Rutgers finishes at bottom of podium despite sophomore's record-breaking time

The Big Ten Indoor Championships has always been a key milestone toward the end of any men’s track and field indoor season.

Although the Rutgers men’s track and field team finished at the bottom of the podium in 12th place this year with a total of 16 points, it made a very notable appearance in one specific event — the 400-meter dash.

Sophomore sprinter Izaiah Brown took the crown in that event with a time of 45.32, beating the school and Big Ten Conference record once again, since his time of 45.67 at the Spire Indoor Invitational a few weeks back. That new and improved finish, shaving 0.35 seconds off the previous record, granted the Scarlet Knights 10 points out of their total 16 and a new record under his name.

To partner Brown with his historic finish, senior sprinter Jermaine Griffith also wowed the domes of Spire and placed third, clocking in at 46.15. With his finish, Rutgers was able to add another 6 points to the meet total.

“We were up against the best athletes in this country so the training was very rigorous. But I was able to do it by listening to my coach day in and day out, and trusting his training,” Griffith said.

With Brown and Jermaine’s added points to be the only numbers accumulating in the meet total and Big Ten Championship conclusion, the 400-meter dash belonged to the Knights this year.

Despite the inability to qualify for the finals, other successful athletes during this season — senior middle distance runner Brendan Jaeger, freshmen sprinter Alanzo Aris and freshmen jumper Tobi Tella — faced some rough competition while vying for even a personal record during the meet.

In the preliminary rounds for the men’s 800-meter run, Jaeger failed to place in the top eight spots by five positions, as he timed 1:51.44. His time could not quite beat his personal record of 1:50.79, which he possessed during the Spire NCAA Division 1 Indoor Meet. 

Tella was not able to beat his personal records in the long and triple jump, as he placed 10th in both events, with a shortfall of two positions from earning any points for Rutgers.

But Aris was able to take something away from this meet — a new personal record. In the 200-meter dash preliminaries, Aris placed 20th with a time of 21.98, shaving off a slight margin of 0.16 seconds off his previous personal record.

But for many on the team, like Griffith, who graduates in the spring, the team's performance was something to be proud of and something to take into account as the outdoor season rolls along.

“I think overall we did pretty well at this meet. Our team is pretty young, so you can’t expect a lot just yet. We just need to get our nose in (and) compete well because we were up against a lot of hard competition. But we did really well,” Griffith said.

Even with mediocre results at the Big Ten Championships this year, this young team is applauded as they set their sights for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) Championships taking place in early March.

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

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