Sports

Thanks to an influx of first-year players, Chugiak High’s tennis team is growing by the day.

Thirty-eight were on the team as of last week, and third-year head coach Sally Jo Cook expected more to join.

“I imagine we my hit 50,” she said.

The Mustangs ended last season with 52 on the squad, Cook said.

Freshmen are joining the team in droves, she said.

“This is a stellar year for freshmen that has come out,” Cook said. “It’s kind of exciting.”

For children in military families, moving multiple times throughout their adolescence becomes commonplace. But that doesn’t make entering a school full of unfamiliar faces any easier.

However, athletics can help. Playing a sport is one way to form tight bonds quickly — a truth the Eagle River High tennis team knows well.

In a school full of military families like Eagle River, tennis is a great way to make friends, junior Jacob Klaameyer said at the Wolves’ Aug. 18 match against West High.

Sophomore Hannah Spainhour can attest to that.

It’s a tale of two turnouts in flag football, where Chugiak is awash in players while Eagle River doesn’t have enough to field three full teams.

Neither team’s coach has a good explanation for the phenomenon.

“Honestly, I have no idea,” said Chugiak’s Jon Schroeder, who had 88 girls come out for the girls-only sport.

Eagle River’s Matt Turner said he can’t explain why just 30 kids showed up at Eagle River, just a few miles down the road.

“I really don’t know,” he said.

Yawn.

For yet another year, Chugiak’s Sheryl Loan is riding at the front of the Alaska cycling pack.

Loan, 52, earned a record eighth Tour of Anchorage championship in nine tries on Aug. 14 following the fifth and final stage of the four-day racing series.

Three brothers from North Dakota recently set off on a 20,000-mile bike trip from Anchorage to the southern tip of Argentina — but not before pausing at a relative’s Eagle River home before the journey.

David, Nathan and Isaiah Berg began their 10-month journey last week after staying with their aunt and uncle, Nancy and Matt Wojnowski, for a couple days. The brothers hope to raise $60,000 to sponsor the building of a family home through Habitat for Humanity.

Three volleyball programs haven’t dominated the Cook Inlet Conference in recent years – they’ve owned it.

Dimond, South and Chugiak have been the CIC’s representatives to the state tournament in each of the past three seasons, and Mustangs coach Kelly Kavanaugh thinks his team has a great chance to make it back to the big dance again this season.

“I think we’re going to be right in there again,” Kavanaugh said.

Chugiak’s Duncan Shackelford knows what to expect when Eagle River comes calling.

“They’ve got some kids who can flat get it going,” Shackelford said after his team went to 1-0 in its season opener against South on Aug. 13.

Eagle River, too, will be prepared. Friday’s matchup at 7 p.m. at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium has been on the Wolves’ minds for months.

“It’s what we’ve been thinking about all summer,” wide receiver Danton Evilsizer said after Eagle River lost its season opener 41-16 to Soldotna.

Saturday’s Week 1 matchup between Soldotna and Eagle River was a tale of two halves — for both teams. After a slow start, the Stars scored 28 second-half points to defeat the Wolves 41-16 at Justin Maile Field in nonconference action.

Chugiak’s fall debut was a smashing success Saturday night as the new-look Mustangs fashioned a 21-18 Cook Inlet Conference football win over South at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium.

“This year we’ve got a few more weapons,” said Mustangs coach Duncan Shackelford, who rotated a half-dozen running backs into the game.

The days of smelling salts are long gone.

A new law on the handling of concussions means that any middle or high school athlete who sustains or is suspected of sustaining a head injury can’t return to the team until cleared by a qualified person trained to deal with concussions.

“With what’s at stake, I think it’s a pretty good policy,” said Rep. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak/Mat-Su.

Both houses of the Alaska Legislature passed the bill unanimously in April. Sponsored by Anchorage Rep. Mike Doogan, the legislation was signed into law May 27 by Gov. Sean Parnell.

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