Back-to-Back: Houston Men Win American Outdoor Championship

May 15, 2017

HOUSTON – The Houston Cougar Men’s Track & Field team is the American Athletic Conference Outdoor Champion for the second-consecutive season after winning the league’s championship meet on Sunday in front of the home fans at Carl Lewis Complex.

Houston scored 181.5 points en route to winning its second-straight American Outdoor title, and third in the last four seasons. The Cougars topped UConn who took second with 136.5 points, while Memphis finished third with 112 points.

With the win, the Cougars swept the indoor and outdoor titles for the second-consecutive season and the 10th time in program history. The men have now won 15 conference outdoor titles in their history, including 12 under Head Coach Leroy Burrell.

Burrell has now won 17 total outdoor championships and 33 conference championships overall during his tenure at his alma mater.

The running events began with a bang for the Cougar men as they won gold in the 4x100-meter relay for the fourth consecutive season; all four seasons that the conference has been in existence. Houston’s squad of Mario Burke, Cameron Burrell, Jacarias Martin and Eli Hall rounded the track in 38.70 to stand atop the podium.

The mark for the team set a new meet record for the American Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships and is the fastest 4x1 time ever run inside Carl Lewis Complex.

Perhaps one of the most inspiring efforts of the weekend came from junior jumper Jared Kerr. On Saturday, Kerr placed seventh in the long jump to score three points for the Cougars, but he was back on the runway for the triple jump on Sunday, an event he had never competed in.

Kerr, who began triple jumping just five days prior to the meet, qualified for the finals with a leap of 49-8.5 (15.15m) on his third attempt. On his fifth jump, Kerr leapt 51-9.0 (15.77m) to launch himself into first place and eventually claim gold. Kerr’s mark moves him to No. 40 on the NCAA list this season.

Houston scored a large amount of its points in each of the 100- and 200-meter dashes, where they swept the podium in each event.

On Saturday, six Cougars qualified for the finals of the 100-meter dash, where Eli Hall ran a stadium-record 10.11 to rank first overall. Hall continued his dominance in the final where he posted a 10.19 to take the gold.

Junior Cameron Burrell took silver after running 10.30, while sophomore Mario Burke finished right on his heels at 10.31 for the bronze. Sophomore John Lewis III took fifth in 10.57 to score four points, while sophomore Jacarias Martin took three points in sixth at 10.68, and Curtis Brown placed eighth in 10.71.

Five of the six were back on the track for the 200-meter dash, where again Hall claimed the championship by running a stadium and American Athletic Conference record 19.96, the fastest mark in the nation this season. In a finish that went down to the thousandths of a second, Martin and Burke effectively tied for the silver medal after running 20.515 each. Burrell placed sixth in 20.90, while Lewis III rounded out the scoring in eighth at 21.49.

For the second-consecutive season, sophomore hurdler Amere Lattin swept both the 110- and 400-meter hurdle events. In his first event of the afternoon, Lattin went over the hurdles on the straight-track in 14.03 to claim the 110 hurdle championship.

A short while later, Lattin was back on the track for the full-lap race where he just missed his own meet record of 50.71, when he crossed the line in 50.95 to take the gold. Lattin is now a six-time American Outdoor Champion after being a member of both the 4x100- and 4x400-meter relay squads in 2016.

With the meet already in hand, the Cougars picked up their final event championship with a win in the 4x400-meter relay. The Cougar squad consisting of Eli Hall, Nathaniel Mechler, Mario Burke and Trumaine Jefferson made four laps around the track in 3:08.47 to claim the gold for the second consecutive season in the outdoor meet.

Sprinter Brianne Bethel continued her stellar freshman campaign with a pair of silver-medal finishes in her first outdoor conference meet. On Saturday, Bethel set the meet record at 11.43 in the 100-meter dash to qualify with the fastest time overall. Bethel would improve on her time in the finals, finishing second in 11.40.

Bethel would again find herself on the podium in a sprint event after her second place finish in the 200-meter dash. The rookie’s time of 23.12 moves her to No. 55 in the NCAA this season.

The Cougar women’s 4x100-meter relay team picked up Houston’s third silver medal of the afternoon. Brianne Bethel, who claimed two silvers of her own in individual races, helped lead the Cougar squad of four freshman, including Justice Henderson, Sierra Smith and Samiyah Samuels, to a time of 44.35 and a second place finish.

Sophomore high jumper Colin George picked up Houston’s second medal of the day in the field events, when he took bronze in his event. George went up-and-over the bar for a top mark of 6-8.75 (2.05m) to finish in a four-way tie, however George earned third due to the number attempts needed to clear the bar.

Following the American Outdoor Championships, junior sprinter Eli Hall was named the Most Outstanding Men’s Track Performer by collecting four gold medals in the meet, and helping the Cougars score 40 points.

The Houston coaching staff also garnered top honors after being named the Men’s Coaching Staff of the Meet.

Eight other Cougars helped their teams score points on the final day of the meet, including freshman Birexus Hawkins who made the finals in three events. Hawkins tallied a seventh place finish in the 100-meter hurdles before placing eighth in each of the 400-meter dash and 400-meter hurdles. Junior Kelsey Roy also placed in the 100 hurdles finishing eighth.

Fresh off his silver-medal finish in the men’s long jump on Saturday, Antwan Dickerson was in the hunt for more points on the final day. The junior turned in a pair of seventh place finishes in the triple jump and high jump to score four points for the Cougars.

In the discus, sophomore Nora Monie scored three points for the women after throwing 152-3 (46.41m), while on the men’s side, Zach Oliva threw 169-9 (51.75m) to place seventh.

The Cougars picked up points in a pair of distance races, including the men’s 5,000-meter run, where sophomore G.J. Reyna ran 14:48.29 to place sixth. In the women’s 1,500-meter run, Jennifer Dunlap crossed the line eight in 4:36.82.

Trumaine Jefferson wrapped the scoring for the Cougars when he finished fourth in the men’s 400-meter dash in 47.13.

The Cougar women scored 70 points in the meet to finish seventh and improve two spots from their 2016 American Outdoor finish.

Fans can keep up with the latest in University of Houston Cougar athletics by following us on Facebook (Facebook.com/HoustonAthletics), Twitter (@UHCougars), Instagram (houstoncougars) and YouTube.com (Youtube.com/UHAthletics). In addition, the Track & Field team has established its own official Facebook (facebook.com/HoustonCougarTrackandField) and Twitter pages (@UHCougarTF).



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