The year in sports

Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 19:00
Champions, contenders highlight historic year
Eagle River running back Ed Hall stays on his feet and picks up extra yards for the Wolves against Service on Sept. 1 at Chugiak’s Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium. Both Chugiak and Eagle River high school football teams finished their seasons 2-6 and out of the playoffs.

There were historic seasons and heartbreaking stories in the world of sports in 2012, a year that saw state champions crowned and rivals bested all year ‘round. Here’s a sport-by-sport account of some of the biggest and most interesting Chugiak-Eagle River sports stories in the year 2012:



— The Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks got their historic inaugural Chugiak-Eagle River season underway in June. The Chinooks (formerly known as the Athletes in Action Fire) played their official home opener June 18, a 6-1 loss to the Anchorage Glacier Pilots. The Chinooks finished their campaign fifth in the Alaska Baseball League with a 17-22 record.

— Knik Little Leaguer Ian Frizelle, 11, tossed a perfect game June 5. Frizelle struck out 12 of the 15 batters he faced in the game.

— Chugiak’s American Legion baseball team reached the championship of the state tournament before dropping back-to-back games to Kenai on Aug. 4. Chugiak, which entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed, was seeking its seventh state title. Chugiak’s run was nearly as remarkable as that of eighth-seeded Eagle River, which placed third. The Wolves were the only team to beat Kenai in the tournament, picking up a 6-0 win over Post 20 in the tourney opener. Kenai avenged that loss with a 9-8 win over the Wolves to reach the championship.



— The biggest story in local hoops were the Birchwood Christian boys, who reached state for the first time in school history with a 57-56 win over Effie Kokrine in the Central Interior Conference championship game in March. The Warriors went on to win a pair of games at state to place third at the Class 2A level.

— In Class 4A, Chugiak’s boys team held onto the traveling “Birchwood Bowl” trophy with a dramatic 50-49 win over Eagle River on Feb. 16. All four local Class 4A teams failed to reach the state tournament. The Eagle River and Chugiak boys and Eagle River girls each went 0-1 at the CIC tournament, while the Chugiak girls went 1-2.



— Eagle River’s girls team finished the 2011-12 season second in the Anchorage Scholastic Bowling League, whose season wrapped up in February. The Eagle River boys were third, Chugiak’s girls were sixth and the CHS boys were eighth.



— 53-year-old cyclist Sheryl Loan, of Eagle River, wrapped up a record ninth Tour of Anchorage on July 29, defeating second-place Jenna App by nearly two minutes in the five-race series.


Distance running

— On Jan. 14, Chugiak High grad Jesse Cherry (CHS ’05) finished 29th out of 85 competitors at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston, Texas. Cherry finished in 2:16:31, a little over seven minutes behind winner Meb Keflezighi.

— Chugiak’s boys cross country team qualified for the state meet by placing third in Region IV. David McPhetres led the Mustangs in sixth, followed by Ty Jordan (10th), Roan Hall (15th), Tim Sorensen (18th) and Chris Kveseth (33rd). Eagle River’s Hannah Stevens placed third in the girls race to claim the top individual spot among locals. Both Stevens and McPhetres each placed ninth at state to lead all locals.



— Chugiak’s football team defeated Eagle River 13-7 on Sept. 15 to keep its unofficial winning streak alive against the Wolves. The game was the closest in the seven-year rivalry between the schools — although the Wolves were credited with a forfeit after losing the annual game in 2011. Both local football teams finished 2-6 and missed the playoffs. The CHS flag football team also enjoyed success over their biggest rival, sweeping both games from the Wolves in 2012.



— Eagle River’s Terri McAngus, 50, won her second consecutive Alaska State Amateur Golf Tournament on July 22 at Settlers Bay. McAngus beat her next-closest competitor by 13 strokes in the four-round event.


Hall of fame

— A pair of longtime Chugiak High coaches — Ed Blahous (soccer) and Paul Brauneis (hockey) — were inducted into the Alaska High School Hall of Fame Aug. 5. Blahous helped CHS to nine CIC and three state titles while and assistant and head coach. Brauneis guided the Mustangs to three state titles and had a 149-100 record between 1984 and ’94.



— Eagle River hockey completed a 2011-12 season sweep of Chugiak with a 7-4 win on Jan. 28, but the Mustangs got the last laugh three days later when they qualified for state for the first time in three years with a 3-2 CIC conference tournament win over East in double overtime. Chugiak went 0-2 at state.

— The Chugiak-Eagle River girls team fell 1-0 to Dimond-West in the CIC tournament. The girls finished 9-10-1 on the year.

