July 16, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers continues outdoor competition with three-day campaign at Colonial Relays

Photo by The Daily Targum |

The Rutgers women’s track and field team will continue its 2017 outdoor campaign on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a defense of its 2016 team title in the 52nd annual Colonial Relays at William & Mary's Zable Stadium in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The meet, held by William & Mary Athletics, will host over 60 different collegiate teams over the three-day period.

The Colonial Relays will open with limited track and field events on Thursday, followed by an all-day competition on Friday and Saturday.

Last year in Williamsburg, the Scarlet Knights came away with five titles to earn themselves 92 team points overall for the championship. The team will be looking for its fifth Colonial Relays team title since 2010.

Rutgers is also looking to continue its early-season outdoor success after earning 17 top-10 placements, including the 200-meter title, at the Bulls Invitational two weeks ago.

Junior Bria Saunders earned that sole title for the Knights to start off the year.

“The Bulls Invitational is always a fun meet since we’re seeing warmer weather in Florida, and our indoor season has ended, and we’re also coming partially off of spring break. I knew I’d be ready,” she said. “I just wanted to go out there and see what I could do. I knew it wasn’t going to be a PR or anything, but I’m pretty pleased with what I did that weekend.”

The sprinter was happy with where she was to start off the season and only set further expectations for herself going forward.

Saunders also remarked that the Colonial Relays are a pivotal building block to stiffer competition that will inevitably come for the Knights later this outdoor season.

“This meet is not something where [athletes] are going to be put in one event – we’re all going to be in multiple events. We’re working and training through the meet because we know that the competition is only going to be tougher after this weekend,” she said. “We are training for those bigger meets that are coming up. The mentality is still there — go out and do your best — but we’re also preparing ourselves for bigger and better things.”

Senior Katherine Johnston also had a respectable performance and came away as runner-up in the javelin throw at the Bulls Invitational.

Although the javelin event was one she had not competed in for a while, she was able to get over the nerves pretty quickly.

“This was the first time I competed in javelin in a little over two years. I was a little nervous, but once I got off the runway, my nerves subsided. I focused and was able to get a pretty decent throw,” Johnston said. “It’s not where I want to be, but I was able to gain some confidence coming out of the meet. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

The senior has an open mind when it comes to her competition. She explained how she’s trying to progress after not throwing for a couple of seasons.

“I go in with low expectations, but I’m trying to gain confidence with every throw. In term of distances I want to hit, I don’t have a goal in mind. I’m just trying to keep my head level and take each throw day-by-day," Johnston said.

Johnston was happy to be back with Rutgers for the outdoor season and has high hopes for the remaining months.

Graduate athlete Paige Senatore also had a solid start to the outdoor season. She finished as runner-up in the 1500-meter relay.

“The Bulls Invitational was a good gauge to see where we are in our training. A lot of us performed really well for what we were going in with. It was good to see what the future is going to hold for the season,” Senatore said. “A lot of us were really excited after the Invitational to continue our training and keep working hard for what the outdoor season has to offer.”

She also discussed the training disparity in the transition from indoor to outdoor competition.

The team did not have a great indoor season and did not place well at Big Ten Championships. Despite this, Senatore feels like the team is better suited for outdoor competition and feels the team can improve on those results this outdoor season.

“In indoor, you’re focusing more on speed, whereas in outdoor you’re building up your base for the duration of the season. We’re trying to keep our bodies healthy so we can finish strong in late May and June,” she said. “A lot of us are happier running on outdoor tracks because you have to run fewer laps … Just knowing you don’t have to count as many laps makes it that much better.”

Senatore also made her expectations clear for this weekend’s title defense in Virginia. The Knights were victorious last year and the veteran expects nothing less this time around.

“Last year I know we walked away with a title for the Colonial Relays so hopefully we can all contribute to the team and come away with another title," Senatore said.

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

Kevin Stapleton

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