The finalists for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Directors Awards set the bar incredibly high, but the winners took it to another level.
They were out of this world.
Swimmer Lydia Jacoby won an Olympic gold medal.
Obed Vargas made his Major League Soccer debut at age 15.
Hockey star Clair DeGeorge skated to a NCAA championship.
Skier Scott Patterson delivered the best men’s nordic result at the Olympics since 1976.
It would be extraordinary if one of these things happened in a year, but for all four to happen is hall-of-fame historic.
In all, seven Alaskans heard their names called when the winners were revealed during Wednesday’s online ceremony co-hosted by Alaska News Source sportscaster Jordan Rodenberger and Alaska Sports Hall of Fame executive director Harlow Robinson.
Winners were selected by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors.
In the men’s Pride of Alaska Award, Patterson beat out fellow finalists Jeremy Swayman (NHL goalie) and Marko Cheseto (world record double-amputee runner).
Patterson, of Anchorage, recorded the best men’s Nordic skiing result at the Olympics since 1976 with an 11th-place showing in the 50-kilometer freestyle.
In men’s skiathlon, Scott Patterson finished 11th, which I believe ties his best ever Olympic result and with that tie, is the best @TeamUSA finish by an American male in an Olympic XC ski distance race since Bill Koch’s silver in the 30k in 1976. @usskiteam pic.twitter.com/CpU2PLjkNw
— Peggy Shinn (@pegmcshinn) February 6, 2022
That came despite a broken wrist that hampered his training and almost cost him a spot at the Olympics.
Patterson also won the Crow Pass for a 7th time in 2021 and shattered the record with a run of 2 hours, 50 minutes.
Men’s Pride of Alaska Winners
2022: Scott Patterson
2021: Dallas Seavey
2020: Gus Schumacher
2019: Keegan Messing
2018: Andrew Kurka
2017: David Norris
2016: Dallas Seavey & Soldotna High Football Team (co-winners)
2015: Erik Flora
2014: Trevor Dunbar & Eric Strabel (co-winners)
2013: Mario Chalmers
2012: Alaska Aces
In the women’s Pride of Alaska Award, DeGeorge beat out other finalists Rosie Brennan (Olympic skier and 2021 Pride of Alaska winner) and Sydnee Kimber (national champion college wrestler).
DeGeorge, of Anchorage, helped Ohio State win the NCAA D1 women’s national championship by scoring a goal and assisting on another in Buckeyes’ 3-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth.
She finished her college career No. 3 among Alaska’s all-time women’s scorers, delivering 125 points (on 44 goals and 81 assists) in 166 games.
Women’s Pride of Alaska Winners
2022: Clair DeGeorge
2021: Rosie Brennan
2020: Ruthy Hebard
2019: Caroline Kurgat
2018: Kikkan Randall & Roxie Wright (co-winners)
2017: Morgan Hooe
2016: UAA Women’s Basketball Team & Allie Ostrander (co-winners)
2015: Allie Ostrander
2014: Kikkan Randall
2013: Nunaka Girls Softball Team
2012: UAA Women’s Basketball Team
In the girls Pride of Alaska Award, Jacoby beat out other finalists Marit Flora (Alaska Skimeister from Service High) and Sayvia Sellers (Gatorade Alaska Girls Basketball Player of the Year from ACS).
Jacoby, of Seward, won a gold medal in the 100-yard breaststroke at the 2020 Summer Olympics (held in 2021 in Toyko) and a silver medal in the 4×100 medley relay.
She became the third Alaskan to win two medals at the Summer Olympics, but the first to do it in the same Games.
Jacoby, a 17-year-old senior at Seward High, shocked the swimming world in her specialty event, the 100 breaststroke.
Sitting third at the final turn, the Alaskan chased down world record-holder Lilly King of the U.S and a South African for the dramatic win.
It was considered one of the most exciting moments of the Olympics and celebrated by hundreds at the Seward Railroad Depot in a viral video clip.
