By Rob Potter
BIRMINGHAM, ALA. Donald Cooper III, son of Brenda and Donald Cooper Jr. of Mileses recently capped a very successful freshman year as a college track and field athlete.
Cooper, who attended Sullivan West High School, is now a member of the men’s track and field team at Samford University, a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I institution in Birmingham, Alabama.
At the Southern Conference championship meet held on April 25 and 26 at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., Cooper finished fourth in the decathlon.
Cooper had an excellent start to the meet as he set personal records in the first six events. Those events and times/marks were: 100-meter dash (11.1 seconds), long jump (21 feet, 7 1/2 inches), 400 meters (49.47 seconds), pole vault (13 feet), javelin (132 feet) and 1,500 meters (4 minutes, 45 seconds).
He was leading the meet after those six events. But his hopes of becoming the conference’s decathlon champion were dashed when he fouled on all three of his throws in the seventh event, the discus.
“It was very disappointing,” Cooper said. “But you live and learn.”
But Cooper was able to regain his composure for the last three events. He finished with 6,034 total points to place fourth overall.
Cooper originally planned to compete collegiately for the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. But when Alabama Assistant Coach Rod Tiffin left to become the Head Coach at Samford, Cooper decided to follow him to Birmingham-based university.
“He’s a great coach and has been a big influence for me,” Cooper said.
With Tiffin’s coaching skills and Cooper’s natural talent, the Mileses man performed very well this spring.
“I had a great season,” Cooper said. “I set personal records in every meet this season. I improved at every meet.”
Of course, Cooper will continue to work hard for the next three years at Samford.
But this track and field season is not quite over for Cooper. He recently picked up a new event, the 400-meter hurdles. He wants to qualify for the NCAA Regional meet, which will be held later this month, in the event.