It’s Olympics time, Sconnie Sports Talk wants to introduce you to former, current, and future Badgers representing their countries in the 2016 Olympic Games.
Gwen Jorgensen: Class of 2009
Team USA: Triathlon
Triathlete Gwen Jorgensen is headed to Rio to represent the United States and is slated as the gold medal-favorite after winning the 2014 and 2015 world titles. The class of 2009 athlete began her collegiate career as a swimmer for three years at UW-Madison before switching to track full-time.
In her time at UW-Madison, Jorgensen was a two-time Big Ten champion at and was All-American in track and cross country. She qualified for the Big Ten Swimming Championships from 2004-2007 and was a six-time Academic All-Big Ten choice, in addition to being the recipient of the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 2009.
In 2012, Jorgensen was a member of the USA Triathlon National Team in addition to being a member of the US Olympic Team. She finished 38th in the 2012 London Olympic Games after her performance suffered due to a flat tire on her bike.
Jorgensen’s other honors include being a two-time USA Triathlon’s Triathlete of the Year (2013, 2014), two-time Elite National Champion (2014, 2015), a 15-time ITU World Triathlon Series Winner, and the first woman from the United States to win a race in the World Triathlon Series.
Mohammed Ahmed: Class of 2014
Team Canada: 5000m
UW-Madison’s class of 2014 cross country star Mohammed Ahmed will represent Canada in Rio next month.
Ahmed was named All-American in cross country for four consecutive years (2009-2012) in addition to being named first-team All-Region in cross country in 2010 and 2011, and first-team All-Big Ten in cross country in 2010, 2011 and 2012. At 10,000 meters, Ahmed was the Big Ten champion and All-American in 2010.
Ahmed is a three-time Canadian junior cross country champion at 5,000 meters (2008-2010), and took fifth overall at the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championship, leading Wisconsin to the national title at the NCAA Championship that year.
Team USA: 3000m steeplechase
Evan Jager will compete in the 2016 Olympics and, despite leaving Wisconsin, will have many Badgers fans rooting him on.
While with Wisconsin, Jager represented the United States in the 2008 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships, making the finals and placing 8th with a time of 3:49.59. In the months following, Jager signed a professional contract with Nike, losing his NCAA eligibility, no longer making it possible to play for the Badgers. Jager then moved to Portland to continue his training with former Badgers coach Schumacher, who had signed a full-time contract to coach Nike-sponsored runners like Jager.
Jager currently holds the record in the 3000-meter steeplechase (8:00.45), making him the 13th fastest performer in the event’s history.
Prior to his Olympic debut, Jager ran the 3000-meter steeplechase at a time of 8:06.81, breaking the American record in the summer of 2012. Two months later, Jager finished 6th in the final of the 3000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics.
In the 2016 United States Olympic Trials, Jager won steeplechase with a time of 8:22.48, qualifying him to represent the United States this August in Rio.
Hilary Stellingwerff: Class of 2004
Team Canada: 1500m
Stellingwerff competed in the 2012 London Olympics finishing 16th overall and barely missed the chance to run in the finals.
In the Canadian Olympic Trials, Stellingwerff finished 3rd in the 1500-meter race with a time of 4:18.99. According to Canadian selection criteria, only the first and second-place finishers are given an automatic spot on the Canadian Olympic team, leaving the third spot on the team to be filled by the athlete with the highest rank among the top eight finishers. Stellingwerff currently stands at 3rd on the Canadian list with a time of 4:05.61, passing the Olympic qualifying standard of 4:07.00 and putting her in the position to be the third and final athlete for this race.
While it is not yet official, Stellingwerff has done everything correctly to earn herself a spot in the 2016 Olympics. Stellingwerff competed for the Badgers from 2000-’04 and earned All-American honors in that time.
Kelsey Card: Class of 2016
Team USA: Discus
Card’s career as a Badger has been nothing short of spectacular: seven-time first-team All-American (discus and indoor and outdoor shot put in 2015 and 2016, and indoor shot put in 2012) and four-time second-team All-American, to name a few of her accolades.
