September 21, 2018 | ° F

Young Knights forced to step up for Rutgers

Photo by Edwin Gano |

Sophomore sprinter Nicole Nicholas expects underclassmen to take on a larger role in the outdoor season this spring.

Change can be detrimental or prosperous — the scale is tipped by one’s adaptive approach.

The Rutgers women’s track and field team has had to tackle numerous changes with regards to both the team and the season this year. These differences become even more drastic when compared to the squad Rutgers sported last year.

Currently, the Scarlet Knights are a predominantly young team with double the amount of freshman and sophomores (22) than juniors and seniors (11). The dominance in numbers of younger athletes comes in sharp contrast to the kind of team Rutgers has previously fielded just one year ago.

“It’s a really big difference than last year. Our team is much younger than it was last year, we had a lot of seniors and they contributed a lot when we went to meets and things like that,” said sophomore Nicole Nicholas.

With the previous squad of seniors gone, there was a void of team leadership that needed to be filled.

This year’s upperclassmen have had unwavering success in their transition.

“I think the upperclassmen have done a great job being leaders on the team and helping us out,” said freshman javelin thrower Stacey Anning. “They kind of just motivate us and make sure we’re on the right track and doing the right things.”

Seniors and juniors, however, have not been the only ones stepping up.

With a freshman class consisting of 12 athletes, responsibility to steer novices in the correct direction has landed at the feet of every experienced athlete on the team. Sophomores who have most recently gone through the transition into the collegiate athletic arena are also bearing leadership roles to help guide their peers.

“It’s helped the younger people kind of take on a stronger role, especially my sophomore class,” Nicholas said. “We try our best to take on the role, even though we’re young ourselves, to show the freshman class, you know, the way everything goes and things like that to make their freshman year much smoother, just like everyone did for us last year.”

The Knights have established a support system within the team that fosters an encouraging, open atmosphere. The effects of these adaptative measures are sure to have lasting results for Rutgers in the long run.

The strong leadership role taken on by younger athletes provides them the opportunity to harness leadership skills for the future.

“The strengths that come from it (are) just building together,” Nicholas said. “We’re working through all of our weaknesses … and just building each other up. It’s just helping us to really grow together as a team.”

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

Kaylee Pofahl

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