Since the start of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down athletics — on the field and off. Dillingham athletes and coaches still found a way to finish out the year with a virtual hoo-rah, and the coaches are looking to next year.
The Dillingham Wolverines’ athletic awards were presented on Facebook this month. Senior Abbey Whitcomb and Junior Colten Hink won Athlete of the Year during the virtual athletic awards ceremony on May 15. Freshmen Kiley Clouse and Ethan Jenkins both won Rookie of the Year.
Dillingham coaches were also recognized. William Savo won Region 1 Wrestling Coach of the Year — his sixth season coaching. Savo brought 16 wrestlers to the state championships this season, eight of which made it to the top of their bracket.
Savo usually runs off-season camps for his athletes in the summer. This year's camp was cancelled, so Savo is looking at different ways to coach his athletes.
"We've kind of built a connection with the the University of Minnesota wrestlers, and we have a couple that are willing to come up to put up a 3-4 day wrestling clinic for us," he said.
Savo started a girls wrestling program this year. The Dillingham girls received the academic award at the state championships with a GPA of 3.66.
Kristen Smeaton won the Region 1 Volleyball Coach of the Year, working with 32 athletes.
“It was great to have an unlimited number of girls for all the drills and they made practice fun everyday. After I was proud of the girls. They all improved on something in their game from start to finish, which was really great to see,” said Smeaton, who finished her second season coaching this winter.
The Lady Wolverine volleyball team was the Region 1 runner-up at the regional championship, losing the title to King Cove. But Smeaton led the team to the state championships with a 1-2 record.
The Region 2A Basketball Coach of the Year was awarded to Lindsay Layland. It was her second year of coaching, and going into the season, she was slightly nervous about having fewer experienced players, but she was optimistic about the younger players on the team.
“You know after last season we lost five seniors, many of whom were big contributors to the team, and so I was a little nervous about having the young talent coming up," she said. "Turned out, by the end of the year the group that we had ended up performing really, really well and having a knockout season."
The Lady Wolverines went 2-1 at regions, losing against Unalaska. The chance to compete for a spot at the state championships was cut short due to the coronavirus epidemic.
“I kind of feel like we were robbed of the chance to finish, just like every team across the nation was, you know. I am still excited for what future years and future athletes coming up through our programs are going to bring," Layland said.
The ongoing pandemic means that it’s not clear how high school sports are going to play out next year, but the Dillingham coaches are eager to get back to work.
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