By CONOR NICHOLL
Pawnee Heights junior Alec Carlson is among Kansas’ most electrifying and high-scoring players – and has continued a long line of athletic success from his family.
As a sophomore, Carlson helped the Tigers to a final four showing in Class 1A, Division II. The Tigers reached state for the first time since 1972. Carlson was a first team all-state pick by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association as a top-five player. He earned Sports In Kansas player of the year finalist.
Carlson, known for his highlight reel dunks and athletic moves, delivered 22.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, three steals, two blocks and 1.8 assists per game. He helped PH average .984 points per possession and take 16.1 free throws a contest, which ranked in the top-10 in Kansas, per MaxPreps.
This season, Carlson has helped Pawnee Heights to a 4-3 start and No. 8 ranking in Class 1A, Division II. PH finished second to Wheatland-Grinnell in a battle of top-10 Division II squads in the Quinter Castle Rock Classic tournament championship game in mid-December. It marked PH’s first time playing in the tournament that dates to the mid-80s. Two of PH’s losses have come by a combined four points. Seniors Braden Colglazier and Adam Hands are key veterans and have combined for 20.1 points a contest.
“I am glad that we got in this tournament,” Pawnee Heights coach Rick Carlson, Alec’s dad, said. “I knew it was going to be a tough one with good competition. We don’t see a lot of these schools during our regular season, which is nice. There’s a lot of good teams up here. I played in this back in high school, too, with Utica, and it was kind of nice to come back here, and let these guys get to that feeling of being in a tournament like this and getting to the championship game with all these good teams just shows a lot about our guys.”
This season, Carlson, who comes from a remarkable family of jumpers and athletes, has opened with 21.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.1 steals and 2.3 assists a contest. This week, Carlson posted 27 points and seven rebounds against Bucklin on Tuesday. Carlson has 936 points in 51 career games for 18.4 points per contest. He should clear 1,000 career points in the next 3-4 games.
“In January he is probably going to hit that,” coach Carlson said.
It’s highly rare for a boys’ basketball player to clear 1,000 points this early in his junior year.
“Alec Carlson is a stud,” Wheatland-Grinnell coach Will Bixenman said.
Rick Carlson is the K-12 P.E, heath and weights teacher. He is in 27th year of teaching and 21st at Pawnee Heights and has served as longtime track coach. Alec has two older sisters, Regan and Jaden, and a younger brother, Brady, a freshman role player in basketball.
Regan has the 1,600 and 3,200 school record, and Jaden has the Pawnee Heights long jump mark.
In 1988, Rick Carlson finished fifth in the triple jump, sixth in the long jump and second in the high jump for Utica at the state track meet. He ran on the 400 relay in that finished second. Utica took second in boys’ track.
Carlson still holds the indoor record at Pratt CC in the high jump from 1991 when he cleared 6 feet, 9.5 inches. He has Pratt’s outdoor high jump record at 6-10, also set in 1991. He competed at Fort Hays State University, too.
Rick and Jason Feeback were assistants to Dan Binder in 2002 when Pawnee Heights won the 1A boys’ track title behind Christian Smith, who later ran at Kansas State and qualified for the Olympics in the 800. Feeback is currently the veteran head football coach at Spring Hill. This year, he led SH to its best season since 1990.
In ’15, Regan took seventh in the 1,600 and eighth in the 3,200, per KSHSAA archives. As a sophomore, she was third in the 1,600. In 2017, Regan won three state medals: fourth in the 1,600, seventh in the 800 and eighth in the 3,200. In 2018, Regan finished sixth in the 3,200 run and seventh in the 1,600 run. She was a long jump state qualifier.
In 2019, Jaden was seventh in the long jump and sixth in the 800 run. Last spring, Jaden was fifth in the long jump as a senior when she cleared 16 feet, 3.25 inches. She was PH’s valedictorian and elected to attend FHSU. She is the high school weightlifting record holder in the clean and squat and picked up all-league honors in volleyball and basketball.
Last spring, in his first state track meet after COVID-19 cancelled 2020, Alec was fourth in the high jump and fifth in the triple jump. He jumped 6-2 in the high jump and 41-11.5 in the triple jump.
“We have got some jumping workouts with the guys to do if they want to do it, and he has done that a few times, and a lot of it is natural,” Rick said of Alec. “…He’s just naturally gifted that way. He will probably beat what I ever did in college eventually.”
Rick Carlson had served as the assistant coach to Ty Josefiak last season. He took over as head coach this year. PH has averaged .854 points per possession and 16.9 free throws a contest.
Josefiak has a girl in kindergarten, and then he has two kids younger than that and a fourth kid on the way. Josefiak works on his dad’s farm.
“So 3:30 practice is not the best time to be coming in leaving the farm, so it was a tough decision,” Carlson said. “I tried to get him to do it again, but it’s just too much time. I think he will get back into it once his kids get older.”