Missouri junior Karissa Schweizer added another national title Friday when she broke away from a three-runner pack in the final few laps and crushed the field in the 5,000-meter final during the first day of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships at College Station, Texas.
Schweizer, who won the NCAA cross country title in November, went out with Notre Dame sophomore Anna Rohrer and Michigan junior Erin Finn during the opening laps of the 25-lap race and stalked her way to the final 500 meters in third place.
That’s when Schweizer kicked into a higher gear that Rohrer and Finn simply can’t match as was the case during the cross country championship, too.
“It was definitely a fast pace, an honest pace and I wanted that …,” Schweizer told ESPN’s John Anderson after the race. “I’ve visualized this a million times and it actually came true.”
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Schweizer finished in 15 minutes, 19.14 seconds — smashing her own Mizzou record set Dec. 3 by more than 18 seconds.
Her time is the sixth-fastest in collegiate history, the fastest in the NCAA this season by more than 9 seconds and establishes a new facility record at Gilliam Indoor Stadium.
Since winning the national crown in cross country, Schweizer said in a recent interview with The Star she’s occasionally challenged to a race by fans.
“I constantly get asked if I want to race or what my mile time is,” Schweizer said. “Usually, when I tell them what my mile time is (4 minutes, 35 seconds), they are like, ‘Never mind.’ ”
Anyone who saw her destroy the field Friday won’t soon throw down that gauntlet, but Schweizer doesn’t mind the notoriety.
“Every now and then somebody will be like, ‘Wait, you’re that one girl from Mizzou, aren’t you? You’re kind of fast,’ ” Schweizer said. “It’s kind of weird … (but) a lot more people are paying attention to the sport and I followed along with us. It’s been really exciting.”
It’s also created added pressure during indoor track and field season to prove the cross country title wasn’t a fluke, but Schweizer harnessed it to work and train harder rather than internalize those outside expectations.
“It definitely was nerve-racking going into indoor knowing that I have that title under me and hoping I could back it up,” Schweizer said. “My training is at a whole other level now, but I didn’t want to put the pressure on me that everyone has expectations. I just go out there and run for myself.”
Once again, she’s risen to the occasion and will go for gold again Saturday in the 3,000 meters. Schweizer won both races two weeks ago at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships.
She became the first Mizzou track and field athlete to win two conference titles at the same meet since Teri LeBlanc won the Big Eight 100-meter hurdles and heptathlon in 1989.
With that performance, Schweizer also won the Cliff Harper Trophy as the top-scoring female athlete at the SEC meet and subsequently was chose as the SEC Indoor Track and Field Women’s Runner of the Year and the United States Tracked and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Midwest Women’s Track Athlete of the Year.
Schweizer won those same two awards during cross country season as well as the USTFCCCA Cross Country Women’s National Athlete of the Year last fall, but she’s not fatigued yet by collecting prestigious honors.
“No, definitely not,” she said with a laugh. “I was really surprised (to win the Cliff Harper Trophy). It normally doesn’t go to a distance runner, so just getting that honor was huge. I didn’t even really know it was possible that I could get it, so I was really excited and honored to get that award.”