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Taking Their Talents to Tokyo: Your Primer on Penn Staters in the 2020 Olympics

Nearly two dozen Penn Staters will represent six different countries across ten different sports

Oklahoma State v Penn State

With the fan-less opening ceremony finishing up in Tokyo as of typing this on a Friday morning (due to the 13-hour time zone difference between Japan and the U.S. east coast), we here at BSD feel obligated to give you a little primer on all the Penn Staters involved in the 2020 Olympic games. 22 different athletes and coaches will be repping the Blue and White in Tokyo in ten different sports, which the full list can be seen at the bottom of this post.

We will provide periodic updates over the next couple of weeks regarding how our favorite PSU Olympians are faring. In the meantime, here’s a quick look at who to pay attention to:


On the men’s side, Matt Anderson and Max Holt, who both led the Nittany Lions to their 2008 national title, will be suiting up for Team USA to try and earn themselves some Olympic medals to go along with their college championship rings. On the women’s side, former Lady Lions Micha Hancock and Haleigh Washington will try and lead the Red, White, and Blue to glory.


To nobody’s surprise, this will be the sport with the most PSU representation. Former NCAA champion David Taylor will wrestle for the US and A, while head coach Cael Sanderson and assistant coaches Cody Sanderson and Casey Cunningham will all be personal coaches for the Americans. In addition, six current members of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, including 2016 gold medalist Helen Maroulis (USA) will also make the trip to Tokyo.


Shane Ryan will represent Ireland for his second straight Olympics, where he will compete in the 100 (meter) backstroke, 100 butterfly, as well as Ireland’s 800 freestyle relay team. Meanwhile, Melissa Rodriguez and current Nittany Lion Gabe Castano will both be swimming for Mexico. Rodriguez will do the 100 and 200 breaststroke, the latter event which she currently holds the PSU record for. Castano will partake in the 50 freestyle.

Track & Field

Shot-putter Joe Kovacs will make his second straight trip to the Olympics and this time, will be seeking to add a gold medal to the silver that he won in Rio back in 2016. Additionally, javelin thrower Michael Shuey will be making his Olympics debut.


We’ve got a few former men’s fencers in Andrew Mackiewicz, who will represent the U.S., Mohamed Hassan representing Egypt, and Kaito Streets representing Japan. Streets and Mackiewicz will participate in the sabre competitions, while Hassan will partake in the foil competitions. Click here for a better understanding of the difference between sabre and foil events.

Women’s Soccer

Alyssa Naeher remains the U.S. Women’s team starting goalie, while PSU head coach Eric Dambach joins the squad as an assistant coach. The ladies suffered a shocking 3-0 defeat to Sweden in their opening match in group play the other day and will be seeking to rebound with a win over New Zealand in their next match.

Rounding out the other sports

Kayla Cannett-Oca will represent Team USA in the newly-added rugby competition, former Nittany Lion hoops player Tom Hovasse returns with Japan’s women’s basketball team, this time as head coach after serving as an assistant coach in the Rio games. Additionally, former PSU gymnast Dr. Ellen Casey will serve as the US women’s gymnastics team physician.

Penn Staters in the 2020 Olympics

Name Sport Country
Name Sport Country
Matt Anderson Men's Volleyball USA
Kayla Canett-Oca Rugby USA
Ellen Casey (team physician) Women's Gymnastics USA
Gabe Castano Swimming Mexico
Casey Cunningham (personal coach) Wrestling USA
Erica Dambach (asst. coach) Women's Soccer USA
Micha Hancock Women's Volleyball USA
Mohamed Hassan Men's Fencing Egypt
Max Holt Men's Volleyball USA
Tom Hovasse (head coach) Women's Basketball Japan
Joe Kovacs Track & Field USA
Andrew Mackiewicz Men's Fencing USA
Dane Miller (coach) Track & Field American Samoa
Alyssa Naeher Women's Soccer USA
Melissa Rodriguez Swimming Mexico
Shane Ryan Swimming Ireland
Cael Sanderson (personal coach) Wrestling USA
Cody Sanderson (personal coach) Wrestling USA
Michael Shuey Track & Field USA
Kaito Streets Men's Fencing Japan
David Taylor Wrestling USA
Haleigh Washington Women's Volleyball USA