UC Davis Today: UC Davis at the Olympics

  • Olympics 5,000-meter teammates, from left, Julie Culley, Molly Huddle and UC Davis’ Kim Conley are ready for The Games. (Kim Conley courtesy photo)

  • Conley's coach, Drew Wartenburg, finished his first year as director of the cross country and track and field programs at UC Davis. (Mark Honbo/UC Davis photo)

  • Weltz’s coach, Pete Motekaitis, is an assistant coach with the women's swimming and diving team. He first coached Weltz while he was on the UC Davis men's team. (Mark Honbo/UC Davis photo)

  • Conley, left front, earned All-Big West Conference and All-West Region honors in cross country as a senior in the fall of 2008. (Mark Honbo/UC Davis photo)

  • Scott Weltz was the co-recipient of the Colby E. "Babe" Slater Award as the university's male athlete of the year as a senior in 2010. (Mark Honbo/UC Davis photo)

  • Johnson will begin her program in the School of Veterinary Medicine upon returning from London. The 2012 Games will be her last. (USA Canoe/Kayak/courtesy photo)

UC Davis at the Olympics

Johnson closes out her third Games

Kayaker Carrie Johnson is done with her two events at the London Games — now it’s time for veterinary school at UC Davis, with no thought of trying to go to the Olympics a fourth time, in 2016.

“I will not be able give the necessary amount of focus to training and vet school simultaneously,” she told Dateline UC Davis in an interview before the London Olympics.

Johnson, who did her undergraduate work at UC San Diego, is due in Davis by Monday (Aug. 13) — the first day of the fall semester in the School of Veterinary Medicine. She is a first-year student, following the school’s small-animal track.

She wrapped up her Olympics competition today (Aug. 10), making it through the first set of heats in the solo kayak 200-meter race but falling short in the semifinals.

Johnson clocked 43.355 seconds in Heat 1, coming in sixth in the eight-woman race won by Hungary’s Natasa Douchev-Janics in an Olympic best time of 41.221.

The record lasted about an hour. Lisa Carrington of New Zealand set a new Olympic best in the first semifinal, with a time of 40.528. Johnson competed in the same semifinal, finishing last in the six-woman field in a time of 43.321.

(The K1 200 final is scheduled for 2:14 a.m. PDT Saturday.)

Earlier this week, Johnson competed in the K1 500-meter, posting a time of 1 minute, 53.83 seconds, in the heats, only to be eliminated in the semifinals with a time of 1:54.628.

Johnson won gold in both races at the Pan American Games last years, clocking 41.803 in the 200 and 1:54.24 in the 500.

In her three Olympics — Athens, Beijing and London — she always made it to the semifinals in the K1 500, but never the finals. (The kayak sprints in the Olympics did not include the K1 200 until this year.)

After the K1 500 this week, Johnson posted this to her Facebook page: “I had a good start in the semi this morning, but wasn’t able to hold it through the finish.

“I gave it everything, and it is very disappointing when that is not enough, but, in the end, I am glad to say I have no regrets of leaving anything on the course. Thank you everyone for the support!”

Kim Conley: track and field

Kim Conley

Kim Conley

Kim Conley, who earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise biology in 2009, claimed a place on the American track team with a third-place finish in the 5,000 meters at the Olympic Track and Field trials in Eugene, Ore. 

Although half of Conley’s collegiate career took place during the reclassification to Division I, she did enjoy a share of success at the new level. The Santa Rosa native earned All-Big West Conference and All-West Region honors in cross country as a senior in the fall of 2008. 

Her track and field career was equally as decorated as her cross country résumé in the fall. She set a UC Davis record in the 5,000 meters — the very event in which she will compete in London — while qualifying for the NCAA West Regional in each of her junior and senior seasons. Conley also holds the school’s No. 2 all-time mark in the 1,500 meters.

