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One trophy came home to Baranof Island and another resides across the channel on Japonski.
The Sitka High girls softball team repeated as small-school champs, while the Mt. Edgecumbe Lady Braves won the 3A state volleyball title, capturing the second state victory in school history.
Three wrestlers, including a pair from Sitka High, climbed to the top of the podium at the 3A state wrestling championships. It was just the second time in school history that two Sitka High wrestlers won state titles, while Jaylin Prince became the first Edgecumbe wrestler, and ninth in state history from a 3A school, to win three state titles in his career.
There were Southeast titles won by teams from both sides of the bridge in 2011, and the Mt. Edgecumbe Braves earned a flag on the wall at Juneau-Douglas High School with a crossover game win over the Crimson Bears.
The Sitka High Lady Wolves won a fourth straight 3A Southeast title in cross country then finished second at state, edging Seward with a gutsy performance. The SHS Wolves swim team was also second at state in 2011 after winning a thrilling Region V meet at Juneau-Douglas High School.
The Alpine Adventure Run’s record book was rewritten by racers taking advantage of a course improved by trail work. Sitka High records fell in swimming and track. A Sitka High graduate was drafted by the San Francisco Giants. The SHS soccer team won approval from the School Board to continue playing, and a handful of adult athletes recorded impressive performances, or accomplished daring feats, across the country, and beyond.
This is a look at the year in Sitka sports.
Lady Wolves Softball
Sitka High ran the table at the 2011 state tournament, winning three straight games to bring the small-school trophy back to Baranof Island for the second straight year and the third time in school history.
Sitka and Ketchikan were the top two teams in the state most of the season, and the Lady Kings held a one-game lead in the conference standings until the final weekend of the regular season. The Lady Wolves swept the final two conference games with Kayhi to earn a first-round bye then easily beat Soldotna in their first state game.
Next up was Kayhi and a 4-3 comeback win over the Lady Kings was basically the clincher for SHS.
Both team’s aces were on the hill in Anchorage that day: Stefania Potrzuski for Sitka and Molly Royer for Kayhi. The game was tied 0-0 after five innings when the Lady Kings exploded for three runs on two homers in the top of the sixth. Kayhi was six outs away from a big victory, but the Lady Wolves came right back. Katie Hagan led off with a double and scored after hits by Carrie Iwamoto and Richelle Ramil. Hits by Potrzuski and Katina Wathen left the game tied 3-3 heading into the seventh inning. Potrzuski put down the Kayhi hitters and Hagan once again came up big for Sitka. The Sitka shortstop slapped a double to start the bottom of the seventh, moved over on a fielders choice and scored on a two-out hit by Ramil.
The Lady Wolves beat Homer 8-0 the next day to clinch the state crown. Potrzuski won all three games for SHS at state. She made the all-tournament team along with Jule Peterson and Ramil. The Lady Wolves ended the season 20-8 and 8-1 in their final nine games.
The Lady Wolves hit .406 as a team for the season and had seven players hit .400 or better. Peterson batted .514 for Sitka, Ramil hit .493, Hagan .443, Jetta Fay Workman came in at .458, Emily Inman batted .442, Iwamoto hit .414 and Potrzuski .407. Five of those seven were seniors.
Lady Braves Volleyball
Coach Rich Calkins has built a Southeast volleyball dynasty at Mt. Edgecumbe.
But until this season a state title had proved elusive.
After winning their fifth straight Region V title and sixth in seven years, the Lady Braves dominated the state tournament, beating perennial power Grace Christian 3-0 in the championship match. The Lady Braves avenged a loss to Grace in the 2010 state finals and brought a 3A Alaska championship trophy back to Japonski Island for just the second time since the history of the school, which goes back to 1947. Brenna Johanson made the all-tournament team for MEHS as did Katelyn Cook, Mariah Martin and Taryn White.
This was the 10th season for Calkins as head coach of the Lady Braves volleyball team. Prior to 2011, Calkins and the Lady Braves had finished second at state three times (2005, 2007 and 2010), with fourth-place finishes in 2008 and 2009.
In the last five seasons, the Lady Braves are 79-4 against 3A Southeast teams, including a string of 58 straight conference wins that was snapped by Sitka High late in the 2010 season.
Calkins will lose three of his 10 varsity players to graduation: Johanson, Donnita White and Aquilina Active.
State Champion Wrestlers
Southeast wrestlers had a banner year in 2010, winning eight of the 14 state titles. Four of those victories were recorded by local wrestlers, three from Edgecumbe and one from Sitka. In 2011, four state titles went to Southeast grapplers, and three were local.
