Chase Cooper was born to vault, and it has treated him well. Especially when he found the right training facility. Cooper finished his senior high …
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Chase Cooper was born to vault, and it has treated him well.
Especially when he found the right training facility.
Cooper finished his senior high school track and field season
with his second consecutive Class 5A state championship in the boys
pole vault event. The second state gold medal follows a national
indoor title, which he won last March in Boston, and precedes the
opportunity to vault for the U.S. Air Force Academy.
As a sophomore at Smoky Hill High School, Cooper was the 5A
state runner-up behind ThunderRidge’s Parker Smith.
Smith graduated, leaving the field open for the Buffalo junior
and eventual senior to dominate the event. As a senior, he took the
state title with a 17-foot vault, 2 feet higher than second-place
Todd Palcurich of Standley Lake and 3 inches higher than his title
vault the year before.
It was about his sophomore season as a state runner-up that an
assistant track coach with the Chaparral Wolverines told Cooper
about Alpha Gymnastics in Parker.
Cooper visited the facility and made it his home.
“The workouts [there] have helped me with my balance and
coordination, and definitely with my core strength,” Cooper said.
“It’s helped me get a little ahead of the competition.”
The training he received over the past two years with Alpha
Gymnastics helped him turn the corner to gold-medal status, Cooper
said. That, and a constant determination.
Cooper has been vaulting since the eighth grade. He was exposed
to the task at an early age, given his grandfather is pole vault
world record holder Don Cooper. His father Mark Cooper and his
older brother also vaulted.
Even though his grandfather was in the U.S. Navy, Cooper said he
doesn’t feel like he comes from a military family, but it didn’t
keep him from wanting to continue his track and field career at the
Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
“It’s more about being a part of something bigger than yourself
and giving back to your country and the people who have given you
so much,” he said. “The decision was more mutual. They sought me
out during my junior year, and I’ve always wanted to go there.”
With two state titles and a national title and breaking school
records, heading to vault for the Falcons makes his senior season
picture perfect, Cooper said.
Cooper’s aspirations at this point don’t go beyond the AFA. He
said working toward a shot at the Olympics could be in his future,
as well as being an Air Force pilot. It’s up in the air right now,
Without a doubt, Cooper’s family legacy in the pole vault has
proven to be a successful “track” well chosen.
“Track has been pretty good to me,” Cooper said.
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