BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Houston men claimed their fourth straight American Athletic Conference Indoor Track & Field Championship Saturday inside the Birmingham CrossPlex while the Houston women took fifth for a second straight top-five finish.
Saturday’s title was the 19th indoor championship in men’s program history as the Cougars have won 15 indoor conference championships in Head Coach Leroy Burrell’s 20-year tenure.
The four straight titles give the Houston men’s program its third such streak of indoor championships as the Cougars also had a four-year win streak in Conference USA from 1997 to 2000 and a five-year streak in Conference USA from 2007 to 2011. Every American Championship has ended with Houston on the podium as the lone season in the conference without a win, Houston’s first in The American in 2013, still saw the Cougars finish third.
Houston’s efforts were boosted by five individual titles on Saturday from Elijah Hall (60 and 200-meter dash), Kahmari Montgomery (400-meter dash), Amere Lattin (60-meter hurdles) and Nathaniel Mechler (heptathlon) along with a win in the 4x400-meter relay. The Houston women added a title from Brianne Bethel in the 60-meter dash.
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HOW IT HAPPENED
In his first American Championship, Montgomery made his name known winning the 400 with a time of 45.53 to shatter the Houston program record (45.72), the American Championships record (46.75) and the CrossPlex facility record (45.86). Montgomery’s Houston record eclipsed the previous record set by Errol Nolan in 2013, when Nolan claimed the NCAA Championship in the event.
For Montgomery, who moved up to No. 4 on the NCAA performance list in the event, Saturday’s conference title was his first in The American but his second career conference title after winning the event at the 2016 SEC Championships as a freshman while competing for Missouri.
Lattin also added points in the 400 with a PR 47.21 to finish fourth while freshman Jemiyah Franklin clocked 48.96 to finish eighth.
The American’s defending champion in the heptathlon, Mechler totaled 5,703 points to shatter both the Houston program record (5,671) and The American Championships record of 5,445 set in 2016. Mechler’s point total moved the sophomore up to No. 8 in the NCAA rankings entering the weekend.
He started the day with a time of 8.34 in the 60-meter hurdles before clearing 15-1.00 (4.60) in the pole vault and ending the day with a time of 2:41.10 in the 1,000-meter run.
For the second straight year in the CrossPlex, it was Lattin crossing the finish line first in the men’s 60-meter hurdles. The junior from Missouri City, Texas, crossed the line in a time of 7.90 to pick up 10 points in the team’s race and capture the event’s title for Houston for the fifth straight year. Freshman Quivell Jordan added three points in the event, finishing sixth with a time of 8.32.
One race later, Houston claimed yet another title as Bethel ran a PR of 7.31 to win the women’s 60-meter dash and move to second on the Houston’s all-time performance list. The sophomore trails only the program record of 7.27 set by Ebonie Floyd in 2007.
The very next race featured yet another Houston runner atop the podium as Hall claimed the men’s 60-meter dash, part of a 1-2 Houston finish as defending champion Mario Burke took second. The win gave Houston The American’s 60-meter dash title for the fifth straight year.
Hall clocked a winning time of 6.67 to edge Burke’s 6.72. John Lewis III and Nicholas Alexander also picked up points for Houston in the event, finishing fifth and seventh, respectively, with times of 6.77 and 6.81.
The 60-meter dash was one of two titles on the day for Hall, who returned to the track just over an hour later for the 200-meter dash where he ran away from the field in the second heat to clock a win in a time of 20.78. The win was Houston’s second straight in the event after Cameron Burrell claimed the win in 2017. Houston also picked up points in the event from Trent McDonald (21.70) and Lewis (21.77) who finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
The Houston men closed the day out in style, claiming a win in the 4x400-meter relay and breaking the American Championship meet record with a time of 3:10.03.
Junior Cameron Laverty clocked a PR of 1:50.26 in the 800-meter dash to narrowly miss an American title in the event, finishing just one-hundredth of a second behind ECU’s Stefano Migliorati. The time moved Laverty up to No. 3 on the Houston all-time performance list. Aaron Hurd also gave Houston two points in the event, finishing seventh in a time of 1:54.51.
Freshman Naomi Taylor earned a spot on the podium in her first American Championships, finishing second in the women’s 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.34.
Just over an hour after winning the 60, Bethel returned to the track for the 200-meter dash and after one lap, returned to the podium. The sophomore finished second with a PR of 23.47 to move up to No. 5 on the Houston all-time performance list.
The last field event of the day, Houston picked up six valuable points from senior Jared Kerr in the triple jump as he finished third with a PR of 50-2.75 (15.31). Houston also picked up points from Antwan Dickerson, who finished sixth with a jump of 48-8.00 (14.83), and Cameron Prejean, who was seventh with a jump of 48-6.00 (14.78).
The final event of the day saw the Houston women claim a spot on the podium in the women’s 4x400-meter relay, finishing third with a time of 3:43.26.
The Houston men picked up eight points in the shot put as Felipe Valencia finished fourth with a top throw of 57-5.75 (17.52) while Cameron Cornelius was sixth with a throw of 54-2.75 (16.53).
In the longest running event of the day, senior Madison Brown clocked a personal best 9:50.80 to finish fifth and move up to No. 3 on the Houston all-time performance list, the fastest time in program history since 1985.
The Houston women added points in the shot put when freshman Priscilla Adejokun finished sixth with a top throw of 50-6.75 (15.41).
UP NEXT FOR HOUSTON
Qualifying athletes will have two weeks to prepare for the NCAA Indoor Championships to be held across March 9-10. The top-24 athletes on the men’s and women’s side of each event, will converge in College Station, Texas, for the championship event.
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