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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Cooper Freeman, East Union cross country
Bulletin sports fall 2021
Cooper Freeman

Freeman returned to the sites of the two biggest cross country meets of the season the past two weekends and left with new personal records.

On Sept. 25, he and the Lancers travelled to Woodward Park in Fresno for the Golden Eagle Invitational. Woodward Park is where the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships are held annually, and East Union placed sixth in Division III there in 2019. They not only got reacquainted with the 5,000-meter course, but they also took second out of 20 teams in the small-school division.

Freeman finished as the individual runner-up in 16 minutes, 35.93 seconds, not far off from race winner Paul Quintanilla of Corcoran (16:29.09.). His previous best at Woodward Park is 14:46.1 set at the state meet.

This past Saturday, Cooper took second again in the Tom Laythe Invitational held at Willow Hills Reservoir, where the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships take place. The Lancers are hoping to defend their title from 2019. Cooper ran it in 17:01 in his return to the Folsom course, 22 seconds faster than his previous best. As a team, East Union placed third out of 19 teams in the small-school division.

“Cooper has been working hard for four years to get to this moment in his high school career,” East Union head coach Matt Cooper said. “He worked really hard with the previous coach and changed his sleeping pattern and diet. I would say Cooper is not the most talented runner out there, but he’s definitely the hardest working. He’s the No. 1 runner on the team and one of the top runners in the state for Division III. He single-handedly gives us an opportunity to win VOL and Sections again with how well he’s been running.”