Rutgers looks to push limits in final meet
In the peak, culminating moments of a strenuous race against the nation’s top competition, there are few things more motivating than screams of encouragement coming from a sideline full of teammates.
As the Rutgers women’s track and field team travels to its final regular season meet, it will be adamant in maintaining that type of support at the Tennessee Invitational this weekend.
Though seemingly trivial, the positive words the Scarlet Knights have for one another prove to have a significant impact on their performances in races.
“You ask people before their race, ‘Do you want us to stand over here by the 300 or the 100 meters to-go?’ and everyone kind of spreads out and we all cheer for each other,” said senior mid-distance runner Christina Dibernardo. “That’s definitely a huge motivator. You’re just trying to do your best for your team and for yourself, too.”
Not only is the Tennessee Invitational the final meet of the outdoor season, but it also marks the final opportunity for the Knights to improve their performance marks before championship season begins.
It is crucial that Rutgers executes this weekend in order to establish momentum before facing its conference rivals.
“It’ll be the last tune up before conference championships, so they really have to take advantage of this opportunity to compete,” said head coach James Robinson. “I expect them to go out there and put their best performances of the year together — that’s what the expectation level is and that’ll lead us into the Big Ten Outdoor Championships.”
Coming off of a successful run at Penn Relays last weekend, the Knights venture west with a certain degree of vigor already in tow.
During its trip to Philadelphia, the Rutgers 4x200-meter relay team of senior Jillian Grant, junior Kaprice James and freshmen Imani Beauliere and Bria Saunders ran a season-best time to round out a fourth place finish in the ECAC Championship division.
Additionally, the 4x800-meter relay squad of senior Felicia O’Donnell, freshman Deanna Dilandro and sophomores Sarah Robbie and Kaitlyn Bedard clocked in an ECAC qualifying time with its own season-best performance.
With their recent successes serving as verification, the Knights are confident in their ability to implement their extensive training during meets and enhance their performances further in Tennessee.
“We’re all talented, and we have the ability to run as fast as we all want to so if we put another good week of practice in, we can run a lot faster going into Tennessee,” Dilandro said after her relay’s success at Penn Relays.
Going into this final invitational, it is crucial that Rutgers holds nothing back and leaves everything on the track this weekend.
Realizing the weight of this meet, the Knights are eager to qualify in their final opportunity. They are confident in their ability to accomplish their goals so long as their teammates’ voices can be heard as they near the finish line.
“I’m just thinking of Tennessee as my last chance before Big Ten. I’m just trying to go into it with a happy mindset,” Dibernardo said. “If I run the 400, they all better be standing at the 120 meters to go screaming so I can just hear that and be like, ‘Alright I’m almost done, just gotta get there.’”
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