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Rutgers deep in preparation for Big Ten Championships

<p>Senior sprinter Jermaine Griffith brings his indoor season to an end this weekend.</p>

Senior sprinter Jermaine Griffith brings his indoor season to an end this weekend.

Entering its third year competing in the Big Ten Championships, the Rutgers men's track and field team has preparations underway for the biggest event of the season for most athletes.

Although the Scarlet Knights have never made a notable appearance in the top-five podium, they have been making their way up the ladder over the past few years, placing 12th in the overall team results in 2015, and improving three spots to claim 9th in 2016. With this improvement, the team is hoping to improve its status this year as it makes its way to Spire Midwest Indoor Track and Field Open.

Izaiah Brown, a sophomore, was once again named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week, announced by the conference a few days ago. This is yet another addition to his many other accomplishments including Freshmen of the Year and Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships last year.

Rutgers has had a very eventful indoor season, having just emerged from a successful Metropolitan Indoor Championship, where it claimed its third consecutive crown with seven total event titles. Brown captured the win for the 60-meter and 200-meter races, with freshman sprinter Alanzo Aris following after and finishing second in the 200-meter event. Along with Brown and Aris, freshmen sprinter Nathaniel Gravesande and senior sprinter Jermaine Griffith took the first place title for the 4x400-meter relay. But these accomplishments were only a stepping stone to their future meets and preparations for the Big Ten Championships.

Rutgers has also dipped its feet in the Geneva, Ohio competition during the Spire Indoor and Boston University David Hemery Valentine Invitationals earlier this month. There, the Knights faced a turning point as they had very strong performances all around. Brown blew through the 400-meter event and clocked in at a time of 45.67, which is now the top time in the conference and second fastest time in the nation. He also ran as the anchor for the Rutgers 4x400-meter relay team with Aris, Gravesande and senior Brendan Jaeger, in which they placed third with a new school record of 3:08.42.

During the Valentine Invitational, freshman jumper Tobi Tella reached a new personal record of 15.42 meters in the triple jump event, to claim the third place position. Tella also finished 10th in long jump with 6.70-meter mark. In field events, his teammate, freshman pole vaulter Christopher Mazzacano tied for sixth place with a height of 4.70 meters.

With many notable moments and accomplishments during the 2016-2017 indoor track and field season, the Knights are now vying for an even bigger milestone this weekend for their season finale. The Big Ten Indoor Championship is then followed by Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) Championships and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Indoor Championships, but for now, the team is focusing on tackling the aggressive competition at Geneva, Ohio and granting Rutgers a spot in the top 12.

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

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