The Maneater

Schweizer wins SEC Championship, Tigers run to third overall

Junior Jamie Kempfer finished fifth and earned all-SEC First Team honors alongside Schweizer.

The Mizzou cross country team practices at the Audrey J. Walton Track Stadium on Sep. 13, 2016.

Junior Karissa Schweizer capped off a breakout Southeastern Conference season with an individual conference championship at the SEC Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Friday.

Junior Jamie Kempfer finished fifth, and the Missouri women’s cross-country team earned a third place finish overall.

Schweizer and Kempfer both earned all-SEC First Team honors for the Tigers, who finished third in the conference for the first time. Schweizer became Mizzou’s first conference champion since Erin Wilder’s Big 12 Championship win in 1997. Both Schweizer and Kempfer ran personal-record 6K times, as Schweizer finished in 20:10.5, eight seconds ahead of the second-place runner. Kempfer finished in 20:43, knocking off 43 seconds from her previous career-best 6K despite being sick throughout the week.

Kempfer said Mizzou’s successful season has come primarily through a sense of camaraderie and individual optimism.

“Confidence has allowed us to go out there and get it done,” Kempfer said in an interview on Oct. 18. “We’ve had a few girls start to break out and have really good seasons individually, and I think individual confidence really has helped bring the team confidence up.”

Schweizer said the team has been translating its attitude about practicing well into consistently better showings at races.

“Throughout practice we’ve been pushing each other, and [we’ve been focusing on] working as a team when we race because everyone has to be close for us to do well,” Schweizer said in a pre-race interview. “Holding everyone accountable in practice and in racing has been important.”

The SEC Championships victory is Schweizer’s third first-place finish this year and fourth in her career. She has been named the SEC Runner of the Week three times this season, a Missouri program record, and is ranked as the No. 12 runner in the country according to Flowtrack.org. The official Twitter account of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association called Schweizer’s victory a “big win” for her.

Mizzou earned at-large points toward a possible berth to the NCAA Championships Meet in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Nov. 19 by finishing ahead of No. 29 Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Florida.

Coach Marc Burns said in an interview on Oct. 18 that beating those three teams would be “huge” for the team’s chances at earning their first invite to the NCAA Championships since 2004.

Senior Nicole Mello finished in 21:30.6, senior Teylar Adelsberger came in at 21:39.8 and junior Kaitlyn Fischer raced in 22:04.5 to round of the top five for the Tigers.

Adelsberger said she feels the Tigers are peaking at the right time.

“You can tell the season is going the way it should,” said Adelsberger. “It’s getting easier for us as things get harder. We’re feeling stronger.”

The Tigers will race again at the NCAA Regional Meet in Iowa City, Iowa, on Nov. 11, where they hope to finish in the top two and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.

Edited by George Roberson | groberson@themaneater.com

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