Ten former Missouri preps or current Missouri collegiate women have qualified for the 2023 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championship in 19 entries for the meet that kicked off Wednesday at the University of Texas in Austin. The four-day meet alternates between men's competition and women's competition, with the exception of the decathlon and heptathlon. The men competed Wednesday and Friday while the women today and Saturday.
Excluding the heptathlon and decathlon, the top-48 athletes and top-24 relays on the season performance list in the two regions qualified for the East and West Preliminary Championships that were held two weeks ago in Jacksonville, Florida, and Sacramento, California. The top-12 finishers advanced to the national championships.
All track events have semifinal and final rounds except for the 5,000 and 10,000-meter runs. Like most meets but unlike the World Championships, there are no qualifying rounds on separate days than than finals in the field events. In the throws and horizontal jumps, two flights of athletes get three attempts before the top-9 advance to the finals for three more opportunities.
The Top-8 finishers earn 1st-Team All-America Honors, a spot on the awards podium and an NCAA trophy. Athletes finishing 9-16th are named to the All-America 2nd-Team, while those placing 17-24th earn Honorable Mention honors.
Sophia Rivera, Sr. Missouri, Javelin,
Brentwood, MO, Brentwood High School
The Puerto Rican born, New Jersey-raised Rivera moved to the St. Louis area in 5th or 6th grade. She went on to become a superstar in the throws. She won a shot put medal at the World Under-17 Championships for Team USA in high school. She was one of the best preps in the US in the shot put, discus, and javelin. Rivera and her family were one of the leading voices to have the javelin included in MSHSAA competition. Their work paid off as the event was included as an exhibition event her senior year in 2016, before being fully adopted as a scoring event a year later.
She tossed the javelin at a home meet 180' to move into the top-4 all-time in U.S. high school history. The mark easily sill stands as the state record. At that Brentwood meet this year, Rivera was honored as the meet was renamed after her.
Rivera claimed shot put and javelin titles on the first day of state in 2016, but injured her elbow. That injury kept her from competing at the 2016 Olympic Trials and required surgery. She's endured other injuries since then, but has kept training and recovered to be one of the best in the country.
Rivera changed her competing allegiance to Puerto Rico a few years ago and got to represent Puerto Rico for the first time last summer at the North America Central America, and Caribbean Championships in the Bahamas.
This year, she opened her outdoor season by launching the javelin 57.67m/189-2 to move atop the collegiate performance list. That mark stood up for a few weeks, and still puts her 5th on the division I performance list.
Rivera has already earned an undergraduate and graduate degrees. She'll be a graduate assistant in Mizzou's business school next year, and continue to train. She'll look to get a world championships qualifying mark between now and the meet that takes place in late August in Budapest, Hungary.
Rivera competed at the Mike A. Meyers track and field facility in Austin four years ago, where she placed 6th in the javelin.
Madelyn Harris Jr. Nebraska, Javelin,
Lee's Summit, MO, Lee's Summit West High School
Former standout shot putter Maddie Harris picked up the javelin at Lee's Summit West and became just as good with the spear. Harris changed her college commitment to play softball at Purdue to instead throw the javelin at Nebraska.
Harris won the 2021 Big 10 title then placed 19th at her first NCAA Championships at Oregon.
In 2022, she claimed the Drake Relays javelin to earn a champions white flag. She followed that up with her second straight Big 10 crown. Then at NCAAs last year, she took 2nd with a toss of 57.69m/189-3.
This year, she improved her PR to 58.85m/193-1 to win the Jim Click Shootout in Tuscson, Arizona. That moved her past Sophia Rivera to #1 in the country. She settled for 2nd at the Big 10 meet this year, behind just her teammate Rhema Otabor. Those two sit 1-2 on the season performance list.
Skylar Ciccolini, So. Missouri, Javelin Season Seed #13
Lewisville, PA. Mifflin County High School
Ciccolini was the best prep in the javelin as a senior, tossing a best of 184-2 to put her among the best of all-time. Covid-19 knocked out her freshman year in 2020. In 2021, she placed 9th at the NCAA Championships, competing with an injury,. Ciccolini didn't compete at all in 2022 while her sister Taylor joined the Mizzou squad.
They are all part of a great javelin training group at Mizzou for Coach Brett Halter. This year, Ciccolini placed 4th at the NCAA West Preliminary Championships with a toss of 55.70m/182-9. She'll look to make the finals and earn her first NCAA top-8 trophy, competing along side teammate Sophia Rivera, in her final collegiate meet.