Sprinters to watch in the 2016 track season
When attending track and field meets, the sprinting events typically garner the most attention. At UH, the Cougars boast some of the fastest sprinters in the nation.
Coaches Leroy Burrell and Carl Lewis both had successes on the track for school and country, in individual events and on relay teams. Now, the two are preparing the team for the upcoming indoor season.
LeShon Collins, who graduated this past spring, was one of the premier sprinters for the Cougars during the indoor and outdoor seasons. With his departure, the following three sprinters will succeed the athlete who won the 2016 American Athletic Conference top outdoor honor.
Senior Cameron Burrell
Burrell said he has never felt the pressure to prove himself, despite the fact that he has two Olympic gold medalists for parents.
Last season, he came within .01 second of claiming the indoor 60-meter national title with a run of 6.48 seconds. Although he took silver, Burrell set the school record in the event and earned All-American honors. His time was also the second-fastest last year among all competitors.
From there, Burrell went into the outdoor season and ran the anchor leg for the 4x100m relay team that won silver with a school record of 38.44 at the NCAA Championships. Again, Burrell was inches away from gold as the team from Louisiana State University edged out the Cougars by .02. However, this marked the end to a satisfying campaign for the Cougar sprinters, who swept the 100m and 200m events at the 2016 American Outdoor Championships.
Burrell is the definitive leader among the sprinters this season who will be looked at to ensure the Cougars continue their success.
Sophomore Mario Burke
Burke was one of the highlights of last season’s nationally ranked recruiting class, who came to UH after reaching milestones for his high school and his home nation, Barbados.
At the 2015 Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) Games, Burke claimed gold in the 100m and 200m events. The CARIFTA Games are generally known as a launchpad for athletes from the region, and Burke’s success there made him one to watch once he came to UH.
Burke came on strong late in the outdoor season as he used much of the indoor season to adjust to Lewis’ training system. He went on to participate in the sweep at the conference championships — taking silver in the 100m and bronze in the 200m.
At nationals, Burke ran the second leg for the relay team that took silver.
This summer, Burke was named to the Barbados team that competed at the International Association of Athletics Foundation U20 World Championships. Burke once again made history for his country as he took bronze in the 100m with a time of 10.26, which was the first medal ever for Barbados at the championships.
Burke’s success seems to be on the rise, and the Cougars will look to benefit off of his continued progress this indoor season.
Sophomore Jacarias Martin
With so many talented members in his recruiting class and in the full unit, it was easy for a casual observer to forget about Martin during the season. He was relatively quiet throughout the indoor season, but did manage to score points for the Cougars at every meet.
During outdoor, Martin earned his way into the 4x100m relay team and started placing higher in the 100m and 200m as he continued to improve his personal best. At the conference championships, he just missed out on the medal stand as he came in fourth in each event.
Martin did take home gold in the relay team and proved instrumental at nationals. His strong third leg gave the anchor leg a competitive spot after LSU took the lead during the event.
With Collins gone, Martin could step in and become a star player for the Cougars.
Honorable mentions — Sophomores Gerald Mills and John Lewis III
Mills and Lewis were among the top recruits for the Cougars last season.
They did not get the chance to shine, as their other teammates excelled under the new system. Both had their respective successes on the relay teams whenever they got a chance to run in them.
With a year of running under Lewis’ system, the duo could be contenders to carry the tradition of successful Cougar sprinters.