Midwesterners to Watch in the 2020 Olympic Season

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In August 2020, the eyes of the world will turn to Japan for amazing feats of athleticism at the Tokyo Olympics. While part of the fun is cheering for and celebrating athletes from around the globe and all across our nation, I also love knowing specifically about the athletes from our area. If you do too, read on to find out some of the athletes with Midwestern roots that you should watch in the 2020 Olympic Season. For purposes of this post, I'm including people from the Midwest who are currently living somewhere else for training (for example, Dempster Christenson from Sioux Falls is training at the Olympic training center in Colorado) but I'm not including people whose only Midwest connection is attending college in the Midwest.

Several Midwest athletes have already qualified for Team USA, and I'm also including those who are likely qualifiers in sports that have not yet set their rosters or had their qualifying competitions or races. I'll try to update throughout the spring and summer as people qualify and are officially on the team! If you have a recommendation for an athlete I should include, please let me know so I can add them.

Also, be sure to catch the 2020 US Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha, Nebraska this June to cheer on our nation's best aquatic athletes without flying to Japan!



Iowa Athletes

Shelby Houlihan

Sioux City, Iowa

  • Sport: Track & Field (sometimes called "athletics" in the Olympics)
  • Events: 1500m run
  • Status: Likely medalist, likely qualifier
  • Shelby Houlihan is a long distance runner from Sioux City, and an alum of Sioux City East igh School. Some have predicted she will win the women's 1500m race in Tokyo; it would be surprising for her to not make the finals. 
  • In the Rio 2016 Olympics, she placed 11th, and there was a watch party at the Sioux City Convention Center for her races. I will be sure to post on the blog and in the Siouxland Family Friendly Events group on Facebook if that is the case again this year!

Karissa Schweizer

Urbandale, Iowa
  • Sport: Track & Field
  • Events: 5k
  • Status: Likely qualifier
  • Karissa Schweizer is a graduate of Dowling Catholic High School and the University of Missouri, and in 2019 had the fastest women's 5k time recorded by the USATF.


Jenny Simpson

Webster City, Iowa
  • Sport: Track & Field
  • Events: 1500m, 5k
  • Status: Likely medalist, likely qualifier
  • Jenny Simpson currently lives in Colorado and competed in Florida in high school, but she's a Midwesterner by birth and by marriage.  Jenny was born in Iowa and married one of my former cross country teammates in Kansas City, so I feel like she is deserving of a place on this list!
  • Jenny Simpson won bronze in the 1500m at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and I'll be shocked if she doesn't make a big splash in Tokyo as well!

Harrison Barnes

Ames, Iowa
  • Sport: Basketball
  • Status: Currently on US National Team
  • Harrison Barnes currently plays in the NBA for the Sacramento Kings, but got started in Ames, and led Ames High School to an Iowa state basketball championship in 2010!
  • Harrison Barnes helped Team USA win gold in the Rio Olympics


South Dakota Athletes

Dempster Christenson


Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Sport: Shooting
  • Events: Men's 10m Air Rifle, Men's 50m Rifle Three Position, Men's 50m Prone Rifle
  • Status: Met qualification standard
  • Dempster Christenson got his start in a local 4H program, and now has an impressive list of national and international championships under his belt. Most recently, he won the 2016 National Championship in the 3 position and was the 2016 National Championship silver medalist in the prone rifle.

Paige McPherson


Sturgis, South Dakota


  • Sport: Taekwondo
  • Events: Women's 67g Taekwondo
  • Status: Qualified
  • Paige McPherson grew up in Sturgis and is a fierce competitor in taekwondo, winning a bronze medal in the event at the London Olympics and representing Team USA again in Rio. 


Ali Weisz

Rapid City, South Dakota
  • Sport: Shooting
  • Events: Air Rifle, Mixed Air Rifle
  • Status: Met qualification standard
  • Ali Weisz was a stand-out at the 2018 World Championships and looks like a strong competitor for Toyko.

