Rutgers set for NCAAs, Brown eyes national title

<p>Sophomore Izaiah Brown has the second-fastest 400-meter time in the nation heading into the NCAA Championships this weekend. </p>

Sophomore Izaiah Brown has the second-fastest 400-meter time in the nation heading into the NCAA Championships this weekend.

There still remains two athletes who have not quite concluded their 2017 indoor season yet.

Last week, the Rutgers men’s track and field team made some impressive moves during the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) Championships in Boston, Massachusetts even despite two prominent men on the team were absent on the track, but not without reason.

Senior Jermaine Griffith and sophomore Izaiah Brown were selected earlier this month to represent the Scarlet Knights at the NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas this upcoming weekend.

The competition will be lightning quick for the 400-meter, as Brown is seeded second with a time of 45.32, just behind Fred Kerley of Texas A&M who enters with a 44.94. Kerley holds the singular position out of all NCAA men, owning a sub-45 second time — by a hair.

Griffith is seeded 10th in the 400-meter, clocking in at 46.15. In the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships, Griffith collected a Second Team All-American accolade after running an impressive time of 45.81. 

“I expect a lot of competition this weekend. I’m seeded 10th which is good for the Second Team All-American, but that’s just two spots away from the First Team and I hope to change that this time,” he said.

This meet will be his debut for NCAA indoor competition, and he is fresh and prepared coming off of a third-place finish at the Big Ten Indoor Championships with a 46.15, a personal record.

As a senior, Griffith's NCAA indoor debut will also be his final goodbye to college track and field, as he will not be competing outdoors this season. But he will make sure to travel and support his team and attend meets as an unattached athlete.

The 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships will also be Brown's first, after missing last year's due to injury. Now being healthy, Brown has had a reassuring season on the track, reaffirming that he has not missed a step since capturing the 400-meter title at last year's Big Ten Indoor Championships. 

He has captured titles such as the U.S. Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Mid-Atlantic Track Athlete of the Year and Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week. Brown has broken numerous records to now owning the second-fastest 400-meter time in the country and third-fastest in the world. Hand in hand, this will be the first NCAA Indoor endeavor for both athletes.

“I plan to stick with Izaiah, and really work on our speed. Our coach has stepped it up a notch for this weekend and nationals, so we’re both going to pull each other along and do our best,” Griffith said.

In last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships, Rutgers was faced with another bottom tier finish in the team results. Then senior Corey Crawford scored the single and only point for the Knights team after an 8th place finish in long jump with 7.59 meters. Rutgers hopes to change that this year with their reliable and outshining athletes who have been spitting out record breaking times, one after another.

And despite Griffith kissing college track goodbye, he will be closing out his career with no regrets.

“I’m excited for this meet to be my end to my track career and am very happy with my performances," he said. "In the beginning of this season, I set a goal, and that goal was to qualify for nationals. I achieved that goal this season and and that’s the best part about it all."

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

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