If Indiana had been a separate nation at the Rio Olympics, the Hoosier state would have been ninth in medal standings in golds (eight) and 14th in total medals (18). By itself, Indiana University swimming and diving accounted for seven medals, the most for that program since winning 10 in 1964.
So in this 19th annual column honoring Indiana athletes in Olympic sports, the cut is tough to make. The 12 honorees include four IU Hoosiers and three Carmel swimmers.
Below are “medalists” in teenage, college and pro categories. In 2015, the high school girls category was changed to teenage female. Now that category applies to both genders.
• Gold: Derek Drouin, track and field. In his understated way, he completed an epic comeback. After the Olympics, the 26-year-old high jumper divulged that three months before the final, he learned he had two stress fractures in his back. He became IU’s first individual gold medalist in track and field since 1956 and first Canadian to win a field event since 1932. He never missed a bar until he had won at 7 feet, 9 ¾ inches. Only two others in Olympic history won gold with zero misses en route.
• Silver: David Boudia, diving. Purdue graduate from Noblesville enhanced his credentials as one of the greatest Olympians in Indiana history. He increased his haul of medals to four, winning synchronized silver with Steele Johnson and bronze on individual 10-meter. USA Diving selected him athlete of the year for an eighth time.
• Bronze: Cody Miller, swimming. In addition to becoming a social media star, the IU graduate won Rio bronze in the 100-meter breaststroke and gold in the 400 medley relay. He broke the American record in breaststroke.
• Gold: Ashley Spencer, track and field. The Lawrence North graduate is a newcomer to the 400-meter hurdles and was coming off two injury-impaired college seasons. She nearly did not advance to semifinals at the Olympic trials. She stumbled and came from behind in a Rio semifinal. Then she moved from sixth to third down the stretch in the final, becoming the first native Hoosier woman to win an individual Olympic medal in track and field. At the World Indoor Championships, she won silver in the 400-meter dash and a relay gold.
• Silver: Molly Huddle, running. The 32-year-old Notre Dame graduate finished sixth in the 10,000 meters at Rio. Her time of 30:13.17 broke the American record of 30:22.22 set by Shalane Flanagan in winning Beijing bronze in 2008. Huddle, in her marathon debut, was third at New York in 2:28:13.
• Bronze: Amanda Elmore, rowing. The Harrison High School graduate was the stroke, setting the boat’s timing, for the U.S. eight. The United States won a third successive Olympic gold.
• Gold: Steele Johnson, diving. After becoming Carmel’s first-ever Olympic athlete, he teamed with Boudia for synchro silver. The Purdue sophomore also won his 11th U.S. title, taking 3-meter at winter nationals.
• Silver: Michael Hixon, diving. The former basketball player won Rio silver with Sam Dorman in synchro 3-meter, just 4.11 points behind the winning British pair. Hixon, an IU diver, added a 1-meter title at winter nationals.
• Bronze: Futsum Zienasellassie, running. North Central graduate was second in NCAA 10,000 meters behind Oregon’s Edward Cheserek, a 15-time NCAA champion. Zienasellassie also posted the year’s sixth-fastest time in the 10K by an American, 27:52.70. In NCAA cross-country, he finished fourth and led Northern Arizona to a first-ever national championship.
• Gold: Lilly King, swimming. She went from college athlete to international icon with a trash-talking, finger-waving (and gold-winning) performance. The Evansville native, who turns 20 on Feb. 10, did more than set an Olympic record in the 100 breaststroke and win a second gold in the 400 medley relay … although that was enough. She set three American records in winning two NCAA titles for IU and came away from the short course World Championships with four golds and a silver. King became the first native Hoosier woman to win an individual medal in Olympic swimming since Fort Wayne breaststroker Sharon Wichman in 1968.
• Silver: Amy Bilquist, swimming. She came within .08 of becoming the first Carmel swimmer to be an Olympian, finishing third in the 100 backstroke at the U.S trials. She was fourth in the 200 backstroke, just .41 from a place on the team. At the NCAAs, she was on California’s champion team in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
• Bronze: Bridget Sloan, gymnastics. Olympic silver medalist from Pittsboro capped her Florida college career by winning three NCAA titles, including her second in the all-around. She was chosen the Southeastern Conference’s Athlete of the Year for all women’s sports.
• Gold: Deakin Volz, track and field. The 19-year-old pole vaulter from Bloomington South had a bumpy freshman season at Virginia Tech. But at July’s under-20 World Championships, having never vaulted 18 feet in his life, he went over that bar three times. His final clearance of 18-6 ½ at Bydgoszcz, Poland, made him the first American vaulter to win a gold medal at junior worlds.
• Silver: Chad Red, wrestling. He completed New Palestine career with a 183-0 record and four state titles. He became the first IndyStar Indiana Sports Awards male Athlete of the Year. As a Nebraska redshirt, he finished fourth in last month’s Midlands Tournament at 141 pounds and had a 19-3 record in 2016.
• Bronze: Drew Kibler, swimming. The 16-year-old was not eligible for the high school state meet after transferring to Carmel from North Central, but that hardly impaired his progress. He won three medals at the Junior Pan Pacific meet, set two national age-group records, won five junior national titles and swept the 50-, 100-, 200- and 500-yard freestyles at the East junior nationals.
• Gold: Chloe Dygert Owen, cycling. Brownsburg rider capped a huge year with her wedding Nov. 19 and 20th birthday Jan. 1. Just months after first racing on a velodrome, she was on the U.S. foursome that won Rio silver in team pursuit. Earlier, she was on the U.S. team that surprisingly won a gold medal at track cycling’s World Championships in London.
• Silver: Lynna Irby, track and field. Pike sprinter won a silver and two relay golds at junior worlds. She was second in the 400 meters, breaking her own state record with a time of 51.39, fastest by an American girl since 2002 and No. 7 on the all-time high school list. The Georgia recruit won state titles in the 100, 200 and 400 meters for a third time, and will aim for a quadruple triple in June.
• Bronze: Claire Adams, swimming. The most decorated high school swimmer in Indiana history finished 16-of-16 in state titles. She became the first to win the 100-yard backstroke four times, breaking her own state record, and helped Carmel set a national record for all sports with a 30th consecutive state title. A broken hand derailed Adams’ Olympic bid. She is now a freshman on Texas’ No. 1-ranked team.
Call IndyStar reporter David Woods at (317) 444-6195. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.