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Friday, August 12, 2022

Track & Field

UH gears up for tough set of races

Junior pole-vaulter Shannan Arnold will be among the Cougars competing in the LSU Alumni Gold Invitational this weekend in Baton Rouge, La. | David Shih/The Daily Cougar

Head coach Leroy Burrell and his Cougars are making their way to Baton Rouge, La., where they will take part in the LSU Alumni Gold Invitational at Bernie Moore Track Stadium on Friday and Saturday.

Some of the Cougar’s top runners were absent at last weekend’s meet in Arizona, but Burrell said he plans on utilizing his best lineup this weekend at LSU.

One of Burrell’s wishes for the meet is to see Ciera Johnson trim a few seconds off her 800-meter time.

“She ran 2:07 at indoors, so we’d like to see her meet or beat that performance sometime as we get closer to the championship portion of our season. We think she can be an NCAA qualifier, but she’s got to put herself in that position,” Burrell said.

Cameron LaCour has struggled to break the 14-second mark in the 110-meter hurdles. Burrell said he attributes it to a rookie slump but is optimistic about how LaCour will perform this weekend.

“Indoors, Cam came on pretty strong and ran really well the last couple weeks of the season. The field effect you have to deal with, the race is longer and fitness is a bit more of a factor, and you have wind to contend with as well. I expect him to break 14 (seconds), but sometimes freshman hit a bit of a wall there between the indoor and outdoor seasons. I think this weekend, though, we should see some improvement,” Burrell said.

Tyron Carrier and Isaiah Sweeney will be busy with football duties this weekend, so Burrell said he hopes the men’s 4×100-meter relay puts forth its best effort without their two vital pieces.

“On the men’s side right now, we’re kind of just holding steady until we get Isaiah and Tyron back. We’re going to field a team, but we aren’t going to be what we can be until we have our best guys out there,” Burrell said.

Burrell said Carrier will be missed in the men’s mile relay and sees better days ahead.

“Without the guys, we don’t have as much depth, so we have to pick and choose our spots. We certainly think we can field a 3:06, 3:07 team, but we need Tyron to do that, so we probably won’t see it until the end of the season,” Burrell said.

For the women’s team, the return of Grecia Bolton and Whitney Harris should provide an improved performance from last weekend in the 4×100-meter relay.

“(On) the women’s side, we settled on a lineup. Grecia Bolton and Whitney Harris were out last weekend. Once we get those two back, we expect to be running a 43,” Burrell said.

The addition of Brittany Wallace to the 4×400-meter relay team, according to Burrell, should be an exciting prospect, and he is eager to gauge her progress.

“(In the) 4×4 on the women’s side, we’re working Brittany Wallace in more; she’s a hurdler who we red-shirted for indoors, and I think she’s going to be a big factor for us once she gets in shape,” Burrell said. “That team is certainly capable of running 3:33. It’s just a matter of settling in on a lineup and the order and getting in the right race.”

The host team, LSU, has a No. 8-ranked men’s team, and the women’s team is ranked third in the country. Burrell said he wants his team to challenge LSU.

“They’re pretty deep and always have a solid group. They’re a couple years removed from winning the national championship on the women’s side. They‘re going to compete; we can be very competitive with LSU especially on the women‘s side, so that’s what we expect to do,” Burrell said.

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