The Maneater

Schweizer wins 1,500-meter run, breaks sixth school record at Tom Botts Invitational

Schweizer broke her sixth school record with a time of 4:12.83.

Karissa Schweizer, right, strides past an opposing runner at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Kentucky on Nov. 18. Schweizer finished 11th in the 6k with a time of 19:47.5.

Senior Karissa Schweizer pulled past professional runner Megan Mansy and strode down the home stretch at the Tom Botts Invitational Friday night.

As Schweizer fled down the track, fans roared with cowbells in hand at Audrey J. Walton stadium. When she crossed the finish line, everyone looked to the timer, which read 4:12.83.

In her final home meet, Schweizer had not only won the 1,500-meter run, but had broken her sixth school record, more than any athlete in Missouri history.

It was a fitting end for one of the most successful athletes in Tiger history. Distance coach Marc Burns credited the senior from Urbandale, Iowa, for dramatically changing the face of Missouri track and field over her four years on the team.

“Around town, at the NCAA level, at the world level, people know us because they know her, five-time NCAA champion,” Burns said. “She’s the poster child for distance running in America up-and-coming.”

Schweizer finished races for the last time in front of Tiger fans and escaped Mansy, a runner from Hoka New Jersey New York Track Club and dominated the rest of the field on her way to beating Laura Roxber’s 1,500-meter school record of 4:13.53 in 2013.

Mansy specializes in the 1,500-meter run and was an ACC champion in the 1,500-meter run in 2016 while at North Carolina State.

After finishing, Schweizer stopped, hugged Mansy and smiled. But there was no time to waste for Schweizer, who ran back down the home stretch and high-fived every black-and-gold-clad fan who had come out on the track to watch her record-breaking performance.

Schweizer wanted to congratulate the fans who had left the stands and spilled onto the track, watching her dramatic finish in the track’s last four lanes behind a barrier of hurdles.

For Schweizer, the crowd had helped to pull her toward the finish and the school record time.

“It just means a lot to me,” Schweizer said. “Knowing everyone who is out there and knowing who is supporting me out there is really touching.”

Schweizer started strong, running behind redshirt senior Valeska Halamicek, who was setting the pace.

After Halamicek peeled off after two laps, Schweizer was left all alone with Mansy.

With 200 meters to go, Mansy passed Schweizer, but Schweizer used her well-known kick to blow by Mansy in the final homestretch.

“It’s easy to give up at that point,” Schweizer said. “But just having all the fans screaming at me and knowing that this was my last home meet made me click into another gear. I actually had a lot left in me that I didn’t even know I had until I was able to push through that pain.”

Burns was excited to see the finishing kick Schweizer unlocked at the end of the race.

“The last 150 [meters] she just put it in another gear,” Burns said. “That was really good to see because that’s a gear she hasn’t had to use yet because she has been in control of most of the races she’s been in. That was a gear I really wanted to see.”

Mansy was flown in by donors for the track program at Missouri. Donors reached out to the program and then paid for Mansy to come compete.

With a field of mostly local colleges, Mansy’s competition was instrumental to Schweizer’s performance.

“I don't think Karissa breaks the record without [Mansy] in the race as well,” Burns said. “It worked out great.”

Next, Schweizer will run in her home state of Iowa at the Drake Relays in the 5,000-meter run.

Another impressive performance came earlier in the day from redshirt junior Avery Carter, who won the hammer throw with a personal record of 64.18 meters, the third longest throw in school history. Redshirt sophomore Patrick Kunza finished in third with a heave of 58.99 meters.

The Lee’s Summit, Missouri, native, who considered himself a specialist in the shot put rather than the hammer throw, was surprised with his performance.

“It’s really good to see this much improvement in the hammer,” Carter said. “I still can’t believe it. I didn’t think it was that far until the crowd roared.”

Carter credited his recent success to work with the training staff on injury prevention.

“Recently, I’ve been focusing on staying healthy and doing the work,” Carter said. “I’m always in treatment and rehab, preventing injuries and making sure my muscles recover to prevent injury.”

Carter said his main goal now is to qualify for outdoor nationals. His winning toss also will put him at 13th in the West Region and 34th in the country for the hammer throw.

Sophomore Allie Webb and freshman Megan Haley finished second and third in the women’s javelin with throws of 43.52 and 43.06 meters, respectively. Webb and Haley finished behind Rochelle Etienne’s winning throw of 43.97 meters for Missouri State.

Freshman Jason Edwards had a busy first day, finishing fifth in the men’s long jump and leaving halfway through the long jump to compete in the men’s javelin. Edwards won the javelin with a personal-best throw of 53.69 meters.

Junior Becky Keating finished second in the women’s hammer throw with a mark of 60.18 meters. Keating finished behind Northern Iowa senior Sarah Pate’s throw of 63.14 meters.

On the track, freshman Chris Conrad came from behind to win the men’s 1,500-meter run with a time of 3:54.49. Outside of the top five heading into the last 200 meters, Conrad used his speed to come from behind down the home stretch.

In the 5,000-meter run, redshirt sophomore Sophia Racette finished fifth with a time of 17:30.09.

On the men’s side, junior Thomas George finished first for Missouri with a time of 15:04.25. George ran unattached because he is redshirting this season. Redshirt sophomore Michael Widmann finished second for the Tigers with a time of 15:08.52.

The Tom Botts Invitational will continue on Saturday with field events starting at 11:30 a.m and track events starting at 1 p.m.

All-American and redshirt junior Gabi Jacobs will headline the events Saturday with the women’s discus. Jacobs finished fifth at last year’s NCAA Division I outdoor championships and is 12th in the West Region in the discus this season.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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