Utah March Madness: Olympic Region Matchups

While some of these guys don’t get the love that football and basketball do in the state, they have put together brilliant athletic performances that make them deserving of their own region in this Utah March Madness Tournament. Without further ado, let’s look at the matchups:

1 Jared Ward vs 16 Miles Batty

Jared Ward:

Personal Best Times:

5000 meters (3.1 miles): 13:34.74 (4:22 minutes per mile)

10000 meters (6.2 miles): 28:36.5 (4:37 minute miles)

Half Marathon (13.1 miles): 1:01:42 (4:42 minute miles)

Marathon (26.2 miles): 2:09:25 (4:55 minute miles)

Awards:

3rd at 2016 Olympic Trials

6th at 2016 Río de Janeiro Olympics

6th at NYC Marathon (2018, 2019)

8th at Boston (2019)

Why vote for him?

If for nothing else, vote for him because of the mustache. It’s the best one we’ve seen on a runner since Steve Prefontaine. You can follow him at @jwardy21 on Twitter and Instagram. When it comes to distance running, Jared Ward is perhaps the most talented to come out of the state of Utah.

16 Miles Batty

Personal Best Times:

1500 meters 3:32.25

Indoor Mile: 3:54.54

Awards:

Champion in the mile at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships

Also ran in the champion distance medley the same year.

Why vote for him?

When it comes to mid-distance running, perhaps no harrier out of the Beehive State is as accomplished as this guy. He specializes in the 1500 meter run. Vote for him if you’re a fan of a miler who broke the impressive 4 minute barrier and represented the state of Utah well while running collegiately at BYU and professionally for ASICS.

2 Dillon Maggard vs 15 Torin Koos

2 Dillon Maggard

Personal Best College Times:

Outdoor 1500 meter 3:42.15

Outdoor 5000 meter 13:30.02

Outdoor 10000 meter: 28:38.36

Indoor mile: 4:01.25

Awards:

6th at NCAA Cross Country Championships

First Team All-American

3rd at 10,000 meter NCAA Track and Field Championship

Why vote for him?

He is the best runner in Aggie history. Also his long hair is pretty cool. Seriously though he’s just a kid from Kirkland, Washington. His story is inspiring because a kid nobody expected to be great tried running good junior year of high school and chose the Aggies over his only other offers: Western Oregon and Seattle Pacific.

You can follow him on Twitter here.

15 Torin Koos

Best finish:

2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver:

9th in cross country team sprint

13th in 4×10 km relay

Achievements:

4x Winter Olympics participant

Why vote for him?

If you’re a fan of the Winter Olympics then vote for Torin. This former Ute is one of the greatest Winter Olympians out of the state of Utah. He is a great cross country skier at the sprint and long distances. Would you expect anything less from a guy who was raised in Minnesota and went to school in Utah?

3 Sindri Gudmunnson vs 14 Tony Finau

3 Sindri Gudmunnson

Personal Best Throws:

Javelin: 80.91 meters (88.48 yards or 265 feet, 5 3/8 inches)

Awards:

3x First Team All-American (2017-2019

3x Mountain West Conference Champion (2017-2019)

Academic All-Mountainn West (2019)

Three time West Preliminary NCAA Outdoor Champion

Placed 6th , 3rd and 4th respectively at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Why vote for him?

Vote for the Icelandic javelin thrower if you’re a fan of seeing a dude throw a spear almost an entire length of the football field. That’s better than most college quarterbacks can throw a football. Sindri has won at the highest level and his best throwing appears to be ahead of him.

14 Tony Finau

Awards:

Masters Tournament: T5 2019

PGA Championship: T10 2015

U.S Open: 5th 2018

The Open Championship: 3rd 2019

Why vote for him?

He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and is one of the most accomplished golfers in state history. He never competed in college as he turned down basketball scholarships to turn pro in golf at the age of 17. He is still young in golf years at age 30 so vote for him if you believe in his future. He is knocking on the door at becoming a champion of one of the Majors.

You can follow him on Twitter here.

4 Ed Eyestone vs 13 Mike Weir

4 Ed Eyestone:

Personal Best Times:

5000 meters 13:32.52

10000 meters 27:41.05

Marathon 2:10:59

Awards:

NCAA Triple Crown (1085 national champion in cross country, and the track 10,000 and 5,000 meters)

2x Olympic Qualifier (1988, 1992)

Top 10 ranked marathoner in the U.S for 9 years

5x U.S road racer of the year

1st place in Twin Cities Marathon (1993)

Cross Country Men’s National Coach of the Year (2019)

Why vote for him?

You might know him as the coach of the 2019 Cross Country National Champion BYU Cougars. Before that though, he was quite the runner himself. He was born in American Samoa. He was raised in Utah and ran for Bonneville, Utah. Vote for Eyestone if you’re a fan of an elite athlete at the collegiate, international and coaching level.

You can follow him on Twitter here.

13 Mike Weir

Best finishes at Majors:

2003 Champion of The Masters Tournament

6th at 2006 PGA Tournament

U.S Open T3 2003

The Open Championship T8 2007

Other Accomplishments:

Second Team All-American at BYU

Why vote for him?

