I have always loved watching the Olympics and cheering on the USA. In 1992 the Summer Olympics held a special significance as two recent graduates of my alma mater, Stafford High School, were selected to represent the United States in Barcelona.
Mark Lenzi graduated from Stafford High in 1986. He had been a wrestler in high school, but he switched to diving after watching Greg Louganis win Olympic gold in 1984. Mark joined a nearby diving team and quickly excelled in the sport. He went on to dive for Indiana University, winning two NCAA Championships. In the 1992 Olympics, Mark competed in 3-meter diving.
Jeff Rouse was a couple of years behind Mark, graduating in 1988. Jeff had been swimming since the age of 5 and had set national age records at the age of 11. He swam in college for Stanford University, specializing in the back stroke. In the 1992 Olympics, Jeff competed in the 100-meter backstroke and the 4 x 100 medley relay.
Having two local residents competing in the Summer Olympics created quite a stir. We live in an area where football and basketball dominate the local sports scene. However, the entire community was proud of our local Olympians and prayed for their success.
Remarkably, both men returned home from Barcelona victorious. Mark won the 3-meter diving competition, becoming the last American man to win a Gold medal in diving. He returned to the Olympics in 1996 and won a bronze medal in his event. Jeff came home from Barcelona with two medals–he won Gold in the relay and Silver in his individual event. He bettered his results in the 1996 Olympics, winning two Gold medals.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of their Gold medal performances in Barcelona. To the best of my knowledge, Mark and Jeff are the only local athletes to have achieved Olympic success. It is amazing that they graduated from the same high school and they competed in the same two Olympics. We are very proud of our hometown Olympians.
Sadly, Mark Lenzi passed away earlier this year. Jeff Rouse lives in our area and is a valuable member of our business community.