Karissa Schweizer wins NCAA Championship, leads Missouri to 16th place finish

Missouri finished 16th for the team’s best finish at the NCAAs since 2004.

Junior Karissa Schweizer is recognized for her recent NCAA cross country title during the home men's basketball game facing North Carolina Central University on Monday, Nov. 28.

Junior Karissa Schweizer capped off a storybook season with Missouri’s first individual NCAA women’s title at the NCAA Championships on Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Indiana, leading the team to a 16th place finish.

Junior Jamie Kempfer finished 27th and also earned All-America honors.

Schweizer, who entered the race ranked No. 5 in the country by Flotrack.org, was not expected by many outside of Columbia to have a chance at winning the race.

Flotrack.org had her finishing sixth in its race preview and did not think she would come close to Michigan senior Erin Finn, who was tabbed the heavy favorite to win entering the race. But Schweizer proved her doubters wrong, using her signature kick in the last 100 meters to blow past Finn and win the 6,000-meter race in 19:41.6.

“When I saw the leader, I thought maybe this could be my day," she said in a Mizzou Athletics press release. "My coach said always just go with whatever moves are made. I felt good, so I knew if I could hang around near the front, I could kick at the end.”

Schweizer’s finish was a 12.8 second improvement from her previous personal best time of 19:54.4, which she set at the Midwest Regional on Nov. 11. Schweizer was not the only Mizzou runner to have a career day, however. Kempfer, who has has cut 1:07 off her 6K time since Oct. 15, ran a personal best time of her own and finished in 20:16.3. Alongside Schweizer, she will give Missouri a formidable 1-2 punch next season.

Schweizer and Kempfer are Mizzou’s first cross-country All-Americans since Amanda Bales took 23rd at the NCAA Championships in 2003. Schweizer is also the first man or woman to win a cross-country NCAA Championship for Mizzou since Keith Bacon won it for the men in 1955. She finished her season with five wins in six races, and she was named the NCAA Midwest Regional Women’s Runner of the Year and the Southeastern Conference Women’s Runner of the Year.

The Tigers also got strong efforts from the rest of their runners. Running in an absolutely loaded field, senior Nicole Mello turned in a strong run on a crowded course. In the final cross-country race of her college career, Mello finished in 20:59.6. Fellow senior Teylar Adelsberger was not far behind her, finishing in 21:10.8. Redshirt junior Kaitlyn Fischer, who has battled injuries for much of the year, finished in 21:59.8 to round out the Tigers’ top five. In her final race of her freshman campaign, Jordyn Kleve ran her 6K in 22:05.5. The Tigers hope she can continue to be be a major contributor on next year’s team.

Missouri’s team finish of 16th was its best since 2004. With Schweizer, Kempfer, Fischer, and Kleve all returning next season, the program will look to build on this year’s successes as it works to become a national power.

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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