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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Sports

Commentary: Hurdlers aim to replicate triumphant 2015 season


Marcus McWilliams will be looked at to be one of the Cougar track and field team’s top performers. | Courtesy of Hal Yeager

Before the start of last season, the hurdlers on the men’s track and field team were largely one-dimensional, consisting of Issac Williams and not many else.

This changed when Amere Lattin and Marcus McWilliams arrived on campus. Both were some of the state and nation’s most highly recruited athletes, and their decision to head for Houston lifted the Cougars in the hurdles.

Lattin came to the Cougars as a top-10 hurdler in the nation in the 60m, 110m and 300m events.

The Missouri City native already had top-level experience when he committed to Houston, having competed at the Youth Olympic Games in the 110H. Lattin’s time of 13.53s had him ranked first in the state and third in the nation at the time.

McWilliams made a career at Pflugerville High School as the best athlete in his event. Coming from a small town, he often faced many top athletes of Texas, including Lattin whom he raced against in many events.

Lattin also landed in Houston with momentum, having captured the Texas 6A State Championship in the 110m hurdles.

The former rivals-turned-teammates were arguably the fastest pair to adapt to head coach Leroy Burrell and assistant coach Carl Lewis’ training system upon arrival. The reputation of the program or its coaches did not overwhelm McWilliams and Lattin.

With Williams there to give the proteges a model to strive toward, the two had almost immediate success.

Both hurdlers ended up outracing Williams in both conference and national meets. McWilliams and Lattin ended their season claiming both American Athletic Conference titles, but fell just short of the podiums at national meets.

McWilliams fared better in the indoor 60m hurdles, earning a gold medal after a 7.74 run at the Indoor Conference. Despite finishing fourth in the NCAA Indoor Championships, McWilliams set a school record in the event with a time of 7.71.

Lattin shone in the outdoor season. He edged out his two teammates and took gold in both the 110m and 400m hurdles at the American Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships.

Lattin went on to miss the podium at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, but he got to represent USA at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Poland. He continued his successful season there after claiming silver in the 110H.

With their respective successes, the duo are expected to extend their impressive runs. They are now the team’s leaders and are an example their teammates every day at practice.

It’s possible that the two will run with, and against each other, for years to come.

With each other’s support and the training from their legendary coaches, McWilliams and Lattin have every opportunity to become star athletes if they do what they have to do.

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