By SCOTT COTTOS
For The COURIER
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Kori Reiser didn’t just fall asleep and wake up in a Florida hotel room waiting for her opportunity to compete in the NCAA Division I track and field regional.
She paid the physical and mental prices involved in putting in a level of work she’d never before experienced, then watching others compete while she could not.
Still, being among those who have earned the right to chase a spot in the national championships has something of a dream quality for the Bowling Green State University redshirt freshman and Elmwood High School graduate.
“It’s kind of shocking,” she said in a phone interview. “I wasn’t expecting so much success so soon.”
Reiser qualified for the regional with marks of 184 feet 10 inches in the hammer throw and 162-8 in the discus. She is seeded 37th entering today’s hammer throw event, and 43rd in Friday’s discus competition.
The top 12 finishers in each event will qualify for the NCAA national championships June 11-14 in Eugene, Oregon.
“It’s awesome to have this opportunity,” said Reiser, who acknowledged that while reaching the regional was a goal at the beginning of the season, “it still seemed so far away.”
Her throwing coach at BGSU, Chris Conly, is less surprised with the success of Reiser, whom he said possesses a great upside.
“Going forward, we’ve got big goals and plans for her to get to the NCAA meet,” he said.
Reiser arrived at Bowling Green in the fall of 2012 after having finished second in the discus in the Division II state track meet. Her BGSU coaches decided to sit her out of competition as a true freshman, leaving her four years of athletic eligibility.
“For me, the whole idea of using the redshirt was, probably as a true freshman she was a year away,” Conly said.
Reiser endured weight room and practice routines to which she was unaccustomed, as well as considerable adjustments to her technique. There also plenty of days, she says, when “you go home and you just want to collapse on your bed” — all without the reward of being able to compete in meets.
“With me being a very competitive person, it was really hard,” she said. “But I knew I had to adjust better before I could compete.”
The results of her first-year work showed immediately in the distances she recorded this year.
“It’s crazy, the jump I’ve made compared to last season,” she said.
Reiser gives plenty of credit to Conly, as well as teammate Brooke Pleger, a redshirt junior who last year won the regional hammer throw title and gained All-America recognition with a seventh-place showing at nationals.
“She’s awesome,” Reiser said. “She has that experience — she knows everything I’ve gone through. She’s taught me a lot mentally, about being focused. She’s like an athlete-coach.”
Reiser also benefited from the get-go from the input of older sister Katie, who graduated from Kent State this month after wrapping up her sprinting career for the Golden Flashes.
“She told me it was going to be hard but it was going to be worth it,” Kori said of Katie, who won the Division III state 100 and 200 titles as an Elmwood senior. “She was able to give me a lot of advice.”
Kori, who is majoring in pre-veterinary medicine at Bowling Green, is also grateful for the support of her parents, Kyle and Kelli, whom she said were due to arrive in Jacksonville on Wednesday.
“They’ve been to a lot of my meets this year,” Kori said. “Not everybody’s parents get to watch them so often. I’m always happy to have them there.”
Reiser is well aware of her seedings and what they may imply for her chances of advancing. But she’s entering her events with optimism.
“I want to do well and I want to represent BGSU well,” she said. “And there’s always a chance.”
Two other former area prep standouts are also competing in Jacksonville.
Miami senior Sam Spallinger (Pandora-Gilboa) will compete in the men’s long jump while Eastern Michigan’s Tyler Brown (Findlay) will compete in the 400 and anchor the 400 and 1,600 relays for the Eagles.
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