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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sports

Cougar track splits squad in California meets


Fifty-eight athletes will be split between the Mt. SAC Relays and the Beach Invitational as the Cougars head to the Golden State. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

Eventually, all major track athletes make their way to the west coast with the Outdoor NCAA Championships and the U.S. Olympic Trials in sight.

This Easter weekend, the Cougars are making their own trip westward as they split their squads for a pair of simultaneous meets.

Representatives boast that the world’s best athletes compete in the Mt. SAC Relays in Torrance, California, and this is true.¬†Two Cougar coaches in particular were members of the 4x100m relay team that set the world record in 1994.

Every year, top collegiate and professional athletes make their way to Mt. San Antonio College to compete against each other. This year is no different as the Cougars are sending their best.

The men have seven athletes with times ranking in the NCAA Top 24, and four of them are competing in Mt. SAC.

Senior sprinter Cameron Burrell has not competed in the 100m since the first meet of the outdoor season, the Cougar Spring Break Invitational in mid-March. By competing in the 100m invitational, Burrell will get a chance to test himself against quality competition. Notably, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake of LSU, a British Olympian.

Burrell’s 10.26s time is still No. 18 in the country, but the championship standard has already been set with Georgia’s Kendall Williams at 9.99s. Burrell needs to have a great day to shoot himself back into contention.

Burrell will also be competing in the 200m for the first time this season. He will be joined alongside sophomores Jacarias Marti and Mario Burke, and junior Trumaine Jefferson.

Martin currently ranks No. 22 in the 200m (20.75s) and Jefferson ranks No. 11 in the long jump (7.71m). All three players previously ran together in various relay races and will likely do so again.

The group will be joined by sophomore hurdler Amere Lattin in the relays after he participates in both hurdles events for the second consecutive meet.

Lattin has more momentum than anybody coming in.

After missing the podium stand at the Texas Relays two weeks ago, he competed in the 110m and 400m hurdles at the Houston Alumni Invitational on April 8, winning both events. Lattin’s 51.38s in the 400H is currently No. 22 in the country, while his 13.73s in the 110H is No. 9.

Lattin’s success earned the hurdler his fourth Athlete of the Week honor from the American Athletic Conference this season.

Jumpers lead the way

The Mt. SAC relays are a chance for the women’s distance athletes to gain valuable experience.

Four athletes will be competing in either the 1500m, 5000m, 1000m or the 3000m steeplechase. But it is a pair of talented jumpers who are drawing the most praise from the women.

Junior Tonye’cia Burks started her outdoor season with a bang when she claimed the school record in the triple jump. Her 13.23m mark is still No. 8 in the country.

At the Houston Alumni Invitational she made headlines again, winning the long jump with a mark of 6.41m, currently the No. 7 best mark in the country.

Alongside Burks is freshman jumper and sprinter Samiyah Samuels. Samuels, who owns the No. 14 long jump mark at 6.25m, is on a mission to get to the national meet after the women failed to qualify anyone for indoor nationals.

Sprinters’ mission at The Beach

The Cougars are sending 20 athletes to Mt. SAC, but 38 others are going to Long Beach State to compete in the Beach Invitational. Among them are four sprinters on the men’s team looking to find some individual success and earn their spot on the relay teams.

Sophomore John Lewis III came into his own in the outdoor season. After never putting up a national mark in the 60m during the indoor season, he now has the No. 19 time in the 100m at 10.27s, just behind teammate Burrell. Originally listed as competing at Mt. SAC, Lewis will be one of the top sprinters in this meet.

The Beach Invitational also marks the return of junior transfer sprinter Eli Hall-Thompson. After setting the indoor 200m school record at his very first meet, Hall-Thompson was injured at the Tyson Invitational and missed out on the national championships. Now that he is back, he provides a boost to an already stacked sprinting unit.

The two will be joined by senior Curtis Brown and sophomore Cameron Prejean. Together they will be running in the 4x100m and will be looking to get the Cougars a third relay time in the Top 24.

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