KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Several athletes with ties to the broader Kansas City region have qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Below is a list of the local athletes and the event they will compete in when the pandemic-delayed Olympic Games start in late July:
Brooke Andersen, hammer throw
Brooke Andersen originally is from southern California and competed at Northern Arizona in college, but she trained for the U.S. Olympic Trials ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.
Andersen finished second at the Olympic Trials in the women’s hammer throw (255 feet, 0 inches) to earn her first Olympic berth.
She’s a two-time NCAA runner-up in the event (2017, 2018), won a silver at the 2019 Pan American Games and claimed bronze at the 2018 NACAC Championships, which is for athletes from North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
Michael Andrew, Lawrence
Andrew, the 2016 world champion in the 100-meter individual medley, has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the 50 freestyle, 100 breaststroke and 200 IM. He is the first U.S. swimmer to qualify for the Olympic Games in the breaststroke and another non-IM individual event after edging out Nathan Adrian for a spot in the freestyle sprint.
At the Olympic Trials, Andrew set a U.S. record in the 100 breaststroke.
Andrew was born in Minnesota but in 2012, moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where his father and swim coach, Peter, had a two-lane pool added in the backyard for training.
He turned pro at age 14 and was a phenom by age 16, breaking more than 100 national age group records — more than any other U.S. swimmer — and earning the FINA Male Swimmer of the Meet at the 2015 FINA World Junior Swimming Championships.
Andrew set a meet record during that event in winning the 50 backstroke, finished second in the 50 freestyle and 50 butterfly, and reached the final in four other events.
He narrowly missed qualifying for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
During the five years since, Andrew has added multiple national and international titles.
Christina Clemons, Lawrence
Clemons finished third in the 100-meter hurdles to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
She did so while sporting Doritos-themed earrings too.
Although she graduated from Ohio State University, Clemons currently lives in Lawrence, where her husband — Kyle Clemons, a University of Kansas graduate who won a gold medal in the 1,600 relay at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics — is a volunteer coach with the Jayhawks.
During her time with the Buckeyes, Clemons was a two-time NCAA national champion and was an 11-time All-American.
She won a silver medal at the 2018 World Indoor Championships in the 60 hurdles and a bronze at the 2011 World University Games in the 100 hurdles.
Clemons was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017.
Kara Eaker, gymnastics
Kara Eaker, who lives in Grain Valley and trains at the GAGE Center in Blue Springs, will serve as an alternate for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Her teammate and GAGE Center training partner, Leanne Wong, also made the team as a replacement gymnast.
Eaker finished seventh overall at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, which concluded June 27 in St. Louis.
Eaker finished second overall on the balance beam with a two-day score of 28.966, a half-point behind Sunisa Lee for first place. She also finished sixth on the floor exercise.
Eaker avoided any major hiccups across two days of competition, improving on a 10th-place finish from earlier in the month at the 2021 U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas.
She is going to her first Olympic Games and has signed to compete for the University of Utah, where fellow GAGE Center alumna Courtney McCool served as a volunteer coach the last two seasons.
McCool and her husband, Ryan Griffeth, joined the gymnastics staff at LSU in June 2021.
Adrianna Franch, Salina
Adrianna Franch, a goalkeeper for the NWSL’s Portland Thorns FC, was selected for the 18-player U.S. roster for the pandemic-delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the U.S. Women’s National Team announced Wednesday.
Franch grew up in Salina, Kansas, emerging as a star at Salina South High School, where she also starred on the basketball court.
She is a former Kansas Olympic Development Program Player of the Year, who went on to become a two-time MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist and two-time All-American at Oklahoma State University.
Franch was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 NWSL College Draft, becoming the first goalkeeper drafted in league history.
She appeared in 22 games for the Western New York Flash that season, but she missed the 2014 campaign with a torn ACL.
Franch returned to action in 2015, playing in Norway for Avaldsnes IL, before returning to the NWSL and joining the Thorns ahead of the 2016 season.
She was the NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year in 2017 and 2018 and also won CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the Year in 2017. She made the roster but didn't play during the 2019 Women's World Cup.
The U.S. women, who are coached by former FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski, are in Group G, which includes Sweden (July 21), New Zealand (July 24) and Australia (July 27).
The U.S. women have won the gold medal in four of six Olympic Games (1996, 2004, 2008, 2012) and claimed silver in 2000, but the USWNT was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Sweden at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Mason Finley, discus
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Mason Finley became a budding track and field after his family moved to Colorado, but he never forgot his roots.
After spending three years at the University of Kansas as an All-American thrower, Finley now serves as a volunteer assistant for the Jayhawks.
Oh, he’s also a two-time Olympian, having won back-to-back U.S. Olympic Trials championships in 2016 and 2021.
Finley trained at KU ahead of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in the discus, which he won by more than 6 feet with a throw of 208 feet, 1 inch.
