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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Track & Field

UH strives to conquer C-USA again

If the men’s track team keeps competing like it has been, the Cougars will likely win their fifth consecutive Conference USA Indoor Championship. But that’s not a foregone conclusion.

Head coach Leroy Burrell knows his team is the favorite, but said his team still has to show up.

“You have to fire the gun and clear the bars,” Burrell said. “People are going to give us their best shot; they aren’t just going to lay down.

“You can run well all year and get to conference, run poorly and get beat.”

UH athletes are ranked at the top of C-USA in seven events, but the team has lacked a complete showing.

“We’re waiting for everyone to get out and perform as a unit,” Burrell said. “From the sprints, to the distance and all the field events. I don’t think we’ve had that outstanding meet yet.”

Three-fourths of the 4×400-meter relay is filled with reliable performers in Kelvin Furlough, Doug Kelley and Errol Nolan.

A consistent fourth man has yet to be established, with Joseph Irabor being held back by injuries.

“We’ve been a little erratic with the lineup,” Burrell said. “This weekend is going to be about figuring out who that fourth guy is going to be.”

The women’s team will have stiffer competition. Though they have not performed up to Burrell’s standards, there is reason for optimism.

“It’s been a bit of a struggle,” Burrell said. “But I really feel like in practice we’ve turned the corner. Our workload and ethic has improved. We went through a phase where we had a lot of women who were down, with a couple who were sick or hurt.

“We’ve got a good portion of the squad back, and I think we’re poised to start to perform the way we’re capable of.”

UTEP and Rice finished ahead of the Cougars at last season’s indoor meet, and UCF won the 2010 Outdoor C-USA championship.

“UCF has quite a bit of momentum going into the weekend,” Burrell said. “They’re going to be a formidable opponent. We have to control the things we can control — that’s our preparation and attitudes about how we’re going to go about dealing with the adversity of the competition.”

Preliminary action begins at 8 a.m. Friday at Yeoman Fieldhouse. The meet will conclude with the finals Saturday.

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