KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mason Finley was born in Kansas City, but he’d moved to Colorado by the time he reached high school and became a star in throwing events at Buena Vista High School.
Track and Field News chose Finley, who also played football and basketball, as its 2009 Boys High School Athlete of the Year.
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 transferred to Wyoming for his final year of eligibility, but he returned to KU to train for 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.
During the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Finley made the final and finished 11th overall.
Now, he’s vying for a second crack at an Olympic medal.
Finley has thrown nearly three meters farther than he did in winning the Olympic Trials five years ago and has qualified for this year’s Olympic Team Trials, which begin June 18 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
He currently owns the third-best mark in the U.S. this season and will be among the favorites to earn a return trip to the Olympic Games, which begin next month in Tokyo.
No U.S. competitor has made consecutive Olympic finals in the discus since Adam Setliff in 1996 and 2000.
Finley, who now serves as a volunteer assistant for the Jayhawks, 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.
Finley 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.
At Wyoming, where his father, Jared, was an All-American discus thrower in 1979, Finley added three more All-America honors in the indoor shot put (2013, 2014) and the outdoor discus (2014).
He was the Mountain West Conference Male Outdoor Athlete of the Year in 2014 and Male Indoor Most Outstanding Performer in 2013.
Finley was the 2009 Pan American Junior champion in the shot put and discus, finished third in the 2011 Summer Universiade and was third again at the 2017 World Track and Field Championships.
Finley set the U.S. high school discus record in 2009, which has since been broken, though it remains the Colorado state high school record (236-6).
Finley also still owns the U.S. junior discus record (214-4) and the Colorado state high school shot put record (71-3 1/4).
The Kansas City region has a deep, rich history with respect to the Olympic Games. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games approach with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for July 23, we will profile an athlete with ties to Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas each day.