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Rutgers kicks off outdoor season in Atlanta

The Rutgers women’s track and field team kicked off its 2018 outdoor season this weekend when it traveled down to Atlanta, Georgia for the Yellow Jacket Invitational hosted by Georgia Tech at the George C. Griffin Track and Field Facility. 

The Scarlet Knights joined host Georgia Tech, along with Alabama A&M, Belmont, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia State, Jacksonville State, Kennesaw State, MTSU and UNC Asheville for the two-day affair. 

Rutgers was last seen two weeks ago when it wrapped up its indoor season at the ECAC Championships, where graduate student Bryanna Grant was the runner-up in the triple jump, junior Oniesha Clarke landed in fourth in the long jump, junior Ariel Strunkey raced to a fifth-place finish in the 200 meter and freshman Olympia Martin crossed the finish line in fifth in the 5,000 meter. 

The team hopes the outdoor season will go better than the indoor stretch, after no Knights qualified for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. If this past weekend is any indicator for future success, the team is certainly off to an encouraging start.

Rutgers captured nine top-10 performances, with five coming from Knights making their outdoor debut. Rutgers also saw five members of the jumps squad land in the top 10, including impressive performances by freshman Courteney Campbell and Grant.

Campbell was 1 of 3 Knights to place in the top 10 in the high jump, as the Kendall Park, New Jersey native cleared the bar at 1.70 meters for a runner-up finish in the event. Sophomore Rhonda Rogombe placed fifth and sophomore Selena Thorne placed eighth with heights of 1.65 and 1.60 meters, respectively, to join their freshman teammate.

Meanwhile, in the triple jump, Grant leapt a total distance of 12.41 meters, which is a new personal record for her at Rutgers. 

Freshman Jacqueline Simmons made her outdoor track and field debut for the Knights, as she placed seventh in the long jump after reaching a distance of 5.64 meters, followed closely behind by fellow freshman Anna Czajkowski in 10th place with a total distance of 5.50 meters.

The notable Rutgers performance in the field events came from junior Halia Rosemond as she took seventh in the discus with a throw of 41.23 meters.

On the track, a pair of freshman led the way for the Knights. Dakota Gerges ran her way to a fourth-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles, crossing the finish line with a time of 1:03.83, while Kiera Nealon placed 10th in the 5,000 meter with a time of 17:49.58.

The Rutgers women's outdoor track and field team returns to competition at the Bulls Invitational hosted by University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida on March 22-23.

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

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