The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Rolla native McMillan qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team

  • When she was a student at Rolla Junior High School Chantae McMillan stated in an interview with the Daily News that her ultimate goal was the Olympic Games.Nine years later London, here she comes!McMillan becomes the first Olympian from Rolla – at least in recent memory – as ...
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  • When she was a student at Rolla Junior High School Chantae McMillan stated in an interview with the Daily News that her ultimate goal was the Olympic Games.
    Nine years later London, here she comes!
    McMillan becomes the first Olympian from Rolla – at least in recent memory – as she earned a berth on the United States Olympic Track and Field Team in the heptathlon over the weekend at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
    To qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team in the heptathlon an athlete has to place in the top three and reach the Olympic A Standard score of 6,150 points.
    McMillan, a University of Nebraska graduate who competed in the Olympic Trials unattached, finished third in the 20-woman heptathlon field with a point total of 6,188 points.
    Next for McMillan is the 2012 Summer Games of the XXX Olympiad, to be held in London, England July 27 through Aug. 12.
    “I wanted to run for a purpose,” McMillan said in an interview with NBC TV immediately following her 800-meter run Saturday night. “God was the only thing on my mind and I knew we would get through this together.”
    Joining McMillan as the United States’ trio of heptathlon competitors are Hyleas Fountain, of the Nike Track Club, and Sharon Day, of the Asics Track Club.
    Fountain won the heptathlon competition with 6,419 points while Day finished second with 6,343. Those three were the only heptathlon competitors to achieve the Olympic A Standard score.
    The heptathlon is a competition that tests an athlete’s running, jumping and throwing abilities. Heptathlon events include the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter dash, long jump, javelin and 800-meter run.
    McMillan had qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials by placing third in the 2011 U.S. Championships. In August of 2011 she suffered a knee injury which required surgery, and didn’t begin training for the Olympic Trials until March.
    She rebounded from the surgery with her greatest-ever performance, setting personal-best marks in five of the seven events on Friday and Saturday, including a pair of first-places and a fourth-place.
    McMillan sat in third place after Friday’s competition, during which she placed fourth in the 100-meter hurdles with a personal-record (PR) time of :13.36; tied for ninth in the high jump with a leap of 5-7 3/4; captured the shot put by nearly 4 1/2 feet with a PR mark of 49-3 1/2, and finished eighth in the 200-meter dash with a PR time of :24.32. She won her heat in both the 100-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash.
    Saturday opened with her past surgery probably costing her the most. She left Rolla High School as a long jump specialist. However, after the surgery she had to switch her take-off leg and is still trying to regain her pre-surgery marks.
    Page 2 of 3 - Not helping were rain showers that hit the Eugene, Ore. track Saturday afternoon. And McMillan struggled to a 17th placement in the long jump with a leap of 18-1 1/2, dropping her to fifth in the overall standings.
    However, McMillan responded immediately in the javelin, winning the event by nearly 15 feet with a PR throw of 164-10. That put her back into third place heading into the final event – the 800-meter run.
    So as expected McMillan’s Olympic qualification came down to the final event, the 800-meter run.
    Running in the final heat, McMillan would assure herself of the needed third-place finish by simply completing the race. However, she also needed a time of 2:20.51 or better to secure the Olympic A Standard and a berth on the Olympic Team.
    Not worrying about placement, McMillan ran a tactical race, only concerned with her time.
    In the first 400-meter lap McMillan fell to the back, but was staying with the pack. As the bell sounded for the final lap McMillan began to make her move, staying with Fountain, who she knew consistently runs under 2:20.
    As they neared the finish line McMillan passed Fountain, and as she crossed the finish line in a PR of 2:17.71 the beaming grin on McMillan’s face indicated she knew she was now an Olympian.
    A 2006 graduate of Rolla High School, McMillan was a two-time Missouri Class 4 state champion in the long jump, just missing a third state title as a senior due to an ankle injury.
    She went to the University of Nebraska as a long jump specialist but was quickly switched to a multi-sport athlete and she responded with four Big 12 Conference championships and five All-America honors for the Huskers.
    Two of the proudest spectators in the stands watching McMillan qualify Friday and Saturday were Don and Joyce Knapp. Don was Chantae's track head coach and Joyce an assistant at RHS.
    Don Knapp said they knew exactly where McMillan was in the standings throughout the meet.
    “The announcers were great,” Knapp said. “We knew what she needed to do event by event. And she turned in five PRs out of seven events...and it was in the rain (on Saturday).”
    Knapp said the rain probably made McMillan even more tentative than normal in the long jump with the takeoff switch she is making.
    “The rain affected all of them,” Knapp said. “Everybody was off by about two feet because of the rain, the swirling wind and the slick conditions.”
    The Knapps were thrilled, but not surprised, how McMillan responded after the long jump disappointment.
    “What a competitor she is!” Don Knapp said. “She came back and PRed both (the javelin and 800). She blew away the field in the javelin and paced the 800 race perfectly.”
    Page 3 of 3 - Knapp said McMillan’s performance is one of the highlights of his track career.
    “I’m thrilled beyond words,” he said. “I never thought I would experience something like this. And what a class and wonderful young lady.
    “It’s a complete tribute to her and the hard work she has put in.”
    U.S. Olympic Trials
    Heptathlon Results
    Olympic Qualifiers
    1. Hyleas Fountain, Nike Track Club, 6,419
    2. Sharon Day, Asics Track Club, 6,343
    3. Chantae McMillan, Unattached, 6,188
    4. Bettie Wade, Nike Track Club, 6,018
    5. Barbara Nwaba, UCSB, 5,986
    6. Abbie Stechschulte, Unattached, 5,855
    7. Ryann Krais, Kansas State, 5,817
    8. Lindsay Lettow, Central Missouri, 5,807
    9. Heather Miller, Central Park Track Club, 5,779
    10. Aisha Adams, Unattached, 5,778
    11. Chelsea Carrier-Eades, West Virginia, 5,772
    12. Jessica Flax, Wisconsin, 5,763
    13. Shakeia Pinnick, Arizona State, 5,752
    14. Lindsay Schwartz, South Alabama, 5,614
    15. Allison Reaser, San Diego State, 5,612
    16. Kiani Profit, Maryland, 5,564
    17. Deanna Latham, Wisconsin, 5,563
    18. Kasey Hill, Unattached, 5,537
    19. Emily Pearson, Unattached, 5,252
    20. Yvette Lewis, Unattached, 5,140
    Chantae McMillan’s event breakdowns (along with first-place finisher):
    Friday, June 29
    100-meter hurdles: McMillan 4th, :13.36, 1,071 pts; 1st Yvette Lewis, :12.84.
    High jump: McMillan T-9th, 5-7 3/4, 879 pts; 1st Barbara Nwaba, 6-1 1/2.
    Shot put: McMillan 1st, 49-3 1/2, 862 pts.
    200-meter dash: McMillan 8th, :24.32, 950 pts; 1st Yvette Lewis, :23.70.
    Saturday, June 30
    Long jump: McMillan 17th, 18-1 1/2; 1st Hyleas Fountain, 20-8.
    Javelin: McMillan 1st, 164-10.
    800-meter run: McMillan 15th, 2:17.71; 1. Shakeia Pinnick, 2:11.98.
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