Cooper looks for early success

HANOVERTON – Lucas Cooper won’t be fazed by his early wakeup call Friday at the state track meet.

The United junior will compete at 9:30 a.m. Friday in the Division II shot put at the state track meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium along with the discus at 9 a.m. Saturday. He got plenty of experience with throwing in the morning during the offseason.

“I would go up to Mount Union every week and work on my form,” Cooper said. “That was always pretty early in the morning. I think it helped prepare me. It still would be nice to throw at night though.”

Cooper qualified for the discus with a second-place finish (155-feet-6) at last week’s Austintown regional and qualified in the shot put with a third-place finish (a personal-best 52-feet-6 1/4). He finished sixth at regionals in the discus last year and did not place in the shot put.

“After last season, I knew I would have to push myself harder if I wanted to make it to state. I knew I would have to set personal records.”

Cooper’s two state berths were born from those early morning sessions at Mount Union. He worked with Mount Union All-American Sean Donnelly-the 2014 NCAA Division III outdoor national champion in the shot put and hammer throw-on adjusting his form.

“We called up Mount Union and they said they would be glad to help,” Cooper said. “It gave me a lot more confidence coming into this year.”

Cooper will have some local company in the discus as Jake Zinni from West Branch and Elijah Bricker from Salem also qualified. The trio finished 1-2-3 at last week’s Austintown regional.

“It was great the way it worked out,” Cooper said. “Those guys are great to compete against. They give me a little extra push.”