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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sports

Lightning strikes twice, Burrell comes in second to NCAA record setter


Coleman had a historic day for NCAA track, claiming titles in the 60 and 200m with the fastest and second fastest times ever. | Peter Scamardo/The Cougar

The Cougars came into the national championships hoping to make a big splash despite only bringing four athletes. All the focus was on senior Cameron Burrell in the 60m. He appeared to be the Cougars’ best chance at a national title, but it was not to be.

For the second straight year Burrell came in second place behind a sprinter who had an NCAA record victory. Christian Coleman of Tennessee ran 6.45 in the 60m final, setting the all-time record in the event. Burrell and Coleman went head-to-head in their preliminary heat on Friday, running 6.53 and 6.50 respectively.

The two had been in the top tier of the 60 all season long and brought the best from each other at College Station.

“[Coleman’s] been sharp all year,” Burrell said. “I can’t say he didn’t have it coming. It’s disappointing, but you just use it for motivation in outdoor; my season’s not over yet.”

Burrell had hopes of ending his collegiate indoor career as a champion in the 60m but only managed to run 6.54 in the final. In his own words, Burrell saw his race as not being terrible but not excellent either.

His efforts soured a day for UH track when the Cougars had two athletes in the 60m finals for the first time since 1996. Sophomore Mario Burke qualified for the final with the sixth fastest preliminary time, 6.61.

In his first trip to the NCAA Indoor’s, Burke placed seventh overall with a 6.66 run.

Burrell and Burke’s First Team All-American performances capped an indoor season where the sprinting unit set numerous records and carried the Cougars to a third straight conference title. The two may be soured by Coleman’s performance, but they are excited by the prospects for what the outdoor season holds.

“It [gives me] consolation that I was part of such a fantastic event,” Burke said. “I definitely see it as motivation for Outdoors. I’m definitely more of a 100m runner and Cam’s ready to come back.”

Making history in the distance

Senior distance runner Brian Barraza may have only placed seventh in the 3000m, but he did make history in his own right. Barraza became the first Cougar to qualify for the NCAA Indoors for a track event greater than the 400m.

Barraza, the school record holder in the 3K and 5K, ran 8:00.69 in the final on Saturday to earn his seventh place finish. He ended his Indoor collegiate career with a First Team All-American honor for his performance.

The what if’s

The Cougars ended the tournament tied for No. 16 in the team standings with 12 points. The team had hopes of a top-ten finish going in, but with only three athletes reaching the finals, their team goals were stretched.

Junior sprinter Eli Hall-Thompson qualified for both the 60m and the 200m, but the week of the competition, he withdrew due to an injury he suffered at the Tyson Invitational.

Sophomore hurdler Amere Lattin came into the meet tied with the tenth best time in the country, but after his worst meet of the season. Lattin won the American 60m hurdles title with an 8.09 run, barely beating out the second place runner.

As a result, Lattin ran in lane 8 of his preliminary heat, coming in sixth with a time of 7.85. This put him at tenth overall, two places outside the qualifying mark for the finals. Lattin was still named a Second Team All-American for the meet.

Both Lattin and Hall-Thompson will be motivated for the outdoor season giving their recent shortcomings. Hall-Thompson has proven he is just as high caliber a runner as Burrell or Burke, while Lattin will be looking to defend his 110m hurdles title.

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