Wednesday, February 7, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 91



Burrellis track and field recruits showing competitive ability

By Tom Carpenter
Daily Cougar Staff

Track and field head coach Leroy Burrell is cautiously optimistic about the future of his Cougar teams. That translates into trouble with a capital "T" for Conference USA rivals.

UH upperclassmen rank among the best in the nation in the 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500-meter races, according to Trackwire polls. But Cougar freshmen and sophomores are making a splash in Division I competition as well.

"I feel like we addressed our needs with good, talented athletes," Burrell said. "They may not be the most heralded athletes in the country, but we signed some very good young men to our program."

Burrell said heis cautiously optimistic because C-USA will be adding two strong track programs next season.

Sophomore heptathlete Delilah Battle leaps in competition Saturday. Battle is one of the Cougars recruited by head track and field coach Leroy Burrell.

Ann Richter/
The Daily Cougar

Texas Christian and East Carolina will compete for the conference crown the Cougar men have owned since the first C-USA championship meet four years ago.

Burrell wants to prepare for the new conference rivals by recruiting the best athletes possible to ensure UH remains the cream of the conference crop.

"Weire very fortunate to have Jenny Adams back, but at the same time, itis time for our younger athletes to step up if weire going to stay a (womenis) top 10 team," Burrell said.

Burrell points to his freshmen and sophomores as keys to this seasonis success.

"This year, going in, I had a lot of uncertainty," Burrell said.

If the efforts of sophomores Lauren Smith and Robert Foster are any indication, Burrellis recruits are beginning to make their impact felt in the conference.

Smith is a sprinter and hurdler who will step into seven-time All-American Jenny Adamsi shoes when the NCAA long jump champion concludes her UH career at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.

Burrell expects Smith to step in and provide relief for his beleaguered relay teams as well as contend in the long jump and sprints.

Foster was the C-USA Freshman of the Year last season and has continued to show steady improvement, as witnessed by his blazing 21.61 in the 200-meters sprint Saturday at Yeoman Field House.

Burrell said the most difficult part of his job is recruiting.

"Iim not satisfied with our effort from start to finish," he said. " Iim a little disappointed in our recruiting last year."

The Cougar women have been ranked in the top 10 three years in a row, yet Burrell strives for even greater success.

"We still need kids to get to the national level," he said.

Freshmen Jasmin Jackson, Jessica Edwards and Allie Mascorro are important parts of the equation to get the Cougar women in a position to contend for a national championship.

Jackson is competing and scoring in every meet while Mascorro is pounding the track in the distance races, learning what it takes to compete at the college level.

Edwards is competing every day against the best womenis pole-vaulter in C-USA, and perhaps the country, when she vaults against junior All-American Rhian Clarke.

The womenis team suffered a setback when freshman basketball and track standout Chandi Jones went down with a torn ACL. Jones was one of the premier long and triple jumpers in the nation. The Bay City native was a four-time state champion in both events.

Burrell has recruited a number of freshmen men who have jumped right in to contribute this season, especially in the distant races.

Juan Cardenas is the leader of a solid group of freshmen distance runners, including Richard Ring, Justin Schuelke, Alex Winstel, Ronnie Martinez and Timothy Whitaker.

"My staff and I are working hard," Burrell said. "Weive signed a good high jumper. Weire looking for a quarter-miler for the men, we need men for the shot put and discus as well as the high jump and pole vault."

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