The Rutgers track and field team has started the new semester and 2023-24 indoor season with a slew of successful meets and first-place finishes between December 2023 and Saturday.
The Scarlet Knights have participated in five meets thus far: the Rutgers Holiday Classic, the Penn 10-Team Select, the UMass Flagship Invitational, the Collegiate Showdown and the Villanova Invitational. Here's a breakdown of Rutgers' performance at each meeting.
Rutgers Holiday Classic
The Knights opened the season on Dec. 1, 2023, hosting the Second Annual Rutgers Holiday Classic at The Armory in New York.
"This is a meet we train through. We see it as more of a time trial or testing day," said the Director of Rutgers Track and Field and Cross Country Bobby Farrell.
"It was a great December meet. A good portion of the team either recorded a PR or had their best opener," Farrell said.
The successful meet was capped off by junior pole vaulter Chloe Timberg setting a new school record height of 4.47 meters (14' 7.5") in the pole vault. Timberg topped her own record that she accomplished in last year's Big Ten Indoor Championships in March 2023.
Penn 10-Team Select
After a month-long break, the Knights returned to action at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island, New York, on January 13. The meet saw Rutgers place in the top three twice yet fail to finish first in any of the 14 events it participated in.
"We had some higher hopes in some events. Nature had a different plan," Farrell said.
The Knights were hit badly with illness during the month off, with many struggling to make practices ahead of the meet.
"We got hit tremendously hard with illness," Farrell said. "I want to say 20-plus people got sick."
Sophomore thrower Tey'ana Ames, 1 of the 2 Rutgers athletes to finish in the top three, placed second in the women's shot put event with a throw of 13.27 meters (43' 6.5"). The other top-three finisher was sophomore sprinter Lucia Garcia-Beltran, who placed third in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.79 seconds for the Knights.
UMass Flagship Invitational
Timberg and sophomore pole vaulter Noah Kriesman swept the pole vaulting events. Timberg matched her school record (4.47 meters) set the month prior, and Kriesman cleared a height of 4.95 meters (16' 3") for Rutgers.
Senior thrower and jumper Alicia Campbell was another standout performer, dominating both the women's shot put and weight throw events. Campbell placed first in the shot put and second in the weight throw.
Senior sprinter Sydney Hawkins had a strong showing as well, earning a first-place finish with a time of 7.51 in the women's 60-meter dash.
"This is Sydney's year. This is her fifth year, and she's had a great offseason," Farrell said. "She's looked the best she's ever looked. She's competing the best she's ever competed," Farrell said.
The other two first-place finishes of the day were in the 400-meter dash and the 4x800 team relay. The relay team finished with a season-best time of 7:53.14, while freshman sprinter Bryce Tucker won the 400-meter dash with a time of 47.88.
The Knights once again visited Boston when it participated in Boston University's College Showdown this past weekend. In this event, Rutgers brought home four first-place finishes and broke two school records.
Timberg, for the second time this season, broke the school record in pole vault. She won gold with a height of 4.50 meters (14' 9"), earning Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week honors.
The other broken record of the day came during the weight throw event, where Campbell demolished the previous school record of 18.97 meters (62' 3"), set back in 1998. Campbell placed first with a throw of 20.87 meters (68' 5"), which garnered Farrell's praise.
"She broke the record by, I believe, maybe five feet, six feet? She's annihilated it," Farrell said on Campbell.
The Knights' final two gold medals were a sweep of the men's and women's long jump. Junior jumper and sprinter Sincere Robinson and sophomore jumper Celine-Jada Brown placed first with jumps of 7.83 meters (25' 8.25") and 6.20 meters (20' 4.25"), respectively.
Unlike other sports, track and field will not always have the majority of the program traveling to each meet. Sometimes, specific players are sent because there is better competition in a certain event, and other times, players are sent simply to get more opportunities to showcase their abilities. This was the case this past Saturday.
While a majority of the program competed in Boston at the Collegiate Showdown, Rutgers also sent distance runners to Staten Island to compete at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Saturday. The Knights competed in the men's mile and women's 3,000-meter.
Rutgers' next two meets, the Bob Pollock Invitational in Clemson, South Carolina, and the John Thomas Terrier Classic in Boston will both take place on Friday and go through Saturday.
"Expectations were high for this weekend, so we really want to have a lot of breakthroughs," Farrell said. "We still have our home meet and Chicago, but being able to hit some of our benchmarks that we want to hit right now, we think, will really help us."
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