordic Team Sprint event at the 2018 Olympics in dramatic fashion. It was the firstever gold medal for the US Nordic Ski Team and first medal ever for the women’s team. For Randall, who helped elevate Team USA to international respectability, the gold medal cements her legacy as one of the greatest American nordic skiers ever.
Roxy Wright: After retiring from competitive sled dog racing 21 years earlier, 66-year-old Fairbanks musher Wright returned to write the final chapter of her storied mushing career when she captured her fourth North American Championship in March 2017 in Fairbanks to sweep the crown jewels of sprint mushing. This came three weeks after winning the Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship in Anchorage. In both races Wright edged out defending champion Buddy Streeper.
Hooe, a senior setter from Anchorage, was the heartbeat of the UAA volleyball team that advanced to the NCAA Division II national championship match. Hooe became the first setter in UAA history to be named an All-American in 2015 (a feat she duplicated in 2016) and helped lead the Seawolves to a 61-6 record over her last two seasons. She finished as UAA’s all-time leader in assists with 3,920. Hooe’s reputation as a fierce competitor was displayed during the regional tournament, when she returned from injury and rallied her team to victory. Hooe’s community service and academic achievements reflected the same integrity that she brought to the court.
UAA Women’s Basketball Team and Allie Ostrander (co-winners)
UAA Women’s Basketball Team: Under coach Ryan McCarthy, the Seawolves registered a combined 67-4 record over the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons and held the NCAA Division II No. 1 ranking through part of that time. They concluded the 2015-2016 as the NCAA Division II national runner-up after losing a hard-fought title game. Their frenetic style of play — and the victories — energized the city of Anchorage and drew large enthusiastic crowds to home games.
Allie Ostrander: Ostrander had a historic year. The Soldotna native bettered a 25-year-old record on Mount Marathon in her senior women’s race debut (while placing second); won the junior women’s title at the World Mountain Running Championships in Wales, UK; and placed second, as a Boise State University freshman, at the 2015 Division I national cross country championships.
This tiny titan of a runner turned 2014 into one of the most dominating seasons in Alaska running history. Allie Ostrander shattered state records in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters on the track and in cross country won her third straight state championship. In December the Kenai High School standout won a national championship at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore. Wait, there’s more. The 5-foot-1 Ostrander made history at Mount Marathon in Seward when she became the first girl to beat the boys for the junior title en route to setting a girls record and winning her sixth straight girls title. A senior, Allie maintains a 4.0 GPA and has helped establish a running series in Kenai.
Kikkan Randall continued to make American cross country skiing history. A four-time Olympian, in 2013 she joined Jessie Diggins to win the team sprint and become America’s first Nordic skiing world champions. In another milestone, Randall seized the first discipline title by topping the overall World Cup sprint standings in 2012, a feat she repeated the next year. In 2013, she was also third in the overall World Cup standings, the best ever by a U.S. woman. Randall tacked on two more World Cup wins and two second-place finishes early in the 2013-14 season.
Nunaka Valley Girls Softball Team
With a mantra of “unfinished business” the Nunaka Valley Girls Softball Team won the first-ever World Series crown by an Alaska team of any age group or gender. After finishing fifth in the 2011 World Series, many of the 12 to 14 year old players returned to claim the world championship with a 6-2 win over a powerhouse team from Victoria, British Columbia. The close-knit group used strong pitching and scrappy defense to win the international tournament and become celebrities in Alaska.
University of Alaska Anchorage Women’s Basketball Team
Over the past five years under Coach Tim Moser, the UAA Women have posted a record of 160 wins and 31 losses. During this period the team has a 9-1 record against D-1 teams. All five years they have advanced at least to the 2nd round of the NCAA tourney and they have won four Great Alaska Shootout titles against D-1 teams, all while exhibiting excellence in Integrity, Sportsmanship and Scholarship.
The Boston Bruins goaltender, at 24, already shows signs of becoming the greatest netminder in Alaska history. The former All-Rookie selection is the complete package – technically sound, athletic, ambitious, a talent who supplements sublime skill with tremendous work ethic. In three NHL seasons, Swayman’s stats have far exceeded league averages, and this year has been his best yet. He boasts a 24-6-4 record. He was 4th in the NHL in goals-against average (2.27) and save percentage (.920).
Patterson, of Anchorage, recorded the best men’s Nordic skiing result at the Olympics since 1976 with eighth place in the 50-kilometer freestyle. That came despite a broken wrist that almost cost him a spot at the Olympics. Patterson also won the Crow Pass for a 7th time in 2021 and shattered the record with a run of 2 hours, 50 minutes.
The musher from Seward won his fifth Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, tying him with Rick Swenson for the most wins in history. Just 34, the victory marked a triumphant return for Seavey, who took a three-year break from the Iditarod after being penalized, and ultimate cleared of wrongdoing in 2018 by race officials after his dogs tested positive for a banned substance.
