100 days of Kansas City-area Olympians: Courtney Frerichs, steeplechase

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Growing up in Nixa, Missouri, Courtney Frerichs was a star in four sports — cross country, gymnastics, soccer, and track and field — and now she’s a two-time Olympian.

It’s the steeplechase — an odd event that originated in Ireland, involving barriers and water jumps — where she’s soared to Olympic heights.

She set school records at Nixa in the 5,000 meters and triple jump before winning an NCAA title in the 3,000 steeplechase at the 2016 NCAA Division I outdoor championships.

Frerichs competed in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track from 2011-15 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City before transferring to the University of New Mexico for her final cross country and outdoor track seasons.

She was the runner-up in the 3,000 steeplechase at the 2012 U.S. Junior Outdoor Championships.

Frerichs finished 38th in 2013 and 13th in 2014, earning All-America honors, at the NCAA Cross Country Championships with the Kangaroos, then placed fourth in 2015 as a senior with the Lobos.

She set a UMKC record in the indoor 5,000 in 2014 and finished fifth at the NCAA indoor championships in 2015.

As a sophomore with the Roos, Frerichs finished sixth in the 3,000 steeplechase at the NCAA outdoor championships and later finished second in the event at the 2015 NCAA outdoor championships.

Frerichs won her 2016 NCAA title by nearly 17 seconds and later that summer finished second behind only Emma Coburn at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

During the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Frerichs finished 11th — 15 seconds behind Coburn, the bronze medalist.

She improved to second at the 2017 World Championships.

A year later, Frerichs claimed silver at the 2018 U.S. championships and also set the still-standing U.S. record in the steeplechase at a meet in Mexico.

Monaco Athletics Diamond League
Courtney Frerichs from the US poses beside the indicating board after setting a new women's 3000m steeplechase Area Record during the IAAF Diamond League Athletics meeting at the Louis II Stadium in Monaco, Friday, July 20, 2018.

She was second again at the 2019 national championships.

During the pandemic-delayed 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials, Frerichs again was the runner-up behind Coburn to punch her ticket to the Tokyo Games later this month.

Qualifying in the 3,000 steeplechase begins July 31 and can be seen live on USA. The final will be shown live in primetime Aug. 4 on 41 Action News.

The Kansas City region has a deep, rich history with respect to the Olympic Games. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games approach with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for July 23, we will profile an athlete with ties to Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas each day.

41 Action News and is your home of the Tokyo Olympics. Follow our coverage at and check out our complete list of 100 Kansas City-area Olympians as it is revealed.