HOUSTON -- The Houston men's and women's track & field program picked up five titles and four top marks in The American Athletic Conference to close out its January schedule at the Houston Invitational Saturday.
Two true freshmen claimed wins for the Cougars while placing their names atop The American's performance list Saturday as Nathaniel Mechler (heptathlon) and Samiyah Samuels (long jump) each accomplished the feat.
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HOW IT HAPPENED
The day started off with Mechler totaling 5,376 points, the second-best total in UH history and the ninth best this season nationally, to claim his first collegiate title in the heptathlon. The point total leads The American Conference.
Mechler opened the morning with a time of 8.60 in the 60-meter hurdles to pick up 836 points and extend his overall lead from Friday. He opened his lead further in the pole vault, besting all competitors with a clearance of 14-11.00 (4.55) to pick up 775 points. Mechler ended the day with a time of 2:45.42 in the 1,000-meter run to again lead the field and grab another 814 points.
Samuels took The American lead in the long jump when she recorded a mark of 19-11.50 (6.08) on her opening jump of the day. Four of Samuels' jumps on the day outranked the second-best mark of the day with her winning jump ranking 22nd nationally.
Senior Alex Garza grabbed a PR en route to winning the men's shot put with a top throw of 57-8.25 (17.58). Garza led from start-to-finish with his winning throw coming on his second attempt. The mark ranks third in The American this season.
Houston closed out its day on the track with a win in the women's 4x400-meter relay as the Cougars topped their closest competitors by over four seconds with a time of 3:47.88.
Junior Tonye'cia Burks closed out the day in the field events with a PR of 41-3.25 (12.58) to take the women's triple jump win. Burks led from the start with her winning jump coming on her first attempt and moved up to No. 3 on The American performance list with the effort.
Amere Lattin grabbed top collegiate honors in the men's 60-meter hurdles as he finished with a time of 7.86, just behind his season best 7.85 that leads The American and ranks 11th nationally. Lattin qualified for the finals with a time of 7.95 in the event's semifinals.
In the men's 60-meter dash, Cameron Burrell improved his season mark with a time of 6.64 to move into sixth on the NCAA performance chart this season and regain the event's lead in The American. The senior's time led all collegiate competitors in the competition as Houston alum LeShon Collins edged Burrell by three-thousandths of a second for the win. Burrell led all collegiate competitors in the event's semifinals with a time of 6.67.
Also grabbing The American lead in the triple jump was sophomore Cameron Prejean who improved his PR in the event by over three feet. Prejean finished second overall and led all collegiate athletes with a top jump of 50-9.25 (15.47) on his final attempt of the day. Houston alum Chris Carter claimed first in the event with a meet record 54-3.25 (16.54), the fourth-best mark in the world this year.
Houston returns to action next weekend when the program travels to College Station, Texas, for the Charlie Thomas Invitational. Action kicks off Friday at 2:30 p.m. with the men's heptathlon.
ABOUT THE 2016-17 COUGARS
The Houston men return 93 of their 152 points from last year's American Athletic Conference Indoor Championship team, including NCAA Runner-Up and American Champion in the 60-meter dash Cameron Burrell. Also returning for Houston will be thrower Felipe Valencia, who took the indoor championship in the shot put a year ago.
For the women, 17 freshmen will look to play their part in improving on the team's ninth-place finish from a year ago. A young squad, the women will have just six seniors for the indoor slate, including 2016 American Champion in the outdoor steeplechase Selena Sierra.
FOLLOW THE COUGARS
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