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Cross Country

Metzger sisters to continue running track and cross country at Maryville

Jackson seniors Mallorie Metzger and Gracie Metzger officially signed national letters of intent with Maryville University to continue their cross country and track and field careers. Pictured in the front row from left to right: Tracy Metzger (mother), Mallorie Metzger, Gracie Metzger and Ty Metzger (father). Back row: Jackson track and field assistant coach Reagan McDowell, Mollie Metzger (sister), Gabe Metzger (brother), Jackson cross country head coach/track and field assistant coach Andrea Talley and Jackson track and field assistant coach Matt Hale. Photos by Nick McNeal

Growing up, Jackson senior sisters Mallorie and Gracie Metzger have tried out “pretty much every sport in existence,” together throughout their lives, according to Mallorie.

“We tried swimming for about a week — it was very, very tough,” Gracie laughed.

“Swimming is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Mallorie added. “I didn’t think it was going to be hard, but then I tried it. I can see why it’s so respectable — it’s hard.”

It wasn’t until the Metzgers were in junior high when they started running cross country and track and field, which are the same sports these two will continue competing in at the next level.

Prior to the start of track and field this spring and following a winter wrestling season where Gracie and Mallorie both qualified for state, they officially signed with Maryville to run together collegiately.

“I think it’s so awesome — it’s unheard of, and I’m just super happy,” Mallorie said. “Going to college is the next big chapter, and it’s going to be so new. It’s a little intimidating, but having her there makes me feel at ease. I always know I can have a best friend and teammate to count on.”

Along with the university being a place where they can both continue their athletic careers together for the next four years, Gracie and Mallorie feel like Maryville is a home away from home.

“The campus is very nice — it’s a lot like Jackson, so we feel like we won’t be too far away,” Gracie said.

Mallorie added, “I feel very at home at Maryville, and we’ve already talked to the coaches so many times. They’re so supportive of everything that I’ve done so far, and they’re super nice and want to see us succeed. The courses at Maryville are just right for me.”

On the track, both sisters compete in several events as Mallorie competed at last year’s Class 5 State Meet as a member of the 4×800-meter relay team. Mallorie also won an individual district championship in the 800-meter run, while winning SEMO Conference championships in the 4×800 and 4×400.

As for Gracie, she was an all-conference hurdler while also qualifying for sectionals last spring. The Metzgers also helped the Jackson girls track and field team repeat as SEMO Conference Champions as juniors.

“What I like most about track is I can do a bunch of different kinds of events, and I don’t solely have to focus on one thing, so I get to explore and branch out,” Gracie said. “I get to talk to a bunch of different people because there are a bunch of different kinds of people in each event, so that’s always super enjoyable and never gets boring.”

Since these two are usually always competing with each other, Gracie and Mallorie also make it a point to alleviate some of that pressure during certain situations.

“We make the bad situations lighter — we point out how bad something can be and make fun of it,” Mallorie laughed. “We like to be very dramatic because whenever we have hard workouts, we’re just like, ‘Ugh, I’m going to die — it’s going to be so bad!’ Once we do it, though, it’s not so bad, and we can do this.”

Even though the two didn’t participate in cross country this fall so they could prepare for their final season of high school wrestling, they still very much enjoy it. Mallorie qualified for the Class 5 State Meet individual her junior year.

“I definitely like cross country a lot because the course isn’t always the same,” Mallorie said. “It’s not flat, and it’s a longer race, so I like seeing different landscapes and running with a bigger group of people.”

Much like wrestling and other sports, Gracie was the one who convinced Mallorie to try out running competitively. They started running with their triplet brother Gabe at first to see how they’d like it, which inspired them to keep going.

While this will be the Metzger sisters’ final season of track and field at Jackson, it’s even more special because it will be the first time they will be on the same team with their brother Gabe and younger sister freshman Mollie Metzger.

Gracie and Mallorie shared an entire wrestling season together with Mollie this season, where they became the first trio of siblings in Jackson wrestling history (boys or girls) to all SEMO Conference championships in the same season. Mallorie also became the first wrestler in the Jackson girls program to become an all-state medalist.

“This will be the first time we all get to compete together, and I think it’s super exciting,” Mallorie said. “There may be races where we run together, and there may be races where we run against each other. Then there will be many times where we can just watch each other run and support each other.”

Gracie added, “It’s amazing that we are getting to do this all at Jackson — you don’t see that anywhere else. The fact we’re all doing it together makes it even more exciting because you get to see all of us.”

While always playing in the same sport together growing up, this has made Gracie and Mallorie become even closer. Outside of practice, games and meets, one could find the Metzgers at the gym, at home walking their dogs or eating out somewhere.

“I definitely feel like sports have brought us closer together — we’ve become even better best friends,” Gracie said. “We’re always hanging out — we’re inseparable. … We’re supportive of each other, and we don’t let the other one slack.”

Despite having lived with each other for their entire lives, it still shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that these two will be rooming together at Maryville.

Even though Gracie and Mallorie will be still living together, the two have already discussed how they each want to have their own refrigerators. However, they are both very excited to decorate their room together and bring “Jackson aspects” to it so they can feel at home.

In the classroom, Mallorie is wanting to become a physical therapist and work with children and athletes. As for Gracie, she’ll be a biology major with an emphasis in pre-pharmacy and plans to attend grad school for pharmacy after her four years.

Jackson senior sisters Mallorie and Gracie Metzger pose for one final shot during their signing day.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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