Leonard Hilton Invitational marks track & field home opener
After opening its season on Dec. 9 at the Reveille Invitational in College Station, track & field returns to Yeoman Fieldhouse on Friday to host the Leonard Hilton Invitational. The annual home opener for the Cougars will once again feature a veteran group of athletes who will likely dominate the events.
Head coach Leroy Burrell’s team started the year well at the Reveille Invitational. There were 14 top three finishes between the men’s and women’s teams, with the men claiming four individual titles.
Juniors Mario Burke and Amere Lattin both claimed victories in their events: the 60m dash and 60m hurdles respectively. Lattin’s time of 7.98s is the No. 14 time in the country.
The throws saw senior Cameron Cornelius and junior Felipe Valencia make their respective season debuts in the shot put. One or the other has been crowned the Indoor American Athletic Conference champion for shot put the last four years, but this time Valencia earned the victory. His mark of 18.09m ranks No. 14 in the country.
Junior sprinter Jacarias Martin had the best performance of the day. By winning the 200m in 21.30s, he set the fourth fastest time in the country. Although the season is still young, Martin continues to show improvement in the 200 in every meet.
As per usual, the team did not send its entire roster to A&M. Now that they are competing at home, there will be more notable faces taking to the track. Among them are senior sprinter Elijah Hall and senior jumper Tonye’cia Burks. Both are defending conference champion titles and school records.
Hall owns the school Indoor 200m record (20.71s) and Burks owns the school Indoor Triple Jump record (12.99m).
The women also return with a trio of sophomores who dominated jumps and sprints for their team last year. Sophomore sprinters Brianne Bethel and Sierra Smith collected four silver medals at the two conference meets between them. Sophomore sprinter and jumper Samiyah Samuels is the defending the outdoor conference champion title in the long jump. She and Burks will once again be a dominant duo in the dirt.
The men’s team also features an ever-growing group of sprinters that is constantly getting faster. The newest members of the team are freshmen Nicholas Alexander and Joe Williams, who ended his high school career with back-to-back state titles in the 100m.
The men’s 4x400m relay is also expected to have a strong team. The defending conference champs currently have the No. 3 time in the country at 3 minutes, 9.47 seconds.
The Cougars should have a strong showing as they get the indoor season into full gear. The field events start promptly at 11 a.m. and the track events will start at 1 p.m. A full schedule of the events can be found on the UH Athletics Website. All events will be held inside Yeoman Fieldhouse at the Athletics/Alumni Center.