September 23, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers ends season on high note at ECAC Championships

Photo by Edwin Gano |

Junior hurdler Kaprice James (center) leaps her way through the 60-meter hurdle race at the Boston University Track and Tennis Center.

BOSTON — No road to success is without potholes.

The Rutgers women’s track and field team drove over both rocky and smooth parts on this road as its 2015 indoor season came to an end this weekend at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships in Boston.

While the Scarlet Knights saw early success after clocking in two new personal records during preliminaries, heartbreak fell in the 4x400-meter relay finals with a disastrous technical error handling the baton.

The relay team, consisting of sophomore sprinter Alayna Famble, sophomore mid-distance runner Nichole Nicholas, freshman sprinter Madelen Soto and freshman sprinter Bria Saunders, lost any chance of a top-three finish when the baton was dropped during the transition to the third leg from Nicholas to Soto.

The fatal flaw resulted in a fifth place finish from the same quartet that captured first place with a 1.55-second margin of victory in the preliminaries just one day prior.

With the time loss caused by the fallen baton, the team clocked in at 3:52.09, worlds away from its preliminary time of 3:47.18.

Though the day’s events ended with the technical error, the prior performances yielded successful results for the Knights.

After matching her personal record in the first round of preliminaries, junior hurdler Kaprice James bested her personal record in the 60-meter hurdles in her second round performance, clocking in at 8.68 seconds. James finished sixth overall in the finals.

Additionally, Saunders captured a personal record in the 200-meter dash with her first place finish in the preliminaries after clocking in at 24.40 seconds. In the finals, Saunders finished seventh overall.

Though the 4x400-meter relay was a tough blow, Rutgers refuses to let it overshadow the successes from this weekend or negatively affect the outlook for the spring season.

“It’s a mixed bag,” said head coach James Robinson. “It was a tough ending to the 4x4, but we move on to the outdoor season. This season was really about getting the kids a lot of experience, because we don’t have a lot of experience at all. So the more competition they can get, particularly at a high level like this, the better.”

Adversity is one of the greatest learning apparatuses and motivators. Each meet from the indoor season helped give the young Knights exposure to top competition in the nation, which in turn is used to bolster understanding and self-assurance.

Despite some bumps in the road, Rutgers is focusing on improving in areas of weakness while using the positive outcomes from this weekend’s events to fuel its motivation and perspective on the future.

Saunders says rounding out the indoor season with the ECACs will have a positive impact on her mentality moving onward into the outdoor season.

“I’m glad that I could end the season on a good note with a PR this weekend,” Saunders said. “I think definitely PRing in my last meet gives me a good mindset going into outdoor. I know what I need to do and I know what I’m capable of doing, so I’m really excited to see what outdoor brings.”

The Knights are looking to learn from their mistakes but leave them where they belong –– in the past. The outdoor season will be the opportune time for them to display how influential the experiences gained from the indoor season have been.

Harnessing confidence and enthusiasm to improve further in the spring, Rutgers heads back to the drawing board in preparation for the challenges and opportunities that near in the coming of spring.

“We have two weeks to transition so we have to look forward and get excited for the outdoor season,” Robinson said. “Hopefully they’ll use these experiences to spring board into the outdoor season and really come out strong in two weeks.”

For updates on the Rutgers men's track and field team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Kaylee Pofahl

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