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Track and field team brings successful season to a strong close


Brooke Pledger winds up for the hammer throw during the track meet on May 29th .

The University’s women’s track and field team is nearing the end of its best season in the past decade.

Two weeks after the team scored 60 points in the Mid-American Conference Championship, which was the most points they’ve scored since 1999, red-shirt junior Brooke Pleger qualified for the NCAA National Outdoor Championship meet while competing alongside four other Falcons at the NCAA East preliminary round this past week, making for an additional four more qualifiers than last year when Pleger was the only competitor.

“Ultimately, our goals are very high for this program,” Head Coach Lou Snelling said. “A lot of the success is the girls buying into what we are trying to do here and the work ethic and focus that they have. We are starting to get that reputation for no matter where we’re at on paper, when it comes to the meet we’re going to be better.”

The five Falcons who qualified for the preliminary meet competed in a combined eight events.

For seniors Jeanette Pettigrew and Tina Perrine, it would be their last in a Bowling Green uniform. Pettigrew ran the 100 and 200 at the meet, placing in 29 and 37 places respectively. It was a solid way to end a five-year career by ending the meet in better seeds than projected in both events.

“I have always seen Jeanette as an incredible athlete, person and teammate. I have always looked up to her,” Pleger said. “I was happy that she got to spend her last meet as a Bowling Green athlete at the regional meet.”

Looking back on her time with the team, Pettigrew won a MAC championship in the indoor 60, holds four school records, and has been an all-conference competitor three times.

“It was great to see her have this kind of year. It is what we wanted,” Snelling said. “For her to stay focused and actually do it was pretty fulfilling for everyone involved.”

Senior transfer Tina Perrine also ended her time with the University at the meet after a year of positive impact.

She competed in the hammer throw and discus, recording a personal best in the hammer throw. The senior threw a 188-9 and was just three spots away from qualifying for the national meet, finishing as the 19 seed, a significant jump from her projection, which was seed 33.

“For her to come in and give the team a little more maturity, more focus, and more experience was fantastic. She was a big part of the team’s success,” Snelling said. “Even though she was only here for a year, she should feel good about how she has helped this program take that next step. We are really going to miss her next year.”

Two freshmen, Kori Reiser and Makenzie Wheat, also competed at the regional meet.

Reiser was the last on the team to qualify for two different events, discus and hammer, while Wheat qualified for the shot put. Wheat, who ranks seventh in the country among freshmen, entered the meet as the last qualifier at the 48 seed. She fouled on all three of her attempts, which resulted in failing to post a score. However, just competing in the meet is not something most freshmen get an opportunity to do.

“The expectations for them were a little bit different in terms of gaining experience,” Snelling said. “The idea was to just go to the meet this year and have the experience. Learn this year so that at the meet next year it won’t be this new, big thing. Instead of going for the experience next year, they try to make a final.”

Reiser was able to finish in better seeds than she was projected in both events. The first-year competitor placed 31 in the hammer throw and 34 in discus.

“Coming into the meet, I just wanted to improve from the spot I was at and I did that, so I was happy,” Reiser said. “I definitely benefited from the experience. Now that I have that experience I will be better able to prepare myself.”

Junior redshirt and captain Brooke Pleger competed at the regional meet and is now preparing to perform on the national stage for the second year in a row in the hammer throw.

Pleger threw a 216-2 in the meet and will go to the championship as the number two hammer throw athlete in the nation. The number one seed, who was also at the east prelim round, is Princeton’s Julia Ratcliffe.

Ratcliffe, who Pleger beat in the same event at the regional meet a year ago, posted a 221-6 throw.

“Last year, I went in to the meet thinking I would like to place top eight; I would like to be a first team All-American,” said Pleger. “This year I’m going into it thinking I want to win a national title. It’s exciting because it’s not farfetched; it’s very realistic and that’s exciting.”

Pleger was almost five feet ahead of any of the other 46 athletes at the regional meet. The third place throw was a 211-4.

“She’s been to a national championship meet, she’s been a first team All-American before, she’s been to Eugene and competed there, so all these things aren’t new for her anymore, which I think gives her a little bit of an advantage,” Snelling said.

Pleger has the chance to become the second Falcon in program history to go All-American twice. She can also become the fourth individual national champion in the University’s history, the last being Marny Oestreng in 1999.

“Losing to her (Ratcliffe) at regionals is driving me through this next week of training and into next week,” said Pleger. “The nice thing is when I competed against her at regionals, she wasn’t unbeatable. It’s something I can do.”

The championship meet will take place in Eugene, Ore., with the hammer throw scheduled for Wednesday, June 11 at 4:30 p.m.

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