|Friday, March 31, 2000||
Volume 65, Issue 123
Tough times ... again
|UH's new facility
to open this weekend
By Tom Carpenter
Something very special is taking place on campus this weekend.
The Cougar men's and women's track teams will be out in full force to officially open their new $4 million facility behind the Alumni Center.
Baylor, Texas A&M, Sam Houston State, Tulane and the Fighting Illini men's team from the Big Ten will be there to kick off the first Cougar home track meet of the outdoor season.
The excitement of running in their brand new facility will be heightened for the Cougar athletes by the presence of Cougar track stars from the past.
The 1990 Jumbo Elliot Award recipient, top track and field athlete of the year and former world record holder Leroy Burrell will be there to captain the Cougar juggernaut.
Nine time Olympic gold medalist, seven time NCAA champion, Cougar alumnus and the man who created a national interest in track and field almost single-handedly, the incomparable Carl Lewis, will attend the ceremonies dedicating the new complex that bears his name.
"We may have up to 50 former All-Americans, NCAA scorers and athletes who were among the best in their times attending the dedication," Burrell said.
Former Cougar coach Tom Tellez will be on the field once more, surrounded by the stars he coached, when the Tom Tellez Track in the Carl Lewis International Track and Field Complex is officially opened Saturday.
Generous donations by Roy and Mary Cullen, Mike Baker, Lewis, John and Julie O'Quinn, Tellez, the Cullen Foundation and the Houston Athletics Foundation made the beautiful complex possible.
The new track emulates a European design to enhance the speed of the runners.
The nine lane track has wider curves and shorter straight aways than a typical US track.
"It's somewhat rare here in the United States. European tracks are built around soccer fields which are wider than American football fields," Burrell said.
This allows the runners to turn on the afterburners without fighting tight turns and affords a better opportunity for runners to pass on the curves.
The facility also boasts two lanes and four pits for the broad jumpers.
A pit on each end of both runways allows the jumpers to leap with the wind at their back no matter which way it's blowing.
"This enables us to speed up the action and makes the event a lot more entertaining for the fans," Burrell said.
The Cougars now boast one of the premier track and field facilities in the country, according to Burrell.
"It's very impressive when the kids come to see our facilities. Rain or shine, our workouts can be held without any problems. This will help convince kids to come to UH," Burrell said.
Burrell said it will be good to see the former Cougar athletes come back to the campus, and he's happy that old Southwest rivals Baylor and Texas A&M will be present.
"It should be interesting to see their reactions to our new facilities and the direction our program is taking," Burrell said.
Burrell said that the athletic programs that will induce potential recruits to come to UH, as much as the evolution of UH as a university.
"I think over the past four years the university has improved. When I walk around campus it feels more like a college now than it ever has, at least in my experience. That helps us," Burrell said.
Burrell believes UH has a lot of room for improvement, but it also holds great potential.
"It's important for us to stay the course. Our motto is, 'Learning and Leading.' We've got to make sure we are teaching and marching in tune with the leadership," Burrell said.
The injuries that plagued the Cougars as the indoor season progressed have healed, though head coach Burrell remains concerned about his younger runners.
"Sprinting is a ballistic activity. If you're not really efficient, it's very taxing on the body," Burrell said.
This weekend should be quite a spectacular event. The new facility is not only user friendly, but it presents a great venue to watch these athletes perform.
"If horse racing is the sport of kings, then track is the sport of the gods," Burrell said.
It should be a divine show this Saturday at the Tom Tellez Track in
the Carl Lewis International Track and Field Complex.
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