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Rutgers fails to capture event title over weekend

 – Photo by Jeffrey Gomez

The Rutgers women’s track and field team had to split up this weekend to attend two meets across the country this weekend. Some traveled to Geneva, Ohio for the SPIRE Invitational, while the rest traveled to Boston University for the David Hemery Valentine’s invitational. 

Unfortunately for the Scarlet Knights, they were unable to pick up an event win in either competition. But that does not mean that Rutgers had no standout performances.

In Ohio, junior Phyllis Gordon finished as the runner-up in the 400-meter, clocking in with a time of 54.63, which was only .12 seconds behind first-place winner Jai’Lyn Merriweather of Maryland.

Gordon also captured a spot in the top eight in the 600-meter with a 1:32.50 time, as she had the strongest performance of any Knight this weekend in Ohio or Massachusetts.

Rutgers’ 4x400-meter relay team also had an impressive performance, as it recorded its fastest time of the season. The team of junior Arianne Strunkey, senior Bria Saunders, freshman Kayla Jackson and junior Ariel Strunkey finished eighth in the event with a collective time of 3:51.03.

Meanwhile, in Boston, three runner-up performances in the jumps formed the backbone of the Knights’ efforts at the Valentine's Invitational hosted on Friday. 

Fifth-year senior Bryanna Grant leapt 12.16 meters (39' 6.2") in the triple jump as she finished runner-up in the event, while freshman Courteney Campbell reached a height of 1.70 meters (5' 6") to clear the bar in the high jump to also finish as the runner-up. 

Junior Oniesha Clarke placed second in the long jump at 5.82 meters (19' 1"), while also locking up fifth place in her first appearance in the 200-meter this season. In the 200-meter, Clarke set a new personal record with a time of 24.19, improving on her previous best of 25.27, which she set at the 2016 ECAC DIII Championships.

Freshman Jacqueline Simmons finished fourth in the long jump, registering a new personal record in the process with a length of 5.68 meters (18' 7.75").

Senior Drew Andrew clocked in a time of 9.12 in the 60-meter hurdle, which was good enough to finish eighth in the event. 

Fifth-year senior Sarah Robbie and junior Jenna Sobieski both had notable perfomances in the 800-meter. Robbie crossed the finish line with a time of 2:12.11 — a season best for her — while Sobieski set a new personal record with a time of 2:13.02, topping her previous mark of 2:14.00, which she set at last year’s Metropolitan Indoor Championships.

The last noteworthy performance of the weekend belonged to sophomore Nadia Saponara, as she reset her personal record in the 3000-meter for the second-straight weekend. Saponara clocked in with a time of 9:54.81, which was a marked improvement over her previous best of 10:04.56, which she set last weekend in the Metropolitan Indoor Championships, as well. 

The Rutgers women's indoor track and field team returns to action at the 2018 Big Ten Championships at the SPIRE Institute on Feb. 23-24.

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

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