Rutgers senior stages phenomenal performance
When Gabrielle Farquharson took the track at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio, she knew.
The stage was set for the senior sprinter and jumper. With the entire conference eagerly watching as she lined up to her slot in the 200-meter dash, Farquharson took off for the history books.
With a hat trick of top performances, Farquharson captured the Big Ten title in the 200-meter dash, was the runner-up in the long jump and took third in the 60-meter dash at the 2015 Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships this past weekend.
As the first student-athlete at the University to be named a Big Ten Champion, she helped bring home the first Big Ten Championship in Rutgers athletics history.
Farquharson posted personal bests in all three events, setting two school records and securing a national ranking in the 200-meter dash and long jump.
“She had a phenomenal weekend,” said head coach James Robinson. “We knew she had a great opportunity to have a history-making weekend, but knowing she had the opportunity to do it and for her to go take advantage and perform, that’s two different things. That was just a phenomenal sight this weekend to see her have these performances.”
In claiming the Big Ten crown with a 0.6 margin of victory, Farquharson reset the Rutgers indoor 200-meter dash record for the third time this season. She surpassed her previous record set at the Valentine’s Invitational Feb. 14 by .12 seconds, crossing the finish line at 23.50.
Farquharson’s new time now sits 21st in the nation.
Reaching 6.36 meters (20 feet and 2.5 inches) in long jump on her final attempt, Farquharson landed in second place just .01m away from the title.
With this close runner-up performance, Farquharson bested her previous personal record of 6.31 meters set at the Metro Team Challenge and the Penn State Invitational in January. Her jump currently ranks 13th nationally.
Claiming the bronze in the 60-meter dash, Farquharson clocked at 7.38, just .02 behind the Big Ten Champion and .002 behind the runner-up.
With the third place finish, Farquharson bested her own top time of 7.48 from the Metro Team Challenge as well as the previous Rutgers benchmark of 7.41 set by Shameka Marshall at the 2006 ECAC Championships.
Farquharson’s many successes this weekend, although distinguished and prominent, did not come handily.
In facing competition from athletes at some of the top track and field programs in the country, mental strength was, to say the least, a challenge to maintain.
Despite being surrounded by palpable temptation to think negatively or anxiously, Farquharson was composed and resilient.
“I couldn’t let anyone intimidate me,” Farquharson said. “Being in such a big conference, it did have a toll on me. I was actually very nervous but knowing that if I had good practices and just kept up my positive attitude, and knowing that I deserve to be there, that helped me to keep improving myself.”
Nevertheless, greatness is rarely achieved in the absence of a strong support system. Confidence boosters in the form of reassurance from her Rutgers teammates proved to have a significant influence on Farquharson’s outstanding milestones this weekend.
“They just kept encouraging me to just go for it,” Farquharson said. “All the doubts in my mind, they just took them right out.”
With optimistic teammates around to keep her spirits up, Farquharson overcame fierce competition and emerged a champion.
Collectively, the Knights maintained a positive, motivational energy that allowed them to see success.
While Ohio State claimed the Big Ten indoor team title, Rutgers finished 12th overall and picked up eight ECAC qualifying marks.
Junior Kaprice James and sophomore Drew Andrews both earned ECAC marks and posted new personal records in the 60-meter hurdles.
Freshman Bria Saunders clocked in an ECAC time in the 200-meter dash for the fourth consecutive meet this season, while junior Alayna Famble earned an ECAC mark with a season-best performance in 400-meter dash.
Additionally, senior Jillian Grant, freshman Madelen Soto, Saunders and Farquharson picked up an ECAC time in the 4x400m relay. The quartet clocked in at 3:48.21.
Spearheading the Knights’ success this weekend in the face of vast conference competition, Farquharson earned the gold medal slung around her neck.
It was not given.
With teammates, coaches and family members behind her, Farquharson moves onward through the remainder of the indoor season with the distinction of being a Big Ten Champion.
“She’s been a great competitor — I think that’s her biggest attribute,” said assistant coach Lou Tomlinson. “Days like she had this weekend — that comes from weeks and months of training at a very high level and she’s getting the fruit of those tough days, hard work, that has paid off.”
For updates on the Rutgers women’s track and field team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.