Burgess makes record books, continues to impress

Approximately 26 miles south of New Brunswick is TCNJ, another pubic university in New Jersey. This was the site of collegiate track and field history.

11 days after the calendar ushered in a new decade, junior Taj Burgess of the Rutgers men's track and field team made the NCAA record books for his 1:00.80 time in the 500m. This was the second-best time in the 500m in the history of the NCAA.

At the TCNJ Invitational, 19 other Scarlet Knights won their events. Thirty-eight of them made podium appearances, finishing in the top-three of their events.

Burgess, who tops Rutgers' record books in the 500m, made two national championship appearances between 2018 and 2019.

For his performance down in Ewing, New Jersey, on the campus of TCNJ, Burgess was named the Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week last Wednesday. The award came just one day after he was tapped as the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athlete of the Week.

Burgess, a Jersey City native, dethroned Garologelwane Masheto, who ran it while at Illinois in 2008, for the second-place spot in the NCAA all-time 500m record books. 

Masheto clocked in at 1:00.82. Brycen Spratling posted a 1:00.63 with Pitt back in 2012. He owns the top all-time spot in the 500m event.

At the Knights' next meet in Nashville, hosted by Vanderbilt, Burgess continued his impressive start to the indoor season. He ran a 46.63 at the Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational in the 400m, garnering him the title in that event.

Last indoor season, during the 2018-19 campaign, Burgess captured the 400m title at the IC4A Championships on March 3. He was also a member of the 4x400m relay team that finished first at the same event.

At the 2019 TCNJ Invitational, Burgess finished first in the 500m race with a time of 1:02.43. 

He became a Second Team All-American for the first time as an outdoor runner in the 2018 season as a result of his efforts in the 400m. He had a time of 46.16, good for top-20 nationally on June 6, 2018.

Burgess was also a 2019 honorable mention All-American. He qualified for the NCAA Outdoor championships in the 400m while earning a bid in the 4x400m relay in 2018. 

He also appeared in the 2018 and 2019 NCAA East Region in both the 400m and the 4x400m relay.

With five events left before the Big Ten Championships, Burgess and the rest of the track team are in the middle of the indoor season. The Hurricane Invited, held in Miami on March 20-21, will be the inaugural outdoor meet for Rutgers. 

The Knights will head up to New England for the Thomas Terrier Classic, hosted by Boston University, on Saturday. The event will mark the first of two events this indoor season hosted by the Terriers. Rutgers will return to Boston three weeks later for the Boston Valentine Invitational. 

The Tyson Invitational, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is also the same weekend as the second Boston invitational. 

The Big Ten Championships will take place in Geneva, Ohio, between Feb. 28-29 while the NCAA Championships will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, between March 13-14.

Burgess will look to get back to the Second Team All-American status, perhaps maybe even a First Team All-American selection, at the conclusion of the indoor season.

He did not compete at the Boston University Hemery/Valentine Invitational during the 2018-19 campaign, as he was down in South Carolina for the Clemson Invite. 

At the Clemson meet, Burgess placed in the top 10 with a time of 46.84. 

While at Jersey City, Burgess excelled. Competing at Carteret High School, he was the 22nd best 400m high school runner, per MileSplit.

The Star-Ledger picked Burgess to the First Team All-State and All-Group II, along with several other decorated New Jersey high school track and field athletes. 

Burgess will return to the Greater New York Metropolitan Area in several weeks for the Metropolitan Championships held at Staten Island. This is between Jan. 30-31. 

After that is the Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. 

But, for now, Burgess and the rest of the team are looking ahead to Massachusetts this coming weekend for the Boston University meet. 

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

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