Cougars hope to continue 2010 momentum in Big Apple
As the Cougars prepare for the New Balance Collegiate Invitational this weekend in New York, the women’s team got word that it debuted at No. 7 in the South Central Region. The rankings are voted on by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association based on overall team strength.
“It’s important,” head coach Leroy Burrell said. “Whenever you rank and compare teams to [one] another it’s important. We feel like we’re a little bit better than that. But since the rankings are based on overall team strength, we feel like there are some areas where we haven’t really shown what we’re capable of doing.”
Burrell is eager for his team to face off against more challenging opponents. This weekend will provide just that opportunity, as the meet will include over 100 schools, including some that are ranked higher in the South Central Region rankings.
“I’m excited about it. I think our athletes are too,” Burrell said. “We just have to rise to the occasion. I get really excited competing at our best against the best, so that’s going to be our objective this weekend.”
Burrell hopes the men’s and women’s teams will make a statement on the sprints. Freshman Errol Nolan and his coach both hope for a provisional mark for Nolan in the open 400-meter and continuous improvement on the mile relay.
“I want to hit 46 seconds in the 400,” Nolan said. “4×400, we’re just trying to make the finals.”
The New Balance Collegiate Invitational differs from other track meets. It stresses participation and school pride, which is not typical at track and field events.
“The Armory is a historic venue, it has a lot of ambiance, and it’s just a great place to compete,” Burrell said. “It’s a really good collegiate atmosphere. If your team wins a race or performs well, they play your fight song and teams really get into that.”
Although the Cougars trip to New York will be mainly business-oriented, some of the athletes are ecstatic about visiting the Big Apple.
“We’ll have a little free time after the meet Saturday. The kids are really excited,” Burrell said. “Anytime you go to New York, it’s a special occasion.”
Some of the Cougars will stay behind as UH hosts the UH All-Comers Meet Saturday at Yeoman Field House.