BYU athletes and alums seek to qualify for 2020 Olympics

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BYU Olympic qualifiers from the BYU men’s swimming team compete against Colorado Mesa, Oct. 18. (Addie Blacker)

Seven current BYU athletes, three former students and an adjunct professor have qualified for Olympic trials where they will compete to represent the U.S., Zimbabwe and the Dominican Republic in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mary Lake

Mary Lake, BYU women’s volleyball libero. (Hannah Miner)

Sport: Women’s volleyball

Position: Libero

Year: Senior

Mary Lake is a Palm Springs, California, native who is currently playing her last year as libero for BYU women’s volleyball. The senior competed on the U.S. Women’s National Team over the summer and helped her team win gold in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in a tough game against Brazil. Lake was the second youngest, and one of three collegiate athletes on the team. 

Brynn Sproul

Brynn Sproul, BYU women’s swimming team. (BYU Photo)

Sport: Women’s swimming

Event: Backstroke

Year: Sophomore

Brynn Sproul qualified for the Olympic trials during her freshman year at BYU, which has been a personal goal since she attended high school in Nevada as a junior.

“I was not expecting to get the cut so soon and was just hoping for a personal best and to get close to the cut,” Sproul said. “When I saw the time I just could not believe it. I was just so so happy and relieved knowing I had done it. I was going to the Olympic trials. It taught me that I should never limit but believe in myself.”

Josue Dominguez

Josue Domingiez, BYU men’s swimming team. (BYU Photo)

Sport: Men’s swimming

Event: Breastroke

Year: Sophomore

Josue Dominguez, from the Dominican Republic, participated in his home country’s national swimming championship during the end of his freshman year at BYU and became the national champion in two events — the 200-meter breaststroke and the 100-meter breaststroke. He earned a U.S. Olympic time trial qualifying time during the Winter National Championship, though he is more likely to represent his home country in the Olympics. 

Tyler Edlefsen

Tyler Edlefsen, BYU men’s swimming team. (BYU Photo)

Sport: Men’s swimming

Event: Individual medley

Year: Freshman

Tyler Edlefsen, another Las Vegas native, qualified in the 200- and 400-meter individual medley during the NCSA Summer Swimming Championships in summer 2019 before he began swimming for BYU. The exercise and wellness major was the regional and state Swimmer of the Year in high school. He was also recruited by UNLV and the Naval Academy but said he decided to attend BYU because of its welcoming environment, coaching staff and great academics.

Levi Jensen

Levi Jensen, BYU men’s swimming team. (BYU Photo)

Sport: Men’s swimming

Event: Freestyle and individual medley

Year: Senior

The psychology major qualified for time trials at the Phillips 66 National Championships in the 100-meter breaststroke during the time trials portion of the meet. Jensen has been swimming his whole life and said he remembers watching the Olympics as a kid but didn’t make the goal to qualify until he had accomplished goals of making a zones meet, sectional meet, junior nationals and nationals. His formula for success is to work harder than anyone else and eat right.  

“I love the lessons that swimming teaches you. It is a sport where one body type is not always the ideal swimmer,” Jensen said. “More important than one’s biological factors is their work ethic and desire to succeed. I have seen that the one that holds on long enough will succeed.”

Connor Stirling

Connor Stirling, BYU men’s swimming team. (BYU Photo)

Sport: Men’s swimming

Event: Sprinter and freestyle

Year: Junior

The 2013 and 2014 Academic All-American was recruited by 10 colleges and was ranked as Arizona’s top recruit. At the Arizona Long Course Senior Open Championships, Stirling qualified in the 50-meter freestyle. The finance major swam for BYU from 2015-16 then served in the Puebla North Mexico mission before returning to school and the swimming team in 2018. 

Jared Shaw

Jared Shaw, BYU men’s swimming team. (BYU Photo)

Sport: Men’s swimming

Event: Freestyle, butterfly and backstroke

Year: Sophomore

Jared Shaw locked down a qualifying time in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2018 USA Swimming Futures Championship. The exercise major participated in student government and drama and lettered in baseball and track and field in high school. During his freshman year at BYU, he earned BYU’s No. 3 all-time best spot in the 50 free with 19.80. 

Payton Sorenson

Payton Sorenson, 2018-19 BYU men’s swimming team. (BYU Photo)

Sport: Men’s swimming

Event: Freestyle

Roster years: 2012-2013 and 2015-2019

Payton Sorenson is BYU’s No. 1 all-time best in 50- and 100-yard free, and BYU’s No. 3 all-time best in 100-yard back. He qualified in both the 50- and 100- meter freestyle at the Phillips 66 National Championships during his senior year at BYU.

“Getting my Olympic Trials cuts were a great stepping stone towards my goals in 2020. I felt very excited to be in a position to get cuts in both the 50- and 100- meter freestyle events,” Sorenson said. “It has been a lifelong goal for me to qualify for the Olympics. Over the course of my collegiate career, I realized that I had a real shot.”

Taylor Sander

Taylor Sander, former BYU men’s volleyball outside hitter. (Josh Ellis)

Sport: Men’s volleyball

Position: Outside hitter

Roster years: 2011-2014

Taylor Sander competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics and helped Team USA earn a bronze medal. He and his team qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after beating the Netherlands at the FIVB Men’s Volleyball Intercontinental Qualification Tournament, Aug. 11. The official Team USA men’s volleyball team roster will be announced on or before July 2, 2020.

While attending BYU, Sander earned the school’s all-time single-match record for services aces (nine) and finished his collegiate career with 182, another all-time record. The four-time AVCA All-American is also No. 1 at BYU in career kills (1,743), career attempts (3,464), season attempts (1,021 in 2014) and season service aces (55 in 2014).

Jared Ward

Jared Ward, statistics professor and former BYU men’s cross country runner. (Abigail Keenen)

Sport: Cross country

Roster years: 2010-2013

The statistics professor ran in the 2016 Rio Olympics and finished in sixth. Ward qualified for Olympic trials when he finished eighth in the 2019 Boston Marathon with a personal best time of 2:09:25. His Boston Marathon time was two minutes faster than his 2016 Olympic time. The marathoner is married to Erica Christensen, a teammate from high school who was a hurdler for BYU in 2008.

Tatenda Tsumba

Tatenda Tsumba, former BYU men’s track and field team sprinter. (BYU Photo)

Sport: Track and field

Position: Sprints

Roster years: 2015-2017

Tatenda Tsumba represented his home country, Zimbabwe in the 2016 Rio Olympics where he finished 69th in the 200-meter. He was a student at BYU at the time. Tsumba made the national track team when he was 19. When he first came to the U.S., he attended a school in Ohio before transferring to BYU. Tsumba ran in the 2015 World Championships in Athletics held in Beijing, where he met Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin. A few months later he trained with Bolt for three weeks before he made Zimbabwe’s Olympic team. 

*Official Olympic teams will be announced at the end of June and early July 2020. Stay tuned to see which BYU athletes make the cut. 

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