He made the final and finished 11th overall at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Finley repeated as the Olympic Trials champion with a throw of 206-11 on June 25 to earn a spot in the discus at the 2020 Tokyo Games, where he will try to become the first U.S. athlete to make consecutive discus finals since Adam Setliff in 1996 and 2000.
Track and Field News chose Finley, who also played football and basketball at Buena Vista High School, was the Track and Field News’ 2009 Boys High School Athlete of the Year after breaking the U.S. high school discus record.
He returned to the Kansas City area for college, emerging as a star at the University of Kansas during three seasons in Lawrence with eight All-America honors.
Finley was an outdoor All-American in both the shot put and discus three straight seasons from 2010-12 and also was an indoor All-American in the shot put in 2010 and 2011.
He still owns the KU record for the indoor shot put (67-11 1/2), ranks second all-time in the outdoor (67-9 3/4) and is a top-10 performer in the indoor weight throw and outdoor discus.
Finley transferred to Wyoming for his final year of eligibility.
Courtney Frerichs, Nixa, Missouri, (UMKC)
Frerichs, who went to college at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, finished second in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Trials to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
It will be her second Olympics after finishing 11th in the event during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
With the Kangaroos, Frerichs won a national title in the 3,000 steeplechase at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Frerichs, a Nixa, Missouri, native, owns six UMKC track and field records.
Bryce Hoppel, Midland, Texas (University of Kansas)
Hoppel, who ran for the University of Kansas in college, qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the 800 meters with a third-place finish at the U.S. Olympic Teams Trials.
The Midland, Texas, native finished second in his heat with the 10th-fastest time, but cranked it up during the semifinals with the fastest time among all qualifiers.
During his time at the University of Kansas, Hoppel was a two-time national champion and five-time All-American. He won an incredible 21 consecutive races in the 800, including NCAA indoor and outdoor titles in 2019.
Later that year, he claimed bronze at the 2019 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and he added a national title at the 2020 USA Track and Field Indoor Championships
Earlier this year, Hoppel — whose father, Monty, manages the Midland RockHounds, the Class AA affiliate of the Oakland A’s in the Texas League — set a U.S. record in the 1,000 at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix.
In high school, he finished his senior year undefeated in the 800, winning a 2016 Texas Class 6A state title.
KC Lightfoot, Lee’s Summit (Lee’s Summit High School)
Lightfoot, a Lee’s Summit graduate, is one of two Kansas City-area pole vaulters who are headed to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
He and Chris Nilsen, a Park Hill graduate, were among the top three finishers at the U.S. Olympic Trials, with Lightfoot clearing 19-2 1/4 to claim third place.
During his high school career, Lightfoot, a junior at Baylor last spring, was a two-time Missouri Class 5 champion in the pole vault, clearing a state-record 18 feet his senior season and earning Missouri Gatorade Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year honors.
Lightfoot also set a meet record in winning the New Balance Outdoor national title.
With the Bears, he was an indoor All-American as a freshman in 2019 and broke the 28-year-old Baylor indoor pole vault record (18-7 1/2).
He was the 2019 Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Outstanding Freshman of the Year.
Later that year, he finished fourth at the NCAA outdoor championships and set a personal record during the season (18-8 3/4).
During the 2020 indoor season, Lightfoot broke his own school record (19-1 1/2) and won a third Big 12 title in the event, indoor and outdoor.
Last spring, Lightfoot set an NCAA record in the indoor pole vault, clearing 19-5 1/4 to win by five inches. He set an NCAA record and again reset his Baylor record earlier in the season (19-8 1/4) at the Texas Tech Shootout before turning pro in advance of the Olympic Trials.
Lightfoot won silver at the 2018 New Balance Indoor Nationals and bronze medals at the 2016 USATF Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships and the 2019 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Derrick Mein, Paola
Mein's sharp-shooting skills date back to when he was a child in southeast Kansas and would join his father on quail and deer hunts.
He started competing in clay shooting events at age 8, paving the way for Mein to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in trap shooting.
Mein competed at Lindenwood, where he also played baseball, before transferring to Kansas State Univesity to pursue a degree in animals science.
He's a 13-time Kansas state champion, a 16-time member of the USA Sporting Clays team, won the 2018 World All-Around title at the World Shotgun Championships and twice earned NSCA national titles (2017, 2020) among his many competitive successes.
Chris Nilsen, Kansas City, Missouri (Park Hill High School)
Nilsen, a Park Hill graduate, qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the pole vault by winning the U.S. Olympic Trials with a clearance of 19 feet, 4 1/4 inches.
Nilsen dethroned runner-up Sam Kendricks, who had won six straight U.S. outdoor national titles from 2014-19). Another Kansas City-area native, KC Lightfoot, finished third and also made the Olympic team.
Nilsen was a three-time NCAA champion and six-time first-team All-American in the pole vault at the University of South Dakota, setting school records both indoor (19-0) and outdoor (19-3).
