If you live in Des Moines and pay any attention at all to high school track and field, you’ll recognize the name “Schweizer.”
Grandfather Frank coached track at Dowling Catholic. Mom and Dad were both runners. Brother Ryan is an all-time best high school runner and younger sisters Alexis and Kelsey can be seen on the track after school behind Dowling High School. Today, Karissa, the eldest sibling from Urbandale, now a junior at Mizzou, runs both track and cross country for the Tigers.
This past weekend (March 10-11) the Dowling Catholic alum accomplished a feat no other female had done at Missouri – becoming an NCAA Champion, not once, but twice, in her career.
She did so last Friday (March 10, 2017) with a first place finish in the 5,000m run at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in College Station, Texas. The National title is her second of the year after she won the NCAA Cross Country National Championship in November, and the third NCAA All-American honor of her career after the cross country national title and a third place finish in the 5,000m run at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Schweizer ran the proto-typical smart 5,000m race, staying near the front of the pack before using her signature kick to separate herself from the rest of the field over the final 400 meters. She finished the race with a personal record and school record time of 15:19.14, resetting the school record which she set on Dec. 3, 2016 at the Boston University Season Opener, where she finished at 15:37.40. Schweizer finished eight seconds ahead of the second place finisher, as her time of 15:19.14 now ranks fifth all-time in indoor collegiate history.
“This feels unbelievable. It feels like a dream come true,” said Schweizer moments after the race.
“My strategy throughout the race was to stay relaxed, because I knew the other girls in the race were going to make it an honest race. I was just going to hang in there and see what I can do since I haven’t ran a 5K in a while. With 400 meters to go, I knew I was going to make a move, whether I felt good or not.”
She later told ESPN: “I’m pretty competitive. I wanted to make it hurt. I just visualized this a million times. I’m beyond excited.”
On Saturday, (March 11, 2017) Schweizer closed out her 2017 indoor season with a second place finish in the 3,000m run at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. With the second place finish and a national title in the 5,000m run Friday night, Schweizer recorded the third and fourth NCAA All-America honors of her career.
“Just an amazing weekend for Karissa and our program,” said Mizzou assistant coach Marc Burns. “She had quite a bit of pressure on her coming off the Cross Country National Championship, but I think she did a great job of focusing on the process and really taking one race at a time and executing game plans over the weekend. That’s a testament to the hard work she has put in throughout the year and all the people who have helped her get to where she is. Winning a national title is a tough thing to do, for her to do that in the 5K on Friday night, then come back less than 24 hours later and finish second in the 3K is very impressive.”
“I’m ecstatic to finish in second place,” said Schweizer following the race. “Obviously I wanted to win, but I’m proud to be where I’m at right now.”
Schweizer pushed the pace in the 3K race, leading for a majority of the race before the rest of the field caught up with around five laps to go. With just two laps remaining, Schweizer once again kicked out to the front of the pack, causing a two-legged race between the Tiger junior and Colorado’s Dani Jones. Schweizer crossed the finish line at 9:09.33, a mere .13 seconds behind Jones, who finished with a time of 9:09.20.
The two-time NCAA Champion now shifts her focus to the 2017 outdoor season, where the Tigers distance team will begin the season at the Stanford Invitational, March 30-April 1 in Palo Alto, Calif.