“He/she/they ran away with the title.” It’s a saying/cliche we hear pretty often in sports. But THIS ... this is running away with a title:
Karissa Schweizer wrapped up one of the best single-year performances in Mizzou history with her third national title on Saturday in Eugene. She destroyed the field in the 5,000-meter, giving her an outdoor track championship to go with her indoor track and cross country titles.
Granted, track gives you title chances that other sports don’t — there’s not an indoor and outdoor gymnastics, for instance — but Schweizer dominated 2016-17 like few athletes have, Mizzou or otherwise. And she saved her best for last.
Schweizer claimed the NCAA title with a school record time of 15:38.93, besting her Stanford Invitational (March 31) performance of 15:39.75. Schweizer took the lead with six laps remaining and pulled away from the pack over the final 1,600 meters, winning by almost a full five seconds. The Tiger junior becomes the fourth female in NCAA history to win the distance triple crown (cross country, indoor 5000m and outdoor 5000m NCAA titles), and first since 2008. Schweizer is preceded by Villanova's Jennifer Rhines (1994-95), Arizona's Amy Skieresz (1996-97) and Texas Tech's Sally Kipyego (2007-08).
"I knew I just wanted to go out there and make it an honest race," said Schweizer. "I didn't want it to come down to the last bit, and it was a little nerve-wracking being out there in the front because I don't normally race like that. I just trusted my coach and trusted my fitness and went for it."
It’s quite fitting that she and J’den Cox finished up Mizzou’s athletics year. They by far provided the brightest moments of the last 12 months. While Schweizer was dominating in Oregon, Cox was gutting out a a big win in Lincoln.
Cox beat David Taylor 5-3 in the decisive bout of a best-of-three final at 86 kilograms (189.6 pounds) to advance to the United World Wrestling World Championships, set for Aug. 21-26 in France. He did so while gritting through a leg injury he suffered at the start of the second period and watching his 3-0 lead vanish into a 3-3 tie.
In one of the more anticipated showdowns of the evening that more than lived up to the hype, the 2016 Olympic bronze-medalist and three-time NCAA champion — who earned a bye into the finals — then gutted his way to two more points to secure the victory, despite being in obvious pain.
J'Den Cox up 3-2 has his knee taken out from under him. Can't put pressure on right foot but is still going somehow pic.twitter.com/oEYFPVKcdd— Phil Bergman (@PhilBergmanTV) June 11, 2017
J'Den Cox wins 5-3 to advance to the World Wrestling Championship in Paris pic.twitter.com/kQOeqN0A9Y— Phil Bergman (@PhilBergmanTV) June 11, 2017
J'Den Cox leaves the Devaney in crutches and a knee brace. Fans lined the halls and called him an inspiration for his efforts today pic.twitter.com/J1hkARthti— Phil Bergman (@PhilBergmanTV) June 11, 2017
We’ll see how the injury affects Cox’s ability to prepare for the world championships, but Missouri’s athletics year pretty much had to end with Cox doing something amazing. That it coincided with Schweizer’s own amazingness was even more apt.