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The Old College Try – NCAA Track and Field Athletes in the Tokyo Olympics

Guess what everyone? Olympic Track and Field Starts today! Here is a unique guide to follow some of the top competitors at the Tokyo Olympics.

For decades, NCAA athletes have long been associated with the professional drafts for the NFL, NBA, WNBA, and MLB. College athletics has always served as the largest pipeline of future superstars to the professional ranks in the aforementioned sports, but one sport that often flies below the radar is track and field.

College track and field and the Olympics have always had a deep association with each other. The entire 1960 and 1964 women’s teams were coached by the legendary Ed Temple of Tennessee State University. Oregon’s Bill Bowerman guided the men’s squad at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. This year in particular, dozens of former NCAA All-Americans earned their spots on the 2020 Tokyo Olympic team.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will serve as another wonderful opportunity for current students and alumni to make their alma maters proud. If you find yourself searching “Where did _____ go to college,” look no further. Here is an overview of the 2020 USATF athletes that are still competing at the college level (for now), as well as an overview of where some NCAA legends competed in their university tenures.


While there are no current college students who made the team it should be noted that all three 100m participants attended college in Texas, Trayvon Bromell (Baylor), Ronnie Baker (TCU) and Fred Kerley (Texas A&M). Bromell won the NCAA championship at the distance in 2014 and 2015. Rounding out the relay pool are a pair of Oregon Ducks, Micah Williams and Cravon Gillepse.

NCAA Track and Field Athletes in the Tokyo Olympics

Then 19-year-old Trayvon Bromell taking the field in Eugene for Baylor


Interestingly enough, none of the three qualifiers attended a major college, and Erriyon Knighton, who is still in high school, has announced that he will not attend college.

NCAA Track and Field Athletes in the Tokyo Olympics

Randolph Ross coming off of the curve at the Olympic Trials


The 2021 NCAA national champion Randolph Ross of North Carolina A&T will be representing the US in the event, and his college teammate Trevor Stewart is also in the relay pool. Olympic Trials winner Michael Norman is a former University of Southern California (USC) Trojan who set the college record on his way to the 2018 NCAA championship. The third open qualifier is Michael Cherry, who was a two time NCAA champion while at Louisiana State.


One of the surprise Olympic qualifiers on the men’s side was USC’s Isaiah Jewett who went out hard and held on tight to make his first team. He was the 2021 national champion, much like his 800m USA counterparts Clayton Murphy and Bryce Hoppel. In 2015, Murphy won the 800m indoor national championship while at Akron before grabbing a bronze medal in Rio. Hoppel was the 2019 800m national champion while at Kansas.

NCAA Track and Field Athletes in the Tokyo Olympics

Oregon’s Cole Hocker paces the field


In one of the most exciting races of the US Olympic Trials, University of Oregon sophomore Cole Hocker ran a blazing final 150 to catch another former Duck and defending Olympic champion Matt Centrowitz. Third place went to Yared Nuguse, who set the college record in the 1500 this past May while representing the University of Notre Dame.


Paul Chelimo from UNC-Greensboro will lead the US in his second Olympics. Stanford’s Grant Fisher, the 2017 NCAA Champion at this distance, placed second at the trials, while his professional teammate and Portland Pilot Woody Kincaid took third.


Kincaid and Fisher also earned spots at the 10,000 distance, and former Colorado All-American Joe Klecker claimed the third and final spot.

110m Hurdles

The Tokyo squad for this event is headed up by former Florida Gator Grant Holloway, the 2019 Bowerman Award winner for most outstanding track athlete. While in college, he set the NCAA record in the event with a time of 12.98, barely edging out Daniel Roberts of Kentucky, who will also be in Tokyo. The third representative is former Oregon football and track star, Devon Allen, who will be competing in his second Olympics.

400m Hurdles

USC boasts yet another Olympic Trials champion as former Trojan Rai Benjamin takes his world #2 time to Tokyo seeking gold. He was the 2018 NCAA national champion in this event. Former North Carolina Tar Heel Kenny Selmon made the team with a second place finish, and David Kendziera, the 2017 Big Ten runner of the year at Illinois, took third.


Hilary Bor punched another ticket to the Olympics with his win at Hayward Field. He was a multiple time All-American while at Iowa State. Fellow Big 12 comrade Benard Keter finished second, notching another Olympian for Texas Tech. Third place went to Mason Ferlic, the 2016 NCAA champion while at Michigan.

