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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sports

Junior sprinter, jumper is making leaps with Cougars


1/15/16 Indoor track meet.

Burrell, center, is having a bounce-back year in his junior season, having set the top 60m time at the Leonard Hamilton Memorial to open the season. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

Junior sprinter and long jumper Cameron Burrell had about as good a start to the indoor track and field season as possible.

With his performance lacking in his sophomore indoor season and after being redshirted that outdoor season because of an injury, Burrell bounced back at Leonard Hilton Memorial where he had the No. 1 time in the 60m dash.

Now the No. 2 sprinter in the world, Burrell seeks to continue improving his time and fitness to compete at both of NCAA championships this year.

“I’d say it feels exceptionally good to be ranked that high,” Burrell said. “I had pretty high expectations going in myself, and it feels excellent to be able to accomplish that. But, I’m still leading the NCAA so I’m happy about that.”

Burrell’s freshman season saw him clinch two conference titles, for the indoor 60m and the outdoor 200m, as well as trips to both national meets.

But he struggled because of his injury.

“Really, he’s kind of healed and had a consistent training regimen,” said Leroy Burrell, his father and head coach. “I think he came into this season a little more focused because he didn’t have quite the year that he wanted and that he’d been on the backburner. But the one thing you don’t want to run into as a competitor is a hungry athlete who feels they’ve been slighted, and I think Cameron’s in that situation.”

Over the summer Burrell got back into shape by training with assistant coach Carl Lewis.

Burrell gave everything over the three months they trained together, and it paid off immediately —he made the national team and represented the U.S. at the North American Central American Championships in Costa Rica.

“I look at Cameron in a broader perspective,” Lewis said. “It’s obviously more impressive that he’s the No. 1 college sprinter in the country, and he’s a long jumper. I’m excited to say that because I think he’s going to be a better long jumper than a sprinter, and he could be one of the best sprinters in the world.”

Because Burrell is the son of an Olympic gold medalist, people  might think he has to prove himself on the track more than others, but that is not the case.

Burrell said he is competing at the level he is because he wants to. He has never felt he has had anything to prove and his father never made him feel that way.

Burrell will add the long jump to the list of his competitions, and with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio only months away, the coaches also see this as a way to increase his chances of making the Olympic team.

“Only two men have ever won the 60m and the long jump in NCAA history — a gentleman in the 30s and myself,” Lewis said. “It would be amazing that it would only have been done by three people and have two of them been from UH. That’s my goal. That’s why I come up here every day and work with him. I want his name to replace our names.”

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