Besides her Olympic career, the athlete is also a volunteer assistant coach for the men’s and women’s cross country teams at UC Davis. She says her coach, Drew Wartenburg, who is head coach for cross country, has contributed to her success by providing structured workouts and the inspiration to succeed at the Olympian level.

Scott Weltz: swimming

Scott Weltz

Scott Weltz

Scott Weltz, who earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 2010 and is a volunteer assistant coach for the women’s swimming team, will compete at the Olympics in the 200-meter breaststroke.

At the Olympic trials in Omaha, the 25-year-old San Jose native bested his competition with a time of 2:09.01 and sported a UC Davis Aggies T-shirt at the news conference following his win.

He is coached by Pete Motekaitis, associate coach for UC Davis women’s swimming and diving, and he himself is a coach with the Davis AquaMonsters, a youth swim team.

As a UC Davis student-athlete, Weltz won the Big West Conference Male Athlete of the Year honors in both 2009 and 2010. He also was co-winner of the 2010 Colby E. “Babe” Slater Award as UC Davis’ outstanding male athlete of the year. The Slater Award is named for the university’s first Olympian, a Clarksburg native who captured gold medals in rugby in 1920 and 1924.

Carrie Johnson: kayak racing

Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson, a graduate of UC San Diego who is set to begin studies at the School of Veterinary Medicine in the fall, will compete in the 200- and 500-meter kayak races at the Olympics.

This will be the third Olympics for the 28-year-old from La Jolla who won two gold medals at the Pan American Games. She has been public about having Crohn’s disease, a digestive tract disorder with symptoms of pain, fatigue and weight loss. She is scheduled to start at the vet school two days after her 200-meter final. Johnson says this will be her last Olympic Games.

Archives for Olympics briefings

Wednesday, Aug. 8: Aggies give it their best in London

The Olympics are bringing out the best in Aggie athletes.

Runner Kim Conley, a 2009 graduate who now serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the Aggies, competed this morning (Aug. 7) in the 5,000 meters. She did not make the final, but clocked 15 minutes, 14.48 seconds — shaving more than 5 seconds off her previous personal best (in the Olympic trials last month in Eugene, Ore.) 

And she realized her dream of running on the world stage — in this case Olympic Stadium in London. 

“Kim can say she walked off the Olympic track with a personal-best this morning,” said her coach, Drew Wartenburg, the Aggies’ director of cross country and track and field. “Right now it is disappointing not to have qualified for the final, but when the dust settles, the balance sheet for this entire experience is filled with overwhelming positives.” 

And who can forget Conley’s amazing finish in the Olympic trials — where she leaned in at the finish to grab third place and a spot in the Olympics.

Full coverage of Conley’s Olympic journey 

Earlier in the London Games, swimmer Scott Weltz ’10 clocked a personal best 2 minutes, 8.99 seconds, in the semifinals of the 200-meter breaststroke. He wound up fifth in the final. 

Weltz, a volunteer assistant coach with the Aggie women’s swim team, now has his sights set on the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.

One other Aggie is still competing: solo sprint kayaker Carrie Johnson, an incoming student in the School of Veterinary Medicine.

She posted a time of 1 minute, 53.83 seconds today in the K1 500-meter heats, making it to the semifinals, where she was eliminated with a time of 1:54.628.

She still has the K1 200-meter to go: heats at 2:12 a.m. PDT Friday (Aug. 10) and then the semifinal at 3:30 a.m. the same day; the final is set for 2:14 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11.

The kayaker leaves the very next day for UC Davis — to get here for the start of her first year in vet school. She did her undergraduate work at UC San Diego.

Johnson made it to the K1 500 semifinals in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, finishing 10th both times, one place short of the finals.

Ryan Maquiñana with microphone

Ryan Maquiñana, a UC Davis law school alumnus, has been managing the Olympic boxing news website for NBC Sports. (Ryan Maquiñana/courtesy photo)

Tuesday, Aug. 7: Alum is NBC’s Olympics boxing Web editor

By Dave Jones

Three Aggies are competing in the Olympics, while others like law school graduate Ryan Maquiñana are working behind the scenes. 

