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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sports

Houston ‘in scoring position’ at NCAA Outdoor Championships


Obi Igbokwe, along with nine other Cougars, hope to win Houston a national championship despite the odds. | Trevor Nolley / The Cougar NCAA Outdoor Championships 2019

Senior sprinter Obi Igbokwe, along with nine other Cougars, are in “scoring position” to do well at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Houston will be sending 10 individuals and two relay teams to compete in the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin June 5-8.

The Cougars, fresh off an AAC team title and a dominant NCAA West Preliminaries outing, look to repeat its indoors success after UH finished second at the NCAA Championships in March.

“This is probably one of the best groups I’ve ever been in,” said senior jumper Trumaine Jefferson ahead of his second-straight championship appearance. “This is very special for us.”

Jefferson, who narrowly missed out on a win at indoors by about a centimeter, will compete in the long jump with a seed mark of 7.79 meters alongside many of the opponents he met in March.

The Killeen-native said that his unlucky finish a few months ago is motivation heading into the championships.

“If I would have held my extension a little bit more I would have won,” Jefferson said. “That’s a drive for me. That just adds more fuel to fire.”

On the track, senior sprinters Kahmari Montgomery and Obi Igbokwe, once-rivals turned best friends, will be representing the Cougars in the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes.

“If you would have told me my freshman year that he was going to be my teammate I would have laughed in your face,” Igbokwe said. “Once we got to know each other, that’s my brother right there.”

The duo rank among the best in the country in the 400, an event that the two finished top five in indoors.

Senior sprinter Mario Burke will represent the Cougars in the 100-meter dash alongside junior sprinter Travis Collins. Burke will run in the second heat of the event’s preliminaries with the fastest time in the group after marking a 10.08 to qualify while Collins will compete in the first heat.

Sophomore hurdler Quivell Jordan and senior hurdler Amere Lattin are the only UH men to qualify in hurdles with the two to compete in the 110-meter and 400-meter.

The Cougars men’s 4×400 relay team will run in the third heat of preliminary rounds.

For the women, the Cougars qualified three individuals and its 4×100-meter relay squad.

Freshman sprinter Ashley Seymour will kick things off for UH in the 100-meter dash with a seed of 11.40.  The Maryland-native is the only freshman to compete for the Cougars at the championships.

Seymour will be joined by sophomore hurdler Naomi Taylor as the only other UH woman on the track when Taylor takes on the 100-meter hurdles in the second heat of the event.

Junior jumper Samiyah Samuels will finish off in the long jump before the 4×100-meter relay takes off in the first heat of the preliminary round.

Assistant coach Carl Lewis remains optimistic about the team’s chances despite only having 10 athletes qualify.

“All of our guys are already in scoring position,” Lewis said. “The other teams have more people, but they don’t have as many in scoring position. We’re not worried about it.”

Leroy Burrell, head coach and UH track alumnus, shares the same optimism and has done so since the beginning of offseason training.

“This is the time that we’ve been talking about and have been waiting for. It’s here and now,” Burrell said. “We have to put all of our eggs in one basket and just go with it.”

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