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Rutgers collects 3 top-10 finishes in Florida

The Rutgers women’s track and field team had its second Florida meet in as many weeks this weekend, as it competed against a large field of opponents that included seven nationally-ranked teams in the 74th running of the Florida Relays.

The nationally-ranked teams included host No. 8 Florida, No. 12 Kentucky, No. 13 Purdue, No. 16 Nebraska, No. 19 Florida State, No. 20 Virginia Tech and No. 24 Tennessee, along with dozens of non-ranked teams that also competed at the relays.

Poor weather was a theme for the entire weekend, as the Scarlet Knights had to battle not only the other teams on the track, but against the elements as well, as rain and heavy wind impacted the team's performance.

The meet came after two strong performances by Rutgers to open its outdoor season, first at the Yellow Jacket Invitational hosted by Georgia Tech and next at the Bulls Invitational hosted by USF. 

The relays acted as a measuring stick for a squad that still has a long way to go to become what it wants to be. It was also meant to be a good experience for a team that is chock-full of new athletes.

Individually, the Knights saw top 10 performances from two team members.

The first one came from senior Bria Saunders in the 200 meter, who placed 10th overall in the event. The Parsippany, New Jersey native, crossed the finish line with a mark of 25.18 seconds.

The other top 10 individual performance came from junior Oniesha Clarke, which is certainly not the first time she has been a top performer for Rutgers this season. The Waterbury, Connecticut product leapt a distance of 5.78 meters in the long jump, placing 10th overall.

Saunders and Clarke both picked up ECAC qualifiers for their efforts over the weekend as well. 

The other top performance from the Knights came from the distance medley relay squad. The quartet of freshmen Kaitlyn Bragen, Dakota Gerges, junior Jenna Sobieski and sophomore Nadia Saponara teamed up to cross the finish line with a time of 11:59.62, garnering the eighth best time in the event.

In the triple jump, graduate student Bryanna Grant reached a distance of 11.97 meters, finishing 16th and collecting an ECAC qualifier.

In the 4x100-meter relay, freshman Jacqueline Simmons, Clarke, Saunders and junior Ariel Strunkey combined for a time of 46.63, placing 34th overall and also picking up an ECAC qualifier.

Rutgers returns home to New Jersey and travels to Princeton for the Sam Howell Invitational from April 6-7.

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

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