Penn Relays: Rutgers sweeps long jump in historic performance

·3 min read

PHILADELPHIA — They vowed to “put on a show” at the Penn Relays.

It was a bold prediction for the nation’s biggest track & field meet.

Apparently A’nan Bridgett and Sincere Robinson are men of their word. The Rutgers roommates finished first and second in the college long jump championship Saturday.

It marks the first time Rutgers has gone 1-2 in an event at the Penn Relays.

“This is historic,” said Scarlet Knights jumps coach Corey Crawford, a Bergen County native who won this event in 2014. “They’ll be in the books forever. This is for life.”

And they did it with style. Bridgett, a senior who attended West Windsor-Plainsboro South High School, placed first with a leap of 26 feet, 1.75 inches. That would have eclipsed Crawford’s program record, but the wind gauge registered a reading of 2.6 — just over the limit for the mark to count for record purposes. It still was enough to capture the coveted gold winner’s watch by more than a foot.

Rutgers A'nan Bridgett (left) holds his gold watch and teammate Sincere Robinson (right) holds his silver medal from the men's long jump at the Penn Relays. Between them is coach Corey Crawford
Rutgers A'nan Bridgett (left) holds his gold watch and teammate Sincere Robinson (right) holds his silver medal from the men's long jump at the Penn Relays. Between them is coach Corey Crawford

“My dad and I used to come here, and I would stand and watch and think, ‘That’s going to be me someday; I’m going to have a watch,’” Bridgett said. “It’s a monumental moment, to be sure.”

Bridgett, who is earning degrees in both economics and biology, has plans for his new hardware.

“I’ve got graduation coming up,” he said, “so this will definitely be on my wrist.”

Robinson, a freshman who graduated from Newark Tech last spring, earned the silver medal with a leap of 25 feet and a half-inch.

Rutgers long jumper A'nan Bridgett
Rutgers long jumper A'nan Bridgett

“Going 1-2 in this is a great feeling,” Robinson said. “We talk about doing this all the time, and we spoke it into existence.”

Timberg wins pole vault

The historic nature of Rutgers' performance was not confined to the men's team. Freshman Chloe Timberg struck gold in the women's pole vault, clearing 13 feet, 6.5 inches. Timberg, a Pennsylvania native who is ranked third in the nation and already has gone over 14 feet this season, didn't miss an attempt at her first two heights.

This marks the first Penn Relays at which Rutgers earned watches on both the men's and women's sides.

The unprecedented haul is the latest sign that Rutgers’ track & field program is on the rise. In the same hour they were jumping, the Scarlet Knights were competing in the both the men’s and women’s 4x100 Championship of America races.

The men placed sixth in 40.68. Bridgett led off that quartet — a nifty little balancing act that required him shuttling back and forth from the track to the jumps runway. Former Donovan Catholic star James Bivins and J.P. Stevens alum Nadale Buntin brought the baton home. They were the only college from the Northeast to qualify for the final.

The women’s 4x100 and 4x400 each placed seventh in 46.73 and 3:41.60, respectively.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Crawford said.

Corey Crawford competing for Rutgers at the 2016 Penn Relays
Corey Crawford competing for Rutgers at the 2016 Penn Relays

Rutgers has won individual events here before, most recently Chris Mirabelli’s triumph in the 2017 men’s javelin. But to be competing for top honors in so many events is something new as head coach and Toms River resident Bob Farrell mines New Jersey’s rich high school talent pool.

“New Jersey has a long history of coming here, Rutgers has a long history of coming here, and to be able to put on a show for Jersey, it’s big,” Bridgett said.

As Crawford pointed out, the highly engaged Franklin Field crowd of 38,000 can have unpredictable effects on track & field athletes who are not used to competing in this kind of environment.

Bridgett and Robinson couldn’t get enough.

“Jersey never backs down from anything,” Robinson said. “This crowd is going to either make you or fold you, and we don’t fold.”

Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996. Contact him at jcarino@gannettnj.com.

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Penn Relays: Rutgers sweeps long jump in historic performance