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Track and field primes itself for conference championship

Day two of the American Athletic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the George J. Sherman Family Sports Complex at Storrs, CT on Friday May 15, 2015. Ben Solomon/American Athletic Conference

Senior hurdler Issac Williams ran the nation’s second-fastest time in the 110m hurdles at the Texas Relay’s and will be hoping to carry that momentum into the postseason. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

The track and field teams are less than a month away from the American Outdoor Conference Championship and are priming themselves for success.

In the coming weeks, the Cougars will travel to Norwalk, California and Philadelphia for the Mt. San Antonio College, and Penn Relays respectively. The meets will help prepare the runners, throwers and jumpers for a strong run at conference and nationals.

“I think we’re getting to a point where we got quite a few athletes, especially a few on the men’s side, who are performing at a high level,” Head Coach Leroy Burrell said. “But by no means have we reached our potential, which may in fact be pretty good because we obviously want to be at our best when it matters the most.”

At the Texas Relays, the biggest story of the day was senior hurdler Issac Williams running the nation’s second-fastest time in the 110-meter hurdles, ultimately finishing second in the meet. Now, Williams seems to be on pace for an excellent final season.

“My goal was just to go out there and try to run my season’s best, which I did,” Williams said. “I felt like I could have run faster given the circumstances. It’s always good to place yourself high on the list like I did so it was a big confidence booster for me.”

In addition to Williams’ accomplishment, freshman mid-distance runner Brian Bell finished second in the 800-meter with a time of 1:47.94 to capture the school record. Bell now holds both the indoor and outdoor school records in the 800-meter.

“I was kind of surprised, but it wasn’t that big of a surprise,” Bell said. “I knew with the training I was getting and just my desire to score at conference and records, they’re going to come if you run fast.”

By far the greatest results were the men’s and women’s relay teams’ success. Both team’s top squads finished first at Baylor, while the men’s B and C squads picked up third and fourth place finishes. While their performances were impressive, Burrell says they aren’t the best they can be.

“They have to learn how to be a cohesive unit with interchangeable parts,” Burrell said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, and that’s why we’ve been running two to three teams at meets that allow that or running one group in the prelim and another in the final. Our team consists of anywhere from eight to 10 guys who we need to be able to rely on in a championship situation.”

Senior sprinter LeShon Collins has had an excellent return to the triple-digit sprints, finishing third at Texas in the 100-meter and second in the 200-meter at Baylor. Collins should continue to score vital points with his consistent finishes through the rest of his final season with the Cougars.

After just missing out on a national title in the 60-meter during the indoor, junior Cameron Burrell is continuing his quest for gold during the outdoor season. He finished second in the 100-meter at Baylor and while the coaches admit he has not reached his peak yet, he has the skill to win for the Cougars.

“We just need to get the group of guys and ladies ready to do what they’re capable to do when it matters the most,” Cameron Burrell said. “We have goals that eclipse conference and we want to be a national team and to be able to do that, you have to perform well at those meets. So, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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