Pleger's hard work pays off (04-04-13) PDF Print E-mail
Written by JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor   
Thursday, 04 April 2013 09:13
BG’s Brooke Pleger in the ring with a hammer. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Brooke Pleger always seems to have a couple of hammers with her and is constantly working to get better in using them.
However, the redshirt sophomore at Bowling Green State University is not into carpentry at the present time.
Instead Pleger is trying to throw a four-kilogram weight (8.8 pounds) which is attached to a wire and handle that can be up to 120 centimeters long, as far as she can without fouling.
Last Saturday at the Raleigh Relays hosted by North Carolina State University, it all came together for Pleger in the hammer throw.
After fouling on her first two attempts, she uncorked a 212-6 effort which was a meet and BGSU record. The throw was over 20 feet longer than the previous school record (191-7) set in 2008.
The throw was the second-longest in Mid-American Conference history, behind only the 223-4 effort of Akron's Stevi Large when she won the NCAA title in 2009.
The 212-6 distance is the third longest in the country this season and Pleger's effort has qualified her for the NCAA championships.
''The first two throws, I'm not exactly sure what was going on. I was just really excited,'' Pleger said. ''They were powerful throws and they were just pulling me out of the front of the ring.
''When I went in for the third throw I knew I needed to slow myself down,'' Pleger said. ''Even that one, I almost fouled. I was falling over the front of the ring.
''When I let it go, I knew it went far, but I was thinking more like 61 or 62 (meters). I was not expecting it to be almost 65 meters.''
Matt Conly, who is the BG assistant coach working with the throwers, was also surprised with the distance as the training regimen has been for Pleger to peak next month.
''I give all the credit in the world to her, just the level of hard work she puts in,''  Conly said. ''She has completely bought into what I have asked of her and what I wanted to do with her from a training standpoint.
''The term I like to use is- she gave herself to the program,'' Conly continued. ''She has worked incredibly hard to get to this point ... She has worked her tail off.''
Pleger puts in the extra work to get better whether it's in the weight room or in the throwing circle.
''With all the throwing events, strength is a big factor,'' Conly said. ''We do a lot of things that build strength specifically within her actual throwing movement ... she throws a lot of hammers that are over her competition weight.
''She does almost zero upper body lifting ... more Olympic lifting, lower body-type of stuff.''
Conly said Pleger has been able to work through the poor days and continues to improve.
''This event is incredibly frustrating, and like golf it can be cruel at times,'' Conly said. ''You can come out here and have the best practice of your life and the next day not be able to do much of anything right.''
At Saline (Mich.) High School, Pleger participated in gymnastics and started out as a sprinter in track. Her gymnastics coach and the track coach at the school were married to each other and the gymnastics coach told her husband that Pleger might be a good weight thrower.
While she was average in the shot put and the discus, Pleger set the state record in the hammer (155-2) as a senior in high school.
''I'm not really sure what attracted me to it, but I like to figure things out,'' Pleger said about the hammer throw. ''When I was learning the hammer, there was so much new going on and there were so many things I had to try to figure out.
''But it was fun. And when things would click, it always felt really good,'' she continued. ''It was exciting and it was something new.''
The hammer has been the focus of her training in college. The weight throw is during indoor season and the hammer is an outdoor event.
''You can have a million bad throws and then you have one good throw and that makes all those million bad throws worth it for that one good throw,'' Pleger said. ''Those throws where everything comes together, I can't even explain the feeling; it's like a feeling of euphoria.
''You let it go and it just feels so complete ... I love it. That's why I'm out here every day.''
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 10:09

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