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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Sports

Coaches expect great results from indoor season


Brian Barraza is expected to be one of the top distance runners for the Cougars this year, despite sitting out the cross country season. | File photo/The Cougar

The 2016-17 indoor track and field season officially started Saturday when the Cougars traveled to College Station to compete in the Reveille Invitational.

The meet allowed veteran athletes to try new things while giving the highly touted freshmen their debut in a college level meet.

Other than the key departures of sprinter LeShon Collins and hurdler Issac Williams, the men’s track team from a year ago, which won both American Athletic Conference titles last season, is largely intact.

Head coach Leroy Burrell and the staff are excited about what a more experienced team can achieve this indoor season. In the past several months, the men’s and women’s teams are preparing for the season.

The team notably took time off to recuperate following a busy summer where athletes competed in international meets and members of the coaching staff traveled for the Rio Olympic Games.

Now well-rested, the teams are ready to resume competition.

“Track is one of the longest seasons that anyone has,” said assistant coach Carl Lewis. “We really try to create a foundation, so they can last throughout the season and that’s what our fall’s been about. It’s good to just break up that monotony instead of starting next year. I’m excited about the way the guys look.”

Burrell and Lewis broke several records and championships that members of the former No. 2-ranked recruiting class claimed last year. The athletes are expected to continue their quality performances.

Sophomores Gerald Mills, Jacarias Martin and John Lewis III are looked at to increase their level of play. The three were highly regarded sprinters coming out of high school, but none had any major impact outside of the relay teams.

With a whole year under their belts, they will try to enjoy the same success this season that their teammates had last year.

The women’s team has received a massive boost in talent with their most recent recruiting class.

Local talents, Justice Henderson and national competitors such as Samiyah Samuels, and international athletes, Brianne and Brittney Bethel from the Bahamas, have come to Houston to leave their mark on the program.

Burrell and his staff know that they can find success. They just have to go out on the track and accomplish their goals.

“On the women’s side we’ve worked really hard,” Lewis said. “They have super-high expectations. The fall for them has been excellent. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. This is the beginning of a great season for both of them and their expectations is to do well at nationals.”

With both teams at a more balanced level of talent, Lewis and others are excited for this season. They believe that, if everybody stays healthy, the women can win their conference and the men can compete for national titles.

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