Darin Davis (106) and Will Patrick (132) won for Sitka and Edgecumbe’s Jaylin Prince (285) captured his third straight state crown.
The only other time two Sitka High wrestlers won at state was in 1986, when Kelly Stocker (119) and Todd Denkinger (126) accomplished the feat. Denkinger won a state title at 132 in 1987 and remains the only two-time state champ in SHS history.
Davis, a junior, will look to join that club in 2012. Davis defeated Kotzebue’s Brettlyn Reich 6-5 to win at 106 pounds, while Patrick came back to beat Kotzebue’s Scott Hansen 4-3 in the final at 132. Davis finished the season 23-1.
For Patrick, his 2011 win was the culmination of a steady climb up the state wrestling ladder. Patrick was third at 125 his sophomore year, then lost in overtime in the 125-pound state championship match to Mt. Edgecumbe’s Jesse Rogers last season. This time, Patrick would not be denied. He ended the season 36-0.
Prince, meanwhile, became one of the most accomplished athletes in Mt. Edgecumbe history. The senior from Kotlik was undefeated in 2011 and went 67-1 in his final two seasons. Late in 2009, when Prince was a sophomore, MEHS coach Mike Kimber bumped the athletic wrestler up from 215 to heavyweight for the 2009 stretch run. Prince won about 10 straight matches this year as he captured Southeast and state titles. He lost just one match in his final two seasons. Simply put: Prince dominated the 3A 285-pound weight class in Alaska for the better part of three seasons.
Edgecumbe was sixth as a team at state, while Sitka finished seventh.
The Braves also won a 3A Region V title in 2011, the team’s second in three years. The Wolves, Southeast champs in 2010, managed a second-place finish with just six wrestlers.
SHS Swimmers Win
Region V, 2nd at State
Early in the 2011 swimming season, it was clear coach Robby Jarvill liked his team. He talked about his formula for winning state titles in 2005 and 2006 and said the 2011 Wolves could get there.
He wasn’t too far off: the Wolves took second at the state championships.
First, the Wolves did enough to hold Petersburg and Thunder Mountain for a Region V title, the fourth in Sitka High’s modern era. The Wolves scored 106 points, Thunder Mountain had 105 and Petersburg was third with 104.
Then it was on to state, where the Wolves scored 59 points to take second place. Swimming is an unclassified sport in Alaska, meaning Sitka competes against the biggest schools in the state. The strong performances at the regional and state championships were powered by Sitka’s relays. Sitka was one of three teams in the state to qualify in each of the three relays (200 free, 400 free and 200 medley) and one of two to place in the top five in each event.
Louis Belley, Jacob Reid, R.J. Miller and Carl Sundsten-Brenner swam 1:41:07 to take third in the 200 medley; Spencer Combs, Miller, Evan Harrington and Sundsten-Brenner took fifth in the 200 free with a time of 1:32.39; Belley, Combs, Sundsten-Brenner and Reid combined to swim 3:21.92 in the 400 free, good enough for fourth. Belley and Reid each added a pair of second-place individual finishes for Sitka. Belley, a sophomore, also set two school records. In the 200 medley he swam 1:58.68 to break a record held by Travis Watson. In the 100 back, Belley swam 53.38. He broke coach Robby Jarvill’s school record at the Region V meet and lowered it again at state.
Edgecumbe Braves Region V
The Mt. Edgecumbe Braves played 15 games last season before taking the floor at B.J. McGillis Gymnasium. It was nearly Valentine’s Day before they played a home game. But it was clear early in the 2010-11 season that the MEHS team was strong. They beat Juneau-Douglas at a January tournament in Kodiak, then dropped a close game to JDHS in the state capital. The games against 3A opponents were lopsided. The Braves ended up 18-3 overall in the regular season, including a 12-0 mark in the 3A Southeast conference as Savion Waters, Travante Williams, Zach Ivanoff and Sean Melovidov dominated opponents on both ends of the floor. The Braves beat Sitka High twice on Japonski Island in front of packed crowds. They beat Sitka a third-time to claim the 3A Region V title and the stage was set for a third game against JDHS, a rubber match for Southeast supremacy in the traditional crossover game.
The crossover game is technically meaningless, but it was hard to tell that night last March at JDHS. With the gym at capacity, the Braves and Crimson Bears went toe-to-toe in a defensive struggle. The Braves won 44-42, surviving a last-second, full-court tip play that was a little too close for comfort. The win gave the Braves Southeast bragging rights for 2011. It was the first crossover win for the Braves, who also won Southeast title in 1959, back before the state and region split into 3A and 4A division. The Braves were a state title contender, but dropped their first-round game to eventual champion Anchorage Christian School and ended up sixth after beating Galena and losing their fourth-place game to Seward.
