Rutgers splits squad at Spire Open, Valentine's Invitational after successful weekend in Staten Island
The Rutgers men’s track and field team is still riding on its immense success after last week’s Metropolitan Championships. But before the team can get a crack at the Big Ten Indoor Championship, it has one small hurdle left to jump over.
The Scarlet Knights will split up this weekend for their final tune-up meet before the Big Ten Indoor Championship. They will send their sprinters to the Spire Indoor Open in Geneva, Ohio, and the rest of the squad will go to the David Hemery Valentine's Invitational hosted by Boston University. Both meets take place on Friday and Saturday.
With Rutgers split up this weekend, head coach Mike Mulqueen wants the team to remember one thing. Though good results are always on the agenda, this, he says, takes precedent going into the weekend.
“Avoiding injuries is very important,” Mulqueen said. “We want to be healthy and compete very well (at the Big Ten Indoor Championship).
Injuries would severely hamper the Knights’ chances at performing well in two weeks, especially due to the way they competed during their last time out.
Rutgers is coming off of its most successful meet of the season by far, winning the Metropolitan Championships for the third straight year last Friday, collecting seven event titles.
One of the athletes who will be competing in Ohio and looking to replicate his success is freshman Nathaniel Gravesande. In his first collegiate championship meet, he finished third in the 400-meter dash and was a part of the Knights’ winning 4x400-relay team. This week, he will be competing in the 600-meter dash, which he also plans on running in two weeks.
“I’m trying to get a personal best for this meet,” Gravesande said.
Another athlete who heads to the Spire Indoor Open is sophomore Izaiah Brown. He won two individual events and one team event last weekend, and will be looking to add more victories to his impressive season.
Rounding out the runners heading to Ohio are seniors Jermaine Griffith and Brendan Jaeger and freshman Alanzo Aris.
Meanwhile, in Boston, Trent Brinkofski hopes to win back-to-back 3000-meter races. Coming off of an injury, he raced in the unseeded qualifier last week before winning the final. Now he will compete against athletes of his skill level, giving him motivation to do even better before the final heat.
“Now that I have a seed time since I ran last weekend, I’ll be put in a fast heat with guys at my level,” Brinkofski said. “Everyone’s going to be in my talent range, so it will help me to run faster. My goal is to go out there to PR again and run faster than I did last weekend. I think I can, and I’m excited because it’s a great meet.”
Other athletes who will be competing in Boston include freshman Tobi Tella, who won the triple jump last week, sophomore Jordan Lorenzo, who won the high jump, and freshman Christopher Mazzacano, who won the pole vault.
Though this weekend's meets could be thought of as a tune-up before the Big Ten Indoor Championship, that doesn't necessarily lessen their importance. The results of this weekend will go a long way toward determining exactly what needs to be fine-tuned in training for the biggest meet of the indoor season.
“We want to keep seeing improvements and get better seed times for the championship meets,” Mulqueen said.
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