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Women’s track athlete named two-time All-American

Bowling Green State University track standout Brooke Pleger made school history this past weekend at the NCAA national outdoor track and field championship meet in Eugene, Ore.

Pleger placed third overall in the hammer throw, the best finish in any event in the University’s track program history.

“It was just exciting to go out and represent Bowling Green and my team,” Pleger said. “It was exciting to show what my coaching staff and I do day in and day out.”

The finish marks the second year in a row that Pleger has been named an All-American. Accomplishing something like that once is rare, but doing it twice is something only one other athlete (Beth Manson 1988 and 1989) has ever done in the program’s history. Furthermore, Pleger is only a redshirt junior and has a legitimate chance at earning the honor again next year and becoming Bowling Green’s first three-time All-American.

A major benefactor in Pleger’s second national meet was the familiarity of competing on the big stage the year before, where she placed seventh, along with her six wins out of seven meets this season.

“The only pressure this year was the pressure that I put on myself,” Pleger said. “I think that out of everyone, I have the highest expectations. I didn’t really feel a ton of pressure elsewhere, especially this year because I knew I had solid marks. I knew the girls that made it and that I had a good chance to place in the top three so there wasn’t much outside pressure.”

Going into the event, Pleger was poised in a close second to Princeton’s number-one seed Julia Ratcliffe. Pleger’s final mark was a 64.48-meter throw. Ratcliffe, who also competed against Pleger at the regional meet, ultimately came out of the meet as the best thrower with a 64.88-meter mark to be named national champion.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed,” Pleger said. “The most heart-wrenching thing for me was Julia’s mark that won the meet was a mark that I have thrown this season. It was a mark that I had thrown last year, and it was a mark that I was completely capable of putting together. It was frustrating but putting things into perspective moving from seventh to third is still an accomplishment.”

Even after such a monumental performance on a major stage, Pleger will continue to work. The USA outdoor national championships are nearing in the next two weeks and the two-time All-American will once again represent Bowling Green. Pleger is familiar with this meet from her previous year and she hopes to improve again.

“For that meet I think the ultimate goal there is to make finals. They only take eight girls and last year I placed ninth or tenth so I just missed it last year. I want to go in and make my six throws competitive and hopefully I’ll qualify to compete in August. I just need to keep up with my training and stay consistent through July.”

The outlook for Pleger and the team as a whole is on an upward climb. This season ended with the most points scored in a MAC championship meet by the team in a decade and they also added four more competitors in the national regional meet. The expectation is that the progress made by Pleger, head coach Lou Snelling, throws coach Matt Conly and the rest of the team’s staff and athletes will attract even more quality athletes.

“Brooke shows that you can come here and compete at a high level,” Snelling said. “We are ready for our next All-American to commit to Bowling Green.”

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