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TRACK: Cougars finish second in NCAA indoors

Houston sports information

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Houston men’s track & field program continued to make history Saturday at the 2019 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships as it finished second in the team race, its highest finish in program history.

The finish bested the previous high finish of fourth in 1996 and was capped by a national title in the final event of the day, the 4×400-meter relay. The indoor finish was just nine months after tying a program record with a third-place finish at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Houston’s 44 points marked a UH record with a previous high of 27 points being scored in 1994.

It wasn’t just the men who were making noise in Alabama as the Houston women recorded their highest finish since 2001, finishing 15th with 12 points. The finish marked a 16-place improvement as Houston entered the meet at No. 31 in the USTFCCCA rankings. The Cougars scored on the women’s side at the NCAA Indoor Championships for the first time since 2010 following its first conference title since 2006.

After sending all five of the program’s qualifying entries on to the finals, the Houston men picked up 36 points in the sprints as Amere Lattin (60-meter hurdles), Kahmari Montgomery (400-meter dash), Obi Igbokwe (200- & 400-meter dash) and Mario Burke (60-meter dash) all earned All-America honors with top eight finishes while the quartet of Lattin, Igbokwe, Jermaine Holt and Montgomery claimed Houston’s first 4×400-meter relay national title in a time of 3:05.04.

Ranked No. 6 in the USTFCCCA rankings entering the meet, the Houston claimed back-to-back top-10 finishes at the NCAA Indoor Championships for the first time since 1989-90. Houston finished seventh at last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships with 26 points, its first top-10 finish since the program’s best indoor finish of fourth in 1996.

On the women’s side, Taylor Scaife and Naomi Taylor each earned All-America honors on Saturday as Scaife claimed a podium finish in the weight throw and Taylor finished fourth in the 60-meter hurdles.

Ranked the No. 1 team in the nation with a world-record time earlier in the year, the Houston men’s 4×400-meter relay lived up to its ranking Saturday night as Montgomery came from behind on the final leg to give Houston its first national title in the event in program history.

Houston was the only program to qualify multiple athletes for the final of the men’s 400-meter dash as Montgomery and Igbokwe picked up a combined 12 points in the team race with Montgomery clocking a PR and Houston record, 45.03, the sixth-fastest 400 time in NCAA Championships history. Igbokwe finished fifth overall after winning the finals’ first heat with a time of 46.04.

Running on the same straightaway he claimed The American’s title in the 60-meter dash two weeks ago, Burke became the ninth All-American from Houston in the event in the last seven years, clocking a PR of 6.55, the third-fastest time in Houston history, to take silver in the event. With Burke’s finish Saturday night, a Houston athlete has claimed second or better in the event in each of the last four years.

Scaife made Saturday night’s podium appearance a dramatic one, fouling on her first two attempts before recording a throw that would place the junior in the finals en route to capturing bronze in the event. After launching a throw of 72-11.75 (22.24) on her third attempt to move into third, she improved to 73-10.00 (22.50) on her fourth throw to claim bronze. Scaife became Houston’s first All-American in the event, male or female, with the finish.

Taylor returned to the same track where she captured Houston’s 60-meter hurdles record just two weeks ago at The American Championships and lowered her own record with a time of 8.01 to finish fourth overall. The time eclipsed her previous best of 8.03, clocked in Friday’s prelims. With the finish, Taylor became Houston’s second All-American in the event, joining Jenny Adams who earned All-America honors in both 2000 and 2001.

The American’s champion in the men’s 60-meter hurdles, Lattin clocked a time of 7.77, to finish fourth in the men’s 60-meter hurdles and become the first First-Team All-American in the event in Houston history. Lattin entered the meet ranked No. 8 nationally in the event and scored four points higher than his projected finish based off the USTFCCCA rankings.

Just one hour after running in the 400, Igbokwe was back on the track for the finals of the 200-meter dash where he clocked a time of 21.23 to finish eighth and earn his second All-America honor of the night.