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Friday, September 21, 2018

Sports

Penn Relays one more test for Speed City sprinters


Cameron Burrell and John Lewis III will be among the sprinters available for both the 4x100m and 4x400m relays at the Penn Relays this weekend. | Peter Scamardo/The Cougar

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is home to the largest and oldest track & field meet in the United States: the Penn Relays.

A meet legendary for the fact that a crowd of 100,000 will gather over the final three days, the Penn Relays have had a strong connection with the UH track & field team for almost 30 years. Head coach Leroy Burrell and assistant coach Carl Lewis are among those inducted into the Wall of Fame as members of the 2010 and 2004 classes, respectively, with Burrell still holding the men’s 100m record at 10.10s.

The Cougars are again sending a loaded squad to the University of Pennsylvania. The meet will almost be acting as UH versus the field, as the only other team ranked in the top 10 by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association is the No. 7 Florida State Seminoles. With the Cougars at No. 6, no team from inside the top five will be present nor will any other teams from Texas.

Coach Burrell has sent a loaded 100m squad to the Penn Relays with one clear intention: win their first 4x100m relay title since 1989.

The group of 100m sprinters includes seniors Cameron Burrell, Elijah Hall and Kyle Fulks, a graduate transfer from Utah, and juniors John Lewis III and Mario Burke. Burrell, Hall and Lewis III have all solidified their spots on the relay team, leaving the final leg open to either Fulks or Burke.

The team has been public about their goal to break the collegiate record, which means having the best possible four guys ready at any moment.

The squad will be looking to build off their success from 2017, when Hall not only won the men’s 100m dash but also anchored the team to a victory in the men’s 4x200m relay, a race they had not won at the Penn Relays since 1980.

Hall was named the Athlete of the Meet for his efforts.

Now they have the expectations and the talent to be able to sweep the sprint relay titles. As it stands, the men have the No. 3 fastest 4x200m time in the world at one minute, 21.19s, a time they ran at the Prairie View A&M Relays on March 24.

The 4x200m is not an official NCAA event, so the Cougars cannot use it as a chance to score at the national meet. But if they can put up top times in what is an otherwise unknown event, it will further cement Houston’s status as Speed City.

The Penn Relays will start collegiate level competition on Thursday and continue through Saturday.

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