Nebraska Athletes

Frank Thompson

Alliance, Nebraska
  • Sport: Shooting
  • Events: Skeet
  • Status: Met qualification standard
  • Frank Thompson competed as part of Team USA in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing 8th and 21st, respectively. 


Jordan Larson

Hooper, Nebraska
  • Sport: Women's Volleyball
  • Status: Current member of US National Team
  • Jordan Larson played for and the University of Nebraska
  • Jordan Larson was part of Team USA in both the London and Rio Olympics, where they received silver and bronze medals.


Illinois Athletes

Gabby Perea

Naperville, Illinois


  • Sport: Gymnastics
  • Events: Uneven bars, all-around
  • Status: Likely team member
  • Gabby Perea is a current member of the US National Gymnastics Team with a slew of medals from international competition under her belt that would make her a lock for almost any other nation's team. Olympic gymnastic teams will now consist of only 4 members though, so even the best of the best may find themselves not making the US team. She is sure to put on an impressive display at the trials. 

Jewell Loyd

Skokie, Illinois
  • Sport: Women's Basketball
  • Status: Currently on US National Team
  • Jewell Loyd currently plays for the WNBA on the Seattle Storm but grew up in Lincolnwood and played for Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois.

Morgan Tuck

Bolingbrook, Illinois
  • Sport: Women's Basketball
  • Status: Currently on US National Team
  • Morgan Tuck was born in Michigan, but moved to Illinois and attended Bolingbrook High School. She now plays in the WNBA for the Connecticut Sun.

Lauren Carlini

Aurora, Illinois
  • Sport: Women's Vollyeball
  • Status: Currently on US National Team
  • Lauren Carlini is a setter who played for West Aurora High School and the University of Wisconsin, where she was Big 10 Player of the Year in 2014.

Kelly Murphy

Wilmington, Illinois
  • Sport: Women's Volleyball
  • Status: Currently on US National Team
  • Kelly Murphy went to Joliet Catholic Academy for high school and was part of the bronze medal winning Team USA at the Rio Olympics

Michelle Bartsch-Hackley

Collinsville, Illinois
Sport: Women's Vollyeball
Status: Currently on US National Team
Michelle Bartsch-Hackley is 


Indiana Athletes

Chloe Dygert Owen

Brownsburg, Indiana
  • Sport: Cycling
  • Events: Team Pursuit, Individual Pursuit, Time Trial
  • Status: Qualified, likely medalist
  • Chloe Dygert Owen was part of the US Women's team pursuit at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and brought home a silver medal. 


Sarah Beard

Danville, Indiana
  • Sport: Shooting:
  • Events: Women's 10m Air Rifle, Women's 50m Rifle Three Position
  • Status: Met qualification standard
  • Sarah Beard is a 4 time NCAA All-American and excited to follow in her Olympian father (William Beard, 1984 Olympic Shooting Team)'s footsteps by representing Team USA this year in Tokyo
  • Find out more about Sarah Beard on her website

Mason Plumlee

Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Sport: Men's Basketball
  • Status: Currently on US National Team
  • Mason Plumlee now plays in the NBA for the Denver Nuggets, but grew up in Fort Wayne and played for Warsaw High School. 

Andrea Drews

Mishiwaka, Indiana
  • Sport: Women's Volleyball
  • Status: Current member of US National Team
  • Andrew Drews played for Penn High School and Purdue University, where she was an NCAA All-American. She was part of Team USA for the 2019 World Cup, where they received a silver medal.


Kansas Athletes

Kelsey Stewart

Wichita, Kansas

  • Sport: Softball
  • Status: Officially named to 2020 US Olympic Team
  • Kelsey Stewart has an impressive background in world championship softball, including the game-winning hit in the 2018 Women's World Championship!
  • Kelsey Stewart wears uniform #7, so watch for her when you see the US Women's Softball team playing this summer!


