2021 Paralympics are here: Meet the Minnesota athletes

2016 Rio Paralympics - Day 11
Chuck Aoki chases the ball during the men's wheelchair rugby gold medal match between Australia and United States on day 11 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Buda Mendes | Getty Images

Updated: Aug. 25

Fifteen athletes with Minnesota ties will compete in the Tokyo Paralympics games. They range in sports from basketball to swimming to judo. Meet the team members here.

The Paralympic Games begin Aug. 24 and last until Sep. 5.


Basketball

An athlete poses for a photo
Abby Bauleke
Courtesy of USOPC 2020 via NWBA

Abby Bauleke, 20

Savage’s Abby Bauleke played for the Minnesota Jr. Rolling Timberwolves in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association and won a gold medal at the 2019 U-25 world championship in Thailand. She also plays for the University of Alabama, which won the National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament 2021 Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Championship.

An athlete poses for a photo.
Josie Aslakson
Courtesy of USOPC 2020 via NWBA

Josie Aslakson, 25

Josie Aslakson of Edina began playing basketball when she was 13 at the Courage Center in Minneapolis after seeing the basketball team practice. She then played basketball at Jordan High School before playing for the University of Texas at Arlington. She also attended New York University before playing her final season at the University of Arizona.

WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL-OLY-2016-PARALYMPIC
Rose Hollermann, center, makes a shot against Brazil during the women's wheelchair basketball quarterfinal in the Paralympic Games at Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro on Sept. 13, 2016.
Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP via Getty Images 2016

Rose Hollermann, 25

Rose Hollermann of Elysian is no stranger to the Paralympics. She’s one of three returning veterans to the women’s basketball team, helping Team USA win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Hollerman played college ball at the University of Texas at Arlington. She joined the U.S. Women’s Wheelchair basketball team at age 15. At the Parapan American Games in 2019, Hollermann was named the U.S. flag bearer.

BT Paralympic World Cup - Day Two
Josh Turek (right) of USA looks on as Reo Fujimoto (L) of Japan passes during the men's basketball match during day two of the BT Paralympic World Cup at the Manchester Regional Arena Manchester, England.
Michael Steele | Getty Images 2012

Josh Turek, 42

Josh Turek went to college at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall and calls Council Bluffs, Iowa, home. He’s making his fourth trip to the Paralympics, competing in 2004, 2012, 2016 and this year in Tokyo. As a part of the men’s basketball team, he has a gold from the Rio Games in 2016, and a bronze from the London Games in 2012.

When Turek played for Southwest Minnesota State’s wheelchair basketball team, he was the program’s all-time leading scorer with 4,024 points for his career. He also played professionally in Europe for 17 seasons.


Judo

Benjamin Goodrich, 28

Benjamin Goodrich is from St. Paul and is a repeat participant of the Paralympic games. Goodrich took ninth place in the 2016 Rio Games and went to the world championships in judo in 2014, 2018 and 2019.

Goodrich has also won multiple medals in various national and international competitions, including a gold medal at the USA Judo National Championship in 2018. According to Team USA, he has won a total of 15 medals from various competitions.


Table Tennis

Ian Seidenfeld, 20

Ian Seidenfeld is a table tennis player from Lakeville. This is his first Paralympic games competing, but his family is not unfamiliar with the international competition. Ian’s father Mitchell Seidenfeld is a four-time Paralympic medalist with trips to three different games, winning gold and bronze in Barcelona in 1992, and taking home a silver and bronze in the 1996 Atlanta games.

Mitchell is also Ian’s coach as he heads to Tokyo to compete in the games. Ian started playing table tennis when he was 4 years old, joining his father as he was coaching a junior program. He joined the junior national team at age 12.


Track and Field

2021 U.S. Paralympic Trials - Day 3
Aaron Pike competes in the Men's 5000 Meter T53/54 Wheelchair final during the 2021 U.S. Paralympic Trials at Breck High School on June 19 in Minneapolis.
Christian Petersen | Getty Images

Aaron Pike, 35

Aaron Pike from Park Rapids is a four-time Paralympian, competing in both the winter Paralympic Games in 2014 and 2018 in the biathlon and the summer games in 2012 and 2016 in the marathon. This will be the fifth time Pike attends the Paralympic Games.

Pike began his athletic career in track and field at the University of Illinois Champaign and made the switch to Nordic skiing after the London Games in 2012 after an invite from a coach for the U.S. Paralympic Nordic Skiing National Team.

2021 U.S. Paralympic Trials - Day 1
Josh Cinnamo throws in the men's shot put F46 ambulatory final during the 2021 U.S. Paralympic Trials at Breck High School on June 17 in Minneapolis.
David Berding | Getty Images

Josh Cinnamo, 40

While Josh Cinnamo is a native of San Diego, Cali., he now calls Lakeville his home. A data project manager for MNIT, Cinnamo used to throw in high school and college, but didn’t consider getting back into shot put throwing until a few decades later.

This is his first Paralympic competition, but he’s already seen success in the sport on a national level. Cinnamo won gold at the World Championship in 2019 and has set multiple records since he returned to the sport in 2014.

Cinnamo is also active in a number of fitness competitions, like Crossfit competitions and Spartan Races.


Rugby

Team USA Portraits For Tokyo 2020
Wheelchair rugby athlete Chuck Aoki poses for a portrait during the Team USA Tokyo Olympics shoot on November 19, 2019 in West Hollywood, Calif.
Harry How | Getty Images

Chuck Aoki, 30

Chuck Aoki hails from Minneapolis and has participated in rugby at a competitive level since 2010. Now serving as the team captain, he is a two-time Paralympian, winning the silver medal in 2016 at the Rio Games and the bronze medal in the 2012 London Games. Aoki was also part of the gold medal World Championship team in 2010 along with two bronze medals in 2014 and 2018.

He decided to participate in rugby after seeing the 2005 film “Murderball.” Before that, he played wheelchair basketball for 11 years.

Aoki was voted by teammates to be one of Team USA’s flag-bearers for the Tokyo games opening ceremony.

Paralympics - Previews
Joe Delagrave of Team USA during a Team USA wheelchair rugby practice session ahead of the Tokyo Paralympic Games at Yoyogi Sports Arena on Aug. 22.
Alex Pantling | Getty Images

Joe Delagrave, 36

Joe Delagrave is heading back to the Paralympics for a second time, his first trip being in 2012 when Team USA brought home a bronze medal in wheelchair rugby. Delagrave is from Prairie du Chien, Wis., but he went to college at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul and Winona State University.

He has also been on the world championship team in 2010, 2014 and 2018, winning a gold in 2010, and two bronze medals.


Swimming

2021 U.S. Paralympic Trials - Day 1
Mallory Weggemann competes in the women's 50m butterfly during the 2021 U.S. Paralympic Swimming Trials at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on June 17 in Minneapolis.
Stacy Revere | Getty Images

Mallory Weggemann, 32

Eagan’s Mallory Weggemann is a two-time Paralympian with two medals, a gold and a bronze, already to her name. The Tokyo games will be her third trip to the international competition. She claimed the gold medal in the 50 meter freestyle in 2012 at London, and a bronze as part of the 4x100 meter medley.

“I have fond memories of swimming as a child, as I fell in love with the sport at the age of seven when I began to compete, all the way through high school,” Weggemann told MPR News, “and memories of returning to the sport after my paralysis when I was 18 years old.”

2021 U.S. Paralympic Trials - Day 3
Natalie Sims competes in the women's 100 meter butterfly during day 3 of the 2021 U.S. Paralympic Swimming Trials at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on June 19 in Minneapolis.
Stacy Revere | Getty Images

Natalie Sims, 24

Natalie Sims will compete in at least four events at her second Paralympic games: The 400 meter freestyle, the 4x100 meter freestyle, and the 200 meter individual medley swimming events.

She competed in the 2016 Rio games when she was just out of high school, after graduating from Edina High School. At the Rio games, Sims took 8th place in the 400 meter freestyle.

She has also won gold in the 4x100 meter freestyle relay and the 4x100 meter medley, as well as bronze medals in the 100 meter freestyle, 400 meter freestyle, and 50 meter freestyle at the world championship in 2017 in Mexico City. At the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, Sims claimed a gold in the 100 meter freestyle, a silver in the 4x100 meter freestyle, and bronze in both the 100 meter butterfly and 200 meter individual medley events.

2021 U.S. Paralympic Trials - Day 1
Summer Schmit competes in the women's 100 meter breaststroke finals during the U.S. Paralympic swimming trials at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on June 17 in Minneapolis.
Stacy Revere | Getty Images

Summer Schmit, 18

A Stillwater native, Summer Schmit began swimming competitively with the St. Croix Swim Club when she was 11. She’s now heading to the Tokyo games for her first Paralympics to compete in the 100 meter breaststroke and the 200 meter medley.

She’s also competed twice in the World Para Swimming World Series in Indianapolis, taking 1st in the 200 meter individual medley, and 2nd in 400 meter freestyle and 100 meter butterfly in 2019, and also competing with two 3rd place finishes in the 2018 competition.


Triathlon

Legacy Triathlon - USA Paratriathlon National Championships
Melissa Stockwell competes in the run portion of the Legacy Triathlon-USA Paratriathlon National Championships on July 20, 2019 in Long Beach, Calif.
Sean M. Haffey | Getty Images

Melissa Stockwell, 41

An Iraq War veteran with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, Melissa Stockwell is heading to the Paralympics competition for her third time. She first competed in 2008 in swimming, and was chosen as the flag bearer for Team USA at the closing ceremonies of Beijing.

She soon shifted her focus to the triathlon event and has become a four-time US Paratriathlon champion (2011, 2012, 2013 and 2018) and a 10-time World Paratriathlon medalist, with three golds, five silvers and two bronzes. She also has a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Games in the triathlon event.

Although Stockwell used to live in Eden Prairie, she and her family moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2019 as part of a residential program to train at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Stockwell was voted by teammates to be one of Team USA’s flag-bearers for the Tokyo games opening ceremony.


Volleyball

Alexis Shifflett
Alexis "Lexi" Shifflett the 25-year-old setter/libero from Waseca has won two world championships silver medals and two Parapan American Games gold medals.
Chuck Bigger | USA Volleyball

Alexis Shifflett, 25

Alexis “Lexi” Shifflett was born in Owatonna and calls Waseca her hometown. This is her second time as a Paralympian. She helped the women’s volleyball team win the 2016 gold in Rio. She also helped the U.S. Women's Paralympic Sitting Volleyball Team take home silver medals in the world championship in 2018 and in 2014.

Shifflett played softball and volleyball all four years at Waseca High School.

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