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Rutgers speeds through outdoor season through Mirabelli, Eze

The level of preparation any college track athlete goes through before and after the cry of the starting gunshot, is almost unimaginable. The athletes’ tension likely reaches its peak in the midst of the crowd’s silence at the stadium before the start of a race or the stance before a big throw.

Throughout the 2016-17 track and field season, the Rutgers men’s team has been roadblocked with various weather, travel and just momentum lacking obstacles, but still maintaining to keep the pitfalls and losses a distant memory before their next obstacle.

Just this past weekend, junior javelin thrower Christopher Mirabelli and graduate jumper Emeka Eze both broke school records at the 123rd Penn State Relays. Despite the rush of thousands of other athletes ranging from high school to the professional and Olympic levels competing on the same soil, both Mirabelli and Eze were not hindered from fulfilling their goals.

Mirabelli took home the javelin event title with his personal and school record breaking distance of 251’ 6” on his final attempt, rewriting his close second-place finish during last year’s Penn Relays.

“I was the second to last thrower, and Michael Shuey from Penn State was in first place so far and had already beaten my personal record. But on my last throw, I surpassed that and won it for the team,” Mirabelli said.

Especially in the track and field world, anything could happen within the last throws of any throwing event, indicating the unexpected thrills of this sport, along with how a hair of a second makes all the difference in the world.

“Penn State was the biggest competition I had there for javelin. For other events such as sprinting, there were some big name schools like Oregon competing as well,” he said.

Eze was also another athlete the audience kept an eye on this weekend. He broke out this year, sprinkling many personal record and school record-breaking performances throughout this season alone. During the Metropolitan Championships, Eze was able to end a five-year holding record made by Adam Bergo with his 15.92-meter triple jump, with Bergo in attendance to watch it.

At the Penn Relays, Eze broke yet another school record for the same event with a leap of 16.14-meters on his fourth attempt during this triple jump campaign, surpassing his 15.92-meter mark that beat Bergo.

“This was my third Penn Relays throughout my track and field career. This one was my first one with a completely healthy season, with no injuries, and I seeded top 2 for both long and triple jump events. The dynamic during this meet was really different, but I came into it wanting to break more records,” Eze said.

And that is exactly what he did.

As his final season of eligibility for college track soon coming to a close, Eze hopes to tackle the bigger meets such as the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, NCAA Championships and national qualifications, all of which taking place within the next 2 months.

“I will still be involved with the team next year while finishing grad school, and just helping my coach in places he needs me,” he said.

The Knights have been preparing themselves for some of the biggest endeavors harboring at the end of the outdoor season, and all hoping for a shot at Nationals.

Looking back at all the improvement made from the indoor season to the outdoor, they have indeed been receptive to their coaches and long term setting goals starting from day one.

“This year I needed to get a lot stronger, I needed to gain my strength back that was lost during the off-season. I also had to improve on the technical parts of my throws, which is not perfect yet, but every day at practice, I wanted to see at least a small improvement. But this season for me really showed a lot of personal growth,” Mirabelli said.

Other star athletes such as Izaiah Brown made huge headlines this season as well.

At the Big Ten Indoor Championships back in the winter, sophomore sprinter Izaiah Brown took the crown in that event with a time of 45.32, beating his school and Big Ten Conference record once again since his time of 45.67 at the Spire Indoor Invitational.

Although sophomore sprinter Izaiah Brown suffered a leg injury that unfortunately pulled him out of concluding his indoor season at NCAA Indoor Championships, he was able to finally make his outdoor debut and reclaim his 400-meter title.

Brown stepped back onto the first place podium with his finish in the 400-meter at 46.50, an understandable 1.23 seconds over his personal record after his multiple-week absence, a strong way to start of his outdoor career.

With all the athletes striving to qualify for nationals, practices and meet results are crucial at this point in time. Athletes will have to make the top-48 mark in the country and finish within the top-12 at their coast conference at regionals to qualify for Nationals.

For the upcoming school year, four recruits in distance runner Genaro Anzalone, distance runner Patrick Walsh, distance/sprinter Eric Barnes and jumper Malachi Davis are signed on to joining the Rutgers men’s track and field team.

The transition will be significant, but one of the most successful athletes of this season, Mirabelli provided wise words to the rookies.

“There is a huge learning curve especially during freshmen year that I remember," Mirabelli said. "I would tell them to try and stay positive even when things are looking down, keep working at it with classes and track, and stay optimistic even through the toughest practices. It is definitely worth everything."

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

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