Sitka Dominates XC
It was another outstanding season for coach Shasta Smith’s cross country program at Sitka High.
The Lady Wolves won their fourth straight Region V title, while the Wolves made it three in a row.
At the Region V meet in Ketchikan, the Wolves put their first five runners in the top 11 finishers and won easily. Mt. Edgecumbe was second. Sitka senior Niko Friedman blew away the 3A field by more than a minute, finishing the course in 16:41. David Francis of Juneau-Douglas ran 16:17 to win the 4A race and was the only runner faster than Friedman.
The Lady Wolves, led by freshman standout Sidney Riggs, who won the 3A race by 39 seconds, also won easily, with Mt. Edgecumbe in second. The Lady Braves earned their first trip to state in at least eight years. It was the first time MEHS coach Josh Arnold, who was in his eight year leading the harriers on Japonski Island, had both teams qualify for state. The Lady Wolves capped off the season with a second-place finish at state. SHS scored 97 points to edge Seward by two points. Sidney Riggs (15th, 21:17), Jennifer MacIntyre (21st, 21:55) and Sarah Rasmussen-Rehkopf (25th, 22:12) finished in the top 25 for the Lady Wolves, while Justine Webb (46th, 23:24) and Rachel Youngberg (58th, 23:58) rounded out the SHS top five. Clare Jurczak (70th, 24:32) and Kaycie Coleman (77th, 24:56) also ran for Sitka. The Lady Braves were fifth with 142 points.
The Wolves ended up fourth as a team, with Friedman running 16:41 at the Bartlett course in Anchorage to take third in a performance Smith called the best of his career. The Braves ended up eighth.
After Friedman, the next four Sitka runners finished in a tight pack. George Jones, another four-year senior, was 32nd in a time of 18:33. Ryan Morse also recorded an 18:33 to take 33rd, with Jamie Wladyka finishing 34th in 18:34. Will Patrick came home in 18:38 for 36th place. Ryan Apathy (82nd, 20:10) and Jack Youngberg (84th, 20:10) rounded out the Wolves varsity team.
The Wolves won the award for best team grade-point average, with a 3.616. The Lady Wolves had a 3.668, but were denied the award in the girls division because Grace Christian had a 4.0.
The writing was on the wall in the days leading up to the 18th running of the Alpine Adventure Run, which was founded in 1994 as an Eagle Scout project by Josh Horan. There were fast runners in the 2011 race and the course was in great shape, improved in key spots by the U.S. Forest Service.
Then the weather cooperated and both the male and female course records fell. Sam Scotchmer, the brew master at Baranof Island Brewing Company, ran 1:06:29 to lower the course record set by Anchorage’s Brad Precosky in 2002 by 18 seconds. Tasha Folsom also cut 18 second from the female record, finishing in 1:22:42 on the grueling 7-mile course up Gavan Hill and around the Harbor Mountain Rim to take 10th overall. The female mark had been held by Mount Marathon legend Cedar Bourgeois, who ran 1:23:00 in 2008. Folsom beat the next fastest female finisher by almost eight minutes.
Scotchmer ran 1:09:40 to win the 2010 race, recording what was then the second fastest time in course history. In 2011, he became just the third repeat champ in race history.
Skeeter Morris (1:08:31) and Niko Friedman (1:08:46) recorded times that would have been good enough to win most other years.
Sitka Teams Get State Wins
Both the Sitka High Wolves and Lady Wolves exorcised a demon at the 2011 state tournament.
For coach Rich Krupa and the Sitka girls it was a win over the Anchorage Christian School Lady Lions. For Andy Lee and the Wolves, a victory over Seward in the first-round was the first state tournament win for the Sitka High boys as a 3A school. And it was the first win at the state tournament for the Wolves in many years.
Krupa’s Lady Wolves have finished third at state three consecutive years since Sitka High dropped down to the 3A division. In 2009 and 2010 they lost to the ACS Lady Lions in the semifinals and went on to win third-place.
But in 2011, the Lady Wolves finally knocked off ACS, this time in the first round. Next up was Kotzebue and the Lady Wolves lost at the buzzer. They came back the next day and ended their season with a win to take third place.
After missing state in 2010, the Wolves were back in Anchorage in 2011 and once again they faced a first-round game in the dreaded 8 a.m. time slot. After falling in the early game in 2009, coach Andy Lee and company were ready this time around. They took down a tough Seward team and moved to the state semifinals. Sitka lost to Monroe Catholic in the semifinals, then dropped the third-place game to Barrow and ended up fifth.
