September 24, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers rides out end to season

Photo by The Daily Targum |

Senior distance runner Christina DiBernardo is one of eight seniors who will participate in what may be their final meet on May 2.

As a thrilling rollercoaster ride nears its end, the inevitable impending trigger of the breaks is nothing less than bittersweet.

Such an exuberant, turbulent ride is illustrative of the four years that the graduating seniors on the Rutgers women’s track and field team enjoyed during their careers on the banks.

Of the eight senior Scarlet Knights, three will conclude their final season as the 2015 outdoor campaign comes to an end.

Christina Dibernardo, Jillian Grant and Brianna Deming bring their collegiate athletic careers to a close with particularly unique experiences tailored to their class.

Throughout their four years as Rutgers athletes, Dibernardo, Grant, and Deming have been part of three different collegiate athletic conferences — Big East, American Athletic Conference and Big Ten.

With the latest conference change, these runners began their senior year by being thrown into the fire of the fiercest competition they’ve faced thus far in their careers.

“It’s hard because even though they’re running near their best or their best time, they don’t necessarily see the result in terms of scoring or the finals because the Big Ten is the hardest of the three conferences they’ve been in,” said head coach James Robinson. “It’s been hard to infiltrate that so far. … It’s been a way bigger challenge in the Big Ten to score than it was in the Big East and the American.”

Although the switch in conference has posed new, formidable challenges to the senior Knights, they remain positive in their outlook on the change.

Not only has the shift been motivating for the runners, but they are also ostensibly proud to bring their careers to an end as Big Ten athletes.

“(It’s) kind of exciting (that) I get to finish in this really famous conference,” Dibernardo said. “Because the competition is so good, it’s pushing me and pushing everybody, really, to just be better than they’ve ever been.”

Despite the end looming, these graduating Knights have refused to become complacent.

In her first appearance after recovering from injury, Deming set a new personal record in her 5,000-meter race at the Larry Ellis Invitational on April 17.

Deming and Dibernardo were also both part of the distance medley relay squad that earned a fouth place finish at the Colonial Relays in early April. Dibernardo also helped the 4x200-meter relay team that captured a second place finish at the same meet.

Jillian Grant was part of the two quartets that ran last weekend at Penn Relays last weekend. The Old Bridge, New Jersey, native ran in the 4x200-meter relay that took a fourth place finish in the ECAC Championship division, as well as the 4x100-meter squad that clocked in an ECAC qualifying time of 47.96 seconds.

As these graduating seniors round out their final outdoor season, a major chapter in their life comes to an end.

“It’s been a pretty great ride the past four years,” Dibernardo said. “It’s just kind of crazy to think about — that it’s almost over. I’ve been running track for ten years so its kind like the end of an era , you know, that’s half of my life. It’s sad in that, you know, it’s something that’s been such a huge part of our lives for so long and it’s just ending, but at the same time I’m ready to end my career on a high note.”

These Knights move forward armed with the lessons learned from their time on the banks.

These experiences not only set them apart — they make them stronger.

“I think being able to persevere through their injuries and through the challenges that they’ve faced while they’ve been here is going to help as they move into different areas of their life,” Robinson said. “Through whatever endeavors they have, they can always recall back on those experiences and know that they can overcome tough times and challenges.”

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

Kaylee Pofahl

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