Peninsula athletes Michaela Hutchison and Allie Ostrander will be honored at the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony tonight at the Anchorage Museum auditorium.
The event will be from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Hutchison will be honored in the “Moment” category for her state wrestling championship in 2006, which made her the first girl in the nation to win a state championship in a tournament including boys.
Ostrander will receive a Directors’ Award, voted on by the Alaska Hall board of directors. The Kenai Central senior gets the female Pride of Alaska Award for consistent excellence in athletic competition.
Hutchison’s historic title came in 2006 and is being honored as one of the best moments in Alaska sports history in the Hall’s ninth class.
Hutchison, 25, is now an assistant women’s wrestling coach at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois.
“It was a big moment in time, but as I’m getting older and more mature, it’s many moments just like that one that all make up the bigger moments in life,” said Hutchison by cellphone from Seattle on Wednesday as she made the trip back to Alaska. “It depends on how you look at it and take advantage of it.”
In front of about 2,000 people at Chugiak High School, Hutchison, then a Skyview sophomore seeded first in her weight class, wrestled against Colony’s Aaron Boss for the title at 103 pounds.
Tension built throughout the match as the score remained deadlocked at 0. In the final minute, Hutchison slowly began to rise to her feet and the crowd reacted by amping up the level of noise.
Hutchison said during the final minute that something Neldon Gardner had drilled into her head in countless practices — “If you don’t get up, you don’t deserve to win.” — kept running through her mind.
With just 16 seconds left, Hutchison scored that escape, taking a 1-0 lead, and bedlam ensued. Hutchison would finish the season 45-4 with 33 pins.
Later that evening, Hutchison’s brother, Eli, would win the title at 135 pounds to finish his high school career undefeated. Michaela would later say that her brother had the better accomplishment that night.
She still feels that way.
“The thing was Eli was such a role model for me as we grew up,” she said. “I kind of give a lot of credit to him because he stood back in the shadows and let me have the credit even though he deserved it way more.
“He showed me how to do stuff, taught me by example, and then let me have the limelight while he was working his butt off.”
Hutchison went on to a successful wrestling career at Oklahoma City University.
She also has a strong legacy in Alaska. This past fall, for the first time in this state’s history, there were enough girls wrestling to put together a girls Class 1-2-3A state wrestling tournament.
Hutchison said one reason she is looking forward to the award is that it lets her get back to Alaska and see her family, as well as coach Gardner. Hutchison’s parents are Mike and Mary of Soldotna. They have had 10 children — five girls and five boys. Michaela is the sixth born.
“Our parents were very humble as we grew up, and our work ethic was very important to our parents,” Hutchison said. “The younger kids watched how the older kids were doing it, and it turned into a tradition of hard work.
“If you focus on goals and lead God’s life you’ll get what you worked for.”
Hutchison is using her coaching to get a master’s in secondary education in biology. She has been an assistant in each of the program’s two years. She will finish her master’s in December and is not sure what her next step is after that.
Ostrander gets her award for a running season that is as dominant as the state has ever seen.
The harbinger came in April 2014, when Ostrander, not having run a competitive 3,200-meter race outside yet, went to the prestigious Arcadia Invitational in California and finished second in the 3,200 meters.
A string of successes befitting one of the nation’s top prep distance runners quickly followed, starting with shattering the 1,600 and 3,200 state track meet records in May.
In July at Mount Marathon, she won her sixth-straight girls junior title, and also became the first girl to win the junior race, which also includes boys.
Then came a third-straight Class 4A cross-country title in October, and a victory at Nike Cross Nationals in December. No other Alaskan has won a national prep cross-country championship.
Ostrander said that of all her accomplishments last season, the national cross-country title stands out the most.
“I extended my season by two months working really hard training for that race,” she said. “I put a lot into it, and it was awesome to see that result.”
Despite all the accomplishments, Ostrander said she was still surprised to get the Hall call.
“Kikkan Randall won it last year, and she’s an Olympian,” Ostrander said. “If I can get an award she just received the year before, that shows a lot of respect for what I’ve done.”
Ostrander also keeps a 4.0 grade-point average in the classroom and started the Salmon Run Series, which is five runs held in the middle of summer at Tsalteshi Trails that benefit the Kenai Watershed Forum. The races have grown to include races of over 200 runners and numerous community businesses.
Despite her running talent, Ostrander has still found time for other sports. She played in the state soccer tournament in 2014 with Kenai Central, and she currently plays guard for Kenai’s hoops team.
She said she enjoys the different dynamic of team sports.
“I know that I’m going to be pursuing running in college, so it’s kind of the last opportunity to play those team sports,” said Ostrander, who has not yet picked a college. “During the winter, I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t take time off of running to play basketball.
“It gives my body a break and strengthens other muscles.”
Because the Kardinals will be playing in the Northern Lights Conference tournament in Kenai tonight, Ostrander is sending close family friend and Kenai cross-country teammate Kasey Paxton to accept her award.
“I’m bummed I can’t be there to accept the award and congratulate all the other recipients in person,” she said. “But I’ve made a commitment to basketball and I need to be there.”