Courtney Frerichs Wins Women’s NCAA Steeplechase Title In Style, Breaks Jenny Simpson’s Collegiate Record By Running 9:24.41

June 11, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. — New Mexico grad student Courtney Frerichs took advantage of the cool mid to high 60-degree temperatures and ran into the history books as she won the women’s steeplechase at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in style, running 9:24.41 to break Jenny Simpson’s 7-year-old 9:25.54 meet and collegiate record.

Frerichs’ win certainly wasn’t a surprise – the only real question coming in was, ‘Would she get the record?’ To say that Frerichs was the heavy favorite coming into today’s race would almost be an understatement as coming in she had a personal best of 9:29.31. Only two other competitors in this afternoon’s final had a personal best under 9:50, Elinor Purrier of New Hampshire (9:47.17) and Jessica Kamilos of Arkansas (9:48.16).

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Those two women took second and third in new personal bests as Kamilos ran 9:41.28 and Purrier 9:47.71.

Results and our quick take analysis appear below. *Lap by Lap splits appear here.


Pl Athlete Affiliation Time
1 Courtney Frerichs SR New Mexico 9:24.41
2 Jessica Kamilos SR Arkansas 9:41.28
3 Elinor Purrier SO New Hampshire 9:47.71
4 Ingeborg Loevnes JR Oklahoma State 9:48.57
5 Devin Clark FR Arkansas 9:49.25
6 Laura Rose Donegan JR New Hampshire 9:52.57
7 Paige Kouba SR Harvard 9:54.43
8 Erin Teschuk SR North Dakota State 9:56.71
9 Charlotte Prouse FR Washington 10:00.82
10 Brianna Ilarda SO Providence 10:07.80
11 Erika Barr SR UC Davis 10:20.87
12 Katie Landwehr SR Michigan State 10:25.54

Quick Take #1: From 54th at the state meet to NCAA record holder.
Frerichs’ improvement has been astounding since high school. In high school she only ran one year of cross country (54th at the state meet on 15 miles a week) and was a 2:24 800m runner.

She went to University of Missouri at Kansas City and her freshman year doubled her mileage and started training as a distance runner. She ran 5:09 for the mile and 10:34 for the steeple that year. Despite the modest times freshman year, her coach James Butler told her she could be an NCAA champion.

She had more modest goals of being All-American and “thought he was a little crazy (for saying she could win NCAAs)” but was quick to give him credit saying, “I owe it to him.”

Her sophomore year she improved her pr to 9:55.02 and that got her 6th place at NCAAs. She redshirted in 2014 and pr’d again last year at NCAAs running 9:31.36 for second.

She graduated from UMKC last year and followed her coach to the University of New Mexico. Transferring was very “stressful” she said, but she was rewarded right away as she helped the Lobos win the cross country team title which she said was “the most amazing thing that could ever happen in my collegiate career.”

As for today Frerichs said, “The collegiate record was definitely in the back of my head.” Now that she has Jenny Simpson’s collegiate record, she said the first thing her coach said to her after the race was did she know what Simpson ran later in the year she got the collegiate record? (Simpson ran an American record 9:12.50 for 4th at Worlds in 2009).

Frerichs now turns her attention “to take a shot at Olympic Trials.” Frerichs likes her chances of contending for the Olympic team saying, “ I haven’t been in a fast race yet and today gives me a lot of confidence I can run a lot faster…” Her coach whispered after a workout this year she could break 9:20. We’ll find out at the Trials.

Post-race interview:

Quick Take #2: Next Stop, Rio?

Frerichs currently is very much solidified as the third fastest steepler in the US so far for 2016. Here are the top 5 steeplers in the US so far this year:

1 9:10.76 AR Emma Coburn (Pre Classic, May 28)
2 9:18.85 Leah O’Connor (Pre Classic, May 28)
3 9:24.41 Courtney Frerichs  (NCAAs, June 11)
4 9:33.38 Ashley Higginson (Pre Classic, May 28)
5 9:37.12 Jamie Cheever (Hoka One One, May 20)

Now, there are other women that broke 9:30 last year, but haven’t steepled yet this year, whom we consider Olympic hopefuls. 2015 US runner-up Stephanie Garcia ran 9:23.48 at USAs. While she hasn’t steepled this year, she’s running well as she ran a 4:06.80 1500 last week. Colleen Quigley – the US third-placer last year – hasn’t raced at all this year but she is currently training in Park City, UT.

It’s pretty clear that the 3 US Olympic spots will come from the 5 women who have broken 9:30 this year or last – Coburn, O’Connor, Frerichs, Garcia and Quigley.

Here are some screenshots from the ESPN broadcast.

Quick Take #3: Welcome to the US’s All-Time Top 10, Courtney
Frerich’s time also moves her into the top 10 all-time in US history. The top 10 according to Track and Field News.


  1. 9:10.76 Emma Coburn (New Balance) 05/28/16
  2. 9:12.50 Jenny Simpson (Colorado) 08/17/09
  3. 9:18.85 Leah O’Connor (adidas) 05/28/16
  4. 9:22.76 Anna Willard (Nike) 07/20/08
  5. 9:23.48 Stephanie Garcia (New Balance) 06/27/15
  6. 9:24.41 Courtney Frerichs (New Mexico) 06/11/16
  7. 9:24.59 Nicole Bush (New Balance) 07/19/14
  8. 9:24.84 Lisa Aguilera (Nike) 08/27/10
  9. 9:24.92 Colleen Quigley (Florida St) 06/27/15
  10. 9:27.59 Ashley Higginson (Saucony) 06/28/14

Quick Take #4 Missouri Athletes Go 1-2 for 2nd Straight Year

Frerichs pointed out that last year she and winner Colleen Quigley were both from Missouri and this year she and runner-up Jessica Kamilos are also from Missouri.

Kamilos used to race (and beat) Frerichs in high school and figured she would at least try to take a shot at beating her today. She was the only one to go with Frerichs in the earlygoing but by halfway found herself all alone in second, dropped by Frerichs but well ahead of the chase pack. Kamilos was hurting at that point, but she went in with the mindset that she needed to finish second, no matter what, to earn points for the team.

“You’ve gotta hold this,” she told herself. “You (went for it) and now you’ve got to pay the consequence and stay there. So I made myself stay there.”

Kamilos did exactly that and the result was second place and a seven-second PR.

Talk about the race on our world famous fan forum: MB: Official 2016 NCAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Discussion Thread.

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