Whittling 12 months of local sports stories to 10 that stand out is an extremely difficult task.
But, that is why I get paid the big bucks.
Kodiak Island saw coaches leave and new coaches arrive, a Special Olympics athlete traveling to the birthplace of the Olympic games and the move of the Joe Floyd Tournament.
Here are the top local sport stories of 2011.
1. Kodiak swim team makes history
No team was going to stop the Kodiak girls from reaching their goal of a state swimming team title in early November.
The Bears cruised to the school’s first state swimming title by finishing 37 points ahead of runner-up Ketchikan.
Freshman Ila Hughes won the 50 and 100-yard freestyles, while fellow freshman Tahna Lindquist won the 200 individual medley and the 500 freestyle.
The foursome of Jori Lindquist, Celeste Beck-Goodell, Hughes and Tahna combined to win the 400 freestyle.
2. Port Lions back-to-back state 1A basketball titles
In March, the Port Lions girls basketball team defeated Kivalina 46-37 to win its second straight 1A state title.
“In so many ways this win is even more graytifing perhaps than the first one,” Port Lions coach Dana Strong told the Daily Mirror after the game. “Even in our own region they still doubt us and still don’t want to give us the credit. It is amazing. They don’t get it. But, we won, we did it. It doesn’t matter what they say.”
3. Christopher Kavanaugh a world champion
During the summer, Kodiak’s Christopher Kavanaugh traveled to Athens, Greece, to compete in powerlifting at the Special Olympics World Summer Games.
Kavanaugh won gold in the squat with a lift of 286 pounds. He also won a silver in the deadlift, a bronze in the bench press and a silver for overall performance.
4. Kodiak’s boys surprise run to the 4A state basketball tournament
The Kodiak boys basketball team entered the Northern Lights Conference Tournament in February with a 1-9 regular season conference record.
Kodiak, working out of a four-corner offense, upset Kenai and Palmer to earn a berth at the 4A state basketball tournament. The Bears lost to Wasilla in the NLC championship game to finish second.
5. Baranof Park improvements
The state awarded Kodiak $2 million dollars to install an artificial turf playing surface on Joe Floyd Track and Field earlier this year. The project has not been given the green light as the city of Kodiak still has to contribute $500,000 to the $500,000 the Kodiak Island Borough has already set aside.
6. Port Lions’ Raissa Boskofsky
Raissa Boskofsky did it all for Port Lions in 2011. She was a member of the Kings’ state-winning girls basketball team, won the 300-meter hurdles and the high jump at the 1/2/3A state track and field meet in May and qualified for the 1/2/3A state cross country meet in October.
Teammate Katie Strong also won the 800 and 3,200 at the state track meet. It was the first time Port Lions, with only three girls, placed fourth in its first state track meet in more than 10 years.
It has been a coaching carousel on Kodiak Island the past year. Rick Carman resigned as Kodiak High School’s volleyball coach and was replaced by former varsity coach Amy Willis. Brett Larsen resigned as the KHS girls basketball coach and was replaced by KHS girls junior varsity coach Stephanie Dandliker. Todd Cook left Kodiak’s football team after seven years as coach and was replaced by Jim Schnick. In Port Lions, longtime coach Dana Strong moved to Colorado and was replaced by Kodiak teacher Matt Neagley.
8. Joe Floyd basketball tournament moved to January
The longest-running high school basketball tournament in Alaska was moved from December to January to make it easier to attract schools. The 45th edition of the tournament remains in January and will be played next week.
9. Kodiak kids make good
2011 was a very good year for Kodiak High School alumni competing in college athletics. From Trevor Dunbar earning his second All-American cross country honors to Alysa Horn guiding the University of Alaska Anchorage girls basketball team to the NCAA Division II Tournament, Kodiak athletes were everywhere.
10. Husband/wife win Island Golf Championship
In early September, the husband/wife tandem of Brett and Kriss Larsen won titles at the Kodiak Island Golf Championship at the Bear Valley Golf Course.
Brett won the men’s championship flight with a 36-hole total of 155, while Kriss won with a 180.