Rutgers completes 3-peat at Metropolitan Indoor Championships
After his team’s most complete performance so far this season, Rutgers men’s track and field head coach Mike Mulqueen had only high praises for his athletes.
“Everyone contributed to this team championship in every event area,” he said. “We scored in the runs, jumps, throws and multi-events. It was a total team effort.”
The Scarlet Knights won the Metropolitan Championship for the third straight year on Friday, delivering an all-around dominant performance at the Ocean Breeze Track and Field Complex in Staten Island. They racked up 170 points, 24 more than second-place Manhattan.
Rutgers won seven events, which was the most for the team in one meet this season. Counting this weekend, it has won 26 events in five meets.
The Knights asserted their running prowess early and often in Staten Island. They took the top two spots in the 200-meter dash, as sophomore Izaiah Brown and freshman Alanzo Aris finished in first and second, respectively. Brown’s time of 21.08 in the race was an indoor personal best for him. He also blew past the competition in the 60-meter dash, winning both the preliminary heat and finals race.
Rutgers also won the 4x400 relay for the fourth time this year, as Brown and Aris combined with freshman Nathaniel Gravesande and senior Jermaine Griffith to finish five seconds ahead of second-place Southern Connecticut State. Gravesande also finished third in the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.06 seconds. He discussed his performance in his first ever championship meet and what was going through his head.
“During my first race I wasn’t too happy about my performance,” he said. “My coach and I talked about it, and he knew that’s not what I’m capable of doing. I wanted to bounce back and give the best performance I could for the 4x400 (relay). There were a lot of nerves popping through my head because it was a championship meet, but I wasn’t trying to think too much about that."
The Knights also got contributions from their distance runners. Junior Trent Brinkofski won the 3000-meter race with an indoor personal-best time of 8:35.69, while Jason Schweizer added a second-place finish in the 1000-meter race. Brinkofski, who was an important contributor to the cross-country team, compared his indoor running to how he raced in the fall.
“There are a lot more factors involved in cross-country than racing, like the elements,” he said. "But the biggest difference is the hills and the different terrain. In track, we practice exactly how we’re going to race. It’s easier to plan for, because you can treat it like a science.”
Brinkofski also discussed how he had to overcome a little adversity prior to the meet.
“I dealt with a little bit of injury early on in the winter season and this was my first time running a 3 (kilometer) this year," he said. “I’m proud that I was able to go out faster and harder than I’m used to doing, and run well.”
Meanwhile, freshman Tobi Tella made it five straight meets with a victory, winning the triple jump with a distance of 15.24 meters, the longest jump in his young collegiate career. He also placed second in the long jump with a distance of 7.04 meters.
Rutgers’ last two event wins came from sophomore Jordan Lorenzo’s high jump triumph and freshman Christopher Mazzacano’s pole vault victory. Lorenzo cleared the bar with a height of 1.99 meters, while Mazzacano set a personal record with his jump of 4.8 meters.
Before they head to the Big Ten Championships in three weeks, the Knights will split up for their final tune-up meet. Some sprinters will compete in the Spire Open in Geneva, Ohio on Friday and Saturday, while the rest of the team will head to the Valentine Invitational in Boston, Massachusetts on Saturday.
Rutgers’ Metropolitan three-peat proved that they are the top team in the Northeast right now, and have been for the last few years. They are the team that other schools in the region look to beat, and they showed that by delivering their best performance of the season.
“We had a lot of IC4A (Intercollegiate Association of Amateur of Athletes of America) qualifying marks and a lot of PRs (personal records),” Gravesande said. “We were aggressive, and our competitive aspects really showed during the meet.”
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