Rutgers heads down Route 1 for Sam Howell Invitational at Princeton

This weekend, the Rutgers men’s and women’s track and field teams will travel to Princeton University for the Sam Howell Invitational. This will be the first in-state outdoor meet for the women’s team, while it will be the second for the men’s team in New Jersey.

Last week, some of the men’s team competed at the Rider 5-Way, while majority of the team rested up for this coming meet.

With a bit of a traveling break, the Scarlet Knights are preparing to compete against more than 20 teams from around the Northeast. This meet will be a huge showcase of talent within the area. 

While Rutgers has been the only school from the Big Ten to make an appearance, there is plenty of other talent to prepare the Knights for the remainder of their season and the Big Ten Championships.

Last year, the men’s team swept the long jump. With a first- and second-place finish from senior Jairus Paul and junior Patrick Warren, respectively, Rutgers was able to show its strengths. 

Sophomore Malachi Davis earned a sixth-place finish as a freshman last season, which is a notable achievement in such a talent-studded meet.

This meet is stacked full of skilled athletes, that include the Knights. There is a lot of potential for Rutgers to end in a high position following this meet with the talent of the team as a whole. 

Now that freshman A’Nan Bridgett was brought onto the team, the Knights have the chance to sweep at least first through fourth place and showcase the talent of Rutgers' jumpers.

If the Knights decide to enter their relays into the meet, then they would blow out last year’s competition. Last year, the Tigers nabbed a 3:17.48 finish, while Rutgers was able to beat another school record for the 4x400 relay with a time of 3:04.27. 

Sophomores Christopher Jenkins and Taj Burgess and seniors Sterling Pierce and Izaiah Brown were the record-breaking team that defeated some of their own previous records. This was broken at the Florida Relays in Gainesville, Florida back on March 30.

There were some notable finishes back in Gainesville for the women’s team, as well. 

Junior Rhonda Rogombe was able to score first place in the high jump with 1.78 meters, where she also was able to clear her own personal best for second-highest jump in program history. She previously held the third-highest jump then broke it the meet after.

At last year’s Sam Howell Invitational, Rogombe jumped 1.62 meters, which is well below her personal best, so first place is not out of the question for this year’s meet.

Sophomore Courteney Campbell also tied for third at last year’s meet as a freshman, but she has progressed enough to potentially put her name on a first or second place finish. Campbell also holds the second-highest jump in school history right behind Rogombe, with a height of 1.70 meters.

Also at Gainesville, freshman Reanda Richards broke the school record and currently holds the national best time in the 400-meter hurdles. With a time of 57.21, Richards beat the record by more than a second. 

She heads into this meet with a target on her back, while the previous winning time was 1:01.27 by Devon Block-Funkhouser of Princeton.

As a junior, Oniesha Clarke scored the long jump title at the previous Sam Howell Invitational, where she jumped 6.07 meters. Clarke won by more than a foot and a half. She will head into this meet in great standing against her competition, and intends to keep her title for another year.

Both the men’s and women's teams brought in several freshmen that have already made a stamp on this year with personal records, first place finishes and podium finishes as they compete against tenured athletes.

The Sam Howell Invitational gives the Knights a taste of what tough competition will be like, and in such a competitive conference like the Big Ten, Rutgers will need all the preparation that it can get.

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

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