Seven set for World Championships in Beijing
USATF Meet Page: Here
IAAF Meet Page: Here
Missouri and nearby qualifiers and schedule: Here
Seven Missourians are set to compete against the World’s best at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China. That number is represented by three throwers, two distance runners, and a sprinter and a jumper. The group includes four Olympians, an Olympic Medalist, three USA champions, three NCAA Division I national champions, a former NCAA DII standout, a former NAIA National Champion, and a redshirt junior collegian.
Athlete Event(s) Hometown, MO High School, College, Residence
Mike Rodgers 100, 4×100,St. Louis, Berkeley, Lindenwood U, Oklahoma Baptist U, Round Rock Tx
Christian Cantwell Shot Put Eldon, Eldon HS, Mizzou, Columbia, MO
Brittany Borman Javelin DeSoto, Festus HS, UCLA/Oklahoma, San Diego, CA
Deanna Price Hammer Throw Moscow Mills, Troy HS, Southern Illinois, Carbondale, IL
Colleen Quigley Steeplechase St. Louis, Nerinx Hall HS, Florida State, Portland, Or
Tyrone Smith Long Jump Bermuda/North Chicago, Missouri-Rolla/Missouri S&T, Houston, Tx
Serena Burla Marathon Waukesha, Wisconsin, Mizzou, Stafford, VA
The 15th edition of the World Championships starts Friday, or Thursday evening in CST time, and runs for nine days. The World Championships are held every other year. They occur the year before the Olympics and the year after the Olympics, giving athletes three international championships to compete in every four-year period. This year they will be held in Olympic Stadium, referred to as the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, the site of the 2008 Olympics track and field competition.
The group of seven is led by veteran shot putter Christian Cantwell. The Eldon native and Mizzou All-American continues to be a force in the event with just more than a month before his 35th birthday. Cantwell is a four-time World Champion in the indoor and outdoor shot. In 2008 Cantwell earned the silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In 2012, Cantwell came up just a few inches short of another medal. Cantwell has battled injuries throughout his career, including one that required surgery in 2012. Cantwell is a seven-time USA Indoor and Outdoor national champion. Through the years Cantwell has been one of the most consistent shot putters, always seeming to throw over 70-feet and among the world’s best.
After a standout career at Berkeley High School for coach Rod Staggs, Michael Rodgers went on to college success at two different NAIA schools. Rodgers earned NAIA national titles at Lindenwood University and Oklahoma Baptist. The St. Louis native had a chance encounter with a coach at the USA Championships in the mid-2000’s that helped start a post-collegiate career. Rodgers has found lots of success indoors in the 60-meter dash, and outdoors in the 100-meter dash. Rodgers is a four-time US champion with two victories each in the indoor 60-meters and outdoor 100-meters . Rodgers has been on numerous USA teams since 2009.
At the 2010 World Indoor Championships, Rodgers came away with the silver medal in the 60. The year before, a bad start in the World Indoor 60 final kept him from another medal and possibly the gold. Rodgers finished 4th in the 100 at the Olympic Trials in 2012 to make the relay pool squad. Unfortunately a foot injury popped up at the US training camp and Rodgers was replaced on the team and sent home. In 2013 Rodgers ran on the silver medal 4×100 team at the World Championships in Russia for his first outdoor world championships medal. Rodgers has a personal best of 9.85 in the 100 meters, which ties him with Leroy Burrell for 5th on the all-time U.S. list.
The third and final man in the group of seven is Tyrone Smith. Smith was born in and competes for the country of Bermuda. Smith moved to Chicago when he was five and eventually attended the University of Missouri-Rolla, now Missouri Science and Technology (Missouri S&T). Smith has gone from a 21-1 long jumper in high school, to a World Class jumper. Under coach Bryan Schiding’s guidance, Smith improved to become a 26-foot jumper. The NCAA Division II All-American set the Bermudian national record, and qualified for both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics where he placed 15th and 12th.
