Sports

Though Eagle River High is fielding just one girls soccer team, it has a high caliber of players, second-year head coach Lauren Mason said.

“We had a lot of girls who know how to play soccer come out,” she said. “Low numbers of quality players.”

A majority of the team’s 16 players are returning starters, Mason said.

“I feel pretty confident with this team,” she said. “Technically I think we’ve improved overall as a group from last year.”

First-year head soccer coach Max Solodkii couldn’t ask for a better team to start his career at ERHS.

Eagle River High’s boys team is one of the best groups Solodkii’s had the opportunity to coach, he said.

“It’s a good bunch,” he said. “A very good group of boys.”

Solodkii said the team doesn’t have a single “superstar,” and no one plays with a chip on their shoulder.

If Chugiak’s girls soccer team is going to return to state this year, the Mustangs will have to do it without standout Kelly Cobb.

The 2011 graduate now plays for Duke University. In her first year, Cobb led the Blue Devils to the NCAA Division I women’s soccer tournament championship Dec. 4, 2011, where they lost 1-0 to Stanford. Cobb finished the season with a team-high 11 goals and 31 total points — both freshman records at Duke.

With nine seniors, Chugiak High’s boys soccer team won’t be lacking experience for the 2012 campaign.

That’s good news for first-year head coach Mikey Evans.

Evans knows it will be challenging to transition from the style of former longtime head coach George Campnell. Evans said he doesn’t plan on throwing too many new changes at the team, but does want to improve on last year’s record.

“As a first-year coach, you always like to finish above .500,” he said. “I’m just looking to develop a group of guys that all play as a unit.”

Cayle Byers, a 2007 Chugiak grad who wrestles for Oklahoma State University, placed third at the NCAA Division I national tournament on Saturday, March 17, in St. Louis.

Wrestling at 197 pounds, Byers, a senior, won twice on Saturday to claim third. He beat Minnesota's Sonny Yohn, 8-1, to reach the third place match. There, he took out No. 3 seed Matthew Wilps of Pittsburgh, 3-2 on riding time.

Byers' only loss of the tournament came during Friday night's semifinal round, when he fell 6-3 to No. 1 seed Cam Simaz of Cornell.

Chugiak High graduate Cayle Byers has reached the semifinals of the NCAA Division I national wrestling tournament in St. Louis. He'll wrestle No. 1 seed Cam Simaz of Cornell at 3 p.m. today for a berth in the national championship match Saturday.

Byers, a senior 197-pounder seeded No. 1 for Oklahoma State University, scored a 5-4 decision over Nebraska's James Nakashima in the quarterfinals on Friday morning.

Byers won the Big 12 Conference tournament on March 3 to advance to nationals.

Chugiak's Jim Lanier joined the Iditarod's most exclusive club when he passed beneath the burled arch in Nome at 5:58 p.m. Thursday, March 15 to complete his 15th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Lanier, who first ran the race in 1979 and has never scratched has now finished the race in five different decades. Only Rick Swenson and Sonny Lindner, of Two Rivers, have accomplished that feat. Willow's Bob Chlupach can also join the club if he makes it to Nome this year.

 

Birchwood Christian School finished its season with a 43-33 win over Yakutat in the boys Class 2A state basketball tournament third-place game Wednesday at Sullivan Arena.

“We really wanted to end the season with a win,” said Isaac Foreman, who was named player of the game for BCS.

The Warriors came out on fire and built a 27-13 lead by halftime. The Eagles cut the deficit to six after the third quarter, but BCS outscored Yakutat 13-9 in the final eight minutes.

 Chugiak’s Jim Lanier, 71, earned the halfway prize of $3,000 in gold nuggets courtey of GCI for being the first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race musher to arrive in the Cripple checkpoint on Thursday, March 8. Lanier, who first ran the race in 1979, is vying to complete the race in his fifth decade of competition. As of Wednesday, March 14, Lanier was 123 miles from Nome in the Koyuk checkpoint in 31st place.

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