High Jump

One of the more unique stories of the trials centers around JuVaughn Harrison, who won both the long jump and high jump at the 2021 NCAA Championships for LSU. Amazingly, he was able to accomplish the same thing at the Olympic Trials. He finished ahead of fellow SEC competitor Darryl Sullivan, who just completed his eligibility at Tennessee. Completing the SEC sweep is Shelby McEwen from Alabama.

Long Jump

The aforementioned Harrison took first place, and the 2015 Bowerman award winner Marquis Dendy from the Florida Gators took second to punch his ticket to a second Olympics. Rounding out the trio is Steffin McCarter from the University of Texas, keeping the Longhorn long jump tradition alive.

Pole Vault

Coyote sighting! The NCAA indoor record holder, Chris Nilsen, took the Olympic Trials title to earn the University of South Dakota an Olympian. US pole vault mainstay Sam Kendricks, who competed collegially for Ole Miss, qualified for his second Olympic team. The 2021 NCAA champion KC Lightfoot, who just wrapped up a career at Baylor, claimed third place to make his first Olympic team.

Shot Put

Fresh off of setting a new world record early in the trials, former Texas shot putter Ryan Crouser looks to defended his Olympic title in Tokyo. He will be joined by two time World champion Joe Kovacs, who represented Penn State during his college days. 2019 NCAA Champion Payton Otterdahl of North Dakota State managed to claim the final shot by less than an inch to make his first Olympic team.


The University of Kansas has another Olympian after former Big 12 Champion Mason Finley qualified for his second Olympic team. The Kent State Golden Flashes scored a first time Olympian in Reggie Jagers, who finished second in Eugene. Former Wall Street analyst, 2015 NCAA champion, and UPenn Quaker Sam Mattis took third place to punch his ticket to Rio.


Mississippi State’s Curtis Thompson has been on top of the US javelin world for the last few years, which includes a NCAA title in 2016. He is joined by Penn State’s Michael Shuey.

Scantling representing Georgia at the 2016 Olympic Trials


After finishing in a close 4th place at the 2016 Olympic Trials, Garrett Scantling from the University of Georgia returned to Eugene to claim the 2020 title. He was followed by another Bulldog Steven Bastian, except this one attended Samford University. Third place went to Zach Ziemek, who was a five time All-American while competing at Wisconsin. This is Ziemek’s second Olympic team.



College associations from coast to coast comprises the 100m squad for the US. After the disqualification of LSU’s Shararri Richardson, the 100m title went to Kentucky’s Javianne Oliver. Second place was claimed by Teahna Daniels of the University of Texas, who won the indoor 60m in 2016. Former Bowerman Award winner and national champion Jenna Prandini of Oregon finished third, and Gabby Thomas of Harvard finished forth to be in the relay pool. Thomas was the 200m indoor national champion in 2018. Also in the relay pool are former Oregon Duck and NCAA Champion English Gardner, as well as 2018 NCAA 100m champion Aleia Hobbs of LSU.

NCAA Track and Field Athletes in the Tokyo Olympics

Gabby Thomas paces her Olympic Trials in sub 22 style


The aforementioned Thomas and Prandini finished first and second with some of the fastest times in American history. Avavia Battle finished third after an All-American career at Ohio State.


The quartermile trio is a little unique, led by former Division 2 runner Quanera Hayes from Livingstone College. Second place went to USC graduate Allyson Felix, although she did not compete for the Trojans. Wadeline Jonathas of the other USC (South Carolina) placed third after winning the 400m title in 2019. USC’s Kendall Ellis, herself a former NCAA runner up, will be in the relay pool after her 4th place finish in Eugene.


One of breakout stars of the games will likely be 19 year old phenom Athing Mu, who ran a blazing 1:56 to take the title at the Olympic Trials. This all took place just weeks after Mu set the national record in the 400m while competing for Texas A&M. Second place went to Oregon legend Raevyn Rogers, who is one of the featured athletes on the Bowerman Tower at the new Hayward Field. Third place went to Ajee Wilson, who will be competing in her second Olympics in the 800m

NCAA Track and Field Athletes in the Tokyo Olympics

Purrier is a blur as she crosses the line first in Eugene


New American record holder Elle Purrier was an All American performer in cross country and track during her time at the University of New Hampshire. Cory McGee was the NCAA runner up in 2014 representing the Florida Gators. Heather MacLean rounds out the competitors in Tokyo in the event, which will make her friends from the University of Massachusetts proud.

