Olivet Athletes Compete at Elite Levels

Students and coaches competed internationally in summer 2019.

Lauren Beatty

October 17, 2019 Athletics

For ten consecutive years, Olivet Nazarene University has been recognized as the top athletic program in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. At the end of the 2018-19 season, 10 Olivet teams were conference champions, 13 teams competed nationally, 35 athletes received NAIA All-American distinctions and 82 athletes were recognized as NAIA Scholar-Athletes. 

In the months following these institutional achievements, three student athletes and one Olivet coach qualified to represent Olivet and the United States in various competitions around the world.

Caleb Cripe
Sophomore Caleb Cripe represented Team USA at the 2019 Parapan American Games Aug. 31 – Sept. 1 in Lima, Peru. 


Caleb holds Paralympic records in the 50 backstroke, 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, 100 individual medley, and 400 individual medley and has qualified for the 2020 USA Paralympic Trials in Minneapolis, Minnesota set in June of 2020 and hopes to represent the USA in Tokyo next year.

Caleb recalls, “My favorite part was definitely the meet environment. It is such a great experience being in an atmosphere with the best athletes not just from the U.S. but from countries around the world.”

Jalon Simpson and Bricyn Healey
Seniors Jalon Simpson and Bricyn Healey competed in the Toyota USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships held July 25–28 in Des Moines, Iowa. Simpson placed 14th in the javelin throw and Healey finished ninth in the 10K racewalk during the competition, which serves as the national outdoor championships for USA Track and Field. 


“This was the most motivating experience I have ever had,” Jalon said. “Being surrounded by so many world-class athletes and Olympians felt pretty unreal. This was a great learning experience. I was able to receive really great advice from some of the other top-tier throwers and I am excited to go back to work in preparation for the Olympic Trials next year.”

Regarding his time at the championships, Bricyn said, “The experience was great. It felt crazy to compete on the same track as former and future Olympians.” He continued, “I learned that if you put your body to the test and trust the training, you can do more than you think you can. I learned that you really have to become a student of your sport if you want to excel.”

Competing in the Toyota USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships was the capstone event for both individuals on a successful 2018–2019 season. Jalon finished his outdoor track season by winning the NAIA National Championship in the javelin. Bricyn also experienced success at the NAIA Outdoor National Championships, finishing seventh in the 10K racewalk. Both finishes helped lead the Tigers to ninth place at the national championship meet.

Kelly Essler
Olivet’s head men and women’s swim coach, Kelly Essler, represented Team USA in the ITU Group World Triathlon Grand Final in Lausanne, Switzerland Aug. 29 – Sept. 1. She participated in the sprint triathlon –  swimming 750 meters in Lake Geneva  and biking 20 kilometers and running 5 kilometers in the difficult, mountainous terrain.


“I gained a lot of confidence as a result of this race,” Kelly said. “At first, I didn’t even think I would qualify for this race, but now I have a better realization of myself as a world-class athlete. I will certainly be able to teach my athletes a lot about mentality and about having the right mindset going into competitions. This has been an invaluable experience for me.”

For more news on ONU Athletics, visit www.onutigers.com.

To learn more about the areas of study and unique student activities that Olivet offers, contact the Office of Admissions at admissions@olivet.edu or 800-648-1463.

Photos submitted and used with permission.
Published 10/18/2019

Lauren Beatty

Lauren Beatty ’13 is a freelance writer, author, editor, artist and an adjunct professor in the Department of Communication at Olivet. She earned a Master of Arts degree in cross-cultural and sustainable business management from the American University of Paris in 2014. Her thesis explored the evolution of socially responsible business practices in America.

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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