Rutgers heads out to Tennessee for Relays

The Rutgers women’s track and field team will hit the road again this week as it heads down to Knoxville, Tennessee for the Tennessee Relays held at the Tom Black Track at the University of Tennessee. 

Seventeen schools will be competing at the Relays, including three teams ranked in the top 25 in the country — No. 7 Kentucky, No. 17 host Tennessee and No. 18 Virginia Tech. Other schools making appearances at the Relays include Cincinnati, Duke, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Kent State, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburg, South Carolina, Southern Illinois and Vanderbilt. 

"We’re going to be getting a couple of players back from injury and the team has been practicing extremely well. I have a really good feeling about this upcoming week,” said head coach James Robinson.

The Tennessee Relays comes a week after the Scarlet Knights had a bounce back week at the Sam Howell Invitational, after having a difficult time at the Florida Relays the week before. 

Last week, Rutgers claimed two event titles, the first coming from junior Oniesha Clarke in the long jump, who has been a consistently positive presence for the team all season. Clarke jumped a distance of 6.07 meters, taking the top spot on the podium, while also setting a new personal record in the process. 

The other event win for the Knights came from freshman Kiera Nealon, who crossed the finish line first in the unseeded section of the 5,000 meter with a time of 17:38.00 — 12 seconds faster than her previous best in the event.

Senior Alexandra Juzwiak was close behind her in fourth place with a time of 17:47.73, also setting a new personal record for herself as well.

In the 100-meter hurdles, a Rutgers pair placed in the top 10, with senior Drew Andrews claiming the third spot, clocking in with a time of 14.79 seconds, and sophomore Lynnea Davis placing seventh in the event with time of 15.56 seconds.

The other notable performance last week came from the jump squad, when the team saw three squad members place in the top five of the high jump. 

Sophomore Rhonda Rogombe and freshman Courteney Campbell both reached a height of 1.62 meters, and claimed second and third place, respectively. Sophomore Selena Thorne finished close behind in the fifth spot with a height of 1.57 meters.

Despite the success last week, Robinson still sees room for improvement.

“We really just need to be more consistent. We need the entire team to contribute in order for us to be successful as a whole. Right now, we are only getting key contributions from roughly half the team one week, but it switches to the other half of the team the next week. So really, we just need contributions from everybody," Robinson said. 

Robinson was quick to note that he is very hopeful for the Relays this upcoming week, as he feels that the team will put up its best performance of the season to date.

The relays will kick off at 10 a.m. on Thursday and will conclude at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“I’m really looking forward to heading to Tennessee. It will be a great experience for the team and it will finally be an opportunity for us to have a strong team performance," Robinson said. 

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

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