Successful summer inspires Cougar runners
Over the summer, several members of the Cougar track and field team competed at the 2016 International Association of Athletics Federations World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
For sophomore sprinter Amere Lattin and sophomore mid-distance runner Brian Bell, this experience competing for the U.S. national team has given them greater motivation for future competitions. It also has them primed for the upcoming indoor track season that begins this fall.
“It’s an experience, really it is,” Lattin said. “Being able to do it not once, but twice. I can’t be any more happy to be able to bring a teammate with me. There’s nothing like traveling overseas with the USA team. When you’re there you’re like superstars, everybody there wants to be around the USA, so it’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
Lattin and Bell were able to continue their successes from the outdoor track and field season where both men took home conference titles and qualified for the nationals in Oregon.
In Poland, Lattin reached the finals for the 110m hurdles and took silver with a time of 13.30s.
Bell also reached the finals for the 800m, but was not able to make the podium. However, Bell sees his time in Poland as a building experience that will propel him to further accomplishments in the future.
“It was a real blessed opportunity,” Bell said. “Something I’d been training for all season. It was a goal, making the team and it was a goal, finishing top eight in the final. By making this team, it only gave me motivation for my next goals.”
Success has come fast in Bell’s short time running for the Cougars.
Highly sought after out of high school, the Ohio native could have gone to any school in the country. Buying into the message of Coach Leroy Burrell and Coach Carl Lewis’ system, Bell came to Houston to create his own legacy. By setting school records, winning conference titles and breaking personal records, the trip to Poland only legitimized what was already a stellar debut season for Bell.
“Brian’s actually a really talented kid,” Lattin said. “He has to get his head on right and continue to train at the highest ability he can. Brian’s capable of shaving times that are magnificent because he works extremely hard. If he can just continue to do what he’s doing, he’ll be OK. If he continues to stay headstrong and focused then he’ll win many championships, world championships.”
Lattin, on the other hand, had the benefit of training with Issac Williams, who is arguably one of the best hurdlers for the Cougars in the last several years. Coupled with the fact he got to push himself daily with fellow top recruit Marcus McWilliams, both had tremendous success last year.
The runners split conference titles: McWilliams with the 60m hurdles in the indoor and Lattin with the 110m hurdles in the outdoor. But now with Williams gone, Lattin and McWilliams will be considered to fill the leadership role.
“It’s been a storybook season,” Lattin said. “I’m writing chapters in my book, and I’m not stopping ’til it’s full. Now that Issac is gone, that leadership role falls on Marcus and I, we have to lead the rest of the pack and show everyone the ways things are supposed to be done.
“We showed that any freshman could do it. Not just special freshmen — anyone can do it just as long as you come in and train. That’s what we did, and that’s what helped us stay together and be so successful on the collegiate level.”
Coaches Burrell, Lewis and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie are attending the Olympics right now, but upon their return, they will focus on having the Cougars winning as many events as possible, and having the best possible times and scores the fall’s indoor track season.
“I just want to feel confident enough in my training and compete in every race like I did last season,” Bell said. “Really try to win and set bigger records this year, as in national records, as in world records. Coach Lewis says if I’m not in it to be the best, then why do it? I really want to motivate the whole team on a national level and show the world that Houston is the best track team in the nation.”