Lauren Cuddihy is a member of UAA’s track and field team.
From high school students to UAA athletes to Olympians, mid-march proved to be a busy time for the athletes of Alaska.
1A/2A Basketball State Championships
As March Madness consumed the country’s attention with National Collegiate Athletic Association teams, Alaskan high school teams overtook the state with the annual Alaska School Activities Association State Championships for basketball.
The ASAA March Madness was composed over two different championships composed of four divisions. Over the weekend of March 13 and 14, 1A and 2A schools competed. The 3A and 4A schools concluded the excitement with their state tournaments March 22 – 24.
The 1A girl’s teams rotated between eight teams for the final four games, Shaktoolik, Tri-Valley, King Cove, Scammon Bay, Ninilchik, Kake, Davis Ramoth and Aniak.
The final game came down to an 11-point difference (55-44), with Aniak conquering over Davis Ramoth.
The King Cove, Shishmaref, Birchwood Christian, Newhalen, Tanana, Aniak, Noatak, and Nunamiut boys teams battled out for the title. Noatak eventually took the title with a 36-point (71-35) lead over Nunamiut.
Six finalists made up the 2A girl’s teams including Wrangell, Dillingham, Nenana, Unalaska, Tikigaq and Metlakatla.
However, only two of those same teams made it to the boy’s finals (Unalaska, Metlakatla), with Cordova, Petersberg, Tok, Unalakleet making the overall tournament.
Tikigaq conquered the girl’s side with a 9-point lead, while the boy’s Metlakatla team barely came out on top with a 4-point win.
3A/4A Basketball State Championships
Following the 1A/2A basketball tournament, the 3A and 4A teams turned the excitement back up with their tournament starting on March 22.
The 3A teams were the first to play every game, followed by the remaining 4A teams.
Two days of competition were played until the final rounds on Saturday.
Competing for the 3A title of the girl’s tournament was Bethel, Nikiski, Barrow, Valdez, Sitka and Anchorage Christian. Anchorage Christian took the final, beating Sitka (56-46).
As for the boy’s, Mt. Edgecumbe, Valdez, Anchorage Christian, Monroe Catholic, Barrow and Grace Christian made it to the final rounds.
With a 13-point win, Barrow took the state title over Grace Christian.
Following that, the 4A boy’s and girls teams competed in the championship title games.
Five other teams managed to make it to the girl’s final rounds, including Colony, East, West, Chugiak and Wasilla.
Wasilla lost in the final, 46-61, to Dimond.
Dimond boys made it to the final round to compete against Wasilla, but with a three-point deficit, Dimond succumbed to second place — the opposite of last year’s result.
West, Chugiak, Juneau-Douglas and Colony also competed in the boy’s tournament.
After the conclusion of the majority of UAA athletic seasons, many awards began to make their way to Seawolf athletes.
In women’s basketball, Hannah Wandersee earned NCAA DII All-American honorable mentions.
UAA hockey’s own standout goalie, Olivier Mantha, was awarded the prestigious individual award of Western Collegiate Hockey Association Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year. In addition, UAA hockey defensemen, Eric Sinclair was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team.
As for track and field, junior Danielle McCormick, junior transfer Yemi Knight and freshman Felix Kemboi were awarded Great Northwest Athletic Conference awards. McCormick was awarded Female Athlete of the Year, Knight was Female Newcomer of the Year, Kemboi was Male Co-Freshman of the Year.
The conclusion of the Winter Olympic games on February 25th only brought more success to the Olympians who just finished competing, but it also brought the commencement of the 2018 Winter Paralympic games.
Just after her gold medal wins Winter Olympics, Kikkan Randall joined three other Alaskan Olympians at the World Cup. Sadie Bjornsen, Caitlin Patterson. Rosie Frankowski and Randall all raced in the 30K classic.
The race proved to be a career best for all three women; Bjornsen came out near the front of the pack for a 12th place finish, Randall behind at 19th, Patterson at 28th and Frankowski at 31st.
While the women were busy Norway, two Alaskans traveled to Pyeongchang to compete in the 2018 Winter Paralympic games.
Highlighted by a gold medal win, Palmer local, 26-year-old Andrew Kurka seized the first place finish in the men’s downhill. This was the first medal to ever be awarded to an Alaskan at the Winter Paralympics. His gold medal was followed by a silver medal in the super-G run.
Another Palmer local, 18-year-old Grace Miller competed in the 15K freestyle. She placed 10th out of the 11 skiers who competed in the event.