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Midvale Journal

Hillcrest track and field athletes’ regional performances surprise coach before state meet

Aug 10, 2023 01:37PM ● By Julie Slama

It takes a lot to surprise Hillcrest High track and field head coach Scott Stucki.

For him to admit it, that says something.

“We knew Isaiah was going to do well, probably win, but by the amount he did…he had a monster throw,” Stucki said

Senior Isaiah Cooper threw his best, 144 feet 7 inches, to not only win region, but to outthrow his nearest competitor by 15 feet.

It beat his best throw of 138 feet 9 inches during the season at the Taylorsville Invitational and a sizeable improvement from last year’s 114 feet 11 inches at region.

“I remember last yar I got beat out of state by one place,” Cooper said. “I was so upset about junior year not going to state, so I just tried to make sure that I won this time. I wanted to take it off. I just unleashed it. I threw 144-7, which was my PR (personal record). I wanted to be sure to seal it.”

Another senior, Malakai Batimana “went from seventh to third on his last jump of region. It was that magical jump,” Stucki said about his long jumper.

Stucki also was pleased with performances from his distance runner, junior Edith Neslen’s fourth place; pole vaulters junior Anna Ames’ and senior Naoto Robinson’s first-place wins, and several girls and boys relays. He said that senior Sam Martin and senior Keira Sweet were one place out of qualifying for state in the 800 and 400, respectively.

At state, his boys 4x400 relay team — junior Josiah Gonzales, sophomore Hunter Hanson, junior Mateo Paul and Martin — “ran either equal or their best splits of the year by quite a bit.”

The same group of boys ran it last year, shaving nearly five seconds off their time. With a time of 3:27.73, the team took sixth place.

“It’s the first time since the early ’90s that we’ve had a team go under 3:30. It was fun to watch,” Stucki said, adding he attributes the boys’ improvement “had more training under their belt and more maturity and growth spurts.”

Ames pole vaulted 11 feet, but loss the tie breaker with more misses, to take the second-place medal. Senior Shawn Spencer and Robinson also medaled; Spencer took fourth at 13-11.75 feet and Robinson, eighth, at 12-02.75.

Neslen ran 11:56.4.

“Edith is the first girl we’ve had under 12 minutes in the 3200 since we had our school records being set,” Stucki said. “Assuming she stays healthy, she’s going to break the school record next year.”

Almost every relay team qualified for state. 

For the girls, the 4x100 team of junior Jessi Johnson, sophomore Anna Moyes, sophomore Tess Silcox and Sweet placed 22nd at state with a time of 52.7.

At state, the girls 4x200, freshman Sophie Peterson, Silcox, Moyes and Sweet finished 16th with a time of 1:50.43.

The team of sophomore Claire McCann, Johnson, Peterson and Sweet teamed up to run 4:16.55 for 17th place in the 4x400.

The girls 4x800 team sophomore Annie Feinauer, sophomore Kimiya Mavaddat, McCann and Neslen finished 12th with a time of 10:47.72, off their third-place region time of 10:34.06.

“I’m pretty pleased with how well our girls’ relays did, some of them ran their best by quite a bit,” Stucki said.

The boys 4x200 relay team of senior Braedon Broyles, Hanson, Paul and Gonzales bettered their own school record with a time of 1:32.87 and placed 12th.

Sophomore Matt Keller, sophomore Josh Martin, senior Sam Timmerman and Martin competed in the boys 4x800 to run 8:32.74 for a 12th-place finish. 

“We lose one senior on the 4x100, one senior on the 4x200, one on the 4x400 and two on the 4x800, so we’ve got a lot of guys coming back,” Stucki said.

Batimana placed 17th with a jump of 19 feet 5 inches.

“He had a nice consistent series. He didn’t pop one that I was hoping he would like he did at region,” Stucki said.

He also was glad his discus thrower medaled. Cooper threw 136 feet 7 inches for seventh place out of 21 competitors.

Cooper said he felt the nerves of competing for his first time at state and fouled his first two tosses. 

“I released it a little bit too early. I kind of rushed it,” he said. “I was trying to get all my bad throws out during the warm-ups, but I was super nervous in that big, massive arena with a two-story net. It’s about timing. You have to take your time with it. Go slow at first then really rip it towards the end. I get to the point where I rush my throws when I’m nervous or I want to throw super far, so I try to rush though it and then I mess up my steps.”

Cooper started throwing his junior year.

“I was just doing a standard throw, a power throw, and I was throwing 95 feet just standing. Then toward the end of last season, I started to spin so was able to throw 114 feet 11 inches. I practice the entire offseason to get my spin down,” he said, adding that he prefers discus to shot and javelin. “When I came out, I was going to be a runner. I’m fast enough to keep up with the kids who are 50 pounds lighter than me. I’m 220 pounds and I’m decent at running, but being good was difficult. So, my coaches switched me to throwing and I love it. I love to throw heavy objects super far. It shows how strong you are.”

This summer, Cooper is working out, watching videos of great throwers and readying himself up for a heavier, collegiate discus.

He plans to continue throwing at St. Mary’s College in Kansas along with playing outside linebacker on their football team. 

At Hillcrest, Cooper was the captain and defensive player of the year. He got several sacks and two touchdowns his senior night. λ