Q&A: Burrell returning for final season on the track
Senior sprinter Cameron Burrell has spent the last three months on the sideline after using up his eligibility for the indoor track & field season. In his absence, his squad managed to reload for another title run highlighted by best senior sprinter Elijah Hall winning two titles at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Burrell’s return has some media outlets predicting a top three finish for the Cougars at the NCAA Outdoor meet. The Cougar took time to talk with Burrell as he prepares for his final season with the team.
The Cougar: What has it been like sitting out half of the track season?
Cameron Burrell: Little bit boring. It’s not fun to have to train and not be able to compete on weekends. To see all your teammates go out traveling and having a good time putting the program back on the map. You see it through. You put in the work — you have to — and you just do it for the next time you’ve got to compete.
TC: What are some things you’ve been working on while you have this time to focus on training?
Burrell: Lot of strength training. We’ve got a new strength and conditioning coach, and he’s done an excellent job with us so far. Focusing in on strengthening my body and working on my mobility a little bit, just trying to prepare myself the best for outdoor season as possible. We’re still running really hard and just trying to make up for time missed.
TC: Have you been running at other meets?
Burrell: Unfortunately, my first home meet here didn’t go as planned. I suffered a minor injury, so I decided to rehab it and shutdown indoor season. So I didn’t compete at New Balance or the Melrose Games in New York. That was the original plan, but sometimes things happen.
TC: Your teammate Elijah Hall won big at the NCAA Championships in the 60m and 200m events. What was your reaction?
Burrell: I was so proud of him. I normally don’t get to sit down and watch too many track meets. But to sit down and just watch him compete to the best ability, just go out and fight, I mean I was in the stands with his mom and everything. I was just overjoyed and in tears for what he was able to accomplish. Nothing short of excellent. It was marvelous to watch, and it was inspiring. I come out here and I run with Eli everyday, and as long as I’ve known him I’ve never seen him go out and compete so fearlessly relentless and aggressive like that. It just motivates you to do that much more this outdoor season.
TC: Considering you were the runner up for two straight years, what does it mean that Houston has the 60m champion?
Burrell: I’m overjoyed. I came close plenty of times, but unfortunately things just didn’t go my way, and that’s OK. But as long as the program is represented in that manner, we brought one of those 60m titles back to Houston. That just shows how strong the program is. For something that I wasn’t able to do, the next man can accomplish it. I don’t have a bad taste in my mouth at all. It’s almost like it didn’t even happen. One way or another, Houston has a title, so as long as it comes here, whether it’s me or Eli or anybody else for that matter, I’m happy.
TC: How does the team look going into the outdoor season?
Burrell: The expectation has risen. We have some big goals, we have an exact number of points we want to score at the NCAA Championship. We have some times that we want to put out there, and now it’s just about putting in the work and executing day by day and following the steps it takes to get to that level.
TC: What are the expectations to you to get back to the 100m final?
Burrell: Just to get back to the final itself is automatic. There should be no reason we should even talk about getting to the final. The objective is to win, and the bigger objective is to sweep it. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish here at Houston. We want to establish a tradition of excellence, follow in the footsteps of our coaches and we want to be able to get back to the world stage. It starts there.
TC: What’s the ceiling for this team?
Burrell: There is none. It’s up to us, we determine that. All it comes down to is how much work we put in on and off the track. Whether we handle little issues here or there, it’s about how we go on about our day to day operations as a program. The sky’s the limit for the team, it’s just a matter of how high we want to go.