Rutgers transitions into outdoor season

<p>Senior Jermaine Griffith earned All-American honors at NCAA Indoor Championships last week to wrap up his collegiate track career, as he will not compete in the outdoor season this spring.</p>

Senior Jermaine Griffith earned All-American honors at NCAA Indoor Championships last week to wrap up his collegiate track career, as he will not compete in the outdoor season this spring.

The time has come for the Rutgers men's track and field athletes to unscrew their indoor spikes and gear up for the outdoor season.

The Scarlet Knights concluded their 2016-2017 indoor season last weekend at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas. Rutgers headed into the competition with two qualified athletes, senior sprinter Jermaine Griffith and sophomore sprinter Izaiah Brown, both fighting for the 400-meter dash title, only to face the unfortunate news that Brown was unable to compete due to a resurfacing injury. Brown was seeded second with a time of 45.32.

Griffith, seeding tenth before Brown’s withdrawal, clocked in at 46.15 and was still headed toward the championships with one goal in mind: being named a First Team All-American. In the preliminary round, Griffith won his heat and seeded eighth for the finals with a time of 46.49.

To top off the smooth start to the NCAA Championships without his teammate Brown by his side, Griffith concluded his college track and field career with a seventh place finish in the finals at 47.10. The time may not have been able to compete against his personal record — however, it did secure him First Team All-America accolades, which had been a career goal since his shortcoming last season. He closes his college track career with a fulfilled dream.

As the team now transitions into the outdoor season without Griffith and now an injured Brown, each of the Knights are setting new goals for themselves with the new and refreshing start at hand at the University of South Florida (USF) Bulls Invitational in Tampa, Florida. 

Though the weather in New Jersey had been granted a foot of snow and a state of emergency due to the recent storm, Rutgers athletes were able to tackle a few first place finishes and debut some new and impressive athletes in the midst of Florida’s warm climate.

Graduate student hurdler Kyle Holder made his 2017 debut for the Knights at the invitational with a marvelous achievement in finishing first in the 400-meter hurdles at 52.80.

“I was only a couple tenths off of my personal record, but winning that race was a hell of a good feeling. I know I’m in a good place right now,” he said.

Holder also contributed to the successful second place finish of the 4x400-meter relay alongside senior Brendan Jaeger, graduate student Emeka Eze and freshman Alanzo Aris.

“The relay will be put together throughout the season, but for now, we're trying a bunch of stuff between athletes to make the best relay time. We hope to get to nationals this year,” Holder said.

In the jump events, freshman Perry Christie sealed his high jump with a 2.00 meter mark and sophomore Jairus Paul took the overall second best finish in triple jump at 14.89 meters, now crowned as a new personal record.

Gearing toward the field events during the invitational, javelin took the spotlight with Rutgers, almost sweeping the podium with a one-two finish made by junior Christopher Mirabelli, 73.64 meters, and graduate student Thomas Carr, 70.88 meters.

“I prepared for this season by sticking to the workouts the coaches gave, and throughout the offseason, training 6 days a week lifting and conditioning, and focusing on technique,” Mirabelli said. “I really liked this meet. I look at it more as a practice meet — we still have a lot of things to work on and many little things to improve. I definitely want to perform better this year, and compare each year for improvement.”

With the Knights now drawn to a new motivation, the team was holistically able to cast a web of success in various events to start off a great outdoor season.

“A couple of days in Florida was great, and there was a lot of excitement going into the competition. The expectations for this upcoming season need to be specific, but on behalf of the whole team, we were really excited to open up this season with great performances,” Holder said.

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