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Saturday, September 30, 2023


Dual sport athlete has character to boast

Isaiah Sweeney is a double threat in track and field as one of the team’s best sprinters and long jumpers. Sweeney is also a wide receiver and special teams returner for the football team. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

At the 2008 UIL state track meet, spectators already knew that Isaiah Sweeney was fast. What they discovered was that he is just as gritty as he is athletic.

In 2007 Sweeney was a member of the Hightower 4×200-meter relay team that shattered the national record with a 1 minute, 23 second split. Fans were expecting a similar performance in 2008.

Sweeney had just finished completing the 100-meter dash when he had to hop back on the track as the first leg of the relay.

“Right after you finish the 100, they hand you the baton to run the 4×2,” Sweeney said. “It was a little bit too quick in between.”

Soon after the races started, Sweeney’s leg tightened up and started cramping.

“It happened at the top of the curb, right as I was getting to the straightaway,” he said.

Most athletes would not have finished the race. But Sweeney felt indebted to the fans that made the trip to Austin.

“I hopped on one leg all the way until I passed the baton,” he said. “The fans always came to support me and watch me run. They came all the way to Austin, so the least I could do was finish the race for them and not give up.”

Sweeney is currently one of the busier student-athletes on campus as a member of both the football and track teams. He is also successful in the classroom, having made the Dean’s List last semester with a minimum GPA of 3.5.

He received the most playing time of his career in 2010, playing in three contests and catching six passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. With the departures of senior receivers James Cleveland and Kierrie Johnson, Sweeney could be featured more in the offense next season.

“I’m just looking to get in where I fit in,” Sweeney said. “I’ll find any time on the field I can possibly get. From special teams, to catching balls, returning or blocking punts — any way to get on the field.”

With little training, Sweeney was the High Point Scorer at the 2010 Outdoor Conference USA Championship, earning wins in the long jump and 200-meter dash. He was the runner-up in the 100-meter dash, and helped UH place second in the 4×100-meter relay.

“It was kind of rough starting off with track, then going to spring football,” he said. “I fell behind on my endurance and speed. Coming back to track, I ran one meet before the C-USA meet. Being the high-point scorer, I just saw the goal.

“I had my eyes on the prize, I cleared my mind and said ‘no excuses.’ Football can’t be an excuse.”

Through two meets in the indoor season, Sweeney has run a 6.80-second split and a 6.87. With only a brief training period, Sweeney feels he is on the right path.

“It’s been a good start considering I’ve only had a few weeks of track practice. It was a good start, but nowhere near where I want to be, but it was a good start. I’m looking to drop a tenth of a second off. I’ll try to get faster these next few weeks and catch up to where everyone else has been.”

Sweeney and the Cougars will resume competition this week at the Houston Indoor Invitational Friday and Saturday at Yeoman Field House.

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