Members of the Rutgers men's and women’s track and field teams will split up and travel to different meets this week.
If runners from either team qualified, they will make the trip to Arkansas for the Tyson Invitational. Runners recovering from injuries, as well as some distance runners, will travel north for the Dave Hemery Valentine Invitational in Boston, Massachusetts.
“The distance guys are going to be in Boston, some sprinters who are coming back from injury are going to Boston, but everybody else who qualified is going to Arkansas,” said junior Taj Burgess of the men's team.
The Dave Hemery Valentine Invitational, hosted by Boston, marks the second time the Scarlet Knights will travel to Boston this season. The third and final time will be for the 1C4A Championships in early March.
With a few meets still left to come, this season has already been more successful than the last, said sophomore Reanda Richards of the women's team. Despite the overall success of the 2019 season, the team was marred with injuries. The rarity of injuries this season has helped the team in more ways than just having more available runners.
“There were a lot of challenges, some of our teammates couldn’t do their best because they were injured most of the season,” Richards said. “Now I think we are better prepared, most of us are really healthy and our times are way better than they were last year.”
Track and field is about constant improvement, something these teams have achieved in the highest regard. Burgess claimed the second-best time in NCAA history for the 500-meter event. Senior Perry Christie of the men's team, Burgess’s meal prep partner, claimed the Rutgers record in the high jump. Richards hopes to break another record.
Having only started running the 600 meter at the start of the season, Richards's first times were just shy of the school record of 1:29.53. That record has stood since 1980, but Richards is doing all she can to break it.
“It would mean a lot because it’s a really old record,” Richards said. “I’ve never broken one of our school records before.”
With her first time only a second away from the record, Richards has a chance of joining the record books.
Over the long track and field season, workout methods change in order to maximize results. Recently, the Knights have modified their workouts.
“Before we were practicing more endurance for strength, now we are incorporating the speed aspect,” Burgess said. “This way we’ll have the strength and speed to finish our races a lot stronger and faster.”
This weekend’s meets will serve as a tune-up before the championship meets. Even though there are still more than two weeks until the starter’s pistol is fired at the Big Ten, the impending races are still on everyone’s minds.
Richards is focused on her 600-meter time but sees how she will use other events to prepare.
“I’m running the 500 meter this weekend probably, so I feel like that would really help my 600 meter (time)," Richards said.
Competition in both meets begins on Friday and finishes on Saturday. When all is said and done after this weekend, Rutgers will know a little more of what to expect come championship season.
For updates on the Rutgers men's and women’s track and field teams, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.