The Anchorage cross-country skier made US Ski Team history by becoming the first American male to win an individual Junior World Championship. Schumacher claimed the gold medal in the 10-K individual start classic race in Germa. He also anchored the American team to its second straight relay gold medal. After the season, Schumacher became just the third Alaskan to win the Beck International Trophy – the U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s top award dating to the 1930s.
A Girdwood native, Messing won his first Grand Prix medal, a silver, at the 2018 Skate Canada International. He also placed third at Canadian nationals. Representing Canada, he placed 12th at the 2018 Olympics. He was also the 2018 Nebelhorn Trophy champion and was second at Canadian Nationals in 2018.
After winning three medals – a gold, silver and bronze – at the 2017 World Para Alpine Championships, the Palmer native solidified his position as one of the top sit skiers in the world by winning a gold in the downhill and silver in Super G at the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea. Kurka is also a talented paracyclist and dedicates his free time to supporting programs that encourage youth to be healthy.
In his first attempt at Seward’s Mount Marathon Race in 2016, Norris broke the record established by Kilian Jornet, regarded as the world’s best mountain runner. Two weeks earlier, Norris set a new standard at the Bird Ridge mountain race. A member of APU’s elite nordic ski team, the Fairbanks native also claimed the largest ski marathon in the country, the American Birkebeiner, by winning a dramatic sprint against six Europeans in 2016. He aspires to qualify for the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.
Dallas Seavey and Soldotna High School Football Team (co-winners)
Dallas Seavey: Seavey won his fourth Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in five years in 2016, while registering a record time. Seavey became the youngest Iditarod winner ever in 2012 and since then has established himself as the face of the next generation of competitive sled dog racers. He has also become recognizable across the United States for his role in the reality show Ultimate Survival Alaska.
Soldotna High School Football Team: In 2015, the Stars won their fourth straight medium-school football championship and ran their state-record winning streak to 39 games. The Stars’ stretch of dominance has included a record eight state championships since 2006. During that time the team has gone 96-6 while regularly beating the state’s largest schools.
As director of the Alaska Pacific University nordic ski program, Erik Flora has done more than just develop Olympians. He has helped build the gold standard for American Nordic skiing and bring American skiers to new levels of international success. Under his guidance, APU skier Kikkan Randall became the first American woman to win a World Cup Gold Medal. In 2014, four of the American skiers who competed at the Winter Games in Sochi came from APU. In 2013, he was named National Coach of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee. The award recognized Flora for his role in developing some of the country’s top racers, not only Randall but several others who have won national championships and earned medals in international competitions.
Trevor Dunbar and Eric Strabel (co-winners)
The duo set new standards for Alaska running over the past few years, one on the track, one off. In 2013 Eric Strabel broke the revered 32-year-old record at the Mount Marathon Race. Over the past five years the Palmer native won nearly every trail and mountain race in the state and established several course records. In 2013 Kodiak’s Trevor Dunbar became the first Alaskan to run a sub 4-minute mile. The feat came five years after he garnered national attention as a high-schooler by running a 9:01 3,200-meter race in snow. He then continued with an All-American career at the University of Portland and University of Oregon and made the Finals at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 5,000 meters.
Mario Chalmers became the first Alaskan to win an NBA Championship in 2012 and became a member of a select group of basketball players that has won a State, NCAA Division I and NBA championship. As a starter for the Miami Heat, Chalmers was a steady contributor throughout the season but saved his biggest moments for the biggest games, including the pivotal Game 4 of the Finals when Chalmers scored 25 points and sealed the game with a last-minute basket. Chalmers competed in the 3-point shooting contest at the 2012 NBA All-Star Game and tied a club record with 10 threes in one game in January, 2013.
The Alaska Aces
Since joining the ECHL in 2003 the Alaska Aces hockey team has had unprecedented success and now owns the highest winning percentage in league history. In 2006 the Aces won their first ever Kelly Cup and brought home the first ever professional championship to the state of Alaska. In 2011 the club earned their second title and has continued its outstanding play into 2012, all while continuing to be active in the community.
The Anchorage Christian School basketball player finished her high school career having never lost a game in Alaska (79-0) and led the Lions to three state championships. The Naismith All-American was named Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year for the second time. Sellers is one of the highest nationally rated girls to ever come out of Alaska. She finished her high school career with the Alaska career scoring record with 2,651 to top Alissa Pili’s previous record of 2,614.
