Runner and Rower Going to Rio!

Photo: Kim Conley runs 5,000-meter final.
Kim Conley stays close to the leader en route to a third-place finish and an Olympic berth in the 5,000 meters July 10. (Photo by Brian Davies/The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon)

Quick Summary

  • Kim Conley ’09 is a two-time Olympian in 5,000-meter run
  • Seth Weil ’11 goes from UC Davis sport club to U.S. Rowing
  • Aggie legend ‘Babe’ Slater will be in Rio in spirit, as rugby returns to the Games nearly 100 years after he won two golds in the sport

Let the Games begin — but not before we tell you about UC Davis’ connections to the 2016 Summer Olympics (including one connection that dates back nearly a century).

4 Years Later, She's a Veterinarian

 Carrie Johnson Gubser and cat
Carrie Johnson Gubser, D.V.M., and one of her cats

When last we wrote about three-time Olympic kayaker Carrie Johnson, she had just completed her last event in the London Games, on Aug. 10, 2012. Three days later, the UC San Diego graduate was in Davis, as a new student in the School of Veterinary Medicine.

In May of this year, she graduated — and today, Carrie Johnson Gubser, D.V.M., is working in a small-animal general practice in San Diego. (She married after her first year of vet school.)

She competed in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008), reaching the K1 (solo kayak) 500-meter semifinals, finishing 10th both times, one place short of the finals. She also reached the semifinals in the K4 500-meter in Athens. En route to the London Games, she won gold in the K1 500-meter and 200-meter in the Pan American Games in 2011.

She fell short in the semis in London, then put kayaking behind her as she started veterinary school. “For me, it was the first time that I have focused completely on school and the first graduation I was able to walk in during my school career,” she told Dateline UC Davis by email a few weeks after her graduation.

“Vet school was tough, but overall a wonderful experience,” she said. “I have not really kayaked much since London. School didn't provide a ton of time and it was nice to take a little break.

“I do definitely miss the racing and the feeling of the boat running on the water while sprinting.”

First, we know of three Aggies — all alumni — who are going to Rio de Janeiro:

 Kim Conley

• Kim Conley ’09, distance running — She made the team Sunday (July 10) with a third-place finish in the 5,000-meter race at the U.S. Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. This makes her a two-time Olympian, having competed in the 5,000 in the 2012 Games in London (where she posted a then-personal best time of 15:14.48 but did not reach the finals).

In this year’s trials, she won her heat in 15:40.04 on July 7 and ran 15:10.62 in the final. Now she’s off to Rio, where Round 1 of the 5,000 will be Aug. 16 and the final Aug. 19.

Learn more about Conley on her U.S. Track and Field webpage.

• Seth Weil ’11, rowing — He’s on Team USA as a member of the men’s four crew, competing Aug. 7-12. Weil began rowing as a freshman with the UC Davis sport club and continued to train here for six years.

 Seth Weil

He joined up with U.S. Rowing in April 2013 and has been rowing for the United States ever since. He’s a three-time world cup gold medalist, and this will be his first Olympics.

Learn more about Weil in this profile from 2015, when he was named U.S. Rowing’s Male Athlete of the Year. Video: Weil talks about his rowing career, from walk-on at UC Davis to the Olympics.

• Elmo Agatep ’95 and M.D. ’02 — Team doctor for the U.S. beach volleyball team. He practices with Seal Beach Family Medical Group in Southern California.

Several other Aggies came up short in this year’s Olympic trials:

• Solie Laughlin ’19, swimming — She won her heat in the 200-meter backstroke, posting a time of 2:14.78, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t fast enough to advance. Nor did she advance in the 400 individual medley or 100 backstroke. But she had a terrific season overall, leading the Aggies to their fourth Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title in the last six years and being named the MPSF Freshman of the Year. She won conference crowns in the 100 and 200 backstroke (she’s the UC Davis record holder in the 200) and the 400 IM.

• Kaitlin Gregg Goodman ’10, distance running — She went to Eugene for the 10,000-meter run, finished 11th, then received a last-minute entry into the 5,000, but failed to advance out of the first round. In 2008, Goodman and Conley became the first Aggies to earn berths to the NCAA Div. I Cross Country Championships. Goodman is ranked third all-time at UC Davis in the 10,000. She’s the daughter of two Aggie alums: Bill ’81 (who works here as account manager for Professor Alan Hastings) and Carolee ’84. The Greggs had two reasons to smile in Eugene, as two of their children ran the 10,000 meters: Kaitlin and Brendan (eighth place).

• Lauren Wallace ’13 and Raquel Lambdin ’15, 800 meters — Neither advanced out of their heats in the Olympic trials. They are 1-2 all-time for the Aggies in the 800, and each won a Big West title at this distance. Wallace won the conference title in 2013 before advancing to the NCAA final where she set the school record of 2:02.91 while earning All-America first-team honors. She carried a personal best of 2:00.48 into the Olympic trials. Lambdin won three Big West 1,500 titles before adding an 800 banner as a senior in 2015. She later earned All-America first-team accolades in the 1,500. Lambdin ran 2:02.85 for her personal best in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on June 16.

Our Eternal Champion

 Colby E. "Babe" Slater, black and white

Finally, we have Colby E. “Babe” Slater ’17 (that’s 1917, back in the days of the University Farm). He joined the Army soon after graduating, served in the Medical Corps in France during World War I, then took up farming in Yolo County.

He was also a rugby player, having learned the sport as a schoolboy in Berkeley — and he was so good at the game that the U.S. Olympic Committee came calling. So off he went to the 1920 Games in Antwerp, Belgium, and the 1924 Games in Paris, returning with gold medals each time.

So, what’s his connection to the 2016 Games? His sport is back in the Olympics for the first time since Paris, 92 years ago! That makes the 1924 U.S. team (of which he was the captain) the defending Olympic champion.

Read more about Slater in UC Davis Magazine: “Eternal Champion."

Slater exhibition and event at the library

The University Library is celebrating Slater’s legacy with an exhibition, already open, and a public event from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday (July 30). The event will be held in the Shields Library lobby (where the Slater exhibition is scheduled to run through Dec. 31).

The exhibition draws on the library’s Colby E. “Babe” Slater Collection, recounting his time on the University Farm, and his Olympic experiences, World War I service, and leadership on campus and in the greater Sacramento area.

Guests at the July 30 event will include Dick McCapes, Slater’s son-in-law, who together with his late wife, Marilyn, donated her father’s mementos and papers (including a diary from World War I) to the library.

The library is in the process of creating an online exhibition of the Slater collection — and the first part of that project is accessible now.

Intercollegiate Athletics contributed to this report.

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