By Rob Potter
SULLIVAN COUNTY August 7, 2007 Donald Cooper III’s first trip to the Empire State Games was very successful.
In fact, it was golden.
Cooper, a Mileses resident, won the boys’ scholastic decathlon at the 30th annual Empire State Games, which were recently hosted by Westchester County.
Cooper, a member of the Hudson Valley ESG team, earned 5,327 total points to edge Daniel Fruscella of the Central team, who scored 5,244 points.
The boys’ scholastic decathlon competition was held July 27 and July 28 at Mount Vernon High School.
The gold medal was up for grabs as Cooper, Fruscella and their fellow competitors prepared for the final event the 1,500 meter run.
“I was a bit nervous,” Cooper said last week as he recalled his feelings just prior to the 1,500 run. “I knew I had to win or finish second by less than two seconds to win the gold medal.”
Cooper, who completed his junior year at Sullivan West Central School in June and was a member of the Bulldogs’ varsity track and field team for four years, received support and advice from his father Donald Cooper II, who accompanied him to the games.
“I’m more of a 400 [meter] runner, but I just went all out to try and win the race,” Cooper III said.
He won the 1,500 in a time of 5 minutes, 6.9 seconds to earn the gold medal.
In the first day of competition, Cooper amassed 3,149 points, which was the best among the 12 competitors. He ran the 100-meter event in 11.59 seconds, had a long jump of 5.56 meters, put the shot a distance of 9.31 meters, posted a 1.91-meter high jump and won the 400-meter run in 51.33 seconds.
On the second day, Cooper ran the 110-meter high hurdles in 17.27 seconds, had a discus toss of 28.09 meters, pole vaulted 3.18 meters and tossed the javelin 24.97 meters before winning the 1,500-meter run.
“It was fun,” Cooper said of earning the gold.
In addition to competing on the SW indoor and outdoor track and field teams, Cooper played varsity football for three seasons at SW.
Cooper will soon be moving to Newburgh to compete for the Newburgh Free Academy indoor and outdoor track teams in his senior year. He said he will forego playing football this autumn in an effort to lift weights and prepare for the indoor track season.
Several NCAA Division I schools, including SUNY Albany and SUNY Buffalo, have already contacted Cooper about continuing his track and field career following his high school graduation next June.