110m Hurdles

One of the most competitive events int he US is the 100m hurdles, and after a podium sweep in the event in Rio, three new faces will look to repeat that dominance. The group will be led by world record holder Keni Harrison, who wore the bluegrass blue as a Kentucky Wildcat when she was the 2015 NCAA Champion. Former Ohio State Buckeye Christina Clemons took second place, and NC State All-American Gabbi Cunningham claimed the final spot for Tokyo.

Sydney McLaughlin competes as a 17 year old in Rio

400m Hurdles

The Olympic Trials saw a few world records fall, including Sydney McLaughlin’s 400m hurdles sub 52 title. McLaughlin won the 2019 national championship for Kentucky, and will be joined in Tokyo by two USC Trojans, Dalilah Muhammad and 2021 national champion Anna Cockrell.

NCAA Track and Field Athletes in the Tokyo Olympics

Former Colorado All-American Emma Coburn leads the way


The Colorado distance running tradition continues as former Buffalo Emma Coburn looks to top the international podium once again. She will be joined by another Colorado All-American, Val Constien. Rounding out the Steeplechase representatives is American record holder Courtney Frerichs, who was the 2016 NCAA champion while at the University of New Mexico. 


The Olympic Trials winner was Elise Cranny, who was a 12 time All-American at Stanford. Second place went to Karissa Schweizer, who doubled as cross country and the 5000m national champion in 2016 while competing at the University of Missouri. Former Big East champion Rachel Schneider will continue the Georgetown distance tradition in Tokyo.

Start of the Rio 10,000, where a world record was set


Emily Sisson was the Olympic Trials winner in the 10,000, which surely made her friends at Providence College proud. Schweizer, much like her college days, doubled events and took second place in Eugene. College All-America Alicia Monson, who finished third at the trials, will keep alive the long tradition of distance running Wisconsin Badgers in the Olympics

Long Jump

One of the more recognizable stars to emerge from the Olympic Trials was Tara Davis, who was wearing the white and burnt orange of the University of Texas while in Eugene. The colorful Longhorn is currently a finalist for the Bowerman Award after her 2021 NCAA national title. The other two jumpers bring a bit of SEC Western Division flair as Ole Miss’ Brittney Reese and Quanesha Burks of Alabama make their fourth and second Olympic teams, respectively.

Triple Jump

Georgia’s Keturah Orji has been the best in the country for half a decade, winning the national title in college as well as the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Trials. Runner up Tori Franklin will be a rare Big Ten representative, hailing from Michigan State. Third place finisher Jasmine Moore also competed for Georgia collegiately, where she was the 2020 national champion.

High Jump

When she was a senior in high school, Vashti Cunningham was the world indoor champion in the high jump. The next day, she turned pro and bypassed her college career. She is back for her second Olympics, winning the high jump competition. Rachel McCoy, who competed at Long Island University, was named to the team, while Tynita Butts-Townsend took the final spot after jumping for East Carolina University.

Pole Vault

After a long international career, it appears to be Katie Nageotte’s time. Hailing from small Ashland University, she took the title in Eugene after setting the Trials record. Following her is Morgann Leleux, a three time SEC Champion while at Georgia, who qualified for her first Olympics. Rounding out the field is 2016 Rio Silver Medalist and NCAA record holder Sandi Morris, who competed for the University of Arkansas.

Shot Put

The Western Kentucky earned some attention as former Hilltopper Jessica Ramsey claimed the Olympic Trials title. She was followed by Ole Miss veteran Raven Saunders, who won the 2017 NCAA title. The 2021 NCAA Champion also qualified for Tokyo, with Ohio State’s Adelaide Aquilla taking third place.


Those in attendance in Eugene saw the women’s discus record go up in smoke as former Stanford athlete Valarie Allman continued her dominance in the event. Auburn’s Rachel Dincoff claimed the silver and 2016 NCAA champion Kelsie Card from Wisconsin took the bronze, qualifying for her second Olympics. 


Texas A&M has added another national record after former Aggie Maggie Malone claimed the title in Eugene. Purdue’s Kara Winger, one of the most accomplished throwers in US history, took second place to qualify for her fourth Olympics. The versatile Ariana Ince, who competed in both the javelin and pole vault at Rice University, took third place at Hayward Field.


The Southern Illinois Salukis get some love as their 2016 NCAA Champion DeAnna Price, won the competition in June to make her second Olympic team. The 2018 NCAA runner-up Brooke Andersen saw herself claim another spot for Northern Arizona University, while another Saluki Gwen Berry took third place.


