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Monday, March 20, 2023

Track & Field

Cougars earn 12th indoor title in Burrell’s tenure

The Cougars took first place in the AAC Indoor Championship after taking the 4x400m relay to close out the event, as well as 10 top-three finishes for the men on Saturday. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

The Houston men’s track and field team walked away with first place in the American Athletic Conference Indoor Championship after jumping ahead by just one point in the final event of the day. It was the Cougars’ 12th indoor conference title in head coach Leroy Burrell’s 16-year tenure.

With 125 points, the Cougars trailed the Tulsa Hurricane by one point and were tied with the UConn Huskies entering the 4x400m relay. The winner of the event would also take the championships, so the Cougars put their best feet forward as seniors Dominique Charles and Drevan Anderson-Kaapa juniors LeShon Collins and Jermaine Fyffe locked down the first-place finish.

“I just knew that the team had done their part to get me into the lead,” said Anderson-Kaapa in a news release. “I didn’t need to do anything special. I just knew I needed to do what I knew I could do.”

The anchor of the championship-winning relay team also succeeded individually for the Cougars, as he won the 800m in 1:50.7 and was joined by four other Cougars that took first in events throughout the championship.

Collins left New York with a first place finish in the 60m dash; sophomore Cameron Cornelius threw for a 18.11m finish to return to first place in the shot put; junior Issac Williams took the 60m hurdles with a time of 7.88; and sophomore Bria Carter led the women’s team with a 7.4-second 60m dash finish.

Although not a first-place finish, sophomore distance runner Brian Barraza continued his record-breaking run, finishing the 3000m run with a second-place time of 8:04.05. The finish broke his previous record of 8:04.21 that he set on Feb. 14, marking the third time this season that Barraza has broken his personal best.

The men’s team had 10 athletes finish in top-three spots throughout day two of competing, leading them to the championship-winning 4x400m relay to close out the successful run.

“I’m really proud of the guys, and I want to thank the staff, our athletes and our administrators for all of their support,” Burrell said in a news release.

“It really makes a difference knowing they’re behind us when it comes to situations like this.”

The final standings of the event saw the Cougars on top with 135 points, immediately followed by the Hurricane’s 134 and another close 131 from the Huskies. A near 60-point drop from third shows the remaining competitors as the fourth-place Cincinnati Bearcats finished with 76.5 points.

“This means a lot to this program,” said Burrell in a news release. “This is probably UConn’s second home, and Tulsa is a really strong team.”

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