Mark Colligan Memorial provides first test for track
Head Coach Leroy Burrell has high expectations every year with the track and field program, but this year’s are a little higher.
By season’s end, Burrell hopes that championships will have been earned for both his men and his women, but before that, the teams will have to travel to Lincoln, Nebraska for the Mark Colligan Memorial.
The toughest squads the Cougars have faced this season are Texas A&M University and Texas Christian University, and this meet will tell if the Cougars dreams of a national championship are feasible.
The Cougars are coming off a meet where they won 10 events, so momentum is on their side, but the meet in Nebraska will pit them against some of the best teams in the country. It will be a test for the Cougars to keep up their world-class performances against elite competition.
The sprinters are one of the most skilled positions for both the men and women this season. Senior sprinter Cameron Burrell currently has the fastest time in the country for the 60m, 6.66 seconds, and is the holder of the fourth fastest time in NCAA history, 6.48.
His teammate, sophomore Barbadian international Mario Burke, is quick on his way to another impressive season after winning medals for his country at the World Junior Championships this summer. Burke’s 6.73 in the 60m last weekend is the eleventh best time in the NCAA this year.
Senior shot putter Cameron Cornelius’ throw of 18.02 meters at the Leonard Hilton Invitational was the eighth best throw in the country. The two-time indoor conference champion is on track to have another great season after sitting out last season with a redshirt.
Between Cornelius and junior Felipe Valencia, the Cougars have the last three indoor conference champions on their roster.
Senior Brian Barraza got his year off to an impressive start. At the Reveille Invitational, he ran a 3:58 to win the one mile run, breaking a 17-year-old school record. After missing the entire cross country season, he has easily resumed his role as spear head for the distance runners.
The women only have six seniors on the roster, but their excitement comes from the addition of 17 freshmen with world-class talent. Samiyah Samuels is a dual competitor in the 60 meter and the long jump. The Junior Olympian won her collegiate debut, the long jump at the Reveille Invitational, and then followed it up with an appearance in the finals of the 60m at their last meet, showing she is on par with senior sprinters Tori Williams and Bria Carter.
In addition, freshmen Debra Taylor-Simmons and Birexus Hawkins are coming off victories in the 800m and 200m, respectively.
The field events have also received a boost. Not only do they field junior Tonye’cia Burks, whose 12.48m triple jump is No. 12 nationally, but sophomore Haley Houston has taken strides in the pole vault.
The addition of Klara Mattsson, a freshman with experience competing for Sweden, only raises the Cougars chances of winning the events.