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DES MOINES, Iowa – A hometown crowd cheered Iowa native Karissa Schweizer to the finish line Saturday morning as she ran in the Tokyo Olympics.

Dark and early, Court Avenue was packed with red, white and blue to cheer on the Dowling Catholic graduate.

“When you have a classmate that’s in the Olympics, you have to come watch,” Andy Saigh, of Des Moines, said.

Schweizer took to the Olympic oval for the second time this week to compete in the 10,000-meter run on Saturday. Her brother Ryan describes it as surreal.

“It’s the one thing that runners, personally track athletes, cross country, you name it, the one thing you always dream about is the Olympics,” Ryan Schweizer said. “It’s like the event, so seeing someone you know so close and you’ve watched so closely, you know you’re related to actually accomplish that and live out their dream, it’s pretty incredible.”

Karissa ended up placing 12th in the 10,000-meter run. Earlier in the week, she ran in the 5,000-meter run and placed 11th. 

“She was excited,” Karissa’s mom Kathy said. “I’m glad she got another chance to run and wanted to just put everything out there and just take a chance and she actually looked like she spent it all. She collapsed at the end and that’s not typical for her.”

The Tokyo time difference and pandemic protocols made Karissa’s first Olympics challenging, but worth it.

“It’s been a weird year just worrying about COVID and everything else,” Kathy said. “So, just excited that she got to run and compete and compete well. I mean, we’re just so proud of her and proud of how well our community came together too, Iowa proud I guess.”

An Olympic dream turned into reality for the entire Schweizer family.

“I’ve enjoyed it. I’m sure she’s enjoying it. I know my whole family’s enjoyed it,” Ryan said. “So we just hope we get to do it again. No pressure, but we hope we get to do it again and actually go this time.”