Junior jumps to victory as Cougars rise against nation’s best
Every first weekend of April, the South’s top track & field teams travel to Austin for the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.
For the Cougars, this was their first chance to test themselves against nationally ranked outdoor competition, and though the men and women did raise their stocks on the national charts, the meet ended with a sense of missed opportunities.
Junior Trumaine Jefferson had the only individual victory for the Cougars over the weekend. His 7.71m long jump was almost a whole meter greater than his previous personal best. Jefferson’s mark shot him to No. 8 on the NCAA charts, a great improvement from the indoor season, where he just missed out on the national championships.
Jefferson also ran the anchor leg for the men’s 4x400m relay team. The team of sophomores Amere Lattin, Ramund Clarke, Mario Burke and Jefferson ran 3:07.15s to win the 4x400m invitational.
The time is good for No. 19 in the NCAA.
Dropping the baton
Going into the final day of the meet, there was hope that the men’s 4x100m relay team could win or, at the least, place in the top 3. In the preliminaries, the team of Burke, sophomores John Lewis III and Jacarias Martin and senior Cameron Burrell had the fourth fastest time at 39.77s.
Their chances to place increased on the day of the final as the team from Texas A&M, the No.2 qualifying time, was scratched. All their hopes ended after the first leg of the final as the Cougars failed to pass the baton off in time and received a DNF.
Their qualifying time is currently No. 23 in the NCAA, giving the men three relay teams ranked in the top 24.
The women’s 4x100m relay team had their own success on the track, coming in fourth with a time of 44.29s. The team of senior Tori Williams and freshmen Justice Henderson, Sierra Smith and Brianne Bethel set what is currently the No. 15 fastest time in the country.
Freshman multi-event competitor Nathaniel Mechler started the four-day meet for the Cougars as he competed in the men’s decathlon. After placing in the top 10 in five events, Mechler placed seventh overall with a total of 7,255 points, currently No. 9 in the NCAA.
Meanwhile, Lattin ran in one of the best events at the meet, the 110m hurdles. At the time, the race set the top-6 fastest times in the NCAA, but Lattin still sits at No. 9 nationally after finishing fourth with a time of 13.79s.
Freshman Samiyah Samuels had a big day in the women’s long jump as she finished third overall with a high of 6.25m. Her mark is currently No. 9 in the country.
In addition, Burke and senior Brian Barraza ran in the invitational 100m and 1 mile, respectively.
Burke finished sixth in a race that saw Class of 2016 Cougar LeShon Collins win with a 10.00s run. Meanwhile, Barraza, running unattached, finished fifth (4:03.69) in a race that featured USA Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano.
Overall, the Cougars had five top-3 event finishes and set seven marks on the national leader boards.