Brittany Borman will compete in her third straight international championship meet. Borman grew up in DeSoto, Mo, and got an early start in track and field. Borman was a beast for Festus high school and the Jefferson County Jets track club, where she was a standout in many events, especially the throws. Borman started her collegiate career at UCLA where she planned to compete in the heptathlon. However after success in the throws, Borman gave up the sprints, hurdles, and jumps and focused on the throws. After a coaching change at UCLA, Borman transferred to Oklahoma where she had great success in the discus and javelin.
Borman captured the NCAA Division I javelin titles both her junior and senior years. Then at the 2012 Olympic Trials, on her final throw of the competition, Brittany prayed and then pulled out a miracle with some divine intervention. Sitting in second-place, Borman needed a 7-8 foot personal best to reach the Olympic qualification standard. Borman nailed it, and more. Borman’s personal best throw surpassed the standard, pushed her into first-place. It also broke the Olympic Trials meet record. A group of about 10 family members, and former coaches were on hand to witness the magic, which made it even more special. Borman went on to place 15th in the London Olympics. Borman followed with another U.S. title in 2013 and placed 22nd at the World Championships in Russia. Borman currently is 11th on the world performance list, and second on the US list, with a personal best of 212’5.
Deanna Price is the only collegian in the group of Missouri qualifiers. The Moscow Mills native and Troy High School graduate just finished her redshirt junior year, one that will be hard to forget. After missing most of a year with an injury, Price returned this indoor season and finished third in weight throw at the NCAA DI Indoor Championships. Price followed that with an outdoor national title in the hammer throw where she threw the hammer 234-6 for a huge personal record and a new meet record. As if that wasn’t enough to call it a great season for Price, she returned to Eugene for the USA Champs. Price added another nearly three-feet improvement to her personal record to take second and earn a berth to Worlds. This won’t be the first Team USA appearance for Price, who wisely choose track and field over softball scholarships for college. Price competed at the 2012 World Junior Championships. Price is currently 19th on the world performance list.
Waukesha, Wisconsin native and former Mizzou All-American Serena (Ramsey) Burla will apparently make her first USA team. Burla had a great four-years at the University of Missouri, where she capped her career with an All-American finish in the 10k as a senior for Coach Rebecca Wilmes. Burla competed in the 10k at the 2008 Olympic Trials, but soon after, found success on the roads. Even a battle with cancer couldn’t slow her down. Cancer treatment dictated Burla have drastic surgery that took part of her hamstring muscle on one of her legs. Somehow, Burla recovered and continued to shine in road races in the U.S. and worldwide.
Burla is married to former Mizzou teammate and former Marquette High School shot put state champion Adam Burla. At the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials, Burla moved into the lead around the 9-mile mark, which she held for 1-2 miles before eventually having to drop out. Burla ran at the U.S. track championships this year for the first time since 2008. Burla didn’t have a great finish in the 10k, finishing 15th, but her recent work on the roads must have been enough for a spot on Team USA.
For Colleen Quigley, 2015 couldn’t be going much better. The St. Louis native and former state champion for her dad Gaylord at Nerinx Hall high school, just wrapped up her college career for Florida State. In 2014, an injury stole the final four to six weeks of her outdoor season as well as costing her a shot at the national title in the steeplechase She had finished 5th and 2nd as a freshman and sophomore and was the favorite to win. The injury also cost her some time in preparing for her senior cross country season. However, Quigley was able to earn her third cross country All-American honor last November with a 23rd-place finish, two weeks after her alma-mater captured the Class 4 Missouri cross country team title.
In the 2015 indoor season, Quigley made her mark on the history books. Quigley ran a 4:29 mile to put in the top-five of the all-time NCAA Division I list. At the indoor national meet, Quigley finished third in the mile at the indoor championships and was bumped back a couple of spots on the all-time list with competitors running 4:27 and 4:28 ahead of her. The mile winner was Michigan State’s Leah O’Connor, who won the 2014 steeplechase in Quigley’s absence.