Baseball Battles Juneau
The Sitka High baseball played a series of wild games against Juneau-Douglas in 2011. This included a 10-9 loss to open the season that saw a homerun by Mik Potrzuksi wiped off the board by umpires because of an illegal bat. Sitka trailed 7-1 in the game, got back within a run at 7-6, fell behind 10-6 and rallied to 10-9. The game ended with the bases loaded for Sitka.
The final regular season game of the season for manager Ed Conway’s group, while technically meaningless, followed a similar script. On a rainy May evening in Sitka, the Wolves fell behind 6-1 as Lance Ibesate threw a no-hitter through four innings. Sitka got within a run at 6-5, chased Ibesate and were trailing 7-6 when Potrzuksi launched a grand slam off Juneau ace Miles Bedford that put SHS up 10-7 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Juneau rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh and after Sitka went down in the bottom half of the inning the game was called for darkness. The score was tied 10-10.
Then it was on to the Region V tournament in Juneau. The Wolves opened up with a win over Kahyi then topped Juneau 2-1 behind a gem of a pitching performance from Cameron O’Neill. It was the first conference loss for JDHS in two seasons and clinched Sitka’s seventh straight trip to state. But the Wolves needed one more win to take their first Region V title since 2006, and that victory was elusive. The Wolves took leads into the seventh inning of two games with JDHS, but lost both times. The first loss saw the Crimson Bears score six runs in the final two innings and win 8-7. The game ended on a long fly ball by Nels Svenson that missed going out of the yard by about a foot. There were two men on and the shot would have won the game. The second loss to Juneau came after the Wolves led 10-6 in the final inning, only to lose 11-10. The winning run came on an error. The Wolves dropped their opening-round game at state 2-1 to Dimond, with O’Neill turning in another outstanding pitching performances. The Wolves then beat Soldotna and Kodiak to finish fourth.
Track Records Fall
Chris Clement set new school records in the 100 and 200 during the 2011 track season. Both records had been held by Nick Mangini. Clement picked up the 100 record at an April meet in Juneau, running 11.69. The previous record was 11.78. Clement pinned down the SHS 200 record at the Region V meet, which was also held in Juneau. He ran 23.86 to win the 3A race. The previous record was 24.11. Clement placed in both events at state.
Soccer Team Stays
The Sitka High soccer was much improved in its second season of competitive Southeast play, knocking off Ketchikan for the first time and compiling a 3-8-1 record.
The soccer program was approved by the School Board on a two-year trial basis in 2009 and in August soccer supporters were back before the board. The vote was 5-0 to keep the team, though the district will not provide financial support. The board agreed to re-examine the funding issue in 2012.
–Sitka High graduate David Reynolds, a right-handed pitcher, was drafted in the 43rd round of June’s MLB draft by the Baltimore Orioles. Reynolds was 1,295th pick overall and became the third veteran of the SHS program to be drafted professionally.
–Blatchley Middle School Principal Joe Robidou, a former college football player, competed in the Reebox CrossFit Games in California. Robidou competed in the masters division, for athletes ages 50-54. He finished seventh in the division and fourth among Americans.
–Mike Hirai, a longtime girls basketball coach at Sitka High, was honored by the Alaska School Activities Association for his long career in high school sports. ASAA voted to give Hirai a “lifetime gold pass.”
–In March, the Baranof Barracudas boys swim team won the Alaska state meet, topping clubs from Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.
–Sitka High graduate Richie Whitson won a mixed martial arts fight last February in Canada. Whitson beat Curtis Demarce in a split decision. In October, Whitson lost to Kajan Johnson on a rear-naked choke. Johnson was nominated for “submission of the year” by the Maximum Fighting Championships for the move.
–Brent Cunningham earned a spot in next September’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship race. Cunningham qualified with a solid performance at 70.3 event in Pennsylvania this fall. The 70.3 refers to a half Ironman, which is 140.6 miles (2.4-mile swim, 26.2-mile run and 112-mile bike). Cunningham, a good runner and biker, caught a break when race officials cancelled the swim portion of the 70.3-mile race he entered because of unsafe conditions in the Delaware River. Cunningham completed the 13.1-mile run and 56-mile bike leg in a time of 4:27:31.
–Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins climbed the world’s tallest volcano in January. He made it to the top of Argentina’s Ojos de Salado, elevation 22,608-feet, with climbing partner Chander Kemp, a former Haines High cross country standout. On their way to the top, the Southeast climbing team took a detour up El Muertito, which at 19,000 feet is believed to be the world’s tallest unclimbed volcano and the tallest unclimbed mountain in the Western Hemisphere.