Meet UAA’s new freshman athletes

As the 2018-19 school year starts to pick up, many new faces will be seen on campus and this includes new freshmen. A small number of these newcomers will also be new faces in the UAA athletic department. Included are 40 new first-time freshmen, 16 of them from Alaska.

Service High School graduate Ann Gebauer has joined UAA’s track and field team for the 2018-19 year. Gebauer boasts an impressive resume and was the 2017 state champion in the 100-meter hurdles. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Erik Hill

With a total of 13 new freshmen, track picks up most of them, including five who also run cross-country. Seven of the 13 didn’t have far to come, originally from Alaska — six are from Anchorage and one is from Galena.

The rest of the students come from other states, ranging from Montana to Colorado to Texas. Only one international student is joining the team, who is from Australia.

Montana local Jared Welch and Anchorage’s Service High graduate Ann Gebauer are both excited to start their collegiate track careers.

Welch comes to UAA after ending up at Lathrop for high school in Fairbanks. His time at Lathrop contributed to his decision to stay in Alaska.

“I wanted to come to UAA because my high school coach told me it would be the best program for me and where I would progress the most, despite the D1 schools that were interested in me at the time,” Welch said. “I’m a sophomore [academically] and I didn’t have the grades or money to run [right after high school] so I spent last year at UAF to get my grades up so I could be eligible and also get in-state tuition.”

Similarly, Gebauer decided to come to UAA because the loved the program here and wanted to stay in the state.

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“I love Alaska. Choosing to run here meant I got to stay in a place that I love. I also really liked all of the athletic staff I met when I toured and the general upbeat vibe that everyone had about athletics at UAA,” Gebauer said.

Both Welch and Gebauer come to UAA bringing impressive high school seasons. Welch currently holds Lathrop’s high jump record after becoming the 2014 state champion, whereas Gebauer was the 2017 state champion in the 100 meter hurdles.

Following track and cross country, hockey brought on the second-most newcomers with a heavy recruitment from Canada — four of the eight come from our neighboring country. Two are Alaskans, one is Georgian and another is from Michigan.

Skiing and volleyball each have seven newcomers with the most diverse freshmen rosters.

Skiing recruits are from three countries and two other states. Three Canadians, two Norwegians, one Californian and one Alaskan were added to the roster.

Didrik Nilsen is from Oslo, Norway, and he has some big goals that he is striving for by coming to Alaska.

“I want to be an all-American, hopefully win some races and do a couple podiums at the NCAA finals and represent UAA and the ski team the best way I can. And, of course, have a lot of fun,” Nilsen said.

Nilsen explained that, despite having high goals for his collegiate ski season, he chose to come to Alaska because of the experiences he could have here.

“One of the reasons why I chose UAA and Alaska was that no one else was going there. I thought that going alone would be a cooler experience than to go to a school and starting with someone else that I knew,” Nilsen said. “Also, when will I ever get the chance to go to Alaska anyways?”

In contrast, volleyball kept their recruits within the U.S., with students coming from Alaska, Hawaii, California, Florida, California and Wisconsin.

As for basketball, both the men’s and women’s teams added the least amount of new recruits, three and two students, respectively. Men’s basketball kept their recruits local with all three coming from Alaska, women’s kept one local and brought one athlete over from Hawaii.

To stay up-to-date with UAA Athletics, visit for rosters, schedules, and more.