— The Alaska Blue Devils PeeWee Tier II 12-U won the first national championship in Mustang Hockey Association history on Sunday, April 1 in Ashburn, Va. The team wrapped up their championship run with a 3-0 win over the Affton (Mo.) Americans.

— In May, local hockey pioneer Harry McDonald was honored by USA Hockey with the organization’s Walter Yaciuk Award in a ceremony held in Colorado Springs, Colo. The building that now bears McDonald’s name was rededicated following the completion of a 27,000-square foot addition that added a turf field at the McDonald Center in Eagle River. McDonald’s widow, Carole, cut the ribbon at the facility during a ceremony Sept. 29.


— As the year came to a close, the Eagle River hockey team continued to have the upper hand against its rival. On Nov. 13, the Wolves moved to 4-0-1 in their last five games against Chugiak with a 4-3 win at the Mac.



— Chugiak musher Jim Lanier cashed in at the Iditarod in March. Not only did Lanier, 71, complete his 15th “Last Great Race” in his fifth different decade, he also won $3,000 in gold for being the first musher into the halfway point of Cripple.


Nordic skiing

— Chugiak Nordic skier Isaac Lammers proved himself the state’s top skier when he won the Skimeister title at the 2012 ASAA Alaska State Nordic Skiing Championships Feb. 24 at Kincaid Park. Other top performances were turned in by Chugiak’s Alex Loan, who was fifth, and David McPhetres, who was 10th. Eagle River’s Hannah Stevens was the top local girl at state in seventh.

— On July 4, Lauren Fritz finished second in the women’s division to lead all local finishers in the Mt. Marathon Race in Seward. The finish wasn’t Fritz’s only big accomplishment in 2012. In December, the Eagle River High grad qualified to ski in her first career World Cup Nordic skiing race in Canada.



— Corey Cogdell, an Eagle River skeet shooter who won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics, began her quest for 2012 gold with a victory at the opening World Cup event of the season in Tucson, Ariz. in March. In May, Cogdell earned a return trip to the Olympics when she won the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Cogdell finished 11th in the London Olympics in August.



— Patrick Prior scored twice as the Eagle River boys soccer team notched a 3-0 win over Chugiak on March 31, 2012 — the Wolves’ first victory over their crosstown rival.

— All four local prep soccer teams failed to advance out of the CIC tournament. Eagle River’s girls were the only team to win a game in the tourney — defeating Chugiak 3-1 in the opening round. The Wolves finished fourth.

— On Sept. 8, 2011 Chugiak High grad Kelly Cobb helped the U.S. Under-20 team win the FIFA U20 World Cup in Tokyo.



— Chugiak High’s softball team was the only local nine to reach the state tournament when the Mustangs finished third. Chugiak went on to place third at state, with team members Kacey Brooker and Darion Gobert named to the all-tournament team.



— Sophomore Sammie Burke won a pair of CIC swimming titles and freshman Emmie Jennings added another for the Mustangs on Oct. 27. CHS senior diver Kaitlin Friedli won her second straight conference title at the same meet.

A week later, Friedli won her second consecutive state championship.


Track and field

— Chugiak High’s Malia McVee (discus) and Tyler Rohde (110 hurdles) won CIC track and field titles in May. The following week, Rohde exploded for three state titles when he won the 110 hurdles (in record time), 300 hurdles and ran a leg of Chugiak’s winning 4X400 relay team. Rohde — a junior who was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Athlete — also ran a leg on Chugiak’s second-place 4X200 relay team.



— In April, Chugiak High senior volleyball player Karlee Kavanaugh signed a National Letter of Intent to play Division I beach volleyball at Georgia State University.

— The Chugiak volleyball team missed out on a trip to state for the first time in five seasons after going 2-2 at the conference tourney in November. Eagle River’s volleyball team went 0-2 at the CIC tournament.



— In mid-January, 22-year-old wrestler Melissa Apodaca, of Chugiak, returned to Alaska to visit. While in town, the 2008 Chugiak High graduate and U.S. Olympic hopeful shared her story of overcoming an abusive childhood with the help of her adopted family in Chugiak. In April, Apodaca’s Olympic dream fell short when she lost at the U.S. Olympic Trials. However, she said she plans to continue training for the 2016 games.

— Three locals — Chugiak’s Garrett Morrison (pictured on page 2) and Richard Burroughs and Eagle River’s Dominic Taus — won Region IV wrestling titles on Jan. 28. 13 Mustangs and seven Wolves qualified for the state tournament. The following week, Morrison, a 182-pound senior, capped his career with a state championship by beating Kodiak’s Charlie Johnson.

— Cayle Byers, a 2007 Chugiak grad, won a Big 12 wrestling championship March 3 with a 5-0 win over Missouri’s Brent Haynes.

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