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Rutgers' runners build close bond

 – Photo by The Daily Targum

As a crowded LX bus pulls onto Joyce Kilmer Avenue, the Livingston Plaza comes into focus. Above the numerous restaurants, stores and Rutgers Cinema is the Livingston Apartments. The modern apartments house many students, but within one apartment lives four members of the Rutgers men’s track and field team. 

The residents of the apartment are sophomore Boaz Madeus, junior Taj Burgess, junior Christopher Jenkins and senior Perry Christie. 

This isn’t the first time Burgess and Christie have lived together. Their relationship has grown stronger through living together. 

“Taj lived with me after his freshman year in the summer,” Christie said. “Last year we decided we might as well live together since we created such a good bond and ever since then we just became really close, we even talk to each other’s parents.”

Being close with roommates is essential, especially with the intense schedule of being a Big Ten student-athlete. Having a strong support system is key during the seemingly never-ending season of track and field. 

The housemates have learned the keys of how to successfully live together. Christie pointed to two specific aspects that help them thrive.

“Having communication with each other and also being accountable,” Christie said. “We hold each other accountable.”

Freely communicating has helped them work through tough situations. When one didn’t perform well at a meet, the discussion the group had escalated. Immediately, they realized what the original goal of the conversation was and were able to come back together. They then sat around laughing and figuring out superlatives for one another.

Being accountable for one another has manifested in the record books this year. Burgess ran into second place all-time in the NCAA 500 meter event earlier in the season. Christie recently broke the Scarlet Knights’ record in the high jump.

“Since we all know what we want to do, we keep each other on track. It’s pretty much just looking out for each other and making sure that we’re doing the right things, making sure that we’re eating right, sleeping right and just taking care of business," Christie said.

They've been able to take care of whatever has come their way so far, with each member of the apartment posting impressive stats this season. 

Between classes, practices and competitions, the group has found time to attend Athletes in Action (AIA) on Tuesday nights. AIA is self-described as helping athletes and anyone else involved with athletics work on their relationship with Jesus. Christie said they have found themselves becoming “more connected with God and more spiritual.”

Besides helping them believe in something greater than themselves, AIA is another activity to bond over. 

When they aren’t preparing for meets or bettering themselves, the group understands the need to relax and have fun. Often this leads to screaming, for no particular reason.

“We’ll just be in one room and we’ll just start screaming at each other and sometimes we wrestle, pretty much acting like little kids, just having fun, not being so serious all the time,” Christie said.

When they need to be serious, they can. Discussions have started to shift to the three championship meets with the first being the Big Ten in two weeks. 

Christie said they are focusing on how strong results in the next few weeks can put Rutgers on the collegiate track and field map. 

Summarizing the overall vibe of the apartment, Christie said “We are really laid back, chill individuals. We take our sport very seriously in this apartment … We are trying to stay focused and stay on the path we have going for ourselves.”

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

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