Rutgers ships back up to Boston for Valentine's Invitational

After its most recent meet in Staten Island last weekend, the Rutgers women's track and field team will travel to Boston for the second time in the last three weeks, as it gets set to compete in the Valentine's Invitational on Friday.

One of the biggest themes this year has been the impressive success of the freshman class. In the sprints, freshman Iyanla Kollock has made a name for herself in the 60 and 200 meters. She earned a personal record of 7.69 seconds in the 60 meter last weekend, earning herself a third-place finish. In the weekend prior, she got a personal record of 25.12 seconds in the 200 meter. 

Freshmen Mackenzie Prezume and Erin Bertscha have also participated in the relay races, with Prezume on the 4x400-meter team, and Bertscha competing for the 4x800-meter. Both teams earned second-place finishes last week in Staten Island. 

Prezume finished in sixth place in the 500 meter last week, which marks the second-best performance for the Scarlet Knights in that respective event. Freshman Brooke Riedy is coming off a third-place finish in the 1,000 meter, doing so with a personal best time of 3:01.52. 

In the shot put, freshman Zyra Thomas has competed in every meet this season, finishing in seventh place last week. Freshman Jasmine Van Note also participated in that event, starting her collegiate career with an eighth-place finish.

Two big freshman contributors just made their returns to the lineup last week, as Reanda Richards and Icisys Sadler both suffered stress fractures in the fall. Richards hit the ground running, finishing in third with a time of 1:14.56 in the 500 meter. 

Richards' time was the fastest this season for Rutgers in the 500 meter. As for Sadler, her best performance was in the 60-meter hurdles, where she earned a seventh-place finish with a time of 9.11 seconds. She also joined Kollock and senior Oneisha Clarke in the 60-meter dash, where she finished 22nd.

Head coach James Robinson emphasized how difficult the transition from high school to college can be for all his runners.

“It’s a big adjustment to get used to college. They basically have to start all over again,” Robinson said. “For one thing, they have to get used to weight training, which many of them didn’t do in high school.”

Another interesting storyline to keep an eye on heading into this meet is the 4x400-meter relay lineup. The Knights had started the season with a lineup of Prezume, sophomore Kayla Jackson and seniors Phyllis Gordon and Jenna Sobieski. 

Richards and Kollock entered the lineup last week, and the shakeup seemed to pay dividends as Rutgers finished in second place with a time of 3:49.09.  

In the sprinting events, the top performer throughout the indoor season has been Clarke, who has routinely finished on or near the podium in the 60 and 200 meters. Clarke enters the Valentine's Invitational coming off a season personal record of 7.60 seconds in the 60 meter, which earned her a second-place finish, the highest finish in the event on the year for the Knights.

Another area of strength for Rutgers has been the distance medley unit, which is coming into Boston with back-to-back first-place finishes. At their last meet, they finished with a time of 11:50.88. 

The unit for last week’s meet was comprised of freshman Gabriela Sanchez and sophomores Kiera Nealon, Kaitlyn Bragen and Olympia Martin. The team finished in Staten Island with a time of 12:07.08.

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

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