MU's Lars Rise is one of Norway's best heptathletes

Monday, March 14, 2011 | 8:04 p.m. CDT; updated 7:56 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 15, 2011

COLUMBIA — Four years ago, Dan Lefever placed an international call to Norway.

"My first question was to the person who answered the phone asking if they knew any English because I knew it wasn't going anywhere if it was a no," said Lefever, an associate MU track and field coach.

The woman on the phone spoke English and handed the phone to her brother Lars Rise, now a senior at Missouri.

"I shared with him that we were interested in him and that we heard good things about him," Lefever said. "I told him I wanted to keep recruiting him and asked him to entertain the prospect of coming here."

At the time, Norwegian athletes Bjorn Sommerfeldt and Hans Uldal were already competing for the Missouri track and field team, and both knew Rise and had competed against him in high school.

Lefever "told me about the school and told me about the program here," Rise said. "And then I asked the two athletes how they liked it here, and they loved it here so I thought I might as well look."

Lefever also spoke to Rise's father the first time he called.

"I'm not sure either him or Lars had even thought about him going to the U.S. before that," Lefever said.

Once they learned more, Lefever said they saw it as a great opportunity for Rise.

Norwegian athletes coming to Missouri is not anything new.

"That dates back a long time," Lefever said. "I think there's been as many as seven different athletes. The Norwegians that we've had are some of Norway's best athletes in the combined events."

Rise, Uldal and Sommerfeldt compete in the decathlon during the outdoor season and the heptathlon during the indoor season.

Pole vault, shot put, long jump and high jump are the four common events between the decathlon and heptathlon. Hurdles and sprints are aspects of both as well, but the distances are different for each.

"I kind of just did everything from a young age, and we did decathlon in high school in Norway," Rise said.

This past weekend, Rise placed second in the country in the heptathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships. He set personal bests in five of the seven events and matched a personal best in another. His overall score, also a personal best, was 5,902 points. Clemson's Miller Moss won the event with 5,986.

"I knew it was going to be a really really tight meet because the 16 best athletes qualified," Rise said. "I felt in extremely good shape. Coach is really good at having me peak at the right time."

Next week Missouri starts the outdoor season at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif.

Rise said he prefers the outdoor season because he gets to throw the javelin and discus in the decathlon.

"I'm really excited about the outdoor season because (Lars is) more of a decathlete than a heptathlete," Lefever said. "You add more throwing events, and he's really good at the throwing events."

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