With about 50 athletes out and another five to 10 expected to join after spring break (which ended March 16), Eagle River High head track and field coach Matt Turner had something to celebrate before the 2012 season even started.
“We’ve got the most numbers out we’ve ever had,” he said. “That’s always a plus to start the year off.”
The 2012 Arctic Winter Games closed with 15 local athletes bringing home ulus. The games, which this year featured nine teams from northern regions participating in a variety of athletic and cultural events, were held this year in Whitehorse, Yukon.
On the turf, all rivalry was set aside as Sue Fleurant of Chugiak High and Jackie Klecka, of Eagle River, teamed up to bring home indoor soccer bronze.
“We can be teammates one week and opponents the next, its really not weird at all,” Fleurant said.
The Chugiak-Eagle River Huskies won the 2012 Valley Comp Basketball Girls 7/8 Elite Championship on Feb. 29 at the AT&T Center in Wasilla. The Huskies won the championship with a 29-26 victory over their longtime rival, the Mountaineers. Pictured are (back row, left to right) Coach Glenn Haasl, Victoria Spring, Kassidy Murfin, Randi McMullin, Nicole Pinckney, Coach Chuck Pinckney and (front row, L-R) Kaylee Carlson, Emmie Jennings, Haley Scott, Miranda Haasl and Hannah Russell.
In their first year as a Competition team, the Eagle River Glacier Hockey Association’s Alaska Glacier Bears won the U16 Tier II state title. Now, the Bears are heading to the national tournament in Green Bay, Wis., on March 28 through April 1 to see how they stack up against the Lower 48.
“They’re very excited,” head coach Scott Hulse said. “It’s an opportunity and experience for the players they’ve never had.”
Hulse said the Bears will open the tournament against a team from Indiana. They’ll also face the best from Virginia and North Carolina.
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.