October 20, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers returns to Staten Island to defend title at Metropolitan Indoor Championships

Photo by The Daily Targum |

Senior middle distance runner Sarah Robbie strolls into the weekend a winner of last weekend's 800-meter event at the Metropolitan Indoor Championships.

The Rutgers women’s track and field team heads to its first meet of February on Friday to defend its 2016 title at the Metropolitan Indoor Championships at the Ocean Breeze Track and Field Athletic Complex in Staten Island, New York.

The Scarlet Knights will defend their championship against their non-conference opponents.

Last season, Rutgers won first overall at the Metropolitan Indoor Championships with a team score of 217 points — eight titles, eight runners-up and 13 Eastern Athletic College Conference (ECAC) qualifying scores earned the 2016 title. The Knights will look to mirror that success on Friday, as many of their top performers from a year ago still remain with the team this season.

During the month of January, Rutgers earned a total of 15 track and field titles. Despite the time, the team has made steady strides as it continues to prepare for the Big Ten Championships in late February.

Last week, the Knights earned only one title, the triple crown won by senior Bryanna Grant, and are looking to start February off on a high note by continuing its progression.

Despite the team’s slight hitch last week, the senior felt assured about the young team’s progress.

“I think we’re right where we need to be. We’ll be ready for next weekend and hopefully capture the title again at the Metropolitan Indoor Championships,” Grant said. “We’ll focus on (our) technique (this week) and anything else we need to polish, but we’ll still do what we need to do to get ready just like any other meet."

Graduate distance runner Paige Senatore, who last week earned runner-up in the 5000-meter event with an ECAC qualifying time of 17:22.47, reflected on her performance and how she feels the team's age has impacted the season.

“We really did well at the (Villanova Open). I was going in with an open mind since it was my first time doing the 5000-meter. My coach just really wanted me to get the mental aspect of the race down. I was happy to get my feet wet and get back running again,” Senatore said.

Senatore also made it clear that the team is keeping a dynamic mindset and not remaining comfortable as the defending champions head into the weekend.

“Practice this week will be more business as usual. We don’t have the mindset of 'oh, we’re defending champions so let’s practice differently.' We’re still going to put in the work,” Senatore said. “This weekend’s meet is going to also help us get ready for the Big Ten Conference Championships — just to be able to put forth our best effort and defend the title is what we’re all looking forward to do.”

Senior Sarah Robbie set her best time of the season last week in the 800-meter event with a time of 2:12.21. She took the time to credit the team’s evolution and how the Knights have seized the season early on.

“I think the race went well. Finishing with 2:12 was a goal for me, and that’s what I achieved,” Robbie said. “The team (in January) has been progressive. Bryanna Grant just captured her title and set a personal best as well. This year, everyone’s been given a really good opportunity, and they’ve acted on it well.”

Robbie also made it clear that this week will be all about preparing for the championship meet in Staten Island, and avoiding injury wherever possible.

“We’re going to take practice this week a little easier, just because our coach wants us to be as fresh as possible. It will be a really good training week. Come this weekend, we’ll be ready to go and feel really strong," Robbie said.

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

Kevin Stapleton

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