Schweizer set for big 2015 season

Schweizer qualified for the NCAA Championships as a freshman and is set to be a top runner on the cross country 2015 team.

Sophomore Karissa Schweizer is not your typical runner.

When Missouri cross country coach Marc Burns first saw her in the 2014 preseason workouts, he knew she was going to be good.

“She is a unique blend of strength and speed for a distance runner,” Burns said. “She can get down and run a really good 800, really good mile, but then she can also run great cross-country and sustain a really high quality rhythm for a really long period of time.”

For most of the 2014 season, Schweizer was the Tigers’ No. 2 runner behind then-sophomore Kaitlyn Fischer. Then, in the NCAA Midwest Regional meet, Schweizer ran an incredible race. It was at that run that Burns saw something different.

“It was pretty cool to see her grow up before your eyes,” he said.

At that Midwest regional, which was a 6,000-meter race, Schweizer passed Fischer with around 2,000 meters to go. She ended up finishing the race seventh out of 222 runners — good enough to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

“I really surprised myself making it to Nationals,” Schweizer said. “That was just huge and extremely exciting for me to have the opportunity to go to that.”

In 2014, Schweizer was also the top freshman in the Southeastern Conference. She finished 17th at SEC Championships, less than two seconds ahead of the next closest freshman.

Now, Schweizer has her eyes set on having a strong 2015 season. She has lofty goals not only for herself but for the Tigers as a whole.

“I hope I can help the team out as much as I did last year,” she said. “I hope I can help the freshmen come into the program, I hope we can have a good team, and I hope to make it to Nationals, not individually but as a team.”

To earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, the team would need to finish as one of the top-two teams at Regionals.

“With two girls that have that experience on our team, I’m really excited for next year,” Schweizer said. “If we qualify (for Nationals), I think we could do pretty well.”

Schweizer also made an impact on Missouri’s track team. She placed seventh at SEC Championships in the 5,000-meter event. Additionally, she qualified for the NCAA Championships West Preliminary Round in the 5,000.

Burns said that Schweizer is someone that other runners on the cross-country team can learn from. Aside from being one of the top runners, she is a valuable teammate.

“(Her teammates) really enjoy her being on the team because she works hard, but she’s a team-oriented person where she really does care about the other girls on the team,” Burns said. “She’s just someone that helps make the team better just through her attitude and her work ethic.”

Both Burns and Schweizer have high expectations for the Missouri team in coming years. With Schweizer as one of the team’s top runners, it appears that their goals are within reach.

“When she is on her game, it’s tough to beat her ... that unique blend of speed and strength is a great asset,” Burns said. “Couple that with being a feisty competitor and it’s a tough combo to beat.”

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