The Bearkat track team is off to a good start this season, having already broken three school records at the first indoor track meet of the season.
Adrian Ray, a hurdler; Jenny Sewell, a pole-vaulter; and the men’s medley relay team, consisting of Raul Villarreal, Joe Amburn, Keith Jensen and Brad Buegeler all set new school records at the University of Houston Indoor Track Meet held in Bill Yeomann Athletic Center Jan. 18.
“We are a much better outdoor team, as we have a significant number of points tied up in events that aren’t contested indoors, such as the javelin, and we have some seniors on the team that only have outdoor eligibility left,” said Greg Hinze, head track coach. “The highest we have ever finished indoors is fourth and every time we’ve finished fourth at the indoor meet, we’ve been second at the outdoor meet. Consequently, I’d like to finish in the top three indoors this year to give us a springboard into outdoor season and a possible run at the championship.”
The next indoor meet for the Bearkats will be Jan. 25 hosted by Louisiana State University.
“LSU will be a loaded meet, as usual. Their men won the NCAA Outdoor Championship last year and their women are a perennial threat (10-time NCAA Champions) to win nationals,” Hinze said.
However, Hinze is looking for improvement at this meet, particularly in the sprints.
“For the men, I think we have several athletes who are ready to have a big year for us. Adrian Ray broke his own school record in the 60- meter hurdles at the first meet of the year last week and then came back to run 48.8 on the mile relay. We’re all expecting big things from Adrian this year and at the risk of putting undue pressure on him. I think if he doesn’t qualify for the NCAA Championships we will all be disappointed,” Hinze said. “Joe Amburn also has a chance to reach the NCAA meet and if last week is any indication, he’s ready to run very fast in the mile this year after running a 3:02 lead-off leg in the 1200-meter of the distance medley relay, which also broke the school record.
“Courtney Boston is the defending conference champion in the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes and Raul Villarreal, who was our No. 1 runner all during cross country, should translate that success onto the track. We also have several guys who I think are ready to step up this year, even though they might have scored a lot for us in the past, guys like Brad Buegeler, Clint Blinka, Randy Flach, Shandy Oncken and Isai Llanes. And I’m very anxious to see what some of our freshmen can do, especially Keith Jensen in the 800-meters,” Hinze said.
“As far as the women go, Jennie Sewell demonstrated last week that she will be someone we can count on week in and week out. Even though she is only a freshmen, she shattered the school record in the pole vault by jumping 11’6” and I’m very optimistic about what she can do once we get her used to jumping on a bigger pole.
“Tenika Powell can be a big factor for us in the throws and Chenequa Parham needs to have a big year for us to offset the loss of All-American Precious Madison to graduation. I’m looking forward to having Karina Mancias back on the track for us after red shirting last year and like Raul, Gaby Mendoza showed during cross country that she can be a big factor for us,” Hinze said. “We have a ton of freshmen women on the team (17) and once they get used to the upgrade in competition, I feel like we can be a very competitive team in the conference.”