North Surry’s Alex Cooke wins third shot put gold

By Jeff Linville

May 14, 2014

GREENSBORO — North Surry’s Alex Cooke wrapped up her prep career with her third state championship in shot put.

The senior took home the gold from this weekend’s state 2A Track and Field Championship at N.C. A&T University.

Over the winter she earned the shot put gold in the indoor track championship, and last year she won the outdoor title as a junior.

Over the spring season, a couple of other throwers managed to reach the 40-foot milestone, but none did so at the regional level. Cooke had a personal best of 41-06 at the Midwest 2A regional to enter the event as the favorite.

Cooke broke her own PR with a toss three inches further than at regional. She was two feet past the next closest competitor.

In the discus, Cooke finished in eighth place, one spot below West Wilkes’ Kirstyn Shew.

Surry Central took home a bronze and had two others qualify for all-state honors.

Typically, all-state goes to anyone who finishes in the top eight in an event, explained Central coach Jason Bryant.

Ashlynn Jewell made the final eight of the 100m hurdles before being tripped in the final.

Ashlynn was on pace to finish around sixth, but maybe could have made a late move to pass another runner, according to the coach. Then the person in the lane next to her tripped over a hurdle and sprawled into Ashlynn’s lane.

Both runners were out of the competition. The state results showed Jewell in eighth place, but Bryant said should actually be seventh place as the other runner should be disqualified for instigating the contact.

Teammate Jess Fowler finished ninth in the other hurdle event, the 300m.

Jess was seeded in the faster of the two heats, said Bryant. She beat a couple of girls, which would have placed her sixth. However, Bryant said three girls from the slower heat actually stepped up their games and posted times fast enough to pass Jess and knock her down to ninth.

The Eagles’ lone medalist came in pole vault where two boys competed.

Tyler Fitzgerald placed third with a best of 12 feet, while Brady Johnson was sixth after clearing the same height, but needing extra tries to match the heights.

“We knew the pole vault was going to be very interesting going in,” said Bryant. There could be as many as eight guys shooting for that 12-foot plateau.

For Brady, clearing 12 feet is something he’s only done one other time, and that mark is six inches better than his best jump last year as a sophomore.

For Fitzgerald, Bryant got the freshman a new pole between regional and state and liked the results.

Tyler weighs about 135 pounds, but he is using a bar that is rated for people about 150 pounds, he said. The pole is stiffer, but Tyler does such a good job of creating force that he can use one bigger than his weight.

Bryant said he bought a book on physics about a decade ago so that he could better understand the forces created in the pole vault. Even though Tyler is just a freshman, the young man is learning very quickly about proper technique and creating maximum force.

When he missed at 12-06, it wasn’t because Tyler didn’t get high enough to go over the bar, he said. Tyler was still rising and hit the bar before he peaked.

As he gets older, bigger and stronger, Tyler has a chance to do some special things in this event, the coach believed. Already he posted the second-best height of any freshman, regardless of classification.

Another freshman, Daniel Alvarez qualified for state in both the mile and two-mile races. Instead of trying to run both long events, Alvarez concentrated just on the longer 3200m.

Daniel finished seven seconds ahead of his personal best and finished in sixth place. The five who placed above Daniel are all juniors who will be back next year, so the competition will be tough in 2015, too, said Bryant.

Teammate Kevin Pack also competed in the 3200 and finished 13th. Pack qualified for state in both wrestling and track for his senior year.

The other senior at the state meet was shot putter Raymond Salazar, who finished 16th.