Rutgers produces multiple personal records at Florida State Seminole Invitational
From a competition standpoint, it looked that the Rutgers men’s track and field team slightly underperformed at the Florida State Seminole Invitational this weekend.
But from a results standpoint, it was business as usual for the Scarlet Knights.
The Knights didn’t produce as many event wins in Tallahassee as they did in previous events, but many athletes came away with personal and seasonal bests, and the team recorded nine Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) qualifying marks.
Head coach Mike Mulqueen believes that performing well against the competition is just as important, if not more important, than setting personal records.
Senior sprint Rajee Dunbar echoed his coach’s remark.
“It doesn’t matter if you win your event and run the worst you’ve ever ran,” he said. “At the end of the day, the most important thing is winning.”
The lone athlete who did end up atop the heap of his competitors was sophomore Chris Mirabelli, who won his third javelin throw event in as many meets. His throw of 71.98 meters was his best distance so far this season and was also an IC4A mark.
“The wins are nice, it definitely builds my confidence,” he said. “Last week, I didn’t have a great meet. I won, but I’m looking for the bigger throws to qualify me for the Olympic trials. This time I was able to stay consistent with higher throws, which makes me think that I can get even farther ones the rest of the season.”
And his coach is very pleased with his progress.
“He’s competing very well this season,” Mulqueen said. “(Assistant) coach Farrell has done a great job with the progress he has made.
Although the Knights didn’t win any more events, they still produced some impressive marks.
Competing in the 200-meter dash for the first time in his collegiate career, freshman sprinter Izaiah Brown finished in seventh place, and fourth among collegiate participants. His time of 20.95 seconds was the fastest time recorded by a Scarlet Knight in the event this season, and was also an IC4A qualifying time.
Freshman Jordan Lorenzo finished third in the high jump with a jump of 2.04 meters, tying his personal best. It was good enough for an IC4A mark.
Sophomore Morgan Murray finished ninth in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:53.09, which was the best team time this season, and an IC4A mark.
Freshman Dominick Munson finished sixth among collegiate participants in the 1500-meter run with a time of 3:52.83, another seasonal best and IC4A time for the program.
Despite all these results, the Knights were dealt a bit of a blow.
Dunbar, who has won five events so far this season, injured his hamstring while running the 100-meter dash, but said he still hopes to run at the Penn Relays.
Despite the injury, Dunbar is thankful it didn’t happen later in the season, and hopes that he’ll be able to recover soon.
“We have another three weeks before the Big Ten (Championships), so it gives us a lot of time to recover and work out any kinks that we may have," Dunbar said. "It’s a setback, but at the same time I think we’ll be able to bounce back.”
Without Dunbar, the Rutgers relay team finished sixth in the 4x400-meter relay, although their time of 3:15.69 was yet another top time for the team this season.
Although this meet was a step back for the Knights, many athletes still continued to make strides in their progress, and it will come a long way during championship season. The main focus for the team at this point is avoiding injuries, and as Dunbar’s injury shows, not everyone is invincible.
“We start to get into the championship segment of our schedule soon, so having everyone healthy is vital to our success,” Mulqueen said.
This coming weekend, Rutgers has an opportunity to do well in two meets despite the loss of a star athlete, as they send their athletes to both the Georgia Tech Invitational in Atlanta and the Larry Ellis Invitational at Princeton.
“These are both very competitive meets,” Mulqueen said. “We want to keep getting better.”
Mirabelli hopes that his success this week doesn’t stop in Atlanta.
“I’ve never thrown there before,” he said. “After last weekend, I’m excited to see what I do this week.”
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