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How the first American woman with an Olympic medal in the 1500 has ties to Oklahoma

Jenny Simpson did something Tuesday night that no American woman has ever done before -- win an Olympic medal in the 1,500 meters.

After surging from sixth place to third in the final 300 meters, she won the bronze and set off a celebration in various locales around the United States. There was joy in Iowa, where she was born. There was happiness in Florida, where she went to high school. And there was elation in Colorado, where she ran in collegiately at Colorado and now trains in Colorado Springs near the Air Force Academy.

But there was also delight in Oklahoma.

Simpson has never lived or trained in our state -- and that's why you haven't seen Simpson listed in our newspaper or on our website as an athlete with an Oklahoma connection; we figured if we included every athlete who's got family here, we might fill the paper with names -- but her dad is a business professor at Oklahoma State and the head of the School of Entrepreneurship. Bruce Barringer has been in Stillwater since 2009 after spending more than a decade at Central Florida.

We've heard from several folks about Barringer, who was in Rio to watch his daughter run. Some are OSU associates. Others are Bible study cohorts. But all of them said how happy they were for him.

We are, too.

One of the people who contacted us was Terry Tush, who heads up the marketing and communications for the Spears School of Business at OSU. He told of an additional Olympics-Oklahoma connection that runs through Barringer.

American pole vaulter Cale Simmons is currently a student in the Spears School's Masters in Entrepreneurship program. Like Simpson, he's never lived or trained in Oklahoma, but he has been taking online classes while training at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Simmons recently completed his coursework.

Knowing that Barringer was going to be in Rio, Simmons requested that his diploma be presented at the Olympics.

Pretty darn cool, huh?

We'll follow up and see if we can share any more about the OSU graduation ceremony that took place in Rio.

Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›