Rutgers set to compete at Big Ten Championships
Knights head to Geneva, Ohio with hopes of claiming title
The 2018 Big Ten Indoor Championships has arrived for the Rutgers men’s track and field team, as Geneva, Ohio is set to host the competition from Feb. 23-24. Held at the SPIRE Institute, the Scarlet Knights are ready to put all of their training into the limelight.
Last year’s Big Ten Championships saw graduate student Jermaine Griffith get a third-place finish in the 400-meter (46.15), sophomore Perry Christie place ninth in the high jump (2.07 meters) and sophomore Tobi Tella finish with a top-10 finish in the long jump (7.05 meters).
Notably absent from the competition was junior Izaiah Brown, the Rutgers and Big Ten Conference record-holder in the 400-meter with a time of 45.32. Brown missed out on both the Big Ten's and NCAA's last year due to an injury.
The closest Brown has been to that mark this season was at the SPIRE Invitational two weeks ago where he ran the top time of 46.99. He is currently ranked third in the conference, trailing behind top seed Mar’yea Harris from Iowa with a time of 45.95.
Tella, the Knights’ highest-ranked athlete in the triple jump, is focusing this weekend on his own performance without worrying about his other competitors.
“My pursuits are centered around furthering my own season best, as opposed to worrying about what (my competitors) may be doing,” Tella said. “I'm at a point in which doing that alone will ensure me a good placement in the conference.”
Tella’s personal best of 15.55 meters in the triple jump places him sixth in the conference, which is close to an inch off the school record set in 2011 by Devin Jones at 15.59 meters.
Looking to improve on last year’s placement, Tella says that he now knows what to expect heading into competition as he garners more experience throughout each season.
“I have long been capable of keeping up with this caliber of competition, but my problem as a young athlete has been maintaining control and consistency,” said Tella. “Our recent training has been focused around this, so that all of the proper technique becomes second nature and I am able to compete without having to overthink during the time to execute.”
Last time out, Rutgers split up into two squads for the SPIRE Invite in Geneva and the David Hemery Valentine’s Invitational in Boston, Massachusetts.
Along with Brown’s win in the 400-meter at the SPIRE Invite, the 4x400-relay team of Brown, Griffith, junior Zo Aris and freshman Boaz Madeus sealed the top spot in a time of 3:11.51. With that time, the team settles into the eighth seed, but have a chance to crack the top five if it narrows in on the school record of 3:08.42 set at last years Invite.
Other noteworthy performances saw Madeus run to third in the 600-meter with a time of 1:18.28, while freshman Taj Burgess snuck between a herd of Penn State runners into fourth, posting a time of 21.62 in the 200-meter.
At the Valentine’s Invite, Tella had a successful run in the triple jump and long jump to produce first and second place finishes, respectively. Junior Jairus Paul finished in the fifth spot for both the long jump (6.87 meters, 22’ 6.5”) and triple jump (14.78 meters, 48’ 6”). Another fifth-place finish came from junior Jordan Lorenzo with a 1.95-meter (6’ 4.75”) leap in the high jump.
Additionally, five distance runners ran to lifetime indoor bests. Sophomore Jason Schweizer and junior Edward Zalek ran to respective personal bests of 1:54.53 and 1:54.92 in the 800-meter. In the mile, junior Conor Murphy (4:12.11), sophomore Cole Pschunder (4:13.70) and senior Alexander Livernois (4:15.92) added to the excitement of best times.
Catch the Knights in action at 10 a.m., which can be live streamed on BTN Plus or FloSports.
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