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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Track & Field

UH ready for fun in the sun as outdoor season starts

Inclement weather spoiled the Cougars’ outdoor track and field season debut last weekend. The team is hoping for clear skies Friday and Saturday when it is expected to participate in the Victor Lopez Invitational at Rice University.

Head coach Leroy Burrell did not want to risk any injuries, pulling the team out of the TSU Relays last Saturday because of rain. He said he was aware of the forecast and adjusted the team accordingly; athletes slated to participate Saturday competed in some of Friday’s events.

“There was very little reward for the risk we would have taken to compete Saturday,” Burrell said. “I knew the weather was going to be bad. The big adjustment was that we decided to pull out and train on Sunday.”

Some events are not offered during the indoor season, while some athletes are not comfortable running in the indoor atmosphere. The 100-meter dash, 4×100-meter relay, 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, decathlon and javelin throw are among some of the events that are featured only in the outdoor season.

For Burrell, this and other factors draw a fine line between indoor and outdoor track and field.

“Indoor, there’s no weather factor. You have more issues with the type of track you’re on,” Burrell said. “It’s definitely two distinct seasons.”

The Cougars were not vacationing over spring break. Instead Burrell and his staff were picking up the pace in practice.

“We want to shake off some of the cobwebs,” Burrell said. “We had been in a resting mode for about three weeks. We started to kind of wind it up a little over spring break.

“This week, we’ve hit them pretty hard. (They have) a few bumps and bruises; some kids are a little sore. Our idea for this week is to train through it.”

The team has been buzzing for weeks in anticipation of the start of the outdoor season. Burrell said it offers a chance for the athletes to build on progress made during the indoor season or start anew.

“There’s an opportunity for further success for those who were successful and an opportunity for redemption for those who weren’t as successful as they wanted to be,” Burrell said. “It’s almost like you get to wipe the slate clean and start over. Generally, the younger athletes make some progress because they have a few meets under their belt. They’re used to competing at the collegiate level.”

With the dawn of a new season, Burrell’s aspirations remain the same: contending at the Conference USA meet and sending a strong presence of Cougars to the NCAA Championships.

“Our expectations are always pretty high. We want to compete well in the conference championships and qualify as many people to nationals,” Burrell said. “We think we got a good squad. We would like our athletes to perform well at the big meets with the big competition.”

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