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Mallorie Metzger leaves legacy with Jackson girls wrestling

Two weeks ago in the Class 2 State Tournament at Mizzou Arena, 120-pound senior Mallorie Metzger (40-4) became the first Jackson girls wrestler to ever earn an all-state medal. Photo by Nick McNeal

Four winters ago was when Jackson High School first started its girls wrestling program, which means a few Indians have already placed themselves in the team’s record book. However, no other girls wrestler has been able to make as much history as senior Mallorie Metzger has over the past two seasons.

In the Class 2 State Tournament two weeks ago, Metzger became the first Jackson girls wrestler to ever earn all-state by taking fourth place in the 120-pound weight class. Mallorie, who finished with a program-best record of 40 wins and four losses, finished one win away from reaching the state championship match.

Metzger unfortunately fell to the eventual state runner-up in the semifinals, but, her all-state finish is something that her community, teammates, family, coaches and, most importantly, she can be proud of.

Being the first Indians girls wrestler to finish on the state podium also means Mallorie will have her picture framed and hung up in the Jackson wrestling room, joining her head coach Cody Rouse, who was a state champion for the Indians in 2005.

“Earning all-state has been my dream ever since I was a sophomore — I’ve always wanted to make history in something and inspire others,” she said. “I’ve always imagined my picture being up on that wall — in practice, I would always just think of my picture being up there.

“I’m very thankful for how much time Cody has worked with us to get better. He has sacrificed a lot of his time to see us improve and succeed. He’s seen me at my best and worst, but no matter what he has always been there for me and the team. I couldn’t ask for a better coach.”

Prior to this year’s state tournament en route to become the program’s first-ever two-time state qualifier, Metzger won a historic second-straight individual district championship in dominant fashion. Mallorie, who compiled an overall record of 28-8 last winter, finished two wins away from medaling in the Class 1 State Tournament.

“Last year was a very overwhelming experience for me because I didn’t expect the competition to be as difficult as it was,” Metzger said. “The whole environment — there was a lot going on. This year, I knew what to expect, so it was a more familiar environment for me. I felt really comfortable in it and handled it really well.”

Mallorie more than proved how much she could handle the big stage by pinning her first round and quarterfinal opponents in this year’s Class 2 State Tournament.

Metzger was then pinned in the semifinals, but she pinned her consolation semifinal opponent in the first period to reach the third-place bout. Mallorie only lost the 120-pound third-place match by two points to take fourth.

“There were some girls who were really good that I went up against,” she said. “I feel like the girls that were in the finals deserved to be there, and I think I could’ve been in it, too. A lot of it is who wrestles well that day and in that moment — anything can happen. I’m super proud with how I finished and have no regrets because I wrestled really hard.”

Mallorie also won SEMO Conference Championship this winter, while each of her sisters senior Gracie Metzger and freshman Mollie Metzger won conference gold as well. This made the Metzgers the first trio of siblings in Jackson wrestling history — including the boys team — to win conference titles in the same season.

“Having my sisters there with me, you want to prove yourself to them and make them proud — the same thing goes for them,” Mallorie said. “It’s really great because having them as my sisters means I can critique her, and she can critique me. We just flow better and always work with each other.”

Gracie Metzger qualified for state the first time at 115 pounds to compete with Mallorie at Mizzou Arena, as did fellow 135-pound senior Kassie Hodges. Even though she had competed at state last year, Mallorie said having some teammates wrestling with her this season made her more at ease.

“I felt more comfortable having them around because I knew I could relate to them, and I had their support,” Mallorie said. “Having somebody there that you know makes everything a lot more comfortable, especially having my sister there. I was really happy for her to experience the same thing I got to.”

This was Metzger’s third and final year of wrestling competitively as she will continue her cross country and track and field career at Maryville University of St. Louis with Gracie. Mallorie finishes her career as Jackson girls wrestling’s all-time wins leader with an overall record of 89-24.

“I wish I had more time — it’s hard because I feel like we haven’t been doing it very long,” Metzger said. “At the same time, it’s the only thing I’ve been doing and it’s kind of been my whole life. Now I have to say good bye to it, but I’m going to still be involved with it for sure.

“… It’s very hard to adapt and transition from wrestling to going back to running. I’m going to miss the people because they were like my family, and I’m going to miss the whole sport itself.”

One of the most important lessons Metzger has learned from wrestling is that some things, like wrestling, can take time and one can’t expect what they want to happen immediately. Mallorie’s goal her sophomore year was to reach state, she didn’t until the next season, of course.

“Things take time to happen, and you’ve just got to put in the work,” Metzger said. “It’s not how much time you’ve done it, it’s what you put into that time. I learned that you can’t get frustrated and always have to be positive. Wrestling isn’t perfect, and our coach would always say, ‘Control chaos.’ I’ve learned you have to take what life gives you.”

What Metzger has enjoyed the most about her time wrestling at Jackson by far was competing against her sisters at practice. “Whenever we get into scrambles and no one is in control — it becomes back-and-forth, and we fight our way through it. Wrestling with my sisters has been the best,” she said.

One of the reasons why Mallorie has been so successful throughout her career is because of how she approaches each match. Instead of thinking about directly pinning her opponent, Metzger said she instead thinks about what to do step-by-step to eventually pin someone.

“I also don’t think about how long a match is going to be — I just think, ‘I’m going to wrestle hard and with intensity, aggressiveness, and I’m going to be physical and get after it,’” she said. “I’m going to leave everything I can on the mat because I’m not going to get it back — it’s also about making memories, so I want to have good wrestling memories.”

Being a runner has also helped Metzger a lot with being the wrestler she is because of her endurance. Mallorie took a break from running cross country this fall in order to wrestler throughout the summer and fall, but she will be participating in track and field for Jackson this spring.

“It definitely prepared me a lot more because I became better with my technique, and I’m definitely stronger now,” she said. “I learned a lot from my first two losses this season — I don’t think I was in the right mindset. Then I was worrying about, ‘What if I lose this match,’ or, ‘The moves I’m doing aren’t working.

“I learned I needed to take what they give me and everything isn’t perfect and wrestling isn’t pretty. I really encourage a lot of girls to try this sport because I didn’t want to try it in the beginning, but Gracie pushed me to go out for it. Look where I am now — I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her.”

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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