UMKC Grad Competes In Olympic Steeplechase Finals
Friends gathered on Monday, Aug. 15, to watch Frerichs, who received a Bachelors of Arts in Chemistry in 2015 from UMKC. Frerichs raced for the gold in the 3,000-meter steeplechase finals. She ranked No. 11 with a time of 9:22:87.
“She and I have been really close, and this journey has been thrilling and amazing,” said Andrea Drew Gounev, Ph.D., Frerichs’ UMKC academic adviser and one of her chemistry and nutrition professors. “Her determination and dedication to the sport have been beyond inspiring, and on top of that, she is one of the nicest, down-to-earth people out there.”
A long-time athlete in gymnastics and soccer from Nixa, Missouri, Frerichs always had a goal of making it to the Olympics. She achieved that goal this summer when she finished second in the steeplechase during the track and field Olympic trials, qualifying her to represent the U.S. in Rio de Janeiro.
During her time at UMKC, Frerichs set (and beat) multiple records in track and field. UMKC was where she learned the steeplechase that became her specialty. She was dubbed UMKC’s first four-time NCAA All American in cross county, indoor track and outdoor track during the 2014-15 season. In that same year, a time of 9:32:12 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase was not only recognized as the top spot in the NCAA, but No. 2 in the world.
“We are already proud of her many accomplishments but, of course, competing in the Olympics ranks at the top,” said UMKC Athletics Director Carla Wilson. “It was a great achievement just to make it to Rio. But to see Courtney compete in the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase really drove home that she is one of the world’s best.”
Eventually, Frerichs wants to attend medical school and become a physician specializing in orthopedics. With guidance from Drew Gounev, she put running and her Olympics dreams first.
“I told her medical school will always be there, and those considering her won’t shy away from an Olympic athlete and excellent student,” Drew Gounev said. “For athletes, it’s so hard to be students, too, especially with difficult classes like organic chemistry. But she is so great at managing her time and training that she’s one of the best students, and one of the best runners in the world. And just think, she’s not even at her peak yet.”
Wilson said: “Courtney is a testament to young people everywhere that UMKC can be the road to a world-class experience, both academically and athletically, and yes, to making your dreams come true.”