Tyrese Cooper hasn't stopped running since February and in the last six months all he's done is drop his times, set new national records, and dazzle fans. After winning the 100, 200, and 400 at the AAU National Club Championships, "Smoke" was on the track three weeks later in Houston, Texas at the AAU Junior Olympic Games and he accomplished the same feat, a sprint trifecta.
The freshman sensation, who is 16 years of age, cruised through the prelims to advance to Saturday's finals in all three events. You'd think he'd be tired right? Wrong. In the first race of the day, Cooper ran a wind legal and US#4 personal best of 10.36s, a one-tenth of a second improvement, from AAU National Club Championships.
Just MINUTES later, he hopped in the quarter-mile and breaks the great Obea Moore's 15-16 AAU National Record with a nation leading time of 45.23, improving on his 45.54 in the prelims. The mark betters that of Michael Normal who was fifth at the Olympic Trials in the 200m dash. To put that even more into perspective, it would be tied for 5th best U-20 time in the world, and first for athletes under 18 years old.
Miami Gardens XPress Coach Darius Lawshea said he talked with Moore before the race and asked for his blessing for Cooper to go after his record.
"I asked him and he told me to work and that track is back. When Tyrese ran 45.54 in the prelims he wrote me back and said great job. When Tyrese ran 45.23 in the finals, that was by far his best race of the day because he really went after it."
Cooper closed out his day with his third JO championship. He wasn't able to improve on his 20.62 PR and AAU National Record from the prelims, but managed to pulled out the victory with a wind legal mark of 20.89 to end an incredible track and field season.
Lawshea described Cooper's performances as the best he'd seen in one weekend all year from the youngster.
"Without a doubt it was his best weekend because he set a PR in all three events when people thought he couldn't do it. I love proving people wrong. It seems like everyone has the science to track and field when it is about a coach understanding all of his athletes."
The sprint star will take three months off before he starts base training and preparing for several indoor competitions and the start of the outdoor season. Lawshea says he couldn't be more proud of Cooper and the way he performed this year.
"He went undefeated in the 400m, and lost once in the 100m and 200m. So to sum it up, this was an amazing year for him both locally and nationally. I couldn't be more pleased as a coach and a father figure to Tyrese."
With times like these and only sixteen years old just how much can he drop those times in the next few years? Will he follow in the footsteps of Kaylin Whitney and Khalifa St. Fort and forego college and go pro early? Can we possibly see "Smoke" in a future Olympic Games? These questions might not be answered right away, but one thing is for sure, it will be fun to follow his journey!