July 21, 2018 | ° F

Steam builds for Rutgers en route to Big Ten Championships

Photo by Marielle Sumergido |

Senior sprinter and jumper Gabrielle Farquharson pursues elite status at the Big Ten Championships.

The ancient Greeks define kairos as the supreme, opportune moment.

The kairotic moment for the Rutgers women’s track and field team has come as the team ventures to the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio, at the 2015 Big Ten Indoor Championships on Feb. 27-28.

Expectations for the Scarlet Knights are far from high.

Ranked No. 74 nationally by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, the only other team in the Big Ten ranked below Rutgers is the Indiana, who is close behind at No. 80.

Pegged toward the bottom of the list, the Knights stare in the face of profound opposition.

With a week off to prepare, Rutgers took advantage of the time by holding additional weekend practices and intensifying workouts as they gear up to face some of the top collegiate track and field programs in the country.

Though the competition is fierce and the pressure menacing, the Knights display unabashed enthusiasm to tackle this upcoming challenge.

“There’s a lot of positive energy, a lot of youth,” said head coach James Robinson. “A lot of them don’t know what to expect, so they’re just going into it with an optimistic attitude and trying to perform their best.”

Though a predominantly young team, Rutgers has taken the indoor season by force, posting progressively better numbers on the board at each meet thus far.

Spearheading the top performances this season is senior co-captain Gabrielle Farquharson, who holds top marks in the Big Ten for long jump, the 200-meter dash and the 60-meter dash.

Farquharson reset the 200-meter school record twice this season, first with a time of 23.95 at the Penn State Invitational and again with her first place finish at the Valentine Invitational where she clocked in at 23.62.

After going 6.31 meters (20 feet and 8.5 inches) at both the Penn State Invitational and the Metro Team Challenge, the senior ranks No. 13 nationally and leads all Big Ten in long jump.

With her personal record of 7.48 captured at the Metro Team Challenge, Farquharson also sits seventh in the Big Ten in the 60-meter dash.

Farquharson’s numerous successes this season serve as a beacon of inspiration and motivation for her teammates. Combined with positivity and focused training, the Knights hope to see the ripple effects of the sprinter's influence pay off at the Big Ten Championships.

“We have to focus on our events that we’re competing in and put forth our best performances of the year,” Robinson said. “That’s the main goal but it starts with Gabrielle Farquharson.”

With the consistent improvements throughout the season bolstering their confidence, Rutgers seeks build on their successes with performances that will defy the expectations set on paper.

Energy and excitement to rise to the occasion seems to prevail over any apprehension or intimidation the Knights may feel.

“I just try to stay positive and happy,” Farquharson said. “I just want to end that (this season) on a bang.”

In addition to the standout senior, junior Paige Senatore and freshman Bria Saunders have also had notable performances this season that they’re seeking to build on.

Senatore claimed the 5000-meter title at the Metropolitan Championships, setting a new personal record of 17:27.37 and besting her previous time by almost 20 seconds.

Saunders captured a second place finish in the 200-meter at the Metropolitan Championships as she followed Farquharson across the finish line, clocking in a new personal record with an ECAC time of 24.57.

Although the rankings are not at the top and the experience level of the young team lacks breadth, Rutgers hopes to overcome opposition at the Big Ten Championships with a positive mindset and a fiery spirit.

“My main focus has been to, every meet, step on the track and improve my times from the last time I’ve been on the track,” Saunders said. “I just go out there and I rely on my training, and I perform to the best of my ability.”

For updates on the Rutgers women’s track team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Kaylee Pofahl

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