Outdoors, in the NCAA steeple final, Quigley let Leah O’Connor push the pace and lead the race. However on the final water barrier, O’Connor stumbled and Quigley turned on the jets. Quigley pushed to the finish in apparent disbelief that she was going to accomplish a long set goal. Quigley won in 9:29 to put her third on the all-time collegiate list, just ahead of fellow Missourian Courtney Frerichs of UMKC who ran 9:31 and was second behind Quigley in the race. With her national title in hand, Quigley signed a professional contract. She joined Nike’s Bowerman Track Club and coach Jerry Schumacher, based out of Portland. At the U.S. Championships, Quigley beat out Leah O’Connor for third-place, the final qualifying spot for the World Championships. She dropped five seconds off her personal record in the race, which now stands at 9:24.92. That time puts Quigley 16th on the world performance list.
Two other Missouri coaches will be there or have athletes in Beijing competing. Former University of Missouri high jump star Nat Page, who had a successful post-collegiate career in the 1980’s in the high jump and hurdles, is Team USA’s men’s jumps and combined events coach. Former St. Louis University High School and Truman State University distance running standout Ben Rosario will have an athlete competing for the second straight World Championships. Rosario is the director and coach of the Northern Arizona Elite training team. His athlete Scott Smith will run in the Marathon for Team USA.
After a fifth-place finish in the 10k at the U.S. Championships, Emily Sisson is an alternate for the team, but didn’t make the trip. The former high school superstar who graduated from Parkway Central just completed an amazing NCAA career. Sisson placed 7th in the 2013 NCAA cross country championships to lead her Providence squad to the team title, and as a redshirt senior this year, Sisson set the collegiate record in the indoor 5k in February with a 15:12.22. Sisson also posted a collegiate all-time top-7 mark in the 3k with an 8:52. Outdoors Sisson followed up with the fourth-fastest collegiate 10k all-time with a 31:38.03. And in June, Sisson cruised to the outdoor 5k title at the NCAA championships.
Gwen Berry also posted a fifth-place finish to just miss a spot on the Beijing team. The St. Louis native and standout at McCluer High School and Southern Illinois University took fifth in the hammer throw, missing third place by less than a foot. Berry just can’t seem to catch a break as she is seemingly always just missing out on making a U.S. team for World’s or the Olympics.
Several other athletes that are not far from the Missouri boarder will compete. East St. Louis native and Olympic Gold and Silver medalist Dawn Harper-Nelson will compete in her specialty, the 100-meter hurdles. Ever since her surprising Gold medal at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, Harper-Nelson has remained one of the world’s best in the event. She was a two-time All-American at UCLA and is coached by Bobby Kersee. Harper-Nelson is a four-time US outdoor champion. Her personal record of 12.37 came from her silver medal finish in London in 2012. That time put her tied for second on the U.S. All-time list, however a deep American field of hurdlers have bumped her back into a tie for fifth all-time.
Former Liberty High School and Truman State University runner Jason Simpson is married to the former Jenny Barringer. After a stellar collegiate career at the University of Colorado, Jenny Simpson has become one of the World’s best in the 1500-meters. She set the American Record in the steeple at the 2008 Olympic Games with a 9:12.50, but has since focused on the 1500. Simpson captured the 2011 World Championship crown in the event in 2011 and took the silver in the event in 2013. She and Shannon Rowbury both recently broke the American record in the event, with Rowbury running 3:56.29 and Simpson running 3:57.30. Those times put the pair third and fourth on the world performance list.
Former University of Illinois thrower Gia Lewis-Smallwood has continued to improve over the last few years and become the top discus thrower in the U.S. She’s won each of the last three U.S. titles and Lewis-Smallwood won the U.S. title in June with a best toss of 207. Lewis-Smallwood is 15th in the world with a season’s best of 64.01.
Former Southern Illinois University thrower Jeneva Stevens will compete in the shot put in Beijing. Stevens was a national champion at Southern Illinois for Missouri native and head coach Connie Price-Smith and husband and throws coach John Smith. Stevens had a best throw of 61-9.75 to place third at the U.S. meet and earn a spot on the U.S. team. Stevens is 14th in the world with a best toss of 72.69 this year.