Rutgers captures first place at Metropolitan Championships
The Rutgers men’s track and field team hoped to come away with favorable results at the Metropolitan Indoor Championship Friday and Saturday.
Instead, it finished with the best one possible.
The Scarlet Knights were the overall champions of the event in Staten Island, New York. They won eight events and produced 11 Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) qualifying times for the Track and Field Championship in March.
The Knights finished with 183.5 team points, 40 more than second-place Manhattan.
Rutgers had to overcome weather problems prior to the meet, but it also may have helped. Winter Storm Jonas deflated their training bubble, which forced the Knights to train outside in the winter weather. It was also forced multiple teams to drop out of the meet, which whittled down the competition.
Rajee Dunbar stood out by winning two races. The senior sprinter won the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.82 seconds and the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.83 seconds, both of which were IC4A times.
“I wanted to just go out there and give it the best effort that I could, given the circumstances,” he said. “We haven’t been able to get quality practices in ... Given the circumstances of how we practiced the last week and a half, I felt like as a team we had to go in with the mindset of ‘I’m going to give it the best effort.’”
Freshman Izaiah Brown was also a big contributor for Rutgers, finishing first in the 400-meter dash, with a time of 47.79 seconds. It was the sixth IC4A mark of the season for the Amsterdam, New York, native.
Despite his top performance, Brown believes he has room for improvement.
“It was a little bit of an off day,” he said. “We didn’t have much training, but I went out there, and overall, as a team, we did pretty good, but my performance could have been better … I went out there and did what I could.”
The Knights also left opponents in the dust in the 500-meter run with first and second finishes from junior Jermaine Griffith and senior Kyle Holder, respectively. Both their finishes were IC4A-qualifying times.
Rutgers also dominated the 4x400-meter relay, with a team of Brendan Jaeger, Dunbar, Brown and Griffith, who won the event with a time of 3:14.72. It was yet another IC4A time for the Knights and it was just .01 second off their record time in the event this season.
But Rutgers didn't stop there. Jaeger, Holder, sophomore Morgan Murray and junior Brennan Crowle also finished third in the distance medley relay with a time of 10:17.06, another IC4A qualifying time.
Crowle also got a first-place finish in the heptathlon with 2788 points, with teammate Zachary Ghizzone right behind him with 2699 points.
Freshman Chais Hill added to the list of Knights winners and IC4A qualifiers by winning the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.21 seconds.
In the field events, Corey Crawford and Emeka Eze finished first and third in the long jump with distances of 25' 1.25'' and 23' 4.75,'' respectively. Both distances qualify the men for IC4A marks.
Senior Joseph Velez recorded his first IC4A mark of the season in the weight throw event, with a distance of 62’ 505 (19.03).
The team’s next meet is next Saturday, Feb. 13, as they compete at Boston University Valentine’s Invitational, where Brown is confident that the Knights will replicate their results from Friday’s performance.
“The whole team, we’re looking forward to that,” he said. “We hope to have some good times and qualify for later meets … I’m going to go out and do my races … hope for the best and get a better time than I did this past Friday.”
Dunbar shares the confidence of his younger teammate, showing excitement to travel to New England.
“We’re more than excited to go to Boston,” Dunbar said. “A change of scenery, a change of pace, different teams, it should be fun.”
For updates on the Rutgers men’s track and field team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.