Karissa Metzger became the first Republic swimmer – boy or girl – to qualify for state competition with a career-best time in the 100-yard breaststroke at the Springfield Invite Saturday. Metzger finished second out of nearly 80 swimmers in the event. Cabrini Johnson of Logan-Rogersville won with a time of 1:07.49.
Metzger finished in 1:09.11, shaving more than two seconds off her previous best in the event. That’s good enough to earn her an automatic berth at the state meet in St. Peters. The automatic qualifying time for state is 1:10.99.
Metzger also finished fourth in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:05.02. That’s not an automatic state qualifying time, but it is well below the “consolation” time. If few enough swimmers are automatic qualifiers, the next-best times will be chosen for state, and Metzger’s time is low enough to be considered in that group.
Two Republic boys qualified for state in the fall, both in diving. Metzger is the first to qualify in a swim event.
Mady McCrea swam well in the individual medley Saturday, finishing fifth out of 50 swimmers in five heats. She finished in 2:18.17.
Earlier in the week, both Metzger and McCrea had won event titles at the Central Ozark Conference meet. Metzger finished with more than a three-second advantage over runner-up Ellie Jett of Nixa in the 200-yard freestyle. She shaved a whopping 6.89 seconds off her previous best time in the event, finishing in 2:04.16. She had been seeded sixth going into the race, but Metzger said she’s not surprised by her recent success.
“Not really. Coach Steve has pushed us really hard the past couple weeks, and I just knew I’d be able to drop a lot of time, so I just kept pushing in the water, even when it hurt,” Metzger said.
Metzger said she credits her recent speed improvements with something the team calls “Hell Week” over winter break. “It was really like two weeks, and gave us a lot of really hard sets, and I kept pushing myself. At COC, I just felt really fast, and I just kept going in the water and kept pushing.”
Of her time improvement in the 200-yard freestyle, she said “When I hit the wall and I saw my time, I was shocked. I knew I could do that – I just didn’t know it was that fast.”
Metzger said it’s “an honor” to win a COC championship. “I just went back to Republic this year and I’ve seen how other sports have been going, and I just use that as a fire. I want to be the first Lady Tiger to get a COC championship, and keep pushing the people that come into swim so they can get one as well.
McCrea won the 200-yard individual medley despite being seeded fourth. She improved on her previous best time by nearly four seconds. McCrea said she had one competitor hanging with her during the first 50 yards of the race.
“In my first 50 fly, this girl was right next to me in the lane over, and we were going neck and neck. Then I kind of pulled away on the backstroke. When I got to breaststroke and freestyle, it was just kind of me on my own. At that point, I was just racing the clock,” she said.
“It was really exciting,” McCrea said of her COC title. “Going in, I was kind of nervous because I was seeded second by .4 seconds. I just knew that I didn’t want to get second, I wanted to get first. I went out fighting, and it was really exciting to win,” she said.