With the Coyotes, Nilsen won an NCAA indoor title in 2017 and added NCAA outdoor championships in 2018 and 2019.
He finished third at the NCAA outdoor meet in 2017 and placed second at the NCAA indoor meet in 2018 and 2019.
Nilsen won the pole vault gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games, placing third at the 2017 U.S outdoor championships and second at the 2018 outdoor national meet.
He set the NCAA indoor pole vault record in February 2020 (19-5) before turning pro last summer.
While at Park Hill, Nilsen broke the U.S. high school pole vault record, clearing 18-4 3/4 during a Missouri Class 5 sectional. He also won Missouri Class 5 state titles in 2015 and 2016.
Karissa Schweizer, Urbandale, Iowa (University of Missouri)
Mizzou fans know Schweizer well.
A native of Urbandale, Iowa, Schweizer was a six-time NCAA champion in track and cross country for the Tigers.
Now, she's making a name on the international stage.
Schweizer finished second June 21 at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 5,000 meters and will be among the favorites in the event at the 2020 Tokyo Games. She is the first Tigers track and field athlete to make the Olympics since Natasha Kaiser in 1996.
Five days later, she finished second in the 10,000, earning an Olympic berth at that distance as well and becoming the fifth woman in U.S. history to qualify to run the 5,000 and 10,000 in the same Olympics Games.
While at Mizzou, Schweizer's first title came at the 2016 NCAA Cross Country championships, when she stunned the field and became the first female national champion in MU history.
Later that academic year, Schweizer collected two more national titles, winning the 5,000 at the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships.
That has become her signature event.
She repeated as the NCAA champ in the 5,000 and added another title in the 3,000 at the 2018 NCAA Indoor National Track and Field Championship.
Later that year, she also set a U.S. collegiate record in the 3,000 in a winning effort at the Millrose Games.
Schweizer closed her remarkable college career by repeating as the NCAA outdoor champion in the 5,000.
After college, she signed with the Nike-sponsored Bowerman Track Club in Portland, Oregon. She set the U.S. record for the indoor 3,000 in February 2021, dropping it by an astonishing 8 seconds.
Bubba Starling, baseball
Starling, a graduate of Gardner-Edgerton High School, was announced Friday as one of 24 players chosen for the U.S. Olympic baseball team.
Starling, 28, is one of four outfielders on the U.S. roster. He has slashed .271/.323/.612 in 24 games with Class AAA Omaha this season, cracking seven home runs and six doubles with 17 RBIs.
Starling, a first-round pick by the Royals a decade ago, reached the big leagues in 2019.
He has five career home runs in 91 major-league games, but is renowned for his athleticism and defensive play.
Starlings’s $7.5-million signing bonus in August 2011 remains the largest signing bonus in Royals history. It also was the second-largest ever and the most ever given to a high school prospect.
Starling was a three-sport star in high school. The 2010 Simone Award winner as the top football player in the Kansas City area, Starling signed to play quarterback — as well as baseball — at Nebraska.
He spent part of the summer with the Cornhuskers before signing with the Royals, who selected him No. 5 overall in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Starling also was an all-state performer in basketball, helping the Trailblazers reach the state tournament as a senior.
Jacarra Winchester, Oakland, California, (Missouri Valley College)
Winchester punched her ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in April with 7-4 and 12-2 wins against Ronna Heaton best-of-three 53-kilogram final at the U.S. women’s wrestling trials.
Originally from Oakland, Winchester, who competed collegiately for Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri, hoped to make the 2016 Olympic team before a torn ACL during training ended that dream.
Winchester won a gold medal at 55kg during the 2019 World Championships after finishing fifth the year before, her first on the U.S. women’s team for the world championships.
She’s also a former California high school state champion (2010), University Nationals champion (2014), two-time Final X champion (2018, 2019), two-time U.S. Open champion (2018, 2019) and two-time U.S. Open runner-up (2015, 2017).
Leanne Wong, gymnastics
Leanne Wong, who lives in Overland Park and trains at the GAGE Center in Blue Springs, will serve as an alternate for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Her teammate and GAGE Center training partner, Kara Eaker, also made the team as a replacement gymnast.
Wong finished second on the floor exercise (28.166) behind only Simone Biles — the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history with five Olympic medals, including four gold medals, and 25 World Championships medals, including 19 gold medals, to go with a record seven U.S. all-around titles.
Wong’s 14.233 score on the second day of the Olympic Trials tied for the highest score aside from Biles’ winning routines.
She also finished sixth on the uneven parallel bars (27.466), but had an uncharacteristic fall on the balance beam and missed the landing on her dismount during the first day of the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Wong still finished eighth overall at the 2021 U.S. Olympics Gymnastics Trials after placing fifth at the 2021 U.S. Gymnastics Championships in early June in Fort Worth, Texas.
She is going to her first Olympic Games and has signed with the University of Florida for her college career.
This story will be updated if anymore athletes from the Kansas City-area qualify for the Olympics.