Rutgers places second at Colonial Relays
When a team starts a season off well, there’s always pressure to continue the hot streak.
Other teams put a target on your back, the pressure to do well rises and succumbing to said pressure might impede your performance.
Apparently, no one told the Rutgers men’s track and field team.
After a strong start to their outdoor season in Tampa, the Scarlet Knights continued their dominance at the Colonial Relays in Williamsburg, Virginia. They finished second overall with 76 team points.
Multiple athletes produced event wins, personal bests and school records.
“It was a good team effort,” said head coach Mike Mulqueen. “We held out some of our top performers to keep them healthy for bigger meets later in the season, but I thought we put forth tremendous performances this weekend.”
Rutgers' runners took center stage at the competition.
While there were high marks all around, there wasn’t a performance more important than Izaiah Brown’s. The freshman, who had a stellar indoor season, was coming off an injury that caused him to miss the NCAA Indoor Championship, as well as the first meet of the outdoor season in Tampa.
Brown’s outdoor debut saw him win the 400-meter dash with a time of 46.46, and was also a key contributor to the 4x100 and 4x200 meter relays, both of which the Knights won.
“He looked fantastic,” Mulqueen said of Brown.
Joseph Velez was Rutgers' other big star in Williamsburg.
He finished second in the hammer throw event, where his top distance of 64.99 meters was a Rutgers record.
“The whole competition I was trying to put something together,” he said. “I was a little off, so I was happy that I did something good.”
Mulqueen was impressed with how well Velez was performing despite the outdoor recently beginning.
Elsewhere, junior Jermaine Griffith finished second in the 200-meter dash, but was the top collegiate finisher in the field. The winner, Sean Holston, was not affiliated with any school.
Chais Hill continued his impressive freshman season, winning the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.40.
Senior Rajee Dunbar finished third in the 400-meter dash with a time of 47.25. It was his first time running the event all season, as some athletes deviated from the normal events they usually ran in.
“I was very happy with my time," Dunbar said. "The last time I ran a 400, I ran 48.06 (seconds). I don’t run the 400 either. I was actually surprised. My coaches were happy. I’m definitely excited about my time.”
Dunbar also spoke about the Knights’ strong start to the season.
“I think it’s a testament to how hard we work as a team and how much we’ve improved as a team, coming from indoor to outdoor, keeping the ball moving in a positive way," he said. "It’s a testament to how hard we worked during the week.”
Senior Kyle Holder finished fifth in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 53.10.
If Rutgers continues the strong start that it's put together, it can catch some Big Ten teams by surprise come the championships.
The Knights are back in action next weekend at the Metropolitan Championships, which will be a home meet for Rutgers.
“We’re excited,” Mulqueen said of the team’s chance to play at home. “We are having an alumni event along with the meet, so the team is looking forward to that.”
Dunbar hopes the home-field advantage will give the Knights the edge, and spoke about how excited he is to have a home crowd to support him.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere to have fellow students, family, and friends all here cheering us on,” he said. We don’t really have a lot of home meets, so this gives us the opportunity to have everyone around to see us run and have support, so it’s going to be a fun time.”
For updates on the Rutgers men's track and field team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.