HOW IT HAPPENED
Houston opened the day in a big way with the return of Jack Thomas to the javelin. After being sidelined during the 2017 season due to an injury, Thomas used his fifth throw of the day to launch the javelin 234-10 (71.58m) to win the event with a personal best and improve on his second-best mark in program history.
Running events started in impressive fashion for the Cougars, where they swept the men’s and women’s 4x100-meter relays. The men began their National Championship title defense with the team of Mario Burke, Elijah Hall, John Lewis III and Cameron Burrell running a nation-leading 39.22, while the women’s team of Justice Henderson, Brianne Bethel, Essance Sample and Samiyah Samuels ran the second-fastest time in the NCAA at 45.61.
In the distance, senior Ebony White picked up a victory for the Cougars as Houston finished 1-2 in the women’s 1,500-meter run. White crossed the line first in 4:47.30, while Maria Gonzales finished right on her heels in a personal-best 4:47.72.
Houston followed the distance event by sweeping the men’s and women’s straight-track hurdles. Competing for the first time in the outdoor season, freshman Naomi Taylor won the 100-meter hurdles in a wind-aided 13.34, while Amere Lattin won the 110-meter even in a wind-aided 13.93.
Lattin would return later in the afternoon for his second victory of the day, winning the 200-meter dash in a wind-aided 21.30.
Action on the track turned back to the sprints, where again the Cougars would sweep both the men’s and women’s event, this time in the 400-meter dash. Bethel opened her individual outdoor season with a personal best time of 56.53, while on the men’s side, freshmen Jemiyah Franklin and Quivell Jordan finished 1-2 in 48.10 and 48.19, respectively.
Houston tallied its second field victory of the afternoon, when senior Jared Kerr took the long jump championship. Kerr used his first attempt to leap a wind-aided 24-4.5 (7.43m), while Antwan Dickerson took second at 23-10.0 (7.26m).
Kerr would return for the triple jump later in the afternoon, where he finished second. Kerr used his second leap of the competition to jump 49-7.0 (15.11m). On the women’s side, Paige Lawrence traveled 38-2.0 (11.63m) on her first event of the competition to finish second.
Houston followed with another 1-2 finish in the sprints, this time in the men’s 100-meter dash. On a windy track, Mario Burke claimed his first victory of the outdoor season with a race of 10.24, while Cameron Burrell made his return to the straight track with a time of 10.32 to take second. On the women’s side, sophomore Samiyah Samuels ran 11.98 to take third.
In the middle-distance, Blake Contreras opened his 2018 outdoor campaign with a win in the 800-meter run. Contreras finished the 2-lap race in 1:57.02 to take the top spot.
Sophomore Justice Henderson picked up the women’s first top-3 finish of the outdoor season with a third-place finish in the women’s long jump. Henderson used her final attempt to jump 18-7.25 (5.67m) into the wind.
Junior Felipe Valencia opened his outdoor season with a personal best in the men’s hammer throw. A shot put specialist normally, Valencia improved on his personal record by nearly 15 feet to throw 180-02 (54.91m) on his final attempt, placing him fourth.
A pair of men’s throwers finished second and fourth in the shot put competition. Senior Cameron Cornelius returned to the outdoor ring to toss 53-7.0 (16.33m) on his final throw to finish as the runner up, while Travis Barnes made his Houston debut and threw 48-6.25 (14.79m) to place fourth.
In the women’s shot put, junior Nora Monie picked up a huge personal-best on her final throw of the competition. Monie marked the third best throw in program history at 49-5.75 (15.08m) to finish second on the afternoon.
The Cougars picked up a couple of top-3 finishes in the vertical jumps, including with the return of Colin George to the men’s high jump. After missing the indoor season, George returned to leap 6-8.0 (2.03m) to finish second in the event. In the pole vault, freshman Ben Percefull made his outdoor debut with a third-place finish at 16-0.75 (4.90m).
Houston’s men capped the running events at the Cougar Spring Break Invitational with a victory in the 4x400-meter relay in 3:17.83.
The Cougars finished the afternoon with a sweep of the podium spots in the discus competition. Kenneth Sessums took the top spot with a personal best of 160-09 (49.01), while Zach Oliva took seven in 159-10 (48.74m) and Jose Rodriguez placed third at a personal best of 156-07 (47.74m).