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2016 NCAA Div. I Women’s Cross Country Championships

Terre Haute, Indiana

With only 1 kilometer remaining in the NCAA women’s cross country championship race, an icy wind whipped across the Terre Haute race course, and Missouri junior Karissa Schweizer – 20 meters behind race leader Anna Rohrer and working hard to hold her 5th place position – faced a moment of truth as she reflected on her progressive race day goals. "Honestly, I really just wanted to be in the top 10. But I knew if I was there, I could be in the top 5. And I knew if I was in the top 5, I would have a kick,” explained the Urbandale, Iowa native. “And I trust my kick."

At that moment, Schweizer went all in. Tearing into the final kilo, Schweizer soon dropped Sharon Lokedi and passed Brenna Peloquin to move into 3rd. "I knew I had a kick,” she explained. “3rd is nice, but I wanted to win." With third-year Mizzou coach Marc Burns exhorting her onward – "You can win this thing!" – Schweizer dug down deep. "I just knew I had another gear. So I just went for it. It was unbelievable. It was just crazy. I was catching them. Coming up the final straight, I just kicked into another gear." And in doing so, she sailed past highly-touted Anna Rohrer and Erin Finn on her way to a most improbable national championship victory.

"I thought she could be in the top 5,” a beaming Marc Burns explained afterwards. “Our goal was to be top 10, give ourselves a chance to be in the top 10 somewhere. We just talked about being in position to beat somebody who – on paper – you're not supposed to beat. I don't think she even thought she had a chance to win, honestly. I wanted her to know that she could do it.” The Mizzou coach analyzed the keys to Karissa’s victorious championship run. “She was really smart early. She was relaxed, fought the wind. The big early pack, suggesting a modest pace, may have helped her a little bit,” noted Burns. “As the race whittled down, she looked good and gave herself a chance.

With Schweizer – who finished 3rd in last spring’s NCAA outdoor championship 5000m – breaking through with a stunning upset win in Terre Haute, Burns is looking forward to cultivating further progression with his new champion. “She's obviously got wheels. We're going to keep plugging, focus on the process, and keep her healthy," offered the Missouri coach. Following a pause, Burns added, "After today, it is going to incredible to see what she can do on the track.” Those who witnessed Schweizer’s national championship upset win can’t help but share those same sentiments.

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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