The man from Ontario is the only Canadian to ever win a major in golf. Vote for Mike if you’re a fan of seeing champion put on the green jacket in Augusta Georgia.

5 Conner Mantz vs 12 Lasse Viren

5 Conner Mantz

Personal best times:

Track:

10000 meters: 28:18.18 (2019 Stanford Invitational

5000 meters: 13:29.73 (2019 Payton Jordan Invitational)

3000 meters: 7:50.90 (Washington-Dempsey Indoor Invitational)

1500 meters: 3:45.39 (Bryan Clay Invitational)

Awards:

3rd at 2019 Men’s NCAA Cross Country Championships

4th at 2019 Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 10,000 meter

7th at 2019 Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 5,000 meter

2x All-American in college

3x All-American in high school

Why vote for him?

In a loaded BYU team, Conner is already showing he is the future for BYU running. He was the top harrier in cross country as a sophomore on the team and was second only to national champion Clayton Young in the 10,000 meter in track.

Vote for Conner if you’re a fan of a leader of the only men’s national championship BYU cross country team in school history.

12 Lasse Viren

Personal Best Times:

5,000 meter: 13:16.4

10,000 meter: 27:38.35

Marathon: 2:13:11

Awards:

4x Olympic Gold Medalist

Why vote for him?

He won the 5,000 and 10,000 meter Olympic races both in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany and 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada. His lone tie to the state of Utah was coming to BYU to run for one season before returning home to Finland to run professionally.

Vote for Lasse if you’re a fan of someone who, although their time was short in Utah, they finished as one of the most decorated Olympians in BYU history.

6 Clayton Young vs 11 Pekka Vasala

6 Clayton Young:

Personal Best Times:

5,000 meter: 13:31.79

10,000 meter: 28:18.50

Awards:

2019 Men’s National Track and Field 10,000 Meter Champion

Why vote for him?

Vote for Clayton if you’re a fan of someone who ended their senior year of college as a national champion. Is there a better story in sports than that? It doesn’t appear so. There have been a lot of great stories in BYU distance running. Although he was already graduated when the 2019 BYU cross country team finally dethroned Northern Arizona, he finally became a national champion in the final race of his college career. There’s honestly no greater feeling in sports.

11 Pekka Vassala:

Personal Best Times:

1500 meter 3:36.33

Awards:

Gold Medalist in the 1972 Summer Olympics

Why vote for him?

He was a member of the “Flying Finns” who won a gold medal in every track event from 1500 to 10000 meters in the 1972 Olympics. His BYU and Finnish National Teammate, Lasse Viren (12 seed in this tournament) got the three gold medals and their teammate Tapio Kantanen got the bronze in the 3000 meter steeplechase.

Vote for Pekka if you’re a fan of another Finn who spent a short time at BYU and went on to achieve greatness in the Olympics.

7 Blaine Lindgren vs 10 Alma Richards

7 Blaine Lindgren

Personal Best Time:

110 meter hurdles 13.5 seconds

Awards:

Gold medal at 1963 Pan American Games in the 110 meter hurdles

Silver Medal in 110 meter hurdles at 1964 Summer Olympics

Why vote for him?

Blaine went to the University of Utah and passed away and passed away on October 5th, 2019 on the day of ironically the biggest running event in the state: the Saint George Marathon. He leaves behind a legacy not only as a sprinter but as a hard worker in the community. He worked for the sheriff’s department in Salt Lake City.

Vote for Blaine if you’re a fan of a Utah native who became an Olympic medalist in an event that isn’t typically dominated in this state. He got his medal at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Unfortunately he won’t be here to see the postponed Tokyo Olympics in 2021 but he will not be forgotten.

10 Alma Richards

Personal Best jumps:

High Jump – 1.956 m (1915)
Long Jump – 7.125 m (1915)

Awards:

High Jump Gold Medalist at 1912 Summer Olympics

Why vote for him?

This is the story of a small town hero. He was born in the small southern Utah town of Parowan. Vote for Alma if you’re impressed by the first Utah resident to win an Olympic gold medal. He won in the 1912 Summer Games in Stockholm, Sweden.

He participated in mostly the field events when he went to BYU. He died over 50 years ago but he is still a legend in the history of Utah Olympic sports. Although his best jump is only 6 feet 5 inches, it was very high back in the early 20th century.

8 Mako Sakomoto vs 9 Jim Osborne

8 Mako Sakomoto

Awards:

2x Summer Olympics Participant (1964 and 1972)

Why vote for him?

He is a very accomplished gymnast that was a head coach for gymnastics at Brigham Young University. Vote for him if you’re a fan of gymnastics!

9 Jim Osborne

Awards:

1971 Columbus Open Doubles Champion

1971 Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championships Doubles Champion

1971 Central California Open National Hardcourt Championships Doubles Champion

1972 Los Angeles Open Doubles Champion

1972 Queen’s Club Championships Doubles Champion

Why vote for him?

Jim Osborne, not to be confused with the former Bears football player, is one of the most accomplished tennis players in state history. Vote for him if you’re a fan of a tennis player who excelled in a team sport that is traditionally an individual sport. He played tennis for the U and coached at BYU. He was born and raised in Hawaii but represented the state of Utah well. That is why he was one of the honorary people chosen to carry the torch for a part of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

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