Standout sports stories of 2017
Alaska may not have a professional sports team, but if it did, it'd sure have some die-hard fans. Over the past year, Alaska sports has taken some wins and it's definitely taken some losses, especially with the end of the Aces.
Here's a look back som some of the standout sports stories of 2017:
At 66, call it a win for the ages: Wright took the Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship in Anchorage, her first such title in 24 years. Her total time was 4:25:02.
Joee passed away at 74 in August from complications following surgery. The son of the late Joe Redington, Sr., Joee had a fine career as a musher, mostly in sprint racing but also took part in the Iditarod, the race his dad is credited with starting. He also helped run the Manley Hot Springs checkpoint and was instrumental in many areas seeing the Iditarod tradition continue. Iditarod Race Marshal Mark Nordman said there wasn't an Iditarod champion who wasn't affected in some positive by way by Joee Redington, Jr.
On the job for nearly four years, Hackett stepped down in the summer to move back to the Lower 48 with his wife. He took the same position at Cornell College in Iowa to be nearer to his children and grandchildren. During his tenure in Anchorage, the respected administrator with four decades of experience oversaw national championship runs, conference titles and academic excellence.
But, he also found himself in the middle of a budget crisis which forced him to cut expenses while also sending teams to the brink of elimination. He held off axing the GCI Great Alaska Shootout his final year but correctly predicted that the athletic department would have a difficult time keeping it-- a forecast which came true a few months later.
It wasn't all doom and gloom for the GCI Great Alaska Shootout Thanksgiving week. Sure, this was the final one, but Ryan McCarthy's women sent it off in style by beating a pair of Division I teams. UAA handled Maryland Eastern Shore in the first round then thrilled the holiday crowd with a 59-53 win over Division I Tulsa. The Seawolves trailed by 8 with just over six minutes to play but roared back hitting a handful of key three-pointers down the stretch for the program's seventh- career Shootout title. Hannah Wandersee led UAA with 14 points.
Catch her if you can. Very few could. The Soldotna native and redshirt freshman made her biggest statement yet winning the NCAA steeplechase event in Eugene, Oregon, as a member of Boise State. In doing so, she became the first freshman to accomplish the feat in more than a decade. A month later, she won her first Mount Marathon title in the women's division. She had previously taken the junior crown six times.
The Stars keep shining and Galen Brantley, Jr., keeps turning out winners. The head coach saw his team win its program-record 59th-straight game and sixth-state title (this one in Division II) over host Palmer 21-0.
5 - Mitch Seavey wins the Iditarod
Father really knew best as Mitch outdueled son Dallas to win the crown for a third time-- and in record time. At 57, he became the oldest musher to arrive first at the burled arch, spoiling Dallas' bid for a fifth victory. In control for much of the way, his victory was more a coronation. Mitch's two previous wins came in 2004 and 2013.
Under the weight of snow, one of Anchorage's most recognizable landmarks and important indoor facility went down in late-January. Thankfully, there were no injuries as everyone got out as the roof lowered. Playing host to many intramural teams and UAA track and field, it's temporary demise sent groups scattering across the region for another indoor place during the harsh Alaskan winter.
It still seems odd to see those words together. It was easily the most controversial sports story of the year and one of the biggest in recent memory. Dallas Seavey finished the 2017 Iditarod in second but four of his dogs tested positive for tramadol, a pain reliever and banned substance for the Iditarod. Seavey said he had nothing to do with it and that his team was sabotaged. Race CEO Stan Hooley also had a difficult time believing Seavey would intentionally drug his dogs knowing a test was coming. Seavey, who'd been at odds with board members (but not Hooley), was free to run the 2018 race because the Iditarod Trail Committee couldn't prove intent. He subsequently decided to race in the Finnmarkslopen in Norway.
A 40-year run ends. A Thanksgiving tradition ends. The longest-running regular season college basketball tournament would go gently after an extraordinary run. In 1978, what started as The Seawolf Classic became the Great Alaska Shootout a year later, attracting the biggest power programs in the sport. It soon became a holiday tradition with teams falling over themselves to visit the 49th State and play in Alaska, of all places, in late-November. In more recent years, however, it had trouble enticing those larger schools who went elsewhere for warmer temperatures and better exposure. Despite a national TV contract with CBS Sports Network as recently as 2016, this past November's shootout was the last as Central Michigan took the men's crown and UAA taking it for the ladies.
1 - Aces end
After 14 years, Glacier Blue was no longer financially viable as attendance began to dwindle. And so professional hockey (the ECHL) would come to an end in Alaska. The announcement was made in February as the owners said the numbers just didn't add up anymore and hadn't for a while. The franchise had been in existence in some form for almost three decades. Ultimately, it would be moved to Portland, Maine.
Copyright 2017 KTVA. All rights reserved.