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Story Last modified at 11:11 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Softball player Waters in running for national award


Andrea Waters

Former Eagle River High softball star Andrea Waters is one of the nation's top collegiate softball players for the Delaware State Hornets. But that's not the biggest reason why she's in the running for one of the most prestigious awards in college sports.

As one of 30 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS (Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School) Award, Waters has been singled out for her achievements both on and – perhaps more impressively – off the diamond.

Waters' accomplishments in the classroom at DSU have been nothing short of Ruthian.

According to her biography on the award's Web site (, Waters graduated from DSU in just three years with a bachelor's in political science and is now enrolled in the school's graduate program. A member of the All-MEAC academic team, Waters already has been accepted to law schools at the University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Boston College and George Mason.

Waters got her 2011 softball campaign off to a blazing start in DSU's opener on Feb. 25, going 2-for-3 at the plate with 2 RBI and a run scored. The team captain also spent an inning on the hill, striking out two batters and allowing no runs in the team's 16-8 win over North Carolina Central. The next day she went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI in a 9-1 victory over Siena.

Waters, a senior outfielder and pitcher for the Hornets, was the only player to start all 54 games last season. She was named to the All-MEAC team after leading the Hornets with 11 wins as a pitcher and batting .314 with three home runs and 34 RBI.

At Eagle River, she led the Wolves to the Class 4A state title in 2006.

If Waters wins the award, she'll be the second athlete from Chugiak-Eagle River to claim the honor in two seasons. Chugiak grad Kelsey Griffin, an All-American basketball player for the University of Nebraska, was chosen as the Lowe's winner in her sport in 2010.

Wood races to Top-10 finish at Rondy

Chugiak's Ed Wood used three consistent runs to claim 10th place at the Alaskan Sled Dog and Racing Association's Open World Championship sprint races, which concluded on Feb. 27 in Anchorage. He was the only local entered in this year's championships.

Wood finished the 25-mile course in 99 minutes, 43 seconds on Day 1 of the race, then put together nearly identical runs (99:22 and 99:24) on Day 2 and 3 to finish more than five minutes ahead of Ryan Redington.

Egil Ellis won the event, which is held each year to coincide with Fur Rendezvous festivities. This year's race featured a bit of controversy, as defending champion Blayne Streeper was disqualified after he was caught on video striking and yelling profanities at another musher while attempting to make a pass on the trail. Streeper was leading the race at the time of his disqualification.

Olds at it again in Iron Dog

Eagle River's Chris Olds has done it again.

Olds, 39, and teammate Tyler Huntington of Fairbanks took advantage of last-leg problems by leaders Todd Palin and Eric Quam to claim their second consecutive Tesoro Iron Dog snowmachine race on Feb. 26 in Fairbanks.

"It's amazing. It's hard to believe," Olds said during a live interview on KTUU moments after crossing the finish line alongside his partner. "I'm pretty excited."

Olds and Huntington trailed Palin and Quam heading into Fairbanks, but Olds said the race leaders broke down near the mouth of the Chena River.

"We were in a groove at that point, we were going really fast," said Olds, a 1991 graduate of Chugiak High.

Palin and Quam managed to get their Arctic Cat team back on the trail in time to cross the finish line in second place, seven minutes after the winners. Scott and Cory Davis were third.

Olds and Huntington, 25, switched this season from Polaris IQ 600 sleds to Polaris Rush 600s, and Olds said the tweak worked out great.

"These sleds are just unbelievable," he said. "They're very durable. We had to do literally nothing to them."

For claiming first place, Olds and Huntington each received $25,000.

Chugiak's Mike Fuller was the lone other local in this year's 2,000-mile race from Big Lake to Nome and then onto Fairbanks. Fuller, 45, and teammate Billy Long of Wasilla were forced to scratch in Ruby on the third day of the race, which began Feb. 20.

Bad breaks for Chugiak's Iditarod mushers

Chugiak's Mike Suprenant has had some bad breaks during his mushing career.

The 46-year-old was forced to withdraw from this year's Iditarod because of injuries sustained while training dogs hitched up to his four-wheeler this past fall.

"I ended up breaking my collar bone and a couple ribs," he said recently from his home in Chugiak.

In last year's Iditarod, Suprenant scratched after an accident outside Rainy Pass aggravated an old (non-mushing) neck injury.

"It's been a pretty brutal sport for me, but that's the way it goes, I guess," said Suprenant, who finished 49th in 2009 and scratched in 2008.

Suprenant wasn't the only local musher to withdraw from this year's race. Also forced to pull out this season was Chugiak's Jim Lanier, a 14-time finisher who had entered the past 10 races. According to the Iditarod's Web site, Lanier withdrew because of hip surgery.

Although the withdrawals mean no area mushers will be competing in "The Last Great Race," it doesn't mean the Beach Lake Trails won't be sending a few of its finest athletes on to Nome. That's because Lanier's handler at Northern Whites Kennel, rookie Nicolas Petit, will drive the retired Chugiak doctor's famous all-white team in this year's race.

Suprenant, too, said he has leased some of his dogs out to fellow mushers. He said he's already back running dogs, and that his plan is to train full speed for next year's race.

"I had kind of toyed with the idea of taking a year off anyway," he said.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.