Rutgers looks to overcome key injuries at Valentine's Invitational
The Rutgers women’s track and field team will compete in its penultimate indoor meet this weekend at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational in Boston, Massachusetts. Hosted at the Boston University Track and Tennis Center, the meet will take place Friday and Saturday.
The Scarlet Knights will face notable non-conference competition from host Boston University, Yale, Connecticut, the United States Coast Guard Academy, Stony Brook, Syracuse, Temple, Hartford, Johns Hopkins, Southern Connecticut and Northeastern.
The meet kicks off at noon on Friday with field events, while track events will be spread throughout the two days.
The Valentine Invitational also marks the end of Rutgers' indoor regular season before they head to Geneva, Ohio for the Big Ten Indoor Championships at the end of the month.
At last year’s Valentine Invitational, the Knights earned seven Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) qualifying marks among several top ten efforts. Rutgers is looking to head into the Big Ten Indoor Championships with the team and individual athletes progressing, following this weekend’s meet.
After coming off an unsuccessful championship defense last weekend at the Metropolitan Indoor Championships, the Knights have their sights set firmly on this weekend in Boston. Rutgers realizes it must compete hard, but also safely, as the team suffered several injuries last weekend.
Head Coach James Robinson released a statement affirming that senior Ellen Miller will be unavailable this weekend in Boston and likely also for the Big Ten Indoor Championship after she left last weekend’s meet after suffering an unspecified ankle injury.
The senior left the meet on crutches and was set to receive an MRI this week.
“It’s up in the air whether she’ll be available for Big Ten (Indoor Championship. Best case scenario she gets a week or two and she’ll be back,” Robinson said.
Robinson also confirmed that sophomore Rhonda Rogombe pulled a hamstring during the long jump event. Her timetable to return remains unclear.
“I likely will not bring her back for the indoor season at all. It doesn’t make sense to rush her back,” he said
However, despite the injuries, Robinson reaffirmed the Knights’ methodology coming into practice this week.
“We won’t change our approach to what we are doing. As coaches, we just need to make sure we are paying attention to the athletes to ensure we don’t miss any potential injuries,” he said.
After coming off an ECAC-qualifying victory performance in the 1000-meter event last weekend, junior Brianna Haspel was satisfied with Rutgers' competitiveness coming from the Metropolitan Indoor Championship.
“Team-wise I know we have a lot of injuries going on right now, so I think we did the best that we could have done,” Haspel said. “A lot of us stepped up, and we’re realizing that we are getting closer to (the) championship season. Everyone is getting their stuff together, moving forward, and seeing what we have to improve upon.”
Understanding the short amount of time that Rutgers has left before the Big Ten Indoor Championships, Haspel set the stage for the team’s meet in Boston this weekend.
“The Valentine Invitational should be a really good meet to solidify to see where you are before the Big Ten Indoor Championships in a few weeks,” Haspel said.
Senior Sarah Robbie, who last weekend won the 800-meter event, remarked how the Metropolitan Indoor Championships helped prepare the Knights for the rest of the season.
“This meet prepared us well. It gave us a good feel for what a real competitive meet is going to feel like,” Robbie said. “It gave us an opportunity to focus on our mental state and remind ourselves that we need to be confident and remember that we can do this.”
Despite not claiming a second straight team title, the senior remained steadfast in her team’s progression.
“As a majority, the team really stepped up to the plate and showed some of their best performances. Winning individual titles gives us what we need to go into the even more competitive meets like the Valentine Invitational and the Big Ten Indoor Championships,” Robbie said.
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