June 17, 2018 | ° F

Senior qualifies for U.S. Olympic Trials to continue success of final season

Photo by Edwin Gano |

Senior sprinter and long jumper Gabrielle Farquharson is the first Scarlet Knight to qualify for the Olympic Trials since Shameka Marshall in 2012. She owns program records in the 60, 100 and 200 meters.

Gabrielle Farquharson was sitting on a bus in Florida with her fellow Rutgers women’s track and field team members last weekend, relaxing after completing their participation in the Florida State Seminole Invitational.

The fifth-year senior had put in her best performance of the recently begun outdoor season in Tallahassee, breaking her own school record in the 200 meters as well as earning a first place finish in the long jump with a distance of 6.54 meters.

While she didn’t set the school record in the long jump — she was .03 meters short — Farquharson did earn something better — a qualifying mark for the 2016 United States Olympic Trials.

Under the assumption the qualifying mark was in the 6.70 meter range, the Williamstown, New Jersey, native was caught off guard upon hearing the news.

“My mouth automatically dropped down,” she said of the moment she found out. “It wasn’t even in my head about Olympic Trials, hitting the qualifying mark, so yeah, it was definitely a big surprise for me.”

The news came in the form of a text message from head coach James Robinson, who was sitting in front of the bus checking the minimum jump distance to qualify for the trials and matching it up with the one he had just witnessed.

While Farquharson was taken aback by the news, Robinson knew her reaching the mark was just a matter of time.

“We talked about this last year. I was telling her, ‘listen, I think you could qualify for Olympic Trial next year,’ and at the beginning of the year, when we sat down for our goals meeting, I said the same thing and she agreed,” Robinson said. “I texted (when I found out) because it was already a known goal to me … To me, it was just a matter of time and it happened to manifest this past weekend.”

The qualifying mark is the latest success of a final season filled with them for the senior. After redshirting the outdoor season last spring in order to qualify for a fifth-year on the Banks — something she and Robinson planned in her sophomore season — Farquharson had another spectacular winter.

A second consecutive 200 meter title at the Big Ten Indoor Championships with a program record time of 23.32 seconds earned her Second Team All-American status for the second year running.

Unable to participate in the 200 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships last year due to a hamstring injury, Farquharson finished 14th in the event in this winter’s national indoor championships.

In addition to her program record indoor 200 meter time, she also broke the record in the indoor 60 meter sprint (7.34 seconds) in the winter and both the 100 meter (11.39 seconds) and the 200 meter (23.25 seconds) sprints in the outdoor season this spring.

While Farquharson said she’s happy with the way her final months as a Scarlet Knight have been going, she is far from satisfied.

Although her jump in the Seminole Invitational was enough to qualify her for the trials, it doesn’t mean she will get an invitation. Only the top 24 performers in the qualifying period from May 1, 2015 to June 26, 2016 will be asked to attend the trials in Eugene, Oregon, from July 1-10. 

So Farquharson is focused on guaranteeing her spot amongst the top two dozen to become the first Knight since Shameka Marshall — whose long jump record she almost broke in Talahassee — in 2012 to reach the trials.

“My motivation is knowing that it’s top 24,” she said. “Just reminding myself I have to keep going, I have to keep jumping further.”

With two months remaining in Rutgers’ season and three months remaining until the Olympic Trials, Farquharson isn’t focused on winning every meet remaining on the schedule. Instead, she said she hopes to exceed or match her personal records in the final competitions of her collegiate career while maintaining her health.

But regardless of how she performs at the Big Ten Championships — which are being held the same day as her commencement, where President Barack Obama will be speaking — or at the Olympic Trials, she has already become a model for what Robinson looks for in all his athletes.

“(Farquharson) shows the ladies what they could do if they apply themselves and commit all the way from nutrition and getting proper rest, coming in and putting forth a great attitude and working out every day,” he said. “It’s not easy. You’re looking at a five year career here. She had her trials and tribulations as well throughout her career … but she was always able to bounce back and always able to recover, and not only recover, she was able to get better every year … she excels academically as well as athletically, so she’s the complete package, and a great person to top it all off.”

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

Brian Fonseca

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