July 21, 2019 | 92° F

Rutgers captures two titles through split-squad weekend at Georgia Tech, Larry Ellis invitationals

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

The Rutgers women’s track and field team saw a productive weekend in split-squad action as it sent student-athletes to participate in the Georgia Tech Invitational in Atlanta and the Larry Ellis Invitational hosted by Princeton University.

The Scarlet Knights captured two titles and earned six Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) qualifiers across both meets this past weekend.

In Atlanta, Rutgers was yet again led by junior Bria Saunders, who captured the 200-meter crown with an ECAC-qualifying time of 23.55. Saunders also placed eighth in the 100-meter with an ECAC-qualifying time of 11.85.

“Personally, it was a really great performance for me in the 200-meter. I actually had no idea I ran that fast until the announcer said it. Going into the race, I knew there were a lot of other professional runners in there. During the race, I was trying to stay with them, and then I realized I could also go a little faster,” Saunders said. “I was able to come out with the win and a big personal record, which is awesome because I didn’t think I could run that fast at this point of the season. It’s looking really good heading into the Big Ten Outdoor Championships in a couple of weeks.”

The junior sprinter also reflected on how the team’s continued progression is especially highlighted at meets like the Georgia Tech Invitational.

“It was a good team performance. When we go to meets like this, the main goal is to take the opportunity to compete against these kinds of teams – they’re at a much higher caliber than what we’re used to sometimes,” she said. “Coming off of the Metropolitan Outdoor Championships, it was a good confidence boost. It was far from home, but a lot of people took advantage of it, which was great to see.”

Saunders then joined sophomores Phyllis Gordon, Nabiya Garrett and freshman Lynnea Davis in the 4x100-meter relay, where the squad took eighth place overall with an ECAC-qualifying time of 47.46.

Gordon also saw action in the 800-meter, taking eighth with an ECAC-qualifying time of 54.96.

At Weaver Stadium in Princeton, the Knights saw a new personal best and several ECAC qualifiers from track student-athletes.

Senior Sarah Robbie placed 24th in the 800-meter with an ECAC-qualifying time of 2:10.79.

Graduate-athlete Paige Senatore also came away with an ECAC qualifier, posting a time of 17:15.02 in the 5000-meter, good for 15th place overall.

Junior Alexandra Juzwiak earned a new personal best in the 3000-meter, where she placed 11th with a time of 10:19.50.

Elsewhere, in the field at Georgia Tech, senior Katherine Johnston led Rutgers with a 46.22 meter ECAC-qualifying javelin throw — her second-consecutive victory in the javelin throw.

Freshman Alison Chomsky placed just after Johnston in the javelin throw, taking fifth place overall with a distance of 37.78 meters.

Sophomore Rhonda Rogombe also came away with another solid effort in the high jump, placing fourth overall with a distance of 1.68 meters.

Johnston, in earning her second title of the season, commented on how she was able to overcome the long travel time to earn the win.

“The travel was a little bit long. It’s always tough to perform when you have to travel that far. I got a good throw out there and was able to win. I wasn’t very consistent at that distance, so I’m a little disappointed at that,” she said. “Overall, I was very excited to be able to grab the championship and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Johnston has produced high results in only a few meets during the outdoor season. Going forward, she hopes to discover even more untapped potential to put out on the field.

“Going into this season, I knew I had the potential to be throwing these distances. It just took a lot of work, especially on my full run-up, to be able see consistency at this point of the season,” she said. “Of course, I’m looking to throw further. Hopefully this is just the beginning of my peak. I’m very excited to see what happens.”

The Penn Relays, the last meet for the team before next month’s Big Ten Outdoor Championships, serves as a key measuring point for the Knights.

Johnston said that team training will most likely be split up as Rutgers hopes to perform well at Penn but also be well prepared for Big Ten.

“It’s pretty much business as usual. The Penn Relays — you have to hit a pretty high qualifying standard for the meet. For this week, practice will likely be split — some girls will be training hard prepping for the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, while others will be following a routine prepping for the next meet,” she said. “I’ll be prepping for the next meet, making sure I’m prepared and using the meet as a stepping stone for the Big Ten Championships.”

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

Kevin Stapleton

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