HOUSTON – The Houston Cougar Men’s and Women’s Track & Field teams swept the long jump competitions and qualified 14 more student-athletes for Sunday’s final, at the American Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships on Saturday.
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SAMUELS CLAIMS HOUSTON’S FIRST GOLD
Freshman Samiyah Samuels became Houston’s first gold-medalist at the outdoor championships after winning the long jump and finishing as one of four Cougars in the top-8. Samuels needed just one attempt to leap 21-7.25 (6.58m) and put the competition out of reach. Samuels’ mark moves her to No. 8 on the NCAA list this season.
Houston saw three more Cougars reach the finals and pick up key points in the long jump, including junior Tonye’cia Burks who jumped 19-9.75 (6.04m) to finish fifth. Burks just edged teammate Justice Henderson who went 19-9.5 (6.03m), while Paige Lawrence finished eighth at 19-6.25 (5.95m).
JEFFERSON AND DICKERSON FINISH 1-2
Sophomore Trumaine Jefferson completed Houston’s sweep of the long jump competitions after claiming gold in the men’s event. Jefferson, like Samuels, needed just one attempt to reach his mark, jumping 25-10.0 (7.87m). He claimed both the indoor and outdoor titles this season.
Jefferson had steep competition, especially from teammate Antwan Dickerson who fell just one-half of an inch shy in his second-place finish. Dickerson’s best leap came on his third attempt when he jumped 25-9.5 (7.86m) to climb atop the podium.
Junior Jared Kerr rounded out Houston’s scoring in the event when he jumped 24-0.75 (7.33m) to place seventh.
MECHLER MAKES MOVES IN DECATHLON
Freshman decathlete Nate Mechler had an incredible second day in the men’s decathlon making a move to reach the podium. He entered the final five events in fourth place with 3,799 points. Mechler opened day two with a second-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles in 14.87.
He followed the performance with another second-place finish, this time in the pole vault, after jumping a personal-best 15-5.0 (4.70m), but was still fourth heading into the final event. Arguably his strongest event, Mechler ran the 1,500-meters in 4:26.28 to set a new American Athletic Conference record, meet record and earn the silver medal.
Houston also picked up key points in the decathlon from senior Chris Morales and sophomore Sebastian Russi. Morales won the pole vault by going up-and-over the bar at a personal-best 16-0.75 (4.90m) en route to score 6,857 points and finishing fifth, while Russi scored 6,770 points to place sixth.
CORNELIUS RETURNS TO SHOT PUT PODIUM
After missing the entire 2015-16 season due to a knee injury, Cameron Cornelius made his return to the podium at the American Athletic Conference Championships when he finished second in the men’s shot put. Cornelius’ top launch traveled 60-2.0 (18.34m) to earn him the silver medal.
Senior Alex Garza picked up three points for the Cougars after throwing 56-6.0 (17.22m) to finish sixth.
LARSSON JUMPS THREE SPOTS IN HEPTATHLON FINAL DAY
Freshman multi-athlete Anna Larsson entered the final three events of the women’s heptathlon in seventh place with 2,625 points, but posted personal bests in each of the three events to finish fourth overall.
Larsson opened the day with a win in the long jump after posting a top mark of 18-6.0 (5.64m) and followed that with a second place finish in the javelin at 119-6 (36.42m). Larsson ended the day by finishing fourth in the 800-meters with a time of 2:32.27.
LATTIN LEADS TRIO OF HURDLERS INTO FINALS
Houston qualified three hurdlers for Sunday’s finals of the 100- and 110-meter hurdles. In the men’s race, freshman Amere Lattin punched his second ticket to the finals after running 13.79 to qualify first overall. Lattin will also compete in the 400-meter hurdle final on Sunday after also qualifying with the top time in that event.
On the women’s side, Houston saw a pair of athletes qualify after junior Kelsey Roy ran 13.82 to qualify fourth overall, and freshman Birexus Hawkins ranked eighth at 13.97. Like Lattin, Hawkins also holds the top time in the 400-meter hurdles heading into the finals, and she also ran 53.64 in the 400-meter dash to qualify third overall.
SIX COUGAR MEN REACH 100-METER FINAL
After qualifying five sprinters for the 200-meter dash on Friday, the Cougars one-upped themselves by punching six tickets to the final of the 100-meter dash. Junior Eli Hall led the Cougars in the sprints once again after running 10.11 to pick up the top qualifying time. Hall ran 20.40 in the 200 to qualify with the top time in the race around the curve.
Junior Cameron Burrell qualified with the second-fastest time at 10.25, while sophomore Mario Burke ran the third-fastest time at 10.26, but qualified fourth overall after Memphis sprinter Devon DeMoss earned an automatic qualifying position for winning his heat.
Sophomore John Lewis III ran 10.38 to post the fifth-fastest time, while sophomore Jacarias Martin ran the sixth-fastest time at 10.44. Senior Curtis Brown rounded out the field with the eighth fastest time at 10.60.
THE REST OF THE BEST IN THE SPRINTS
Fresh off of claiming gold in the long jump, Jefferson was on the track for the first time this weekend in the 400-meter dash. He crossed the line in 46.43 to qualify second overall for Sunday’s final, where he will also anchor the men’s 4x400-meter relay squad.
Freshman Brianne Bethel made it a clean sweep of the top-times in each of the events she entered in when she qualified first overall in the women’s 100-meter dash. Bethel ran 11.43 to punch her ticket to the finals, where she will also compete in the 200-meter dash after running 23.29 on Friday.
GOING THE DISTANCE
The Cougars saw a men’s and women’s distance runner qualify for each of the 1,500-meter races. For the women, Jennifer Dunlap crossed the line in 4:35.07 to qualify sixth overall, while on the men’s side, Blake Contreras posted the 11th-fastest time at 3:56.86.
In the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, senior Selena Sierra scored three points for the Cougars when she finished sixth with a time of 10:39.95.
Entering the final day of competition, the Cougar men stand in second place with 52 points, while the women will open Sunday in fourth with 37 points.
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