George Norton

Salina, Kansas
  • Sport: Shooting
  • Events: Men's 3 Position Rifle, Men's Air Rifle, Men's Prone Rifle
  • Status: Met qualification standard
  • George Norton is a U.S. Army Marksmen and excited to follow in his father(Joel Norton, 1984 Olympic Shooting Team)'s footsteps by representing the USA in Tokyo this summer.


Michigan Athletes

Amanda Chidester

Allen Park, Michigan
  • Sport: Softball
  • Status: Officially named to the 2020 US Olympic Team
  • Amanda Chidester has played on several world championship teams, and had an astounding 7 home runs in the 2016 World Championship game!
  • Amanda Chidester plays catcher and wears uniform #19. She should be easy to find behind the batter if you're watching them play this summer!

Minnesota Athletes

Kyra Condie

Shoreview, Minnesota


  • Sport: Rock Climbing
  • Events: Women's Sport Climbing
  • Status: Qualified 
  • Kyra Condie is one of two American women to qualify to participate in the new event of  "sport climbing" for the 2020 Olympics. She's done well in international competition, and it's always fun to watch a new event!

Obsa Ali

Richfield, Minnesota
  • Sport: Track & Field
  • Event: Men's Steeplechase
  • Status: Likely qualifier
  • Obsa Ali is a 4 time NCAA All-American and was the 2018 NCAA Champion in the 3k Steeplechase. He also topped the 2019 USATF times list in the same event.

Ben Blankenship

Stillwater, Minnesota
  • Sport: Track & Field
  • Event: Men's 1500m
  • Status: Likely qualifer
  • Ben Blankenship competed for Team USA in the Rio Olympics and came in 8th in the men's 1500m. His experience will make him a force to reckon with in 2020!

Tori Dixon

Burnsville, Minnesota
  • Sport: Women's Volleyball
  • Status: Currently a member of the US National Team
  • Tori Dixon was part of the 2014 gold medal winning US National Team. Her father David played in the NFL.


Lauren Gibbemeyer

St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Sport: Women's Volleyball
  • Status: Currently a member of the US National Team
  • Lauren Gibbemeyer played for Cretin Derham Hall in high school and the University of Minnesota for college. She is a middle blocker for Team USA


Missouri Athletes

Chris Nilsen

Kansas City, Missouri
  • Sport: Track & Field
  • Event: Pole Vault
  • Status: Likely qualifier
  • Chris Nilsen is dominating pole vault from the University of South Dakota and is a 6 time NCAA All-American with 3 NCAA championship wins. 

Jayson Tatum

St. Louis, Missouri
  • Sport: Basketball
  • Status: Currently on US National Team
  • Jayson Tatum plays in the NBA for the Boston Celtics, but as a teen played for Chaminade Prep in Creve Coeur (near St. Louis).


Ohio Athletes

Derek Haldeman

Sunbury, Ohio

  • Sport: Shooting:
  • Event: Men's Trap
  • Status: Met qualification standard
  • Derek Haldeman is a U.S. Army Marksmen and has competed in seven world championships, including the 2015 world championships in which he won a bronze medal

Rachael Adams

Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Sport: Women's Volleyball
  • Status: Currently part of the US National Team
  • Rachael Adams was part of the 2016 bronze medal team in Rio. Her dad, Richard Adams, played for the NBA prior to the decision to allow NBA players to compete on the US Olympic basketball team.

Wisconsin Athletes

Michael McPhail

Darlington, Wisconsin
  • Sport: Shooting
  • Events: Men's 50m prone shooting
  • Status: Met qualification standard
  • Michael McPhail is a U.S. Army Marksmen and won a silver and a bronze medal at the 2018 world championships, as well as representing Team USA with a top-20 finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics.


So as you watch the wonderful athletes from all around the nation and globe, keep an eye out for these Midwesterners striving for their place on Team USA and the podium at Tokyo!

2 comments:

  1. It's great to see so many midwestern athletes in the Olympics!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! I can't wait to see how huge the list is after the team is set for more events! it's definitely going to be an exciting summer.

      Delete

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