HOUSTON – For the first time since 2005 the Houston Cougar Men’s and Women’s Track & Field teams are conference champions in the outdoor season after each squad won their respective American Athletic Conference Championships, on Sunday.
ABOUT THE TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Houston men scored 172 points en route to claiming their conference crown, while the women took their championship with 113 points.
For the men, the title is the 16th conference championship in program history, and the 11th under Head Coach Leroy Burrell. The championship gives Houston three-straight American Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships, which marks the third time in program history the team has won at least three consecutive (1997-2000 and 2009-12).
The Houston men swept the indoor and outdoor titles for the third consecutive season and the 11th time in program history.
For the women, the American Athletic Conference Championship is the first since joining the league and the first overall since 2006. Houston has now won nine outdoor conference championships in school history, including six under Burrell.
With the sweep of the men’s and women’s titles, Houston becomes the first American Athletic Conference program to sweep each of the titles in the same year, and it is the first time Houston has accomplished the conference feat since the 2005 season.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Houston claimed 11 championships on the track on Sunday, opening with a sweep of the women’s and men’s 4x100-meter relay. On the track first, the women’s team of Justice Henderson, Brianne Bethel, Samiyah Samuels and Essance Sample circled the track in a season-best and a Gettler Stadium record, 44.46 to win their first title in the event since 2010.
The men’s team of John Lewis III, Nicholas Alexander, Mario Burke and Cameron Burrell were on the track next, where they claimed their sixth-straight conference championship in the event. The squad completed one lap around the track in 39.22 to stay undefeated in the event since joining The American.
Amere Lattin became the first Cougar individual to take home an American title on Sunday, when he won the 110-meter hurdles. Lattin cleared the hurdles in the straight-track race in 13.81 to win his third-consecutive championship in the event.
Junior Kahmari Montgomery completed a sweep of the indoor and outdoor 400-meter dash events, when he won the outdoor crown on Sunday. Montgomery cruised a full lap around the track in 45.92 to pick up 10 points for the Cougars.
The Cougars would go on to sweep each of the men’s and women’s 100-meter dash championships. Brianne Bethel would break the American Championship and Gettler Stadium record en route to running 11.20 to sweep the straight-track sprint crowns in the indoor and outdoor seasons. On the men’s side, Mario Burke took home the gold medal with the ninth-fastest time in the NCAA this season at 10.12, while also breaking the meet and stadium marks.
The duo would strike again later in the meet, with both winning the women’s and men’s 200-meter dash events. Bethel claimed the gold medal in the one-half lap race in another meet record at 22.74, while Burke claimed his title by edging out teammate Kahmari Montgomery 20.478 to 20.480.
Sophomore Birexus Hawkins won her first American Athletic Conference Championship, when she took gold in the full-lap hurdle race. Hawkins completed the 400-meter hurdles in a meet-record 57.56 to take the gold.
Houston’s final individual gold medals came with another sweep of the relays, this time in the women’s and men’s 4x400-meter race. For the women, Nikesha Keith, Hawkins, Jazmyn Tilford-Rutherford and Bethel ran 3:36.51, while the men’s team of Nathaniel Mechler, Quivell Jordan, Thomas Alcorn and Trumaine Jefferson ran 3:10.17 for the men’s title.
Senior Tonye’cia Burks gave Houston its only title in the field events on Sunday, when she claimed her first conference championship in the outdoor triple jump. Burks used her third attempt to jump 42-8.25 (13.01m) to break the stadium record and take home the gold.
Apart from the championships, Houston picked up big points towards the team titles in each of the men’s and women’s 100 dashes. On the men’s side, Burrell claimed the silver medal with a time of 10.24, while Lewis III placed fifth at 10.44, Elijah Hall placed seventh in 10.47 and Cameron Prejean picked up one point with an eighth-place finish in 10.57.
Burrell would return for another medal, this time taking third in the 200-meter dash in 20.93, while Alexander finished fifth in 21.08.
Houston would pick up three more medals in the hurdles after Lattin returned to place second in the 400-meter hurdle event at 50.23, while Jordan finished right behind in third at 51.11. In the women’s 100-meter hurdles, freshman Naomi Taylor took home a silver medal after going up-and-over the obstacles at 13.49.
Senior Maddie Brown picked up a big six points for the Cougars with her bronze-medal finish in the women’s 5,000-meter run. Brown stormed from sixth to third in the final 700-meters of the race after running 17:24.15 to take home the medal. Brown’s effort sealed the championship for the women with just one race remaining.
In the field events, junior Felipe Valencia picked up a silver medal for the Cougars. Valencia set a personal-best in the shot put, when he launched a throw for 61-4.25 (18.70m). Senior Cameron Cornelius scored four points in the event with a fifth-place finish in 58-6.5 (17.84m).
Jared Kerr picked up Houston’s final medal in the field, with a third-place finish in the triple jump. Kerr, the American Champion in the long jump from Saturday, marked his best at 50-0.75 (15.26m) to claim the bronze. Prejean picked up a point for Houston in the event with a mark of 48-2.5 (14.69m) to finish eighth.
Also in the throws, Nora Monie scored four points for the Cougars in the women’s shot put after a fifth-place finish in 50-10.75 (15.51m), while Jack Thomas took eighth in the men’s javelin with a top toss of 213-11 (65.21m).
In the vertical jumps on Sunday, Colin George score five points for the men in the high jump after going up-and-over the bar at 6-9.75 (2.08m), while Ben Percefull cleared the pole vault bar at 15-11.0 (4.85m) to finish seventh.
Also in the running events, Mechler scored four points for Houston in the 110-meter hurdles after running in fifth at 14.51, while Cameron Laverty placed seventh in the 800-meter run in 1:53.67.
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