Campbell University wrestler Caleb Hopkins of Palmer won his weight class at the Southern Conference Championships over the weekend to secure his first berth to the NCAA Championships.
He is just the fourth Alaskan to qualify for the national championships at the D1 level in the last decade, the first from the Mat-Su Valley since 2006.
The top seed at 184 in his conference, Hopkins received a first-round bye and then picked up back-to-back decisions to improve to 11-1 on the season.
He won 4-0 in the semifinals over No. 4 seed Zach Brown of VMI and then prevailed 5-2 in the championship match over No. 3 seed Matthew Waddell of The Citadel.
Hopkins, of Colony High fame, finished 9-0 against conference opponents this season.
He will next compete at the NCAA Championships on March 18-20 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Hopkins will join a small fraternity of fewer than 10 Alaskans who wrestled in the Big Dance.
Recent qualifiers in the last decade include Kotzebue’s Joshua Roetman at Navy in 2019, Chugiak’s Cayle Byers of Oklahoma State in 2012 and Anchorage’s Nathan Hoffer of Arizona State in 2012.
Hopkins is the first qualifier from the Valley since Palmer’s Scott Jorgensen of Boise State in 2006.
Three Alaskans have earned NCAA All-American honors at the D1 level.
Byers was third in 2012, the highest finish ever by an Alaskan at the NCAA Championships. In 1997, Kodiak’s Scott Norton of Oregon placed fourth. In 2001, Palmer’s Gabe McMahan of Iowa was sixth.
Perfect shooting keys big night for former Wasilla High standout during Big West win for Hawaii
Wasilla’s Olivia Davies didn’t miss a single shot on her way to scoring 16 points as the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine pulled away for an 81-67 win over Cal State Bakersfield in the Big West Conference tournament.
The redshirt freshman went 3-for-3 from the field and 8-for-8 from the line to record her second-highest scoring output in 14 games this season.
With the win, fifth seed Hawaii moves into the semifinals and will face No. 1 UC Davis for a chance to play for a conference championship.
Davies, of Wasilla High fame, drained both 3-point attempts and added a rebound and two assists.
She was responsible for the final seven points of the second quarter with a 3-pointer, two free throws and an assist to help Hawaii take a 39-36 lead into halftime.
Davies ended the game by sinking all six free-throw attempts in the final 1:38. She leads her team with a .784 free-throw percentage on the season.
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