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University of Missouri

Born to Run

Karissa Schweizer tears up the track.

runners on track

Karissa Schweizer is the latest distance runner in her family to excel at the collegiate level. Courtesy Mizzou Athletics.

Whether she’s leading the pack down the home stretch or hanging out with family in her hometown of Urbandale, Iowa, Karissa Schweizer comes from a long line of runners. The 2015 SEC cross country freshman of the year is just hitting her stride, but growing up around her father and grandfather — both former All-American distance runners at Minnesota State University, Mankato (MNSU) — has put her ahead of schedule.

“I call my grandpa before every race,” says Schweizer of Frank, who coached track at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, for 30 years. “Now that I’ve gotten older I don’t need as much guidance; it’s just comforting.”

Schweizer, who also runs distance events during the winter indoor and spring outdoor track seasons, is already assaulting the Mizzou record books. Her 3000-meter run time of 9:17 is third best in school history, and her mile time of 4:39 is second best in school history.

Schweizer’s father, Mike, met her mother, Kathy, while they were track athletes at MNSU. Karissa’s brother, Ryan, recently committed to run at Notre Dame University, and little sister Kelsey is trotting along as a high school freshman.

“We went on a family vacation in Minnesota, and each of us went for a run around the lake at separate times,” Schweizer says. “Someone asked my sister, ‘Is there some kind of race happening?’ She said, ‘No, that’s just my family.’ ”