July 17, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers readies for competition at ECACs

Photo by The Daily Targum |

Junior Kaprice James looks to improve her time in the 60-meter hurdles at the ECAC Championships after posting a time of 8.68 at the Big Ten Championships. 

Many things can be taught, but experience is earned — not learned.

As the Rutgers women’s track and field team heads to the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships in Boston, a season perforated with meets against top competition paves the way for a weekend of business as usual.

Coming off of the Big Ten Championships meet in Geneva, Ohio, last weekend, the Scarlet Knights are well acquainted with competition from the best collegiate track and field programs in the nation.

Rutgers is not in for any surprises.

“You’ve got some great athletes in the ECAC, but, I mean, the Big Ten is just as good — if not better,” said head coach James Robinson. “Since they’ve had that kind of run-through already, I don’t think they’ll be surprised or taken aback by the level of competition. I think it’s going to allow them to go in and compete at a higher level.”

Being a particularly young team with double the amount of freshman and sophomores (22) than juniors and seniors (11), the Knights place a specific focus on preparing the underclassmen for the fierce completion they face as Big Ten athletes.

As experience built with each meet throughout the indoor season, Rutgers' confidence and performances continue to show improvement.

Among the young top performers is freshman sprinter Bria Saunders, who has picked up ECAC qualifying times in the 200-meter dash at the last four consecutive meets. Additionally, she is part of the 4x400-meter relay team that has earned three successive ECAC marks in the latest meets.

Gaining momentum with each meet and confidence from her subsequent top performances, Saunders has been able to maintain a strong mindset that helps fuel further success.

“The thing that’s been most critical for me this season is being mentally strong,” Saunders said. “Knowing that I am capable of doing things that my coaches have trained me for is basically what’s getting me where I am today.”

As experience and confidence within the young team builds, the effects can transparently be seen in performance.

At the kickoff of the season, Rutgers picked up just two ECAC qualifying times, both of which were brought in by standout senior sprinter and jumper Gabrielle Farquharson.

At the Big Ten Championships last weekend, the Knights posted eight ECAC marks, earned by athletes in each age class.

Despite qualifying for the meet, Farquharson will not compete. As the only Knight to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas on March 13-14, she will take the weekend off to rest.

Among those competing at the ECAC Championships is junior sprinter Alayna Famble, who hopes to take advantage of the opportunity to better her 400-meter dash time.

Hurdlers junior Kaprice James and sophomore Drew Andrews, who both clocked in ECAC qualifying times last weekend at the Big Ten Championships, are looking to build on their performances in the 60-meter hurdles.

Though Rutgers has just a handful athletes competing in ECACs, those who will can step onto the track with the certainty that this isn’t the mightiest mountain they’ve had to conquer.

Using the Big Ten Championships to reinforce their preparation efforts, the Knights seek to both enhance their performances against top competition and wrap up the indoor season on a positive note at the ECAC Championships.

Armed with a familiarity with high-level competition, confidence in their ability to perform well, and a strong state of mind, Rutgers ventures up to Boston eager to actively expand on their experience.

“It allows them to compete against some of the best kids in the northeast and the east coast,” Robinson said. “It gives them the opportunity to end the indoor season on a high note and set up the outdoor season.”

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

Kaylee Pofahl

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