Jacoby won a gold medal in the 100-yard breaststroke at the 2020 Summer Olympics (held in 2021 in Toyko) and a silver medal in the 4X100 medley relay. The 17-year-old was third at the final turn in the 100 breaststroke before rallying. Jacoby became the third Alaskan to win two medals at the Summer Olympics, but the first to do it in the same Games. Jacoby’s performance electrified the nation and put her home town of Seward in the news around the world. She became the first Alaskan to win an Olympic medal in swimming
The prep swimmer from Seward popped a blistering time of 1:07.57 in the 100-meter breaststroke at the U.S. Open Championships, the second-fastest time in American history among girls 15 to 16 years old. Later, a month after turning 17, she lowered her mark to 1:06.38, making her the 14th fastest U.S. woman in the history of the event and putting her in range for the national 17-18-year-old age-group record. She has qualified for the 2021 Olympic Trials this June in Nebraska and has a shot to become Alaska’s first Olympic swimmer. The high school junior announced she will swim in college for the University of Texas Longhorns.
Williams was Gatorade Alaska Track & Field Girls Player of the Year – the first Gatorade honors for Delta High in any sport. As a junior, she swept the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races at the Alaska D2 state championships. Later that summer she placed fifth in 200 and 12th in the 100 at New Balance Nationals. Her senior year was canceled due to COVID-19. As a sophomore, she became the first Alaska girl in 37 years to break the 12-second barrier in the 100. She maintained an A average in the classroom and won seven state titles on the track. She has signed with NCAA D1 Duke.
The 16-year-old West Valley junior won the Mount Marathon junior race and individual high school state championships in track, cross country running and cross country skiing. In skiing, the Fairbanks native claimed all four titles at the Junior Nationals in Anchorage and placed 4th at the World Junior Ski Championships in Finland while competing against much older girls. She also made her World Cup debut as the youngest competitor in Quebec City, Canada.
A junior at Dimond High, she has earned three volleyball state titles, one wrestling state title, three track and field titles (shot put as a freshman and sophomore, discus as a sophomore and a basketball state title after the Lynx finished the 2017-18 season undefeated and nationally ranked. Alissa, known as a kind and supportive teammate, excels most in basketball, where she was named Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year after both her sophomore and junior seasons.
After qualifying for the World Junior Alpine Championships, the17-year-old from Anchorage placed 13th (and top American) in the super-G competing against mostly older skiers. He then dominated the U18 U.S. Junior National Championships, claiming two golds, a bronze, and a 6th-place finish in the four disciplines. Donley capped off his season with 5th place in the super G against all ages at the U.S. Alpine Championships. He was named U.S. Ski and Snowboard Rookie of the Year.
Vargas, of Anchorage, made his Major League Soccer debut at age 15 as an emergency call-up for the Seattle Sounders, becoming the third-youngest player in league history. Five months later, he signed a four-year contract. Vargas is one of only three Alaskans to ever play in the MLS. He joined the Sounders Academy at age 14 from the Cook Inlet Soccer Club in Anchorage.
The Anchorage Christian School senior cross-country runner clocked what is believed to be the fastest 5-kilometer time for an Alaska high school runner in 14:41 at the Region III championships. He won the Alaska D2 state title three years in a row and broke 9 minutes in the 3200-meter run. He will compete in track and cross country at powerhouse Northern Arizona University.
Aedyn Concepcion & Hayden Lieb (co-winners)
Aedyn Concepcion: The South High wrestler captured his fourth straight individual championship to join an elite group of 14 Alaska boys who have achieved a four-peat. He became the first from South to do so with a 7-1 decision over a Wasilla wrestler in the 119-pound division. The senior also won his fourth straight Cook Inlet Conference title and lost only two matches in his four-year career. Concepcion was selected a Wrestling USA All-American and named to the Academic Team. He has signed with Gardner-Webb in North Carolina.
Hayden Lieb: Hayden added his name to an exclusive club of 14 Alaska boys who won four state titles in high school. He also won three more team championships for Bethel High. The 3-time All-American finished his career with a 139-12 record and signed with NCAA D1 Wyoming. In his final match at the 2019 state championships, Lieb defeated a Petersburg wrestler 15-0 at 160 pounds to help Bethel take a narrow victory over Glennallen. He was twice named ASAA D2 Outstanding Wrestler and this year was the only Alaska named the Wrestling USA Senior All-American team.
An all-state performer in football and basketball, Truesdell is known for playing his best in the biggest moments. In football, the junior was named all-state at both quarterback and defensive back for the state champion Soldotna Stars and Alaska Division 2 Offensive Player of the Year. In basketball, he was named third team all-state and at the Class 4A state tournament his 31 points carried the Stars to a first-round upset win.
A senior at Service High School, Gus anchored the U.S. relay team to an unprecedented silver medal at the 2018 World Junior Nordic Skiing Championships in Switzerland. On the domestic stage, Gus earned two podiums at the 2018 Junior Nationals and was ranked the top junior skier in the country. A 4.0 student who also skis for Alaska Winter Stars, the multi-sport talent won the state cross country running championship as a junior and twice earned the Nordic Skimeister crown while helping the Cougars win a state title his senior year.