Karissa grew up in Des Moines, Iowa and carries on the strong tradition of Midwesterners joining BTC. She dabbled in all manner of sports growing up from softball to soccer to basketball (she’s very competitive in the occasional game of Knockout the BTC pro team may or may not indulge in post-practice (shh don’t tell Jerry)). However, with her Mom, Dad, and Grandpa all having been collegiate runners, she seemed destined to eventually settle on Track. She attended Dowling Catholic, a running powerhouse in the state, where she was on three state championship teams and won an individual state title in the 3,000m in 2011. She graduated with impressive personal bests of 4:34 for 1,500m and 9:54 for 3,000m, but had not yet become the national phenomenon that we know her as today.
In her first year and a half at the University of Missouri she had some modest successes and was competitive at the conference level in the SEC. She burst onto the national scene at the outdoor NCAA Championships her sophomore year when she finished 3rd in her first ever national track meet. As wonderful as that breakout was, it would soon be eclipsed by her tremendous Junior season. She won the NCAA titles in Cross Country, the indoor 5,000m, and the outdoor 5,000m. In addition, she was the runner up in the indoor 3,000m and finished 4th at the USATF Championships in the 5,000m.
Her senior campaign began with a disappointing (by her extremely high standards) 11th place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. She would make up for it by adding three more NCAA titles in Track that spring. She became just the fifth women ever win the 3,000m/5,000m double at the indoor NCAA Championships and won her second consecutive outdoor 5,000m title. She finished her collegiate career with six NCAA titles and ten All-American honors.
After graduation, she finished 3rd at the USATF Championships over 5,000m and, in her first race in the BTC singlet, ran 15:02 for 5,000m at the Huesden-Zolder meet in Belgium. Following a winter of training in Portland with Bowerman, she ran 15:11 for 5,000m indoors and made the US World Cross Country team, finishing 56th at the World Championships. That was just the beginning of stellar first professional season. She finished 2nd at the USATF Championships in the 5000m to make her first World Championships team. In Doha, she set personal bests in both the prelim and final to finish 9th. Her time of 14:45.18 made her the 5th fastest American woman of All-Time!
Off the track Karissa sticks to the quiet, disciplined life of a professional runner. She enjoys baking, drawing, reading, and Netflix. She says the topic she’d feel most confident giving a TED Talk on is “all the different foods you can put Nutella on or in” and we, frankly, feel that this a presentation the world needs to hear! Here parents are Mike and Kathy Schweizer and she has a younger brother, Ryan, and younger sister, Kelsey.