Be prepared for an All SEC affair for this event. One of the more memorable celebrations of the Olympic Trials came from Annie Kunz, who earned the title of best athlete after her Heprathlon win. This is further confirmed by the fact that Kunz, who attended Texas A&M, also played college soccer. Georgia’s Kendall Williams, who won the 2014 and 2016 NCAA titles, took second place to make her second Olympic team. She is joined by fellow Rio teammate and former Mississippi State Bulldog Erica Bougard.

Other Notable College Standouts competing internationally:

Mohammed Ahmed, Canada – 5,000M, Wisconsin

Nathon Allen, Jamaica – 400m, Auburn University

Tobi Amusan, Nigeria – 110m hurdles, UTEP (2017 NCAA Champion)

Doneisha Anderson, Bahamas – 400m, Florida

Marco Arop, Canada – 800m, Mississippi State

Ned Azemia, Seychelles, 400m hurdles, UTEP

Sean Bailey, Jamaica – 400m, UTEP

Brianne Bethel, Bahamas – 200m, University of Houston

Aaron Brown, Canada – 100m, USC

Sani Brown, Japan – 100m, Florida

Mario Burke, Barbados – 100m, 200m, University of Houston

Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, Puerto Rico – 100m hurdles, University of Kentucky (2018 NCAA Champion)

Lloydricia Cameron, Jamaica – Shot Put, Florida

Denzel Comenentia, Netherlands – Shot Put, Hammer from Georgia (2018 NCAA Champion)

Kyra Constantine, Canada – 400m, USC

Yanis David, France – Long Jump, Florida

Andre de Grasse, Canada – 100m, 200m, USC (2015 NCAA Champion)

Johannes Erm, Estonia – Decathlon, Georgia (2019 NCAA Champion)

Tristan Evelyn, Barbados – 100m, University of Houston 

Joseph Fahnbulleh, Liberia – 200m, Florida (2021 National Champion)

Marta Pen Freitas, Portugal – 1,500m, Mississippi State (2016 NCAA Champion)

Tyra Gittens, Trinidad and Tobago – Heptathlon, Texas A&M (2021 NCAA Champion)

Cejhae Greene, Antigua – 100m, Georgia

Genevieve Lacaze Gregson, Australia – Steeplechase, Florida

Charles Grethen, Luxembourg – 800m, Georgia

Asa Guevara, Trinidad and Tobago – 400m, UTEP

Kris Hari, Denmark – 100m, Arkansas

Ollie Hoare, Australia – 1,500m, Wisconsin (2018 NCAA Champion)

Jessica Hull, Australia – 1,500, Oregon (2019 NCAA Champion)

Josh Kerr, Great Britain – 1,500m, New Mexico (2016 NCAA Champion)

Justyn Knight, Canada – 5,000m, Syracuse  (NCAA Champion)

Emmanuel Korir, Kenya – 400m/800m, UTEP

Churandy Martina, Netherlands – 100m, UTEP

Shaun Maswanganyi, South Africa – 100m, 200m, University of Houston

Morgan McDonald, Australia – 5000m, Wisconsin (2019 NCAA Champion)

Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Bahamas – 200m, Georgia

Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Great Britain – 200m, LSU (2016 NCAA Champion)

Kemar Mowatt, Jamaica – 400m Hurdles, Arkansas

Divine Oduduru, Nigeria – 100m, 200m Texas Tech (2019 NCAA Champion)

Favour Ofili, Nigeria – 100m, LSU

Blessing Okagbare, Nigeria – 100m, 200m, UTEP

Chanice Porter, Jamaica – Long Jump, Georgia

Jareem Richards, Trinidad and Tobago – 200m, Alabama

Levern Spencer, St. Lucia – High Jump, Georgia

Tina Šutej, Slovenia – Pole Vault, Arkansas

Damion Thomas, Jamaica – 110m Hurdles, LSU

Karel Tilga, Estonia – Decathlon, Georgia (2021 NCAA Champion)

Aisha Praught-Leer, Jamaica – 1,500 – Illinois State University

Michael Saruni, Kenya – 800m, UTEP

Dominique Scott-Efurd, South Africa – 10,000m, Arkansas (2015 NCAA Champion)

Maicel Uibo, Estonia – Decathlon, Georgia

Ruth Usoro, Nigeria –  Triple Jump, Texas Tech

Lindon Victor, Grenada – Decathlon, Texas A&M (2016 NCAA Champion)

Sage Watson, Canada – 400m Hurdles, Arizona

Charokee Young, Jamaica – 400m, Texas A&M

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