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Rutgers close out month at Big Ten Championships

Knights come in 13th out of 13 teams

The Rutgers women’s track and field team wrapped up the month of February with its performance at the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships, which was held at SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio this past weekend. 

Minnesota won the Big Ten title with an overall score of 91.5, collecting multiple individual event titles along the way. The rest of the top five included Purdue with 80, Ohio State and Indiana both finishing with a mark of 75 and Iowa rounding things out with 74.

Last year’s winner Penn State finished sixth overall in the competition with a score of 70, a steep drop from the 96.5 points it scored in the championships last year. 

The Scarlet Knights had an overall disappointing performance at the championships, as they finished in last place at 13th with an overall score of only 5 points. 

The weekend was not a complete loss, though, as freshman Oniesha Clarke continued her strong season. 

Clarke has been a revelation for Rutgers this season. In January, at the Towson Tiger Invitational, Clarke claimed the title for the 60-meter dash. Later that month, at the Texas Tech Invitational, she finished third in the long jump. 

The next month at the Metropolitan Indoor Championships, Clarke crossed the line first in the 60 meter again, and leaped the farthest in the long jump, bringing home two individual titles for the Knights. At the David Hemery Valentine’s Invitational, she finished fifth in the 200 meter and as the runner-up in the long jump. 

Needless to say, Clarke has been one of, if not the most valuable member of the track team during the indoor season.

It was no different this past weekend at the Big Ten Championships. On the first day, Clarke placed fifth in the preliminaries for the 60 meter. She crossed the finish line in 7.43 seconds, which happens to be her new personal record and is also the third-fastest time in program history. 

The next day at the finals for the 60 meter, the Waterbury, Connecticut native posted a time of 7.44, just one-hundredth of a second off her newly-minted personal record, finishing fourth overall in the event. 

Other notable performances at the championships included personal records for freshman Ariel Strunkey in the 60 meter (7.73) and 200 meter (24.64), freshman Kayla Jackson in the 400 meter (57.70), sophomore Lynnea Davis in the 60-meter hurdles (8.99) and freshman Jacqueline Simmons in the long jump (5.78 meters, 18' 11.75").

Rutgers' next competition will be in Boston, Massachusetts from March 2-4 for the ECAC Indoor Championships.

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

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