Track and field team eyes outdoor title
Less than three weeks ago, the men’s track and field team reached an unprecedented mark in the program’s indoor history as the Cougars finished second at the NCAA Championships, the best finish for UH indoor track and field.
But where one season ends, another quickly begins. Houston picked up where the indoor season left off as the team competed in its first outdoor meet of 2019 just a week later.
With this new season, a new drive emerges for Houston to better its third-place finish at the 2018 Outdoor Championship and keep up the momentum.
To pair with its second-place finish at the national competition, the Cougars also placed first at the American Athletic Conference Championships, the fifth straight title for the men’s indoor program.
Seniors Amere Lattin, Obi Igbokwe, Kahmari Montgomery, Mario Burke, Trumaine Jefferson and junior Jermaine Holt finished as First-Team All-Americans in the indoor season, but Lattin said the indoor success only added more drive as they begin the outdoor season.
“We didn’t win. Coming up short is always fuel to the fire. It makes you want to work harder,” Lattin said.
To pair with the burning urge to finish as the top team in the nation, the Cougars will also have the drive to finish at the top of the state.
No. 6 Houston joined No. 1 Texas Tech, No. 2 Texas A&M and No. 8 Texas in the top 10 of the preseason outdoor rankings.
Houston started the season with 10 first-place finishes at the Spring Break Invitational, took another eight gold medals at the Victor Lopez Classic at Rice and then three at the Texas Relays in Austin.
Montgomery, who finished second in the 400m dash at the national championship, said he aims to use the indoor success to motivate himself and his team.
“We want to make sure that we continue to have the big name and H-Town Speed City and everything,” Montgomery said. “As long as everyone handles their Ps and Qs like we need to, we’ll be alright.”
The change of environment brings about some different and welcoming aspects of the running environment.
Montgomery said he enjoys the openness of the track while racing outdoors because the fresh air is easier to breathe.
“In the 400 indoors, there’s a lot of bumping going on,” he said. “In outdoors, it’s you in your own lane. There is not somebody trying to cut you off or beating you to the break. We don’t have any of that anymore.”
With another three-month slate ahead of the Cougars, the team will use the success it achieved already to propel into uncharted territory.
“The success we have and we’ve built is great,” Lattin said. “Continue to love this feeling. Not loving losing, but loving getting there. Once we do that, we can go win it.”
The Cougars’ next meet is Saturday as they host the Houston Alumni Invitational at the Carl Lewis International Complex on campus.