A look at former and current Utah athletes trying to make the US Olympic team


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PROVO — Track Town, USA, is in the Pacific Northwest beginning this weekend as the United States Olympic team trials kick off on the University of Oregon campus, the first stop on the road to the Summer Olympics in Paris this summer.

For many of the athletes, the flight to Paris by way of Eugene started in Utah.

BYU will send 22 athletes to the Olympic trials beginning Friday, where every event will be streamed live on Peacock and select events broadcast on NBC and USA Network.

The Cougars qualified 17 entries for the Olympic trials, which will run June 21-30 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. That's the most of any NCAA Division I program, as well as five BYU alums that will try to make the U.S. team for Paris as professional athletes.

That includes 11 male athletes competing for a spot on Team USA will have come from or passed through the university, with qualifiers in every distance event — the only school in the nation with such a claim. The top-three finishers in each event that have achieved the Olympic qualifying standard will make the team for the Paris Games.

"We are excited to be sending 21 athletes to the Olympic Trials and as well have 17 entries from our current collegiate athletes," said BYU head coach Ed Eyestone, who is also a personal training coach for Olympic marathoners and alumni like Conner Mantz and Clayton Young. "For BYU to have more entries than any other university or college is an indication of how well we recruit and develop American talent. We will see a lot of BYU uniforms in the next 10 days and we hope to give Conner Mantz and Clayton Young some additional BYU teammates for the trip to Paris."

Kenneth Rooks, the former national champion from BYU who has signed with Nike, will be considered among the favorites to qualify in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Rooks, who grew up in Walla Walla, Washington, still trains in Utah and works out regularly with Run Elite Program, the state-funded organization founded by Olympian Jared Ward, Salt Lake Community College head coach Isaac Wood and former BYU-Hawaii soccer player Landon Southwick that is partially funded by a $160,000 grant from the Utah state legislature to attract high-level distance athletes to Utah.

"REP is really new. When I first came to Utah, REP wasn't a thing," Rooks told KSL-TV before departing for Eugene. "I moved here in 2018. Now, I feel like I am on a good trajectory with my training to make the U.S. Olympic team and I am really excited for that opportunity if that is what ends up happening,"

After already earning one of two qualifying spots from Team USA through the U.S. marathon trials earlier this year, Mantz — who runs professionally for Nike — will also compete for a spot in the 10,000 meters.

More than two dozen athletes with ties to the state of Utah will compete at the U.S. Olympic trials in the eighth all-time scheduling of the event at Hayward Field in what is known as "Track Town, USA."

That includes Utah State star Chari Hawkins, who finished eighth in the women's heptathlon at last year's world championships in Budapest, Hungary. The five-time Aggie All-American amassed a personal-best 6,366 points, putting herself contention for a medal until finishing 18th in the 800 meters in the seventh and final event.

Weber State will send a pair of throwers to the Olympic trials for the first time in program history when Cody Canard and Josh Trafny hurl the javelin. Both earned a qualifying spot with career-best performances in the first outdoor meet of the season in St. George, where Canard shattered the school and Big Sky record in the event by nearly 30 feet with a throw of 256-02.

The list below is a look at each Olympic trialist from Utah, arranged by school. Other athletes with Utah ties include Cooper Bibbs, who was born in Ogden but grew up in Oceanside, California, before a collegiate career at CSU Fullerton. The 100-meter trialist has a personal-best time of 10.01 seconds, which currently ranks tied for ninth nationally among American professionals (Noah Lyles is first in 9.83).

Grant Fisher, the former Stanford star who currently runs for Nike, is one of several athletes who train in Utah, both with Run Elite Program and other sponsorships. The American record holder in the 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 meters signed with REP Friday, joining a group of five that includes Rooks, world silver medalist and American 3,000-meter steeplechase record holder Courtney Frerichs, former Utah five-time All-American Emily Venters, and former Virginia 800-meter national champion Michaela Myler to an already distinguished roster that includes Mantz, Young and several others.

BYU

*denotes alumni who have turned professional

University of Utah

  • Janelle Branch, 20km race walk (Utah track and field assistant coach)*

*withdrew late Thursday after qualifying with a knee injury

Utah State

  • Logan Hammer, pole vault
  • Chari Hawkins, heptathlon
  • Dillon Maggard, 5000M

Utah Valley

Weber State

  • Cody Canard, javelin
  • Josh Trafny, javelin

Other athletes who live/train in Utah (per USA Track & Field Utah)

*The 2016 Olympic gold medalist was a late-scratch from the men's 1,500m, he announced Friday.

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