Ethan Bleakney was a three-sport athlete during his days at Palmer High School.
He started each school year with football, before making the transition to wrestling and then to track and field during the spring. Bleakney, a 2020 graduate of PHS, also didn’t hesitate to challenge himself academically with courses such as International Baccalaureate math and chemistry.
Bleakney’s path through high school helped him get to where he is today, the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Bleakney was also recently recognized for his success in both the classroom and in athletics at Palmer High. Bleakney has been named a 2020 Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman/Mat-Su Valley Seahawkers Student-Athlete of the Year. With the award, Bleakney received a $1,000 scholarship to go toward his education, courtesy of the Mat-Su Seahawkers.
As a senior, Bleakney was named first-team all-conference and second-team all-state at tight end in football. Bleakney earned a region title in wrestling and finished fourth at the ASAA Division I state tournament.
In the classroom, Bleakney carried a 4.367 grade point average. He was part of the National Honor Society and an IB Diploma candidate. Bleakney was also an Eagle Scout.
Bleakney was one of four candidates nominated by local administrators who met criteria for the award, which includes a minimum grade point average and participation in at least one varsity sport. Other finalists included recent graduates Luke Devine (Wasilla), Tyler Pasa (Colony) and Eli Knapp (Houston).
“The top goal is to get good grades,” Bleakney said recently by cell phone from the Air Force Academy. “Trying to get the best grades, especially before I came here. I’m pretty competitive to do the best in all of my classes. It worked out well.”
Bleakney said his work in the IB classes have allowed him to get a jump start at the academy. He was able to test out of calculus 1 and his work in his high school chemistry class is allowing him to have more success in his college class.
Bleakney set his sights on the academy early in his high school career.
“It’s been the goal since my sophomore year,” Bleakney said.
He also had the opportunity to join his older brother Hunter at the academy. Hunter also was a member of the Palmer High football and wrestling teams during his time at PHS. Bleakney said he has not been able to see his brother a ton during his first few months in Colorado, with a pretty strict schedule, but it is nice to have his brother at the same school.
Bleakney said setting himself up with the chance to attend the academy was rigorous.
“The application process in itself is an initiation,” Bleakney said of life at the academy.
Even though he’s not currently competing in a sport, Bleakney said the physical fitness tests and requirements provides a challenge. Bleakney does hope to compete at the academy. He had wanted to walk on to the Falcons wrestling program, but there are currently no roster spots available. Instead, Bleakney said he is joining the academy’s rugby club.
“It’s a pretty hardcore club,” Bleakney said. “I never played it before, but it could be a really fun alternative like wrestling.”
Bleakney said wrestling is the sport that stands out most in his mind.
“For sure wrestling. Definitely No. 1. It’s a lot grittier in some ways that football, even though they are both contact sports,” Bleakney, who was a team captain with the Palmer wrestling program, said. “Wrestling builds a lot of character. It helped me with my leadership skills.”
Bleakney said he has not declared a major yet, but is considering both engineering and computer science.
Bleakney said his ultimate goal is to be an Air Force pilot.
“I definitely see myself as a pilot,” Bleakney said.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at email@example.com.