Returners, recruits make up for Houston’s departing talent
With the 2019 track and field season wrapped up after a third-place finish in the NCAA Outdoor Tournament by the men’s team and an improving women’s team, fans wonder what is next for Houston
Many big-time Cougars will be departing from the program, but some returning and new faces are set to take their place.
The men’s team took a loss with the just-graduated senior class that never went a season without a conference championship. This class included Mario Burke, who had the third-best time in the 100-meter, and Amere Lattin, the only Houston hurdler to qualify for the 110-meter and 400-meter hurdles in the NCAAs.
In addition, the Cougars are losing Trumaine Jefferson, who finished second in the long jump, beating his career-best with a jump of 8.18m, as well as Obi Igbokwe and Kahmari Montgomery, a national title winner in the 400-meter with a time of 44.23s, the eighth-fastest time in collegiate history and an AAC record.
The program lost a lot of potential points with the stars’ departures, but there is plenty to look forward to on both the men’s and women’s teams.
Jermaine Holt, a part of the 4×400-meter relay, which set a program and conference record with a time of 3:00.07 to take third place nationally, will be a senior next year, allowing him to take over as a leader on the team.
Junior-to-be Quivell Jordan proved himself to be one of the leaders on this team with his hurdling performance at the NCAA Championships and will be a Cougar for two more years, benefiting the team in the event.
Senior-to-be sprinter Travis Collins and sophomores-to-be Edward Sumler IV and Christian Gilmore will also likely be grabbing attention once 2020 rolls around. Sumler and Gilmore give the team youth and ability to grow, as they already showed strength in their events this year.
The women’s program record-breaking 4×100-meter relay team, consisting of sprinters Naomi Taylor, Essance Sample, Samiyah Samuels and Ashley Seymour, ranges from sophomores to seniors, adding youth to the team.
Many women sprinters redshirted, leaving the Cougars with a solid group staying for a few more years to build consistency and chemistry. Also, Baylor transfer Taylor Bennett will be eligible for the upcoming season, which will add another solid sprinter to the track.
As Houston has proved itself to be one of the hottest track and field schools in the country, the influx of new signees continues to grow. As of mid-June, the Cougars have 25 committed for the 2020 season, including Kennesaw State hurdler and jumper transfer Dayo Akindele, who will have one year of eligibility remaining, and Virginia State University transfer Allen Blair, a sprinter and jumper with two years left.
Incoming freshman Dominick Houston-Shepard, who can be a big threat for the team in the hurdles, is among other solid signees.
Although a lot of talent will be leaving, the team has recruited enough to make up for it.