Burrell sets bar high for UH
Head coach Leroy Burrell feels that this year’s men’s team has a chance to be one of the best of his tenure at UH.
That’s a pretty lofty statement considering that the Cougars have captured the last five Conference USA Indoor championships.
“The men’s team is complete, well-rounded and strong,” Burrell said. “We think that this very well may be the best group we’ve had here in quite some time.”
Despite losing sprinters Chris Carter, Lamar Delaney and Jonathan Stewart, the Cougars still return a strong group led by junior Errol Nolan and former-C-USA Athlete of the Year Kevin Furlough.
“We have a solid sprint group with Markquis Frazier and we’re starting to see some really good signs from James Lang,” Burrell said. “We’re actually real complete there. Doug Kelly is another strong performer for us in the 800.
“All the guys who are back scored a lot of points for us. I don’t see any dropoffs. As a matter of fact, we’ll probably be a little bit better this year.”
This Saturday’s Nebraska Invitational will serve as a measuring stick for the Cougars after a successful outing at the Leonard Hilton Invitational on Jan. 13.
“What we’re looking for is a good jump, a good improvement in performance from our first meet of the spring to the second,” Burrell said. “That’s where we have a good opportunity to make some big gains because of the level of competition.”
The Cougars will compete against host-school Nebraska, Witchita State, Air Force and Iowa. The meet will be the first scored even of the season for UH.
Because the Cougars will not be hosting the conference championship this season, as they normally do, Burrell said that he will use this meet to help prepare his team for competing on the road.
“We’re going to do everything this weekend as though we’re going into the championship,” he said.
Burrell said the biggest offseason improvement came from Frazier and Simon Stewart, who competes in the long jump, and currently lead C-USA in distance.
The Cougars also expect contributions from freshman distance runner Yonas Tesfai, who won Conference USA Freshman of the Year in cross country this fall.
“He’s going to be a big contributor,” Burrell said.
On the women’s side, the Cougars feature a less experienced, but promising team.
“We have a pretty complete team, but we’re a little young,” Burrell said. “It’s going to be an interesting combination of people that we’re going to rely on.”
The talented group of freshman is highlighted by jumpers Dominique Brisco, Brittany Kinney, and hurdlers and sprinters Sade-Mariah Greenige and Alicia Perkins.
“We basically went out and recruited in areas where we were a little thin and filled in those spots,” Burrell said.
“We have to understand that we’re starting out with a lot of freshman and sometimes that can be a pretty rocky road to try to get them to where they need to be to score in this league.”