COLUMBIA, Mo. - After recording arguably the best individual season performance in program history, Mizzou Cross Country junior Karissa Schweizer (Urbandale, Iowa) was named as the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Women's National Athlete of the Year, announced by the organization on Tuesday. Schweizer is the first Tiger to ever receive the award, which began in 1995.
"I am so happy for Karissa to be named the USTFCCCA Women's National Athlete of the Year," said Mizzou Cross Country Head Coach Marc Burns. "This has been a dream season for her and she has worked really hard to make it happen. She deserves the recognition and will be the first to tell you that it would not be possible without the help of our support staff and her teammates. Karissa has shown us that Mizzou is a place that you can make all of your dreams come true."
In a season where Schweizer set and re-set personal-records in each race, Schweizer polished off her junior campaign with a NCAA Cross Country National Championship on Nov. 19, in Terre Haute, Ind. Schweizer stayed near the front of the pack through the first 5K of the race, then kicked into high-gear over the last 400 meters, passing numerous runners en route to her first National Championship. Schweizer finished the 6,000m race with a personal record time of 19:41.6.
With the victory, Schweizer became Mizzou's first female National Champion in cross country and the first in program history since Keith Bacon won the Men's National Title in 1955. Additionally, Schweizer and junior Jamie Kempfer (Festus, Mo.), who finished 27th, earned All-America honors, marking the first time Mizzou has had an All-American since 2003 and the first time Mizzou has had a pair of All-Americans since 1984.
In six meets this season, Schweizer finished first in five races, winning at the Commodore Classic (Sept. 17), Chile Pepper Festival (Oct. 1), SEC Championships (Oct. 28), NCAA Midwest Regional (Nov. 11) and NCAA Championships (Nov. 19). The Tiger junior became the first individual conference champion in program history since 1997 and first regional champion since 2003. Following her success, Schweizer was named the SEC Women's Runner of the Year and NCAA Midwest Regional Women's Runner of the Year. Schweizer was the first in program history to be named conference athlete of the year and first since 2003 to be named regional athlete of the year.
The junior campaign has added to an already impressive resume as Schweizer was named the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2014 and earned All-America honors at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a third place finish in the 5,000m race.