The Progression of Surprise NCAA Champion Karissa Schweizer

null
The final 200 meters of the women's NCAA Cross Country Championship in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Saturday was a showdown between a two-time Foot Locker champion, a New Balance Nationals Indoor 5K champion, and a runner who never won a state title in cross country.

Karissa Schweizer of Missouri found herself in NCAA title contention with two of the most accomplished runners in the field--Notre Dame's Anna Rohrer and Michigan's Erin Finn. On the 400m homestretch and amid deafening cheers at LaVern Gibson Championship Course, Rohrer was the first to pass Finn for the lead. But Finn responded quickly by overtaking her Great Lakes region rival. The NCAA title seemed within reach for Finn, but suddenly, Schweizer made an unexpected surge on Finn's right side and held her lead all the way into the finish line.

The junior from Urbandale, Iowa, who never competed at Foot Locker Nationals or earned a top 40 Nike Cross Nationals placing, won the NCAA championship against some of the most accomplished contenders in the NCAA.

Watch the series of kicks below in Kick of the Week:


Aside from her 47th-place finish at 2013 Nike Cross Nationals, Schweizer never competed at a national cross country championship while running for Dowling Catholic High School. She earned one Iowa state title in the outdoor 3K in 2011 and was a consistent top five finisher in events ranging from 800m to 3K at the Iowa state meet. By the time Schweizer graduated, she held personal bests of 2:12 (800m), 4:34 (1500m), and 9:54 (3K).

Iowa prep expert and meet announcer Mike Jay noted Schweizer's rise from the high school level to winning her first NCAA title.

"She never won a state XC title @dowcathxc (4,7,3,2), but this one sure makes up for it!!" Jay wrote on Twitter after her victory.


Schweizer has been on a steady rise since arriving at Missouri in 2014. She earned an individual berth to the NCAA championships as a freshman when she finished seventh at the Midwest regional. During the 2015 track season, she notched indoor PRs of 4:45 in the mile and 9:25 in the 3K and earned a chance to compete at the NCAA West preliminary in the 5K.

During her sophomore cross country season, Schweizer didn't qualify for NCAAs, but she finished 14th in the SEC. She returned with a vengeance in track season by running a mile PR of 4:39 and a 3K PR of 9:17. She also earned her first opportunity to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a 5K PR of 15:58.
null
She went on to place third in the NCAA final behind NCAA champion Dominique Scott and Oklahoma State's Aurora Dybedokken, and she did it by unleashing her signature kick. With 100 meters remaining the race, Schweizer overtook Ednah Kurgat and Alli Cash to earn her first-All American honor. Schweizer's outdoor championship kick foreshadowed what was to come in Terre Haute five months later.



Schweizer entered Saturday's championship ranked No. 5 on the Saucony Flo50 list and earned the projection based on her standout regular season performances. Two victories in a row at the SEC and Midwest region championships catapulted Schweizer from No. 10 to No. 5 behind Washington's Amy-Eloise Neale, Rohrer, New Mexico's Alice Wright, and Finn. Based on her competitors' performances, nobody on the FloTrack team picked Schweizer to win in the pre-race predictions.

In comparison, Finn has earned seven All-American honors and two NCAA runner-up finishes. As a freshman, Rohrer finished sixth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships and already owns a 5K PR of 15:32. But as racing often shows, stats on paper don't always translate to a victory. And Schweizer's kick will never be underestimated again.

Why Allie Ostrander Is Taking A Stand Against Body-Focused Commentary

With two laps to go in the NCAA Division I women’s steeplechase final at the University of Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium earlier this month, Boise State's Allie Ostrander surged to what would be a winning lead, and her third straight national title in the event—a streak no other collegiate woman can claim. 

Weekend Recap: The Women's 100m Just Got A Lot More Interesting

Not much was expected in terms of exciting track and field in a week with no Diamond League meets on the calendar, but the stars of the sport exceeded expectations with fast times and strong marks coming from the Ostrava Golden Spike on Thursday and the Jamaican National Championships over the weekend.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Briana Williams Sets 100m High School National Record With 10.94

Northeast (FL) High School junior Briana Williams smashed the national high school, world U18 and Jamaican U20 records in the 100m when she clocked a 10.94 to finish third at the Jamaica Senior Championships Friday night in Kingston.

Exposing How Stupid IAAF's New World Rankings Truly Are

As most of you know, earlier this year, the IAAF announced their new World Ranking system, which will be used in part to select future global championship fields. I wrote about how dumb the rankings were when they came out, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that Kim Conley reminded me how stupid IAAF's new World Rankings truly are.

POLL: Which Men's Bowerman Finalist Should Win?

Today, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced this year's men's Bowerman finalists: LSU's Armand "Mondo" Duplantis, Florida's Grant Holloway, and Texas Tech's Divine Oduduru.

Matthew Boling Nominated For 'Record-Breaking Performance' ESPY

null

It was the kind of magical performance we rarely see in high school track and field. 

De Grasse Beats Coleman, Miller-Uibo Smashes 300m World Best

The 58th Ostrava Golden Spike meeting, an IAAF World Challenge event, went down on Thursday in the Czech Republic, with Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo running a world best and silver medalist Andre De Grasse announcing his return to the top of the sport.

House Of Run: Which DL Events Have Clear Favorites Already?

Jason and Kevin discuss Sydney McLaughlin’s Diamond League debut win, Christian Coleman’s world lead, the current state of the women’s 800m, Tori Bowie’s season debut, Marcin Lewandowski’s medal potential and Genzebe Dibaba’s chances at gold in Doha.

The Unofficial 2019 Track And Field Mock Draft

Let’s imagine a utopian world where professional track and field was like every major sport, and top prospects wishing to be paid for their services could be selected in an amateur draft. Never mind that a singular league comprised of individual teams could never exist in a sport as disparate as track and field, where various elements of running, jumping and throwing are all encompassed under one roof. We’re not getting caught up in logistics here. So in honor of tonight’s NBA Draft, here is a very fake but totally fun track and field mock draft order for either those who have announced their intentions to go pro in 2019 or, in Matthew Boling’s case, a pre-college 19-year-old who would be age-eligible under the NBA’s rules.

7 Events To Watch At USA Junior Nationals

Women's 800m - Hurta 2:00, Athing Mu 2:01

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

The USA Track and Field Junior National Championships is bound to be one of the best meets of the spring season.