ANCHORAGE – Three athletes with remarkable resumes within their respective sports were announced at a press conference today as members of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Olympic biathlete and Anchorage Nordic Skiing pioneer Dick Mize, Ketchikan basketball icon John Brown, and Mountain running legend Nancy Pease will be the next inductees into the Hall. Soldotna’s Michaela Hutchison’s groundbreaking state wrestling championship in 2006, to become the first girl in the nation to win an outright high school wrestling title was named in the “Moment” category. The grueling Iron Dog snowmobile race was selected in the “Event” category.
He was a member of the first United States Olympic biathlete squad at the 1960 Squaw Valley Games. As a cross country ski racer Dick was one of the nation’s best and he didn’t seem to ever slow down, winning several U.S. Master’s Championships and setting age-group records well into his 70’s. He might be better known for his work off his skis though. Mize helped design and construct multiple ski trails at Kincaid Park, Hillside, Russian Jack and in Girdwood. Some even bear his name. He was inducted into the Alaska High School Hall of Fame in 2011.
She stopped running competitively years ago, but Pease is still the undisputed queen of the mountain. During her reign in the 1980s and 1990s, she sometimes beat the men outright, winning the overall Bird Ridge race in 1990 and sharing the Crow Pass Crossing title with Bill Spencer that same year. She won Mount Marathon six times, Crow Pass eight times and Bird Ridge five times, and she set course records in all three races – all of which still stand today.
He wasn’t that tall, but John Brown played big. The 6-foot-2, 150-pounder dominated action under the basket with legendary skill and was widely recognized as the top player in Alaska in the 1960s. He became a hoops hero at Ketchikan when he became the first player in Alaska to play on four straight high school champion basketball teams in 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968. He later played at Seattle University. He was named on Sports Illustrated’s list of Alaska’s top 50 greatest 20th-century athletes.
Michaela Hutchison Beats the Boys in 2006 (Moment Category)
Led by chants of “Girl Power,” Skyview High School sophomore Michaela Hutchison made history when she earned a thrilling 1-0 victory over Colony’s Aaron Boss in the 103-pound final to become the first girl wrestler in the nation to win a state title against boys. Hutchison entered the tournament ranked No. 1 in her weight class and completed her historic run by scoring an escape with 16 seconds left in the match.
Iron Dog (Event Category)
At 2,031 miles. the Iron Dog is the longest and toughest snowmobile race in the world. The event began in 1984 as a 1,000-mile race from Big Lake to Nome. It was doubled to the current distance at the 10th annual race in 1994 and now goes from Big Lake to Nome to Fairbanks. In 2015, the race will have a ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage for the first time.
The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame will hold an induction ceremony in February 2015 at the Anchorage Museum auditorium. The event will be free and open to the public. The date and time will be announced at a later time.
“The Class of 2015 reflects the tremendous diversity of sport we have in our state,” said Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Executive Director Harlow Robinson. “The selection panel and the public voters had to make difficult choices, but once again finished with an exceptional group.”
Over 1,500 people participated in the public voting process. The accumulative public vote total constituted one ballot equal to a selection panel member’s ballot.
The Selection panel members are Bob Eley, retired sports editor, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (chairman); Beth Bragg, sports editor, Alaska Dispatch News; Lew Freedman, Chicago, former Anchorage Daily News sports editor and author of numerous books about Alaska sports; George Houston, longtime Juneau Douglas High School basketball coach, Mike Janecek, Palmer, longtime high school coach and athletics administrator; Danny Martin, sports editor, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner; Kathleen Navarre, Kodiak and Dimond High School coach and administrator, Steve Nerland, Anchorage, American Legion baseball manager; and Mike Sica, longtime Alaskan sports broadcaster and journalist. Results of Internet voting by the public constituted the panel’s tenth vote.