Cougars, a year after sweeping the competition, set sights for AAC Indoor Championships
With the American Athletic Conference indoor season coming to a close, the Cougars have recorded nationally-ranked performances and are riding the momentum to the 2020 AAC Indoor Championships on Friday and Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama.
Houston’s men have won the championship five years in a row, tied for the program’s best title streak after the Cougars’ 2007-11 run in Conference USA, while the women look to win their second in a row after winning their first in 2019.
Since its season opener in December, Houston has performed well, walking away with a slew of first-place finishes and record-breaking results.
The Cougars have continued to find success all season, picking up several weekly American Indoor Track and Field honors.
Houston will rely on seniors Travis Collins and Dayo Akindele and junior Naomi Taylor on the track, while senior Taylor Scaife, along with juniors Miles Marhofer and Antonio Ruiz anchor the Cougars in the field events.
On the track
Posting a conference-best and a collegiate sixth-best time at the Texas Tech Raider Invitational, Taylor has consistently grounded the 60-meter hurdles for Houston.
In the American title meet, she will face strong AAC opponents with quick times, like USF’s Adriana Janic, who ran an 8.58 at the Howie Ryan Invitational in Houston.
For the same event on the men’s side, Akindele will represent the Cougars.
At the Leonard Hilton Memorial Invitational, Akindele tallied a 7.78 in the 60-meter hurdles, tying for the eighth-fastest time in the nation.
The senior also broke a facility record at the Texas Tech Red Raider Invitational and has continued to demonstrate solid performances throughout the season for Houston.
In the 60-meter dash, Collins proves to be a tough competitor.
Collins logged the conference-best and 17th-fastest time in the nation at the Red Raider Invitational, recording a second-place finish with senior Terence Ware following right behind.
Collins went on to pick up several more top-ten finishes throughout the season, most recently first in the 60-meter hurdles and second in the 200-meter dash at the Charlie Thomas Invitational.
One of Collins’ biggest threats in the event is UConn sophomore Josiah Thompson, who recently set a 6.82 personal record in the 60-meter hurdles.
Chris Borzor of Cincinnati is also tough competition for him, as the sophomore sprinter beat out Collins for first in the 200-meter dash at the Charlie Thomas Invitational on Feb. 8.
With four first-place titles and the second-farthest collegiate toss in the women’s weight throw, Scaife has dominated the event this season.
Scaife has collected two AAC Women’s Field Athlete of the Week honors for her performances.
In the men’s weight throw, Marhofer broke a program record in his Houston debut at the Texas A&M Reveille Invitational with a 20.83-meter throw.
Since then, he’s tossed for the 10th-best throw nationally at the Charlie Thomas Invitational and went on to shatter this record three more times.
Marhofer also picked up four-first place finishes this season.
As for the rest of the conference, Memphis’ DeeNia McMiller poses the largest threat for the women’s weight throw.
The senior recently claimed titles in the shot put at weight throw at the Redhawks Open last Friday with 49-5.75 and 69-11.5 marks, respectively.
Houston’s Ruiz has wowed lately in the pole vault, breaking the program record he set just one week prior by clearing 5.50 meters at the Clemson Tiger Paw Invitational.
History on Houston’s side
Houston swept the 2019 AAC Indoor Track and Field Championships as both the men and women were victorious.
Scaife helped bring home the win for the women, as she represented the Cougars in the weight throw last year.
Taylor also added to the win as she took home first in the 60-meter hurdles.
Collins picked up a second-place finish in the 60-meter dash, only behind a fellow, now-graduated Cougar.
Having won the title last year, with several returning athletes, Houston looks to be one of the stronger competitors going into the meet.