Four years after completing her Fallbrook High School athletic career, Christina Metzler closed out her college athletic career with All-American status at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics track and field national championships May 22-24 at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.
Metzler was on the Point Loma Nazarene University women’s 4x400 relay team which placed third in the finals May 24.
Rebecca Gustafson, Metzler, Kelsey Sutherland, and Sable Otey had a time of 3:48.84 to give the Sea Lions relay team an All-American berth.
“It was just a great way to end,” Metzler said. “I couldn’t be happier.”
The time of the women’s 4x400 relay team also broke the school record for that event. “It was just such a great feeling when we did. I was just so elated to run with those girls,” Metzler said. “It was really an amazing day for us.”
The previous school record was 3:51. “They pretty much put that away pretty easily,” said Point Loma head track and field coach Jerry Arvin.
The NAIA also provides each school having at least five entrants in the nationals with a Character Award for “champions of character.”
Metzler was chosen as the women’s recipient for Point Loma. “She was the logical recipient of that,” Arvin said. “I think it just speaks volumes of her. She’s an outstanding young lady all the way around.”
Metzler, whose career goal is to become a medical missionary, graduated from Point Loma with a 3.994 grade point average.
She had a perfect 4.0 grade point average entering her final semester before receiving an A- in her organic qualitative analysis class.
Metzler competed in two events at the NAIA nationals. In addition to the 4x400 relay, she qualified for the nationals in the 400-meter hurdles. Her time of 1:04.24 placed fifth in her preliminary heat.
The top four finishers in each of the three heats advance to the semifinals, as do four at-large hurdlers with the next best times. Metzler had the 12th-fastest time overall.
Her time of 1:04.47 in the semifinals placed her 13th, missing by 1.39 seconds the finals which took the top eight semifinalists.
That semifinals time would have placed sixth in the finals. Under NAIA rules, however, she could not have scratched out of the finals and still competed in any other events, so missing out on the finals likely allowed her to compete in the 4x400 which was held two hours after the hurdles finals.
“I was really happy with the way both of those turned out,” Metzler said. “I knew we could do more with the relay as a team than I could as an individual.”
Relay teams qualify as a school, so the runners who compete in the nationals aren’t necessarily the same four who ran the qualifying time.
A school can also change runners between the preliminary and final races (the 4x400 and 4x800 do not have a semifinal while the 4x100 has preliminary, semifinal, and final races).
“Coach definitely picks and chooses and doesn’t throw us in more things than he thinks we can do well in for the national meet,” Metzler said.
Metzler ran the preliminaries in the both the 4x400 and 4x800. The 4x800 team of Julie-Ann Bailey, Metzler, Kellie Corbett, and Kristen McGregor finished 11th in the preliminaries with a time of 9:19.67, missing out on the finals.
“I didn’t have any idea I’d be running that race until the night before,” Metzler said. “I’m not an 800-meter runner and I haven’t trained for the 800 in more than a year.”
During the Golden State Athletic Conference track and field championship meet April 25-26 at Azusa Pacific University Metzler won the women’s open 400-meter run, but she did not compete in that event at the NAIA nationals.
“Running the open 4 wasn’t my event,” she said. “I was really surprised I won it at GSAC.”
Sarah Laine, Metzler, Sutherland, and Otey won the 4x400 preliminary heat in the nationals with a time of 3:51.47, which also placed second overall among the three heats.
“I was real happy with that,” Metzler said.
Oklahoma Baptist had the fastest time in the preliminaries at 3:51.23 while Notre Dame of Ohio’s time of 3:52.60 placed second to Point Loma in that heat.
Eight teams advanced from the preliminaries to the finals.
Gustafson was seventh after the first leg of the race, but Metzler took slightly more than 57 seconds for her 400 meters and the Sea Lions were in fourth when Metzler handed the baton to Sutherland.
“It was just a very good race. She did what she needed to do,” Arvin said of Metzler.
“I was really happy with my time. I hadn’t run that fast in about two years,” Metzler said. “I was running where I wanted to.”
Oklahoma Baptist won the finals in 3:42.11. Wayland Baptist was second with a time of 3:47.71 and Notre Dame was fourth at 3:50.53. The top six relay teams received All-American designation.
“It was probably the best way I could have chosen to end my four years in college,” Metzler said.
At the GSAC meet Metzler was on the winning women’s 4x400 relay team in addition to winning the open 400-meter race, and she won her heat in the 400-meter hurdles before placing third in the finals.
Point Loma’s women’s team, which finished 11th at the NAIA nationals, won the GSAC championship.
The 4x400 was Metzler’s final GSAC race, so she closed out her GSAC career with a win and her overall college career with All-American honors.
Metzler won GSAC championships as both a freshman and a senior and also earned All-American status both as a freshman and a senior.
“More than I could have hoped for,” she said. “I just feel so blessed by what a great experience I had with Point Loma track and field.”
Metzler graduated from Point Loma on May 10 and stayed on campus two more weeks to train for the NAIA nationals.
“I learned so much, grew so much,” Metzler said of her four years at Point Loma Nazarene University. “I’m just so thankful to have that be part of my college experience.”
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