Knights dash into Villanova Open after excellent season start
The Rutgers men’s track and field indoor season has gotten off to a great start. It has won at least five events in each meet this season and has produced multiple Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) qualifying times. Now it returns to the track, looking to establish itself as one of the top teams in the Northeast.
The Scarlet Knights head back to the Ocean Breeze Track and Field Complex in Staten Island, the site of last week’s Penn 8-Team Select, to compete in the Villanova Open this Friday.
Rutgers has won 17 events in its first three meets of the season and is hungry for more. There’s a strong chance that it will get more wins, as the running and jumping star players have been performing consistently every meet.
Head coach Mike Mulqueen is proud of the team’s performance so far, but stresses that there are more important meets coming up that they need to be in good shape for.
“So far we have competed well,” he said. “We need to stay as healthy as possible heading into the latter stages of our season.”
One of the Knights who has been near the top of every leader board is sophomore Izaiah Brown. He has won four individual titles and has contributed to three team wins. This includes a 300-meter dash win at the Beantown Challenge where he broke a school record that had previously stood for 33 years.
Of course, Brown is not alone when it comes to winning for Rutgers. Senior Jermaine Griffith has won two individual titles and has been a part of three team wins, just like Brown.
The Knights shine when they compete together as a team. They have won every relay that they have competed in so far, winning the 4x400 three times and the 4x800 twice. The team also has a lot of chemistry when it races together and its spotless relay record is proof.
Rutgers is also great in field events. The standout field athlete, freshman Tobi Tella, has won the triple jump in all three meets and is looking for some more first place titles as the season progresses. Tella believes that he still has room for improvement, as his jumps at the last meet were not up to par with the jumps from his previous meets. He outlined his routine for practice this week in order to fix his mistakes.
“My coach analyzed a lot of video from this weekend,“ he said. “He came back with feedback about my running technique before the jump. He said the reason for most of the errors I had during the jump was my last three steps before the jump. We’ve been doing a lot of form work and 30-meter sprints in order to keep form and pace as best as possible. He put some tape down at increasing increments to try to have me at a more consistent stride rate and eliminate most of the errors I have during competition.”
Tella hopes that this training will help him in the long run.
“I’m hoping that I can get as many points as possible in the jumps," he said. "The Big Ten is very competitive and it would take about 16 meters to win the triple jump. My goal is to place top three in that event, but I’m hoping to get back to where I was last year by February and secure the level of improvement I know I can have when I get my technique correct.”
For now, Tella and the rest of the Knights have their sights on the Big Ten and Metropolitan Championships, with all signs pointing to good performances. For now, they’ll take it one step at a time. The better performances they have in the individual meets, the more confidence they’ll have in the long run.
Mulqueen sees the improvement in his team and has high hopes for the remainder of the season.
“I look forward to us getting better every time we compete.”
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