Knights aim to execute in Rutgers' return to Princeton University


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Photo by Michelle Klejmont |

Freshmen sprinter Bria Saunders posted a ECAC qualifying time when she finished in second place at the Colonial Relays with a time of 24.41.


If there was an optimal time to turn goals into realities for the Rutgers women's track and field team, the time is now.

As the Scarlet Knights ready for their next challenge at the Larry Ellis Invitational in Princeton this weekend, they embrace one of the final opportunities to capture qualifying marks before season championships begin.

With two full weeks off from competition to head back to the drawing board, Rutgers was able to take the time to intensify training and hone techniques.

The Knights are aiming to transfer the efforts from these past two weeks into their performances at Princeton with the hopes of reaching new personal bests and capturing qualifying marks.

“I think it’s really a final tune-up as we switch over to relay and nearing championship season,” said head coach James Robinson. “We’ll start to look for people to solidify their spots in the different relays, we’ll look for people to get their qualifying marks in for conferences. We’re starting to round into shape for championship season.”

The Larry Ellis Invitational marks a concentration shift for the team that places heavy emphasis individual performances. The alteration, however, could have potentially significant effects on overall team performance as well.

Not only will enhanced personal performances bolster confidence and promote motivation, it will also bring Rutgers closer to collective team success.

“They’re now focusing on each individual as they move forward to try and make their mark in the Big Ten Conference,” Robinson said. “They recognize that the team cannot do well unless they individually do well in their specialty areas.”

The Knights look to tackle their next meet with a tenacity, fueled by the awareness that championships loom in the near future.

If the energy during the last two weeks of training says anything about the performances that will be yielded in Princeton, Rutgers is in for a successful weekend.

Sophomore mid-distance runner Nichole Nicholas is currently recovering from injury, but said the focus and intensity of the team during training is incontestable.

“They’re practicing really well, competing ... with each other really well during practice, so I think it all is going to really tie in ... when we go to the meet,” Nicholas said. “It should be exciting.”

The Knights are eager to take their extensive, meticulous training to task. New personal records or qualifying marks can be the push  that could land a spot at championships.

Being aware of the significance that each meet from here on out holds, Rutgers has rallied to bring a fervent vitality to the table.

“We’re now getting into the middle portion of the season so everyone needs to start, you know, stepping their game up a little bit more and getting more focused,” said freshman sprinter Bria Saunders. “The competition’s just going to keep getting harder from now on so we can’t take anyone lightly.”

Saunders is coming off of a second place finish in the 200-meter dash at the Colonial Relays in which she captured an ECAC qualifying time of 24.41, a mere .01 seconds off her personal best. As opposed to looking at this close contest as a complete loss, the freshman is merely using her most recent race to harness further incentive for this weekend.

The Knights see this weekend as a prime opportunity to prove themselves both as individuals and as a team. Such motivation should effectively propel them forward in the meet and onward into the remainder of the season, with the hopes of making it to the championships.

“As a team I’m looking forward to everyone coming back more strong — mentally and physically stronger than we were at Colonial Relays,” Saunders said. “We didn’t show the other teams what we are truly capable of, so I feel that for the Princeton meet, I’m expecting everyone to come back even harder, more fierce, with more power and we’re going to show them really who we are because we’re really a talented team.”

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


Kaylee Pofahl

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