Rutgers to split up for dual-meet weekend

The Rutgers women’s track and field team will be splitting up this week as half of the squad will be heading down to Charlottesville for the Virginia Challenge, while the rest of the team will be staying in New Jersey for the Larry Ellis Invitational at Princeton.

The Virginia Challenge will be held at Lannigan Field from April 20-21. The meet will see a number of schools competing, including Columbia, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Illinois State, Kennesaw State, Liberty, Marshall, Maryland, Miami, Monmouth, Navy, NC State, UNC, Penn State, Pittsburgh, VCU and Western Carolina.

The Larry Ellis Invitational will be the second time the Scarlet Knights will compete in their home state this year, a rarity considering Rutgers has no home meets this season. More than 140 collegiate teams will be competing at Weaver Stadium this weekend, with many top programs set to be in attendance.

In addition to the collegiate teams competing, there will be several track and field clubs that will have athletes competing at the competition as well. 

A big focus for the Knights this season has been consistency, specifically when it comes to the team giving its best performance all at once and to be more consistent from week to week in terms of finishes. 

Head coach James Robinson has made it clear multiple times to both the team and the media that he wants to see it put up better collective efforts, though he has been encouraged by what he has seen in recent weeks.

The inconsistency of Rutgers this season could be seen in the competitions the last two weeks. 

At the Sam Howell Invitational two weeks ago, the Knights picked up two event wins in additional to 12 top-10 finishes. But the next week at the Tennessee Relays, Rutgers had only four top-10 finishes and no event wins. 

It is this inconsistency that Robinson hopes to correct during the final competitions of the season.

Though the overall team performance last weekend could be considered a disappointment, there were several team members who gave strong efforts and who will be looking to continue that momentum this week.

Graduate student Bryanna Grant topped her outdoor best in the triple jump on her way to an 11th-place finish in the event, resetting her previous best which was posted at the Bulls Invitational earlier this season.

Juniors Oniesha Clarke and Ariel Strunkey crossed the finish line with times of 11.72 and 12.01 in the 100 meter, respectively, topping their previous bests in the event.

In the 3,000 meter steeplechase, current school record holder redshirt freshman Lou Mialhe collected the only top-five finish for Rutgers the whole weekend with a time of 11:23.92, while true freshman Kaitlyn Bragen followed her in sixth place with a time of 12:38.35.

Those Knights will look to continue their strong performances this weekend while the rest of their teammates will join them as well.

Once Rutgers finishes its dual-meet weekend, the team only has one more meet this season. The Knights will partake in the Penn Relays from April 26-28 in Philadelphia. 

Rutgers’ season will finally end with the Big Ten Championships, starting on May 11 in Bloomington, Indiana, and the NCAA Championships — if the team manages to qualify any athletes — from June 6-9 in Eugene, Oregon. 

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

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