Falcons competing in NCAA East Regional


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three members of the Bowling Green State University Track and Field program will compete at the 2023 NCAA East Regional Preliminary this weekend at Jax Track at Hodges Stadium. The facility is located on the campus of the University of North Florida.

The trio of field athletes includes Zaresha Neal, who compete in the shot put and discus; Mateya Haintz, who will compete in the hammer throw; and Brianna Richard, who will compete in the triple jump. All three have previously qualified for NCAA Regionals and will look to punch their ticket to the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship.

Haintz will compete in the hammer throw on Thursday. The action continues that evening, as Neal competes in the shot put. After a day off, Neal returns to competition, throwing the discus on Saturday. Richard closes the weekend for BGSU, competing in the triple jump on Saturday.

Zaresha Neal – Discus and Shot Put

For the fourth time in her career, Neal will compete at the NCAA East Regional in the discus and shot put. She is the only competitor at this year’s regional who is a four-time qualifier in both events. The only athlete competing in the discus for the fourth time is Virginia’s Ashley Anumba, who qualified last year for UVA and in 2018 and 2019 for Penn. Tedreauna Britt of Mississippi is the only other four-time qualifier in the shot put. She qualified for regionals in the discus in the previous three seasons but scratched from the event this year.

Neal enters the weekend after one of the most impressive throwing campaigns in school history. She won the MAC title in the shot put and discus, putting her career total of conference crowns at five. She also earned MAC Field Athlete of the Week five times, claiming the award each time she was eligible. She currently boasts the school record in the discus (181-7.00, 55.34m) and ranks second in the shot put (55-5.50, 16.90m).

Neal by the numbers

No. 20 seed in Discus (179-1.00, 54.58m)

Discus: Flight 2, Position 12 (Collegiate PR: 181-7.00, 55.34m, achieved on May 7, 2022)

No. 23 seed in Shot Put (53-10.25, 16.41m)

Shot Put: Flight 3, Position 9 (Collegiate PR: 56-4.75, 17.19m, achieved on February 12, 2022, and February 10, 2023)

Neal’s history at NCAA Regionals

2019: Discus – Seeded No. 26, placed 16th (170-2.00, 51.88m) / Shot Put – Seeded No. 32, placed 38th (49-0.75, 14.95m)

2021: Discus – Seeded No. 27, placed 13th (172-4.00, 52.53m) / Shot Put – Seeded No. 40, placed 29th (50-7.25, 15.42m)

2022: Discus – Seeded No. 12, placed 40th (149-9.00, 45.65m) / Shot Put – Seeded No. 15, placed 10th (54-10.75, 16.73m, qualified for NCAA Championship)

Mateya Haintz – Hammer Throw

Haintz will compete at the NCAA East Regional for the second time in her collegiate career and first time in her Bowling Green career. This marked her first season throwing the hammer for the Falcons and she made an immediate imprint on the record book. She ranks fourth in the event in program history, trailing All-Americans Brooke Pleger, Kaila Butler, and Aliyah Gustafson. Haintz won the MAC title in the hammer, her first career MAC crown and Bowling Green’s sixth in the last 10 seasons.

Haintz is the only MAC hammer thrower to qualify for regionals, continuing her trend of being at the top of the conference. Five of her seven marks from the season were better than the next-closest thrower and she won the event at five of the seven meets this season. The exceptions were the Tennessee Invite, where she placed second, and the Jesse Owens Classic, where she was third. Her MAC title was one of three for the Falcons, the most at a single MAC Championship in school history.

Haintz by the numbers

No. 32 seed in Hammer Throw (197-1.00, 60.08m)

Hammer Throw: Flight 2, Position 15 (Collegiate PR: 199-3.00, 60.73m, achieved at Charlotte on March 19, 2021)

Haintz’s history at NCAA Regionals

2021 (competing for Charlotte): Hammer Throw – Seeded No. 35, placed 40th (184-10.00, 56.35m)

Brianna Richard – Triple Jump

Richard made history in 2021 when she became the first Falcon to qualify for the NCAA Regional in the triple jump and she is set to return to the national stage once again. The senior competed in the triple jump five times this season, finishing in the top three at each meet. Her qualifying mark of 42-2.75 (12.87m) is a PR that ranks her second in school history, trailing only All-American Huina Han. She was just 0.01m shy of that PR at the MAC Championship, placing second for her eighth career podium effort.

Richard was named MAC Field Athlete of the Week for the first time in her career, giving the Falcons six total MAC Field Athlete of the Week awards, the most in the conference. Her efforts at the MAC Championship pushed Bowling Green to a fourth-place finish, the best since 1998. The team totaled 91 points, the most since 1999.

Richard by the numbers

No. 25 Seed in Triple Jump (42-2.75, 12.87m)

Triple Jump: Flight 3, Position 2 (Collegiate PR: 42.2.75, 12.87m, achieved on April 22, 2023)

Richard’s history at NCAA Regionals

2021: Triple Jump – Seeded No. 37, placed 26th (41-3.25, 12.58m)

To qualify for the NCAA Championship, an athlete must finish in the top 12 of their event at the NCAA Regional. For all three Falcons, the format will be the same. Each athlete will get three attempts at their respective events, then the top 12 overall athletes will receive the bids to the NCAA Championship. All events consist of 48 competitors. The shot put and triple jump will have four flights of 12 athletes, while the hammer throw and discus will have three flights of 16 athletes. Higher seeds are in the later flights and lower seeds are in the earlier flights. The order of competitors in each flight is selected randomly. The 2023 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship will be held at the University of Texas from June 7-10.

Under head coach Lou Snelling, the Bowling Green track and field program has sent competitors to the NCAA Regional in 46 events. The Falcons have been represented by at least one athlete in at every NCAA Regional since 2013, with all 10 seasons including at least one hammer thrower.

The total of 12 qualifying hammer throwers is the second-most of any event, with the shot put total of 13 ranking first. BGSU has sent an athlete to the NCAA Regional in the shot put in nine consecutive seasons. The third-highest total is also a throwing event, with the Orange and Brown totaling 10 athletes in the discus. This includes at least one in every season since 2018. The triple jump, 100, 200, 400 hurdles, and 10K have each been represented twice for the Falcons, while the 200, 400, and 4×400 relay have been represented once apiece.

The Falcons have had an athlete qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship on 12 occasions during the Snelling era, which began in 2011-12. On 33-of-42 occasions, the Falcons have equaled or exceeded their seed, compiling an excellent success rate of 78.6%.

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