Beth Bragg

When Lael Wilcox rode her bike from Anchorage to Alberta in May, she was just warming up.

The 28-year-old Anchorage woman used the 2,140-mile trek from Alaska to Canada as a prelude to her record-setting ride in the Tour Divide, which is billed as the world’s longest off-pavement cycling route.

The race covers 2,745 miles on trails near the Continental Divide, going from Banff, Alberta, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.

Wilcox arrived at the finish line Monday morning, 17 days and 2,745 miles after she left Banff. Her time of 17 days, 1 hour, 51 minutes was two days faster than the previous record of 19:03:35, by Eszter Horanyi in 2012...

Beth Bragg

Competing among the giants of his sport, Anchorage shot putter Jordan Clarke responded in a big, big way Sunday at the U.S. track and field championships in Eugene, Oregon.

Clarke, 24, threw a personal best on his final attempt, a monster throw of 70 feet, 6.25 inches that gave him third place and his first national-championship medal.

By placing in the top three in a field that included five men who rank among the season’s top nine shot putters in the world, Clarke earned a ticket to the world championships August 23-30 in Beijing.

“I’m very happy to be going to my first world championships,” he said by phone. “I’m pretty pumped.”

Clarke’s bronze-medal throw was a personal best by 4.75 inches and a season best by six inches...

Beth Bragg

A broken toe limited UAA gymnast Simone Penker at the conference championships last March, but Penker is back in the gym and preparing for another championship meet -- one of the biggest in her career.

Penker, 21, will represent UAA and her home country of Austria at the World University Games next month in Gwangju, South Korea.

The July 3-14 international meet will draw some 9,000 college athletes from around the world. Penker will be the only athlete from UAA at the competition, and she’ll be the only gymnast on the Austrian team.

The meet will mark Penker’s second major international competition in less than a year. She was a member of the Austrian team that placed 22nd at the world championships last October in China...

Beth Bragg

DeeDee Jonrowe, who saved her dogs but lost her home this month in the Sockeye wildfire, signed up Saturday for the 2016 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Jonrowe, whose 30 Iditarod finishes include 16 top-10 finishes, was among a field of 62 mushers who signed up Saturday for next year’s race.

Also signing up was another woman who lost her home in the wildfire that ravaged the Willow area, which numerous mushers call home. Jan Steves, the 2012 Red Lantern winner, will try to make it to Nome for the second time in five attempts...

Beth Bragg

One good week led to another for Anchorage goaltender Kris Oldham, who Saturday became the 36th Alaskan to be selected in the National Hockey League draft.

Oldham, who turned 18 on Thursday, was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the sixth round of the draft. He was the 153rd pick overall.

“Words cannot express how excited I am to be apart of the @TBLightning organization!” Oldham tweeted Saturday from Sunrise, Florida, where the draft was held Friday and Saturday. “Thank you to all who have helped me get here! #GoBolts”

The draft selection caps a nice two-week run for Oldham, who will play college hockey next season for Nebraska-Omaha...

Beth Bragg

Mark Eppihimer is a record-setting powerlifter, a death-metal bass player, a post office worker, a first-time father and, for at least one day a year, a skirt-wearing strongman.

Eppihimer will be among those tossing the caber, throwing the hammer and wearing a kilt at Saturday’s Scottish Highland Games at the Alaska State Fairgrounds.

The owner of the Alaska superweight deadlift record with a lift of 716.25 pounds, he is a marvel when it comes to lifting and throwing heavy objects. Jody Potosky, the owner of Alaska Kettlebell and a defending champion in the Highland Games, calls Eppihimer “freakishly strong.”...

Beth Bragg

The lastest catch by the highly regarded UAA women’s basketball team isn’t merely a case of the rich getting richer. It’s a matter of the rich getting richer, and bigger.

Coach Ryan McCarthy landed his second Division I transfer of the recruiting season, a 6-foot-4 senior center from Penn State who will be one of the tallest players to ever suit up for the Seawolves.

Dominique Brooks will join UAA after getting limited playing time in one season at Penn State. As a junior college player, she helped Trinity Valley Community College to a two-year 72-1 record and a pair of national championships, and as a high school player in Lansing, Illinois, she was ranked 11th in the nation among post players...

Beth Bragg

A shorter shot clock will mean a quicker tempo next season for the UAA men’s basketball team, which Tuesday announced the addition of a Division I transfer who could help the Seawolves push the pace.

Sekou "Suki" Wiggs, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, will come to Anchorage from the University of Idaho, where he averaged 11.5 points per game and racked up 81 assists as a starter in 29 games last season.

Wiggs left the team shortly after the season ended, saying he hoped to find a team more suited to his fast-paced style of play...

Beth Bragg

Kenny Bingaman loves to eat black bear because he thinks no other game meat comes close to matching its flavor.

“They’re just big black hairy greasy pigs,” he said, and all of that greasiness makes them yummy.

And so three times a week from mid-April to late June, Bingaman replenishes the dog food and vegetable oil at three bear-bait stations registered to him and his wife near Clam Gulch. Someday, he hopes, the bait will bring tasty black bear his way.

But so far, the bait has been a magnet for grizzlies, including two mammoth animals shot last month that could wind up in the record book...

Beth Bragg

Their rugby team is Olympic-bound. But whether Alaska players Alev Kelter and Lorrie Clifford make it to Brazil next summer remains to be seen.

Kelter and Clifford were among 12 players who helped the USA Rugby women’s sevens team qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics by winning an international tournament that ended last week in North Carolina.

“For 12 women out of the entire nation, two of them are Alaskan, so it’s a pretty cool thing we have going,” Kelter said. “It speaks to our culture and our mentality and how tough we are.”

Yet there’s no guarantee either Alaskan will be in Rio de Janiero next summer when sevens rugby makes its Olympic debut...

Beth Bragg

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