Schweizer’s mile run headlines Missouri’s performance at the Columbia Challenge

The Tigers competed in 23 events in the midseason meet.
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.

Before the Dr. Sander Invitational Columbia Challenge this weekend at the Armory in New York City, Karissa Schweizer was already a known quantity in indoor track and field, having been a first-team All-American in both the 5,000- and 3,000-meter runs in 2017.

But on Saturday in one of the nation’s most iconic indoor track and field venues, the Missouri senior made her mark on another race: the mile run. She finished third with a time of 4:27.54.

Besides smashing the Tigers’ program record by more than seven seconds, the time was also the fourth fastest in NCAA history, and the fastest so far this season. The women’s mile race also included several professional runners, and Schweizer was the only college athlete to finish in the top six.

Schweizer’s record-breaking run was one of several standout Missouri performances at the meet, which began on Thursday and Friday with senior Rauno Liitmae finishing second in the heptathlon with 5,397 points, enough to move him up from seventh to sixth in the Mizzou all-time chart. Also on Friday, the Tigers ran the men’s distance medley relay for just the sixth time in school history. Redshirt seniors Ben Goodman and Jerrad Mason and freshmen Chris Conrad and Austin Hindman teamed up to finish eighth out of nine teams in the event, which involves legs of four different distances.

The bulk of Mizzou’s 23 events at the meet took place on Saturday, including sophomore Ja’Mari Ward’s indoor debut in the men’s long jump. Ward made waves in the outdoor version of the event as a freshman in 2017, winning both the SEC and Pan-American Junior titles. But in his first competitive long jump under a roof, he fouled all three of his attempts, one of only two in the 20-man field not to register a legal jump.

Junior Karissa Roman’s 1.77-meter high jump was enough to put her into a three-way tie for ninth in program history, as well earn her a sixth-place finish on the day. Junior Valeria Kostiuk followed Roman in seventh after jumping 1.73 meters.

The men’s mile run initially looked promising for Mizzou, with four runners who each seemed capable of making some noise in the race. Redshirt junior Zach Cook and junior Thomas George both finished in the top 20 at last year’s SEC Indoor Championships. Additionally, redshirt senior Marc Dubrick was fresh off of the program’s sixth-best ever 3,000-meter run at the Vanderbilt Invitational last week, and freshman Austin Hindman was the 2017 Missouri high school state champion in the outdoor mile.

However, all four runners wilted in the Big Apple, with Dubrick’s 42nd-place finish the best of the four marks. It was his slowest time in the race since 2015. Hindman was recovering from a bout with the flu, after head coach Brett Halter mentioned his ailment in a Jan. 17 press conference and he was held out of the mile run at the Vanderbilt Invitational.

Redshirt senior Megan Cunningham delivered her second impressive 3,000-meter run in as many weeks, following up her program fifth-best time of 9:19.07 at Vanderbilt with a 9:19.28 showing. She finished in eighth place, with three of her superiors coming from the professional ranks.

After an electric collegiate debut in the 800-meter run in Nashville, Tennessee, last week, in which he finished fourth and nearly broke into Missouri’s all-time top 10, freshman Chris Conrad attempted to carry his success over into the Armory. It wasn’t to be, however, as he finished with a time of 1:53.90, more than four seconds slower than last week, and finished 26th.

Another notable decline came in the shot put performance of redshirt junior Avery Carter, who, after a 10th-place finish and personal record of 17.85 meters at last year’s SEC Indoor Championships, has now lowered his score in each of his three appearances this season. His 14.52-meter mark on Saturday was the worst of his 17 career appearances as a Tiger apart from last year’s Missouri Invitational, in which he fouled all of his attempts.

After Schweizer’s mile run, juniors CeCe Johnson and Becky Keating provided Missouri’s final record breaking performances of the weekend. Both women entered the program’s all-time top 10 in the weight throw, finishing fourth and seventh in the meet with scores of 18.88 meters and 18.5 meters, respectively. Johnson became the Tigers’ sixth-best all-time weight thrower, while Keating etched her name into the ninth slot.

“Overall, we knew heading into New York that this meet and setting would challenge us in many ways,” Halter said in a press release following Saturday’s action. “I thought, overall, the team's competitive integrity is improving as we now set our sights on moving toward championship season.”

The team will take a week off from competition before heading to two separate meets, the Iowa State Classic in Ames, Iowa, and the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Feb. 9 and Feb. 9-10, respectively.

Edited by Joe Noser |

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