ANCHORAGE -- Twelve student-athletes representing each of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s intercollegiate sports have been nominated for the prestigious Bill MacKay Athlete of the Year award for 2017-18.
The nominees are Darrion Gray (men’s indoor track & field), Keala Kaio-Perez (volleyball), Edwin Kangogo (men’s cross country), Caroline Kurgat (women’s cross country), Olivier Mantha (hockey), Danielle McCormick (women’s indoor and outdoor track & field), Mackenzie Miller (gymnastics), Tony Naciuk (men’s skiing), Dominik Notz (men’s outdoor track & field), Brian Pearson (men’s basketball), Hailey Swirbul (women’s skiing) and Hannah Wandersee (women’s basketball).
The 34th annual award will be presented Friday, April 27, at the athletic department’s all-sport banquet at Lucy Cuddy Hall on the UAA campus.
Gray, a senior from Anchorage’s Dimond High School, was a member of the Seawolves’ NCAA-qualifying 4x400-meter relay team and a triple All-West Region honoree, smashing the school records in the 60- and 200-meter dashes. He also helped the Seawolves to a narrow runner-up finish at the GNAC Championships with the relay title and runner-up showings in his other two events.
Kaio-Perez, a senior from Waimanalo, Hawaii, earned Second Team All-West Region honors and became the first libero in program history to earn First Team All-GNAC accolades, helping the Seawolves to a 19-11 record and an NCAA Tournament berth. The former JC transfer posted at least 15 digs in all but two matches and finished in UAA’s career top five in both aces and digs per set.
Kangogo, from Eldoret, Kenya, earned his third consecutive All-America finish on the cross country trails, finishing 19th at the NCAA Championships. The senior also earned all-conference and all-region honors, placing runner-up at the GNAC Championships and sixth at the West Regional Championships.
Another senior from Eldoret, Kenya, Kurgat became the first Seawolf woman to earn an individual national title in cross country, winning her NCAA Championships 5-kilometer race by nearly 20 seconds and leading UAA to a fifth-place team finish. The three-time All-American was also the GNAC and West Region champion as the Seawolves captured their third straight league crown and were regional runners-up.
Mantha, a senior from La Tuque, Quebec, was a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award – the top honor in college hockey – as the goaltender finished his career with a UAA-record 3,449 saves. The WCHA Scholar-Athlete and 4.00 student also came just one shy of the Seawolf single-season saves record, earning WCHA Goalie of the Week honors three times.
McCormick, from Soldotna, was nominated for both her 2017 outdoor track & field and 2018 indoor track & field exploits. As a sophomore in outdoor last year, she earned All-America honors with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships, while finishing runner-up in the 800 and 4x400 relay at the GNAC meet. This winter, she was voted the GNAC Women’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Year after winning the NCAA title in the 800 and leading UAA to a 17th-place national finish.
Miller, a sophomore from Waterford, Mich., was one of the gymnastics team’s most consistent performers throughout the season, competing all-around in seven of 10 meets. The Second Team All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honoree posted a career-high 38.200 score in the Feb. 9 victory at Centenary, while her 9.825 bars routine Jan. 14 was UAA’s best this season.
Naciuk, an alpine racer from Calgary, Alberta, was the Seawolves’ top scorer at the NCAA Championships, placing 19th in the slalom and 27th in the giant slalom. The junior led the team with seven top-20 results.
Notz, a 2016-17 senior from Dettingen, Germany, completed his stellar career with a 3rd-place effort in the 10,000 meters at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships last May. Also an All-American in the 5,000, he helped the Seawolves eke out a two-point victory at the GNAC Championships with a pair of runner-up finishes in the long-distance events.
Pearson, a junior from Reno, Nev., entered the starting lineup midway through the season and helped the men’s basketball team another winning record, both overall and in GNAC play. The 6-9 center averaged 7.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and a team-best 1.3 blocks per game as UAA finished fourth in the nation in scoring defense.
Swirbul, from El Jebel, Colo., posted top-5 efforts in all of her collegiate races in 2018, including runner-up in the freestyle and third place in the classical race at the NCAA Ski Championships, where she boosted UAA to a ninth-place national finish. The sophomore also made history with a silver medal in the classic and bronze in the skiathlon at the World Junior Championships, becoming the most decorated U.S. skier at that prestigious meet.
Wandersee, a junior from Kodiak, was the leading scorer and rebounder for a Seawolf women’s basketball team that went 27-5, reached the NCAA ‘Sweet 16’ and earned a share of its fourth straight GNAC title. The GNAC’s leading shot blocker and second-leading field-goal percentage shooter, she was voted Second Team All-West Region and unanimous First Team All-GNAC.
The 2018 Bill MacKay Athlete of the Year is selected for excellence in the 2017-18 athletic campaign. However, because of calendar concerns, this will mark the 12th straight award that takes the previous year’s track & field season into consideration.
The award is voted on by a committee comprised of UAA Athletics staff members, local media, and Benton Bay representatives.
Past Bill MacKay UAA Athletes of the Year
Year Winner Sport
2017 Morgan Hooe Volleyball
2016 Megan Mullings Women’s Basketball
2015 Cody Thomas Men’s Indoor & Outdoor Track & Field
2014 Micah Chelimo Men’s Cross Country/Indoor Track & Field/Outdoor T&F
2013 Micah Chelimo Men’s Cross Country/Indoor Track & Field/Outdoor T&F
2012 Taylor Rohde Men’s Basketball
2011 Ruth Keino Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
2010 Calli Scott Volleyball
2009 David Registe Men’s Track & Field
2008 Luke Cooper Men’s Basketball
2007 Rebecca Kielpinski Women’s Basketball
2006 Kemmy Burgess Men’s Basketball
2005 Mandy Kaempf Women’s Skiing/Cross Country Running
2004 Peter Bullock Men’s Basketball
2003 Tobias Schwoerer Men’s Skiing/Cross Country Running
2002 Tobias Schwoerer Men’s Skiing/Cross Country Running
2001 Ed Kirk Men’s Basketball
2000 Edda Mutter Women’s Skiing
1999 Jim Hajdukovich Men’s Basketball
1998 Zuzana Razusova Women’s Skiing
1997 Frode Lillefjell Men’s Skiing/Cross Country Running
and Elena Tkacheva Gymnastics
1996 Allegra Stoetzel Women’s Basketball
1995 Jason Kaiser Men’s Basketball
and Karen Hoey Gymnastics
1994 Kerry Robitaille Gymnastics
1993 Jennie Szczerbinski Volleyball
1992 Jon Pauole Swimming
1991 Paul Krake Hockey
1990 Teri Frankie Gymnastics
1989 Michael Johnson Men’s Basketball
1988 Robin Graul Women’s Basketball
1987 Hansi Gnad Men’s Basketball
1986 Teri Frankie Gymnastics
1985 Tiina Kantola Women’s Skiing/Cross Country Running