Courtney Frerichs, 26
University of Missouri-Kansas City | University of New Mexico
1500 m: 4:14.62
3000m Steeplchase: 9:00.85 (American Record)
2017 World Championships Silver Medalist
American Record Holder
From the small town of Nixa, Missouri, Courtney grew up with dreams of becoming an Olympic gymnast. She had the right idea but the wrong sport.
A multi-sport athlete throughout high school, once Courtney committed full time to running her career was a succession of steady of improvements. Having lightly trained in high school, she was also lightly recruited and decided to stay close to home at UMKC (the University of Missouri at Kansas City). She was a surprise qualifier for the 2012 World Junior Champions in the steeplechase, an experience that broadened her goals as a runner. At this point Courtney was still a relative unknown with a 10:34 personal best, but her and her coach began to plot a path the 2016 Olympic team.
They planned well. It would be hard to draw up a better progression than the one that Courtney followed. She ran 9:55 in 2013 and lowered her personal best by 11 or 12 seconds each of the next 3 years. For her 5th year she transferred to the University of New Mexico where her 13th place finish helped the team to the NCAA cross country title. Coming through on the biggest stage was a normal occurrence for Courtney: she set a personal best in every NCAA track final of her career. The final PR was extra sweet as it resulted in an NCAA Championship and Collegiate Record (9:24, bettering Jenny Simpson’s mark). After suffering a severe ankle sprain the prelim of that NCAA Championship, it was fair to assume that Courtney’s magical run might lose steam at the Olympic Trials two weeks later, where she made her debut in the BTC singlet. With two laps to go she was in 5th place, with the leaders and the three Olympic spots pulling away. But over the last 600 meter she went storming past three competitors for yet another personal best, 2nd place, and her first Olympic team berth. She went on to place 11th in the Olympic final in Rio.
In the fall of 2017 she moved to Portland to train and compete with BTC. She had a series of modest successes, 4th place at the USATF Cross Country Championships, 2nd place at the outdoor track championships in the steeple. All the while, however, she was building training volume and momentum for yet another breakthrough performance at the biggest meet of the year: the World Championships in London. Expectations were high within the BTC camp before the race and Courtney exceeded them all. She ran 9:03, won the silver medal, and cracked the top 10 list all-time in the event in one of the greatest performances in BTC history.
In 2018 Courtney was once again 2nd at the US Championships behind World Champion Emma Coburn, but she staked her claim to being the top American Steeplechaser in Monaco. At the Herculis Diamond League she set the American Record by running 9:00.85, defeating Coburn in the process.
Courtney married her husband Griffin in 2017.