Sophomore track athlete breaks stereotypes, records

By alinadhanani

Photo by Kaylