CLAYTON -- The Ipsens live less than two miles from the Kohlers, but the two families had never met.
That changed Tuesday night, when -- some 5,300 miles from their homes -- the families were introduced at an Olympic event, less than 24 hours before an Ipsen and a Kohler each took home a bronze medal in their respective sports.
"We've known of each other, but never met," said Mike Kohler, father of Kara Kohler, who won a bronze in the women's quadruple sculls, a rowing event.
An hour after Kohler -- a 21-year-old Cal rower and Clayton Valley High graduate -- reached the podium, Kristian Ipsen took third place in the men's 3-meter synchronized springboard diving event.
Maybe it's time the Olympians picnicked together at a Saturday night concert in the small East Bay community of less than 11,000.
Clayton Mayor Howard Geller ate lunch Wednesday afternoon at Ed's Mudville Grill in downtown Clayton beneath a banner congratulating the Olympians for making the Games. He feverishly searched his iPad calendar checking for possible dates to fete the two hometown Olympians upon their return.
"I remember Kristian at the family pool as a kid doing flip-flops and doing unbelievable acrobatics, and I always thought this day might come," Geller said. "Everyone I've talked to is really excited to have two Olympians in town."
Kristian's grandfather started the Skipolini's pizza chain in Clayton, and the family remains active and
"Still, when you talk to him, he's so grounded and just humble," said Geller, who planned on attending a small party Wednesday night at patriarch Skip Ipsen's house to watch the tape-delayed competition. The mayor expects Ipsen, diving's rising star, to gain even more fame at future Olympiads.
Kohler, swimming since the age of 4, only started rowing row three years ago.
Laura Louchis, a former Clayton Vallejo High cheerleader, went to school with Kohler.
"I think it's awesome," the 23-year-old said across the street from the town park. "I only hear of Bay Area people going to the Olympics, never just Clayton."
A block away, Ed Moresi, owner of the Mudville Grill, was tending his other establishment, Moresi's Chophouse. Insisting on seeing Ipsen dive live, he signed up for live-streaming so he could watch him at 7 a.m. on his iPad.
"I wasn't going to miss that for anything," he said. "He looks good on TV.
"Taking away the Olympics part, they are just good kids and they represent the community well," he said.
Aside from the civic pride, Claytonians share a nation's frustration with the Olympic television coverage.
"It's been kind of confusing the whole television thing," said Moresi, who like other locals desperately searched for when the Clayton Olympians' competitions would air.
"Just tell me when it's on," he pleaded.
Kohler's friends and family watched her race early Wednesday morning online and sent the family inspirational texts and Facebook messages.
"It's been great," Mike Kohler said from his hotel room near Windsor Castle, his voice fading. "It's just such a relief. You're thrilled their an Olympian, but you know to them they want to medal. They want the hardware.
"It's pretty cool for such a small town."
His daughter plans on participating in the closing ceremonies and then return home. She gets a week off before starting her junior year at Cal.
Bartender Morgan Herrera had gone to school with Kohler since first grade, and has long heard of Ipsen's diving exploits.
"It's cool having two people from tiny Clayton in the Olympics ... who would've thought?"
Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.
Kristian Ipsen, 19, bronze medal in men's 3-meter synchronized springboard
Kara Kohler, 21, bronze medal in women's quadruple sculls
Don Bragg, 77, gold medal in pole vault, 1960 Olympic Games
Daron Rahlves, 39, skiing in 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics
Erin Dobratz, 29, bronze medal in synchronized swimming, 2004 Summer Olympics