Within 2015 and 2016 alone, the Big Ten has named Card their champion in the shot put and weight throw, their Indoor Field Athlete of the Year, and their Indoor Field Athlete of the Championships. Card has also been named Academic All-Big Ten for three years (2013, 2015, 2016), and in 2016 alone she was named the NCAA Outdoor Champion in discus and Big Ten Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year and of the Championships.
In addition to all of these titles and accomplishments, Card is the Big Ten record-holder for discus (63.52 meters) and shot put (18.56 meters). In 2014, Card took 4th place in the US Outdoor Championships for shot put throwing a distance of 17.77 meters.
Card secured her place on the 2016 US Olympic Team by throwing a distance of 197 feet and three inches in the Olympic Trials after getting to the finals with a throw of 199 feet, three inches the day before.
Zach Ziemek: Class of 2016
Team USA: Decathlon
Throughout his career as a Badger, Ziemek was All-American for the indoor heptathlon in 2013, 2014 and 2016, and All-American for the decathlon in 2014. Ziemek is also a 2013 and 2014 Big Ten champion in the decathlon. Also within the Big Ten, Ziemek is a record-holder for the decathlon with 8,300 points and the heptathlon with 6, 173 points. His heptathlon score also makes him the UW-Madison heptathlon record-holder.
In the last leg of his collegiate career with the Badgers, Ziemek became a NCAA Champion (indoor heptathlon), won the pole vault at the Big Ten Championships (clearance of 17-3), and reaching personal bests in shot put (13.85), discus (48.56 m), 60 meters (6.75), and tying a career best in the pole vault (17-8 ½).
Ziemek earned his spot on Team USA after placing third in the decathlon during the Olympic Trials. His score of 8,413 is his personal-best and the fifth-best collegiate score.
Matthew Hutchins: Class of 2017
Team New Zealand: 400m freestyle
Before coming to Wisconsin, Hutchins had already experienced international competition. In 2013 Hutchins competed in the World University Games in Russia and swam in the 2011 Junior Commonwealth Games in the Isle of Man.
In his time up to this point with the Badgers, Hutchins has already set three school records and has been named Big Ten Swimmer of the Year in 2016 and is two-time All-American (2015-2016).
This past season, Hutchins set the school records for the 500-yard freestyle (4:13.36) and the 1,650-yard freestyle (14:33.09) at the NCAA Championship, finishing 6th and 3rd overall.
In the 2016 Canadian Olympic Trials, Hutchins secured his spot on the New Zealand national team during the 400-meter freestyle—becoming the first qualifier from UW-Madison in swimming since 2004 and the 11th Olympian from the swim program since its establishment.
Cierra Runge: Class of 2019
Team USA: 800 freestyle relay
Runge, though not yet having swam for the Badgers, will represent the United States and the Badgers after her fifth-place showing (1:57.16) at the Olympic Trials.
Runge will transfer to Madison after the 2016 Olympics to swim and begin her sophomore year after taking a year off to train at Arizona State University. Runge spent her freshman year with the University of California-Berkley and broke the NCAA record in the 500-yard freestyle, while also participating as a member of the school’s 800-yard freestyle relay team that broke NCAA and American records.
Runge is also a member of the USA National Team and has competed in the World Championships (2015). Some of her career highlights consist of winning four medals at the 2013 FINA World Junior Championships and competing and placing 25th in the 100m free and 26th in the 50m free in the 2012 Olympic Trials.
- Alev Kelter, Rugby Sevens, USA
- Grace Latz, Rowing (quad sculls), USA
- Vicky Opitz, Rowing, USA (alternate)
- Dave Astraukas, Track & Field (individual coach), USA
- Nate David, Track & Field (individual coach), USA
- Matthew Imes, Rowing (staff), USA
- Connor Medbery, Wrestling (training partner), USA
- Kendall Schmidt, Rowing (staff), USA