Olympians from the Ozarks

August 12, 2016

It seems like everyone has olympic fever right now in the Ozarks. Simone Biles is defying gravity, Katie Ledecky is setting olympic records, and Michael Phelps is giving dirty looks (and winning his 26th medal). It’s been an eventful olympics already, for sure. That got us thinking about all the great athletes from the Ozarks. We’ve seen quite a few go on to represent the stars and stripes internationally. Here are the Ozarkers who have made it to the olympics.

A lot of the following athletes have gone on to win medals at the olympics.  Here’s a tally of the total medals won by Ozarkers.




Courtney Frerichs, Track

Rio, 2016

When you realize you race in the #Olympics in 1 week! 😳🇺🇸🏃🏼🇧🇷 #roadtoRio #itsalmosthere #Rioboundtomorrow

A photo posted by Courtney Frerichs (@courtneyfrerichs) on

Nixa native Courtney Frerichs is an olympian this year in Rio! She is competing in the 3000 meter steeplechase this Saturday. If you’d like to cheer her on, tune in this Saturday at 9:05 a.m. on this livestream from the University of Missouri Kansas City.


Gracie Gold, Figure Skating


Sochi, 2014  



By now, you know the name Gracie Gold pretty well. Gold, a Springfield native competed in the 2014 winter games in Sochi. Gold was part of an American team that took home a bronze medal at the games. She’s competed in many national events as well.


Lori Endicott-Vandersnick, Volleyball

Born in Kansas City, Endicott-Vandersnick went to high school in Willard, just west of Springfield. She played for the U.S. National Volleyball team in Atlanta in 1996.


Jason Pyrah, Long Distance Running


Also a Willard High School alum, Pyrah competed in 2 olympics in the 1500 meter run. He ran for team USA in Atlanta in 1996 and in Sydney four years later. Pyrah has run a mile in under four minutes on multiple occasions.


Emily Scott, Speed Skating

Happy #OlympicDay! 🇺🇸 Proud to be an Olympian.

A photo posted by Emily Scott (@emscott89) on

Emily Scott participated in the 2014 olympics in Sochi. She is a speed skater from Springfield, Missouri and has also competed in multiple national speed skating events. Her story is incredible. After the olympic team cut stipends for her daily expenses in 2012-2013, Scott filed for food stamps. USA Today ran a story about her and she was able to raise $30,000 to continue her dream of being an olympian.


Christian Cantwell, Shot put


Beijing, 2008 & London, 2012  




Cantwell is a two-time olympian who competed in both the Beijing and London olympics in 2008 and 2012 respectively. Cantwell won a silver medal in Beijing with a throw of over 21 meters!


Lowell North, Sailing

Tokyo, 1964 & Mexico City, 1968

gold bronze

Springfield native Lowell North won a gold medal in men’s sailing at the 1968 Mexico City olympics and a bronze medal at the 1964 Tokyo games. He won an additional 7 gold medals at the sailing world championships and 7 others medals through the years at the world championships!


Harlow Rothert, Shot put

Rothert competed in shot put at the 1932 olympics in Los Angeles. He was a multisport star at Stanford University, playing basketball, football and track. Rothert, who passed away in 1997, was from Carthage, Missouri.


Shannon Miller, Gymnastics

Barcelona, 1992 & Atlanta, 1996

goldgoldsilversilver  bronzebronzebronze

Miller is from one of the northern-most areas of the Ozarks, Rolla, Missouri. She is the recipient of seven olympic medals in Gymnastics. Miller was part of the women’s gymnastic team in both Barcelona in 1992 and in Atlanta in 1996. She also has 9 medals she earned while competing in world championships from 1991-1995 and 5 more from the Pan American games in 1995.


Virgil Hill, Boxing


Los Angeles, 1984



Hill won a silver medal in boxing at the 1984 olympics in Los Angeles. He also won 50 professional fights and earned the nickname Quicksilver for his stellar record. He is from Clinton, Missouri originally.    


Kenny Rollins, Basketball


London, 1948

gold Charleston native  Rollins was a part of the gold medal-winning men’s basketball team in 1948.  He also played college basketball for Kentucky from 1942-1943 and 1946-1948 and eventually landed with the Boston Celtics from 1952-1953.   


Uvis Kalniņš, Swimming


Kalnins is technically from Valmiera, Latvia, but he’s an honorary Springfieldian in our book. He’s a swimmer for the Missouri State Swim team. Kalnins made the Latvian team for the olympics this year and competed against the best in world, including Michael Phelps. Phelps did not give him any dirty looks that we know of!



Here’s a great resource from the Springfield News-Leader that let’s you know when area athletes are competing.


Note: If we missed anyone, please let us know!
Posted in All Things SGF

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