By: Kenny Bybee (email@example.com)
HOUSTON – Rice University men’s track and field head coach Jon Warren announced on Wednesday the addition of four student-athletes to the Owls program via national letters of intent.
“I like this class a lot,” said Warren. “Each athlete brings abilities and talents that will definitely move our team forward. Alex and Hociel will have big impacts in cross country and in the distance races on the track. Jason is one of the top 800 runners in the nation and can help in the 1500, as well as the 4x400 and possibly cross country. Nick is an athlete I foresee being a force in the conference that has a history of excellence in this area. What really excites me about this crew is their commitment to both academics and athletics. They’re all a great fit for Rice.”
Jason Bugg (Strake Jesuit High School) is a middle-distance runner who was ranked as the eighth-fastest senior in the 800m and second in the state of Texas. Bugg placed second in the 800m at the 2017 6A Texas state meet and eighth in the 1600m. In 2016, Bugg finished fourth in the 800m at state and was a cross country state qualifier in both 2016 and 2015. He holds personal best marks of 1:50.37 in the 800m and 3:54 in the 1500m.
Hociel Landa (Brophy College Prep) is a distance runner who also competed in cross country. He ranked as the No. 2 3200m runner in the state of Arizona. This past year Landa was the Arizona state champion in the 1600m and placed third in the 3200m in 2016. Landa, who holds a personal best time of 9:09 in the 3200m, finished third at the Arizona cross country state championship in 2016.
Nick Hicks (San Marcos High School) will join the Owls elite throwing program after a strong high school career, which included an undefeated senior campaign in both the shot put and discus during the regular season. Hicks was a regional meet qualifier for the shot put in 2017 and was a two-time regional qualifier in the discus. He holds personal best marks of 177-1 in the discus and 50-6.5 in the shot put.
Alex Topini (Conroe Woodlands College Park High School) is also a distance runner who competed in cross country. He ranked as the No. 9 senior in the nation in the 1500m and was the No. 7 senior in Texas in the 1600m. Last season on the track, Topini placed third at the 6A regional track meet in the 1600m and fifth in the 3200m. He also placed fourth in the 1600m at the 6A regional meet in 2016. In cross country, Topini was a two-time state meet qualifier and also qualified for the Nike Cross Country National meet. He holds personal best times of 3:54 (1500m), 4:14 (1600m), and 9:16 (3200m).