This was the reaction at a watch party in Seward the moment Lydia Jacoby won gold in the 100-meter breaststroke finals at the Olympics in Tokyo! Congrats, Lydia! 🏅
— Alaska’s News Source (@AKNewsNow) July 27, 2021
Jacoby also won the Pride of Alaska in 2020 – joining Dallas Seavey and Gus Schumacher as the only two-time winners.
Girls Pride of Alaska Winners
2022: Lydia Jacoby
2021: Lydia Jacoby
2020: Hailey Williams
2019: Kendall Kramer
2018: Alissa Pili
In the boys Pride of Alaska Award, Vargas beat out fellow finalists Kyler Johnson (Gatorade Alaska Football Player of the Year and East High basketball star) and Landon Smith (Four-time state wrestling champion from Bethel High).
Vargas, of Anchorage, made his Major League Soccer debut at age 15 as an emergency call-up for the Seattle Sounders, becoming the third-youngest player in league history.
Five months later, he signed a four-year “Homegrown Player” contract.
Vargas is one of only three Alaskans to play in the MLS. He joined the Sounders Academy at age 14 from the Cook Inlet Soccer Club in Anchorage and has played well for two seasons with the Tacoma Defiance, the Sounders’ farm club.
Boys Pride of Alaska Winners
2022: Obed Vargas
2021: Tristian Merchant
2020: Hayden Lieb & Aeyden Concepcion (co-winners)
2019: Jersey Truesdell
2018: Gus Schumacher
In the Joe Floyd Award, journalist Beth Bragg beat out other finalists Kathie Bethard (community organizer) and Kathleen Navarre (Dimond High School, ASAA coach/administrator).
The award honors significant and lasting contribution to Alaska through sports and is named in honor of the legendary Kodiak icon.
Bragg retired in 2021 after 35 years at the Anchorage Daily News, primarily covering sports of all sort. She produced 6,735 articles that carried her byline, and thousands more that didn’t.
She attended four Olympics to provide in-depth stories about Alaska’s Olympians.
From the ADN article about her retirement: “Regular readers, casual readers, anyone paying attention to sports in Alaska knows the breadth, depth, quality and volume of what Beth has done. … Beth’s work was the definition of sustained, high-energy, high-quality local and regional journalism. … Beth was a terrific story editor. Again and again, she helped others shine, gave support and kept things rolling. … her shoes are impossible to fill.”
The Trajan Langdon Award featured an adult winner (Hannah Halvorsen) and youth award (Jeremy Lane).
The award rewards leadership, sportsmanship and inspiration, and is named after the groundbreaking hoops hero who played with court sense and courtliness.
Halvorsen beat out other finalists Andrew Kurka (Paralympic alpine skier from Palmer) and Mareng Gatkuoth (South Sudan Basketball National Team member from Anchorage).
Halvorsen, of Anchorage, competed at the 2022 Olympics as a sprinter two years after sustaining life-threatening injuries upon being struck by a car while crossing a road in downtown Anchorage.
At age 21, she suffered a traumatic brain injury and many broken bones and worked her way back to the highest level of her sport.
“It means you can do anything if you just take one step at a time, and if you have enough people who support you,” Halvorsen said.
In the youth award, Lane edged out West High hockey star Ian Keim and Sitka High multi-sport athlete Tawny Smith.
Lane, of Point Lay, was a prep athlete and role model to his village.
Edited from his nomination: I recommend this young man because in recent years we have had some very tough times in our village of Point Lay. Our sports seasons have been cut short or canceled and this senior stepped up to make whatever season we had a positive experience. He previously was a hard student to coach, but the last few years he has stepped up to be someone that our entire school, including our youngest students, can look up to. He did so on the court, in the classroom and in our community. He took his captain role seriously by helping others when they were down and keeping his teammates motivated. He helped any and all involved including his coaches. He also taught them things and always wanted to better himself and his team. Jeremy Lane has the highest integrity of any athlete I have seen. He holds his head up high in the worst of situations and keeps the peace. He is Point Lay’s pride.