Central boys swimming coach Dayna Powell received a bit of a surprise Wednesday afternoon.
It wasn't an upset victory against perennial state power Lafayette of Wildwood, Mo., though Powell found plenty of bright spots in the 132-54 defeat.
The unexpected feat came from the 400-meter freestyle relay team, which made the state qualifying cut by finishing second in 3 minutes, 36.50 seconds in the final event of the meet at Central Municipal Pool.
"They're getting it done in the water," Powell said. "We have a few areas -- starts and breathing near the walls -- and once we improve a few of those areas, I'll feel good about going in to state."
The 400 team -- Kris Metje, Daniel Austin, Jason Mercer and Hunter Givens -- gives the Tigers four qualifiers for the state meet, scheduled for Feb. 11 and 12 at the St. Peters Rec-Plex.
Metje bettered his state qualifying time Wednesday in the 500 freestyle to 5:11.84 while posting Central's only individual win. Jason Mercer already has qualified in the 50 free, in which he finished second Wednesday, and the 200 medley relay team also is qualified. That unit -- Austin, Peyton Waggener, Mercer and Givens -- also finished second Wednesday.
"There are no seniors on the relays," Powell said. "Everybody is going to get faster and bigger, and we'll be a pretty competitive team next year."
Powell is pretty happy about this year -- Central posted the program's first victory against St. Louis University High last week.
But the Tigers (4-4)were not up to the task against another St. Louis area team with a higher pedigree --Lafayette has finished in the top 10 at state the last two years.
"We swam a little flatter today than I was hoping, but we went pretty hard in practice yesterday," Powell said. "We finished where we should be. I wanted to show them what they could do swimming tired. Then when they're rested, they'll feel better about it."
Powell said her swimmers do a lot of work in the pool and in the weight room now and will ease back on that schedule as the state meet nears, hopefully providing a peak.
"In the past, we've had to rest kids just to make state cuts," she said.
Now the Tigers can target those state cuts. She has goals of qualifying the 200 free relay this week and some individuals in the weeks to come.
Central hosts Kirkwood on Friday.
The 200 free relay of Austin, Waggener, Metje and Givens finished second on Wednesday in 1:37.03. The state cut is 1:36.09.
Waggener added a second-place finish in the 100 breaststroke.
Third-place finishers for Central in the meet were Metje in the 200 individual medley, Givens in the 100 butterfly, Stuart Greaser in the 100 backstroke and Mercer in the 100 free.
200 medley relay --2, Central (Daniel Austin, Peyton Waggener, Jason Mercer, Hunter Givens), 1:50.34.
200 IM -- 3, Kris Metje, 2:11.74.
50 free -- 2, Mercer, 24.11.
100 butterfly -- 3, Givens, 58.70.
500 free -- 1, Metje, 5:11.84.
200 free relay -- 2, Central (Austin, Waggener, Metje, Givens), 1:37.03.
100 backstroke -- 3, Stuart Greaser, 1:06.03.
100 breaststroke --2, Waggener, 1:09.85.
400 free relay -- 2, Central (Metje, Austin, Mercer, Givens), 3:36.50.