Rutgers preps for 1st outdoor invite
The Rutgers men’s track and field team will begin its outdoor season down in Tampa, Florida this weekend. To kick the new season off, the Scarlet Knights will compete at the Bulls Invitational, hosted by the University of South Florida.
The past indoor season has built momentum for the upcoming outdoor competitions while the leadership of the seniors begins to come out. Additionally, the underclassmen did not shy away at all in the indoor season and made valuable contributions to the team throughout the past couple of months.
"It is great to have the young talent we have, but without the experience and without the senior leadership of the guys who have been there, who have been to national championships, it's their presence when we are traveling that changes everything," said associate head coach Robert Farrell, according to scarletknights.com.
Junior Izaiah Brown has garnered a lot of national level experience, qualifying for the NCAA Championships multiple times. Although, Brown has yet to compete at the nationally-recognized meet as injuries have plagued the Amsterdam, New York native.
Most recently, Brown won his third consecutive Big Ten indoor title in the 400 meter, but did not qualify for the indoor NCAA competition.
With the veterans carrying a lot of experience, Farrell noted that the roster runs deep with young talent. At the Big Ten Indoor Championships this past indoor season, Rutgers underclassmen comprised 75 percent of the team there.
“The indoor momentum will absolutely carry over,” Farrell said. “We had a great IC4A meet. One of the big reasons we like to go up to Boston is to get even more guys opportunities to catch momentum. At the meet a lot of guys had personal records and there was a lot of confidence built in indoor.”
The underclassmen were unstoppable at the Knights’ last indoor competition of the season with sophomore Tobi Tella and freshman Boaz Madeus capturing IC4A event titles in the triple jump and 500 meter, respectively. Freshman Taj Burgess also came close with his own event wins, placing second in the 200 meter and 400 meter.
The outdoor season should play much better in Rutgers’ favor as multiple Big Ten event winners will finally get the chance to compete alongside their teammates.
Graduate student Rudy Winkler is last year’s NCAA hammer-throw champion and will make his debut as a Knight this season. Winkler won this event at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2016 where he punched his ticket to Rio’s Summer Olympics.
Senior Chris Mirabelli is the former Big Ten champion in the javelin throw and notched a top-eight finish at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships, earning him First Team All-American status.
"... When you have a national champion or an All-American sitting next to you in the room it brings a whole different level of confidence and a calmness within everything," Farrell said.
He believes that this year’s outdoor season will mark Rutgers’ best season in history with a complete roster of an NCAA champion, All-American, Big Ten champions, experienced veterans and talented underclassmen.
Look for the team to make a series impact over the next couple of months down the season stretch.
“In general, what we are excited about is that we know this team can make some damage in the Big Ten, we know that we can score the most points that we ever had, and we know that this is a team that can be a top 20 contender at Nationals,” Farrell said.
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