He is at NBC Sports headquarters in Stamford, Conn., in charge of the boxing website. “I manage all the content, from videos to photos to stories, and even the live stream feeds,” he said. 

And he writes stories, like on Aug. 2 when he reported on the breaking news surrounding a controversial fight between Magomed Abdulhamidov of Azerbaijan and Satoshi Shimizu of Japan. Shimizu knocked down his opponent six times, but never once did the referee, from Turkmenistan, order a standing eight-count (an eight-second pause) as required. 

The judges gave Abdulhamidov the win, and the International Boxing Association later reversed the decision and expelled the referee from the Games.

Regarding Maquiñana’s story, “I’ve been told it is approaching 200,000 views (wish they could all be like that, ha ha!),” he said by e-mail Aug. 2. 

No word of any legal actions yet stemming from the Abdulhamidov-Shimizu fight, but, if there are, Maquiñana will be in a good position to write about them — as a 2012 graduate of the UC Davis School of Law. 

He also happens to be a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He writes his own blog (norcalboxing.net) and contributes to other online publications, and he appears on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. 

“Ryan is a smart boxing commentator,” said Kevin Johnson, dean of the law school. “He connects with the boxers on a personal level and knows the sport well, which means that his questions are intelligent and intelligible.” 

Johnson said Maquiñana has potential as a sports commentator and as a lawyer, maybe even a boxing promoter. “There are many lawyers in the sport of boxing,” the dean pointed out. Among them: the late Howard Cosell, once the crown prince of boxing announcers; the late Bert Sugar, commentator and boxing historian; and promoter Bob Arum, a former attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Maquiñana said: “To be honest, I'm not exactly sure where this is going to take me. I really started doing it in 2010, and I've been very fortunate to make the most of my opportunities when they come. I guess time will tell.” 

Right now, he’s working long hours at NBC, watching all the Olympics boxing matches and tweeting about them (Twitter handle: @RMaq28) — a busy schedule, to be sure, but not unusual for a guy who kept up with law school while maintaining his role as a boxing commentator. 

He contributes to boxingscene.com and previously contributed to maxboxing.com. And he is the “boxing insider” for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, writing a weekly boxing column (and some college football and basketball), shooting video interviews and contributing to the show San Francisco Chronicle Live. 

“It definitely takes a lot of discipline,” Maquiñana said about law school and outside work. “You have to be able to organize and prioritize your time accordingly. At the same time, with the rigors of law school, some things are going to have to go to the wayside. 

“Whatever you choose those things to be is up to you, but it can be done, especially when you love what you do and exert that passion in your endeavors.”

Maquiñana did his undergraduate work at UC Berkeley, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in 2005 (legal studies major, business administration minor). He received a Master of Arts degree in education from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles; he attended school there from 2005 to 2007, overlapping with his work as a fourth-grade teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District (2005 to 2009). He also served as a Teach for America faculty adviser and corps member.

According to his LinkedIn profile, he was a legal intern with the Learning Rights Law Center in Los Angeles before attending law school, and he served as a law clerk for the East Bay Community Law Center, Berkeley, in the summer of 2010, between his first and second years of law school.

His LinkedIn profile also shows that he served as head manager for the Cal men’s basketball team and game operations assistant for the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League.

Dean Johnson said he thinks Maquiñana may have a future in being a sports lawyer. Then, like any good dean, he mentioned an alumnus in the same field: Jeff Spitz, J.D. ’85, attorney for boxer Oscar de Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions for years. 

Johnson isn’t a sports lawyer or a boxing promoter, but he said his interests in boxing and immigration law occasionally overlap. In a recent entry on his ImmigrationProf Blog, he noted the immigration woes of “the exciting professional boxer Alfredo Angulo, whose last fight was an exciting 2011 technical knockout loss to James Kirkland.”

Video: 

Maquiñana’s debut on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area 

Interview with boxing champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, taped in law school dean’s conference room. Videography by Dean Johnson’s son, Tomas, a boxing fan like his dad.

Aggie in London

Jenna Bondlow, who earned a bachelor’s degree in design in 2012, is escorting NBC’s high-profile clients to sports venues as part of the network’s hospitality program.

Friday, Aug. 3: Get ready for the track and kayak competitions

After the excitement of Scott Weltz’s reaching the Olympic finals this week in the 200-meter breaststroke, two more Aggie athletes are getting ready to take their turn in the London Games.

First-time Olympian Kim Conley (a distance runner) and three-time Olympian Carrie Johnson (a sprint kayaker) both have races on Tuesday (Aug. 7), early in the morning, PDT. They will be streamed live, online.

Register for NBC’s Live Extra Web streaming and check the NBC Olympics TV listings

Johnson is due in London on Saturday (Aug. 4), coming in from Italy where she has been training on Lago di Pusiano.

She is in two single kayak (K1) events, starting with the K1 500-meter. Preliminary heats begin at 2:07 a.m. PDT Tuesday and then the semifinal comes at 3:16 a.m.

In between, you will have to click to a different live stream to see Conley in the 5,000-meter run. Round 1 starts at 2:55 a.m.

If they advance, Johnson will be in the K1 500 final at 2:08 a.m. Thursday (Aug. 9), and Conley will be in the 5,000-meter final at 12:05 p.m. next Friday, Aug. 10.

Johnson also competes in the K1 200-meter: heats at 2:12 a.m. next Friday and then the semifinal at 3:30 a.m. the same day; the final is set for 2:14 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11.

The kayaker then leaves the very next day for UC Davis — to get here for the start of her first year in the School of Veterinary Medicine. She did her undergraduate work at UC San Diego.

Johnson made it to the K1 500 semifinals in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, finishing 10th both times, one place short of the finals.

Conley is a 2009 graduate of UC Davis who has since returned as a volunteer assistant coach for the cross country and track teams.

Weltz wants to keep going

Weltz, who graduated from UC Davis in 2010, finished fifth in the 200-meter breaststroke earlier this week — a tremendous showing for a guy who placed 38th in this event at the Olympic trials four years ago.

In this year’s trials, he scored an upset win in a field that included Eric Shanteau, the U.S. record holder, and Brendan Hansen, the former world-record holder.

In London, Weltz placed seventh overall in the preliminary heats, then swam a personal best of 2 minutes, 8.99 seconds, to place fourth overall in the semifinals.

After the final (won by Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta in world champion of 2.07.08), Weltz tweeted: “My Olympic journey is complete. Had a good run and gave it my all. Thanks everyone for all the support.”

But, wait, hold that thought: Apparently his Olympics journey is not over yet.

“I don’t want to have any regrets,” he told the Los Angeles Times in a story published Aug. 2. “I want to keep going until I start getting worse. I never want to say, what if I could be the next guy who gets a world record? I’m going to keep working at it until I start going backwards.”

Weltz, two-time Big West Conference Male Athlete of the Year (2009 and 2010), and who shared the Colby E. “Babe” Slater male athlete of the year award in 2010, is expected to return to his role as a volunteer coach with the Aggie women’s swim team in 2012-13.

Wednesday: Aug. 1: Weltz comes in fifth; next up: Conley, Johnson

From 38th in the U.S. Olympic swim trials four years ago to fifth place in the London Games. Not bad for Aggie alumnus Scott Weltz.

The 2010 graduate turned in a time of 2 minutes, 9.02 seconds, in the 200-meter breaststroke final today (Aug. 1). Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta, the two-time world champion, won the gold in world-record time of 2.07.08.

In a blog post, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi congratulated Weltz for his “terrific showing” in the Olympics. “We are all very proud of him and look forward to celebrating his accomplishments when he returns!”

Weltz, two-time Big West Conference Male Athlete of the Year (2009 and 2010), made it to the Olympics with an upset win in the trials on June 29 in Omaha, Neb., in a field that included Eric Shanteau, the U.S. record holder in the 200, and Brendan Hansen, the former world-record holder.

In fifth place at the midway point of the eight-man race in Omaha, Neb., Weltz turned on the speed (he completed the last 50 yards in a blistering 33.13 seconds) to win the race in 2:09.01 — his personal best at the time. 

As the trials came to an end, Weltz tweeted: “Proudest moment of the 2012 Olympic trials so far... being introduced as TEAM USA with my fellow teammates in front of the entire country.” 

He continued his second-half surges in his preliminary events July 31 in London: going from seventh at the midpoint of Heat 3, to a third-place finish in 2.09.67; and going from sixth place at the 100- and 150-meter marks of his semifinal, to a third-place finish in a new personal best of 2.08.99 (the fourth best time among the 16 swimmers in the semis).

In the final, he was eighth in the eight-man field at the 50-, 100- and 150-meter marks — but his 33.16-second surge in the last stretch could not propel him to a medal.

Weltz, who shared UC Davis’ Colby E. “Babe” Slater male athlete of the year award in 2010, is expected to return to his role as a volunteer coach with the Aggie women’s swim team in 2012-13.

Now the Aggie Nation’s attention turns to our two remaining Olympians in London. Their competitions are set to begin next week:

Kim Conley ’09, in the 5,000-meter run, with Round 1 at 2:55 a.m. PDT Tuesday, Aug. 7. (The final is Friday, Aug. 10, 12:05 p.m.)

Carrie Johnson, incoming student in the School of Veterinary Medicine, solo kayaker in 500- and 200-meter sprints. The 500 comes first, Tuesday, Aug. 7, with the heats at 2:07 a.m. PDT and the semifinal at 3:16 a.m. (The final is Thursday, Aug. 9, 2:08 a.m.)

July 31: Weltz swimming toward a medal

Scott Weltz is in the finals! 

The former Aggie swimming standout took part earlier today (July 31) in the qualifying races for the 200-meter breaststroke, placing seventh overall in the preliminary heats and then fourth overall in the semifinals to become one of the eight swimmers in the finals. 

“Finally made my Olympic debut ... couldn’t be prouder to wear the red, white and blue and contribute to Team USA here in London 2012,” Weltz tweeted three hours after his preliminary race in Heat 3. 

That was at 2:40 a.m. PDT. Less than 10 hours later, Weltz was back in the pool at 12:20 p.m. for the semifinals — completing the 200 in 2 minutes, 8.99 seconds, finishing third and more than a half-second better than he did in his preliminary heat. 

The final is set for 11:30 a.m. PDT Wednesday (Aug. 1) — to be streamed live online, and probably included in NBC’s primetime program from 8 p.m. to midnight.   

Register for NBC’s Live Extra Web streaming and check the NBC Olympics TV listings. 

Did you miss the semifinals? Look for them on NBC’s late-night program, 12:35 to 1:35 a.m. Wednesday. 

The preliminaries

Weltz poured on the speed in the second half of each of his races today, just as he did in his Olympic trials win.

In his preliminary heat in London, he covered the last 100 meters in 65.99 seconds, best in Heat 3, and faster than the world record holder and two-time gold medalist in the event, Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima, in Heat 5.

Weltz made the 100-meter turn in seventh place in the eight-man field, then swam the third 50 in 32.81 seconds to move into fourth place, and the final stretch in 33.18 seconds to pass New Zealand’s Glenn Sanders for third.

The top three in the heat: Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta, the reigning world champion, 2.08.71; Great Britain’s Michael Jamieson, 2:08.98; and Weltz, 2:09:67 (more than a half-second off his winning effort in the trials).

In the eight-man semifinal, Weltz found himself in sixth place at 100 meters and 150 meters.

Then came his now familiar closing surge, covering the final 50 in 33.39 seconds — the second fastest among all 16 swimmers in the semifinals — to place third behind Gyurta, 2.08.32; and Great Britain’s Andrew Willis, 2.08.47, and just ahead of Kitajima in fourth, 2.09.03.

Read more:

Weltz to swim for Olympic medal on Wednesday (UC Davis Athletics Communications)

Weltz finishes strong to advance to the semis (UC Davis Athletics Communications

Tuesday, July 31 (3 a.m.): Weltz advances to semifinals

Dateline staff 

Update: Scott Weltz finished seventh overall in the 200-meter breaststroke heats today (July 31), advancing to the semifinals at 12:17 p.m. PDT. Read more.

Monday, July 30: Weltz can't wait to swim

In a tweet from London during the weekend, Aggie Olympian Scott Weltz said: “Watching all this fast swimming is getting me so pumped up. I can’t wait for my own swim. U-S-A! U-S-A!” 

His turn comes Tuesday (July 31), at 2:40 a.m. PDT in the 200-meter breaststroke heats (he is in Heat 3). You can watch them streamed live, online, or catch the highlights on television later in the day.

The semifinals are set for 12:17 p.m. Tuesday, and the final at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday (Aug. 1) — and these will also be streamed live, online. 

Other than watching online, there is one other way you might be able to catch the 200 breaststroke live on television. And we emphasize “might.” It all depends on what the NBC Sports Network decides to show; NBCSN is providing live coverage from about 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. PDT every day. 

Register for NBC’s Live Extra Web streaming and check the NBC Olympics TV listings. 

Upset win in the trials

Those fast swimmers Weltz saw during the weekend included Team USA’s Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau in the 100-meter breaststroke, casualties of Weltz’s swim in the trials June 29.

Shanteau, the U.S. record holder in the 200, and Hansen, the former world-record holder, had been the heavy favorites. Weltz found himself in fifth place at the midway point of the race, but turned on the speed (he completed the last 50 yards in a blistering 33.13 seconds) to win the race in 2:09.01. 

As the trials came to an end, Weltz tweeted: “Proudest moment of the 2012 Olympic trials so far... being introduced as TEAM USA with my fellow teammates in front of the entire country.” 

He is one of three Aggies in the Olympics, joining 5,000-meter runner Kim Conley and sprint kayaker Carrie Johnson. Their first events are set for Tuesday, Aug. 7. 

Conley and Weltz marched in Friday’s Opening Ceremony, while Johnson stayed in Pusiano, Italy, where she is training on Lago di Pusiano until this weekend.

Johnson, a three-time Olympian, will miss the Closing Ceremony, too, while she speeds to UC Davis in time for the start of instruction in the School of Veterinary Medicine. Johnson will be a first-year student here, after doing her undergraduate work at UC San Diego.

Conley and Weltz are UC Davis alums — Conley 2009 and Weltz 2010 — who became volunteer assistant coaches for the Aggies, Conley for cross country, and track and field, and Weltz for women’s swimming. Both are expected back in 2012-13.

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UC Davis connections

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Athletics Olympics Central (Athletics Communications)

Three athletes bringing Aggie Pride to London Olympics (University Communications and Athletics Communications)

Babe Slater, Dee Vochatzer and other Aggies in Olympic history (Athletics Communications)

Media sources on the Summer Olympics (University Communications)

Graduate guides NBC guests at Olympics (University Communications)

Cheryl Haworth is STRONG! (UC Davis Magazine)

Watch videos

Conley in U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials (NBC video)

Carrie Johnson’s first time in a kayak (NBC Olympics video)

Carrie Johnson’s training regimen (USA Today video)

Strong! (PBS Independent Lens documentary by UC Davis Associate Professor Julie Wyman)

AWO violin audition with UC Davis’ Shawyon Malek

Title IX and the Olympics (University Communications)