Sports

Chugiak’s Hyrum Nelson and Eagle River’s Emily Walsh opened the high school cross country running season with victories Friday at the “Battle of the Bridge” dual meet that saw the crosstown rivals split team titles.

Nelson outran teammate Max Beiergrohslein by 23 seconds, finishing the 3-kilometer layout at the Beach Lake Trails in 9 minutes, 56 seconds. Chugiak swept the top four individual spots to claim the team victory, with Jacob Lestina taking third and Will Gerlach fourth. Michael Olson was the top Eagle River finisher in fifth, followed by Alex Carl in sixth.

Nothing went right last year for the Chugiak Mustangs. This year the team is hoping it can do no wrong.

“Our energy has been awesome,” said second-year head coach Ryan Landers after a practice last week at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium. “Kids are buying into it, kids are flying around the field, they’re having fun out there and competing every day.”

Last year’s version of the Eagle River football team wasn’t the same old Wolves. This year’s won’t be, either.

Long a doormat of Alaska football, Eagle River had its best season in program history in 2018, going 7-3 overall and reaching the Division II state championship game. The Wolves set numerous team records and defeated crosstown rival Chugiak for the first time.

But gone are many of last year’s stars, including the team’s all-state quarterback, Division II Coach of the Year Bob Adkins and — hopefully — any memories from the team’s forgettable past.

Saturday’s Eagle River Classic was an uphill battle — and that was just fine with Anchorage’s Julie Johnson.

“I just keep going on the uphill,” Johnson said after becoming the first woman to win the 10-kilometer wilderness race through the rolling hills of the Eagle River Valley in in its 15-year history.

Eagle River’s Dayton Denter led the race for the first 15 minutes or so, he said, until Johnson powered past on a long, steep hill.

The Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks have returned home after finishing fifth in the Alaska Baseball League standings and missing out on the league’s four-team playoff.

The Chinooks dropped their final home game of the season 14-2 to the Mat-Su Miners on Tuesday at Lee Jordan Field in Chugiak to finish 13-30 overall. The team finished 1.5 games behind the Peninsula Oilers for fourth place after losing five straight games to close out the year.

Six local American Legion baseball players have been named to the Alaska Legion Baseball Team of Excellence, including five Mustangs and a lone Wolf.

Named to the team as starting pitchers were Chugiak’s Camden Costanios and Sam Hall, along with Eagle River reliever Noah Lower. Chugiak catcher Trystan Costanios — who is set to start his college baseball career at Mt. Hood Community College later this year — was also named to the first team, as was the Mustangs’ slick-fielding shortstop Justin Nevells and Chugiak center fielder Chrstian Cambridge.

Chugiak Post 33 took a pair of narrow losses in back-to-back games to exit the Alaska American Legion Baseball Tournament in fourth place.

The Mustangs fell victim to a dazzling pitching performance Monday as South’s Austin Delsline and Gage Webster combined for a two-hitter in the Wolverines’ 2-0 win in the tournament’s loser’s bracket.

Chugiak starter Sam Hall gave up seven hits in five innings and Camden Costanios struck out three in two innings of scoreless relief in the loss.

Former Chinook pitcher Conner Menez, who played in Chugiak-Eagle River during the 2015 Alaska Baseball League season, made his Major League Baseball debut Sunday for the San Francisco Giants.

The 24-year-old from The Masters College allowed two runs on three hits over five innings in the Giants’ 3-2 extra-inning win. He received a large ovation at Lee Jordan Field Sunday when public address announcer Dave Stroh announced Menez’s milestone start.

Anchorage’s Scott Patterson won a record sixth Crow Pass Crossing men’s title Saturday and Palmer’s Christy Marvin won her fifth straight women’s championship in the 23-mile wilderness race between Girdwood and Eagle River.

Patterson completed the course in 3 hours, 3 minutes, 39 seconds to best Tracen Knopp by nine minutes. Kenny Brewer, a 2011 Chugiak High grad, finished seventh to lead all locals in the race. Recent CHS grad Daniel Bausch was ninth in his debut race despite banging his knee after running into a rock.

Chugiak Post 33 clinched a berth in the Alaska American Legion Baseball playoffs last week, while Eagle River will find itself on the outside looking in.

Through July 16, the Mustangs were 12-2 in the ALB’s eight-team National Division, well within the top four spots that advance to the playoffs. The Wolves, however, were 5-12 and with just one league game to play could only finish as high as fifth. The Wolves will still play in the postseason, though they’ll have to try and win the Matson Invitational, which features the eight Legion teams that fail to reach the state playoffs.

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