Early Honors student Frankie Dunbar claimed third place at the Alaska State Wrestling Championship, while coaches statewide voted APU Philosophy Professor Mark Faller assistant wrestling coach of the year.
Faller was part of a team that led South Anchorage High to its first Alaska state wrestling title in competition held Feb. 2 in Anchorage.
“This is really a triple honor,” said Faller, a longtime Alaska high school wrestling coach in his second season at South.
“Frankie is an awesome competitor. He showed that when it counted,” Faller said.
The Early Honors program at Alaska Pacific University attracts academically advanced students seeking to complete high school diploma requirements while earning college credit as full-time APU students.
At 170 pounds, Dunbar is a Service High senior whose college options include schools recruiting him for wrestling.
South was not considered a contender for the statewide title, Faller said.
“Our roster is full of freshmen and sophomores. That didn’t stop the guys from starting the season with T-shirts that said ‘Mission February’ – for the state championship,” Faller said.
A former college wrestler himself, Faller began his coaching career at his hometown high school in upstate New York and helped develop two Olympic champions. He went on to NCAA Division 1 coaching at Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Penn. Faller joined the APU faculty in 2000 and has coached area high school, middle school and club wrestling teams.
APU and Early Honors have earned a place in Alaska wrestling.
In 2012, Early Honors graduate and former Chugiak High wrestler Cayle Byers at 197 pounds placed third in the Division 1 National Championship for powerhouse Oklahoma State University.
Faller, who was Byers’ middle school and club coach, said the win was the best-ever NCAA finish for an Alaskan.
Founded in 1959, APU is Alaska’s only four-year, private baccalaureate liberal arts university offering two-year, four-year, master’s and doctorate level programs. APU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.