Redshirt freshman Zaresha Neal flirted with a trip to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field National Championships Friday as the Falcons took part in the discus on day two of competition at the NCAA East Region Preliminary meet. Neal and redshirt senior Aliyah Gustafson combined to exceed their seeds by 22 spots during competition.
In her first regional competition of her career, Neal opened with a mark of 170-feet-2 (51.88m), a distance that placed her third after two flights. With the top 16 seeds yet to throw in the third and final flight, Neal's chances of finishing in the top 12, and thus qualifying for the national championships, among the 48 competitors was in doubt.
Sure enough, Neal, who was seeded No. 26 entering the meet, was ousted from the top 12 by the second round of throws in that final flight. Still, it made for a tremendous showing for a freshman making her first regional appearance as all three of her tosses traveled at least 161-9 (49.31m).
"It was a great experience for Zaresha for her first time out," BGSU Head Coach Lou Snelling said. "She got all three throws in sector and she had great consistency in her series. She didn't quite get there but she was in the mix to go to nationals. Hopefully, she will walk away from today excited and hungry."
Gustafson, who is a four-time All-American in the shot put, also competed in the discus. She entered as the No. 41 seed but finished 29th with a distance of 159-7 (48.64m).
The performances continued an impressive trend for the program under Snelling. In his eight-year tenure, the Falcons have competed in regional competition 30 times, equaling or exceeding their seed in 25 of those performances (83.3 percent). When the Falcons are seeded among the top 19 in an event, they are a perfect 8-for-8 in finishing among the top 12 and advancing to nationals.
Bowling Green will conclude regional competition Saturday on the third and final day of the meet. Gustafson and Neal will take part in shot put competition at 5:15 pm. Gustafson enters as a favorite as the No. 4 seed and Neal sits No. 32.
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