Rutgers heads down south to Charlottesville for Virginia Challenge

Last weekend, the Rutgers men’s and women’s track and field teams ran the show at the Metropolitan Championships at the Bauer Track and Field Complex. There were 22 first place, 17 second place and six third place-finishes for the Scarlet Knights. 

Rutgers will travel to Charlottesville, Virginia for the Virginia Challenge this Friday and Saturday. Having such a successful meet, it will be interesting to see how the Scarlet Knights fare against teams like Virginia and other highly-renowned groups across the country.

The teams that compete at the Virginia Challenge vary every year. While some are consistent, a majority of the teams rotate. This year, Rutgers has an opportunity to showcase its talent. 

On the men’s team, there are several notable athletes that could potentially medal. 

In the men’s 100-meter dash at the Virginia Challenge, Kennesaw State's Cameron Bolden, last year’s first place-finisher, clocked in a time of 10.58, while Navy's Devin Enslen followed in second with a 10.64 time.

In comparison, at the Metropolitan Championships, senior Izaiah Brown earned first with a 10.49. This year will not be Brown’s first appearance at this meet.

Last year, he competed in the 400-meter at the Virginia Challenge and earned himself a fourth-place finish with a time of 47.26. About 2 seconds slower than his personal record, Brown could easily claim the title in the 400-meter this year, since last year’s winner won with a 46.19.

Even sophomore Taj Burgess could place in the 400-meter. He recently earned first place at the Metropolitan Championships with a 46.06, so he could potentially follow right behind Brown at this coming meet.

The 4x100 relay could also do significant damage at this meet. The Knights recently beat the school record again with a time of 40.49, and the first place winner last year was Illinois State with a time of 40.67. 

There is no doubt that this is a high stakes event, but the men’s 4x100 team consistently comes up with a new record.

Last year junior Tobi Tella competed in the triple jump invite, and he placed third with a jump of 15.23 meters. While he did not compete at the Metropolitan Championships, Tella already has a firm idea of how tough the competition is at the Virginia Challenge. 

There was also sophomore Malachi Davis, who placed first in the open triple jump at the Metropolitan Championships. Davis surpassed his competition last weekend with a 15.35 meter jump. There is potential for Davis to be in the invite triple jump this year with such a successful jump from last year.

On the women’s team, at the Virginia Challenge, the first place-finisher at the 100-meter was Penn State's Keianna Albury, who ran an 11.59. True freshman Iyanla Kollock ran an 11.93 at the Metropolitan Championships and scored a second-place finish. 

Senior Oniesha Clarke is also an impressive 100-meter runner, and she might make an appearance in the 100-meter dash. Her personal record stands at a 11.59, which ties for first place. 

Clarke is also a successful long jumper. She was the title holder for the Metropolitan Championships with a jump of 6.05 meters. The winner of the last year's Virginia Challenge long jump was a jump of 6.18 meters, so there is still a good chance Clarke could score highly in the 100-meter dash if she competes.

True freshman Reanda Richards is currently the season leader in Division I 400-meter hurdles. Last year at the Virginia Challenge, the winner placed first with a time of 1:02.50. Knowing that Richards’s best time is a 57.21, there is a good chance that she could hold the title at this meet.

There are many unknowns about the Virginia Challenge. The team list is extensive, and knowing who will compete is hard to judge. But even though Rutgers was able to claim 22 first-place medals at its home meet against regional teams does not mean that it isn’t ready to compete against bigger teams.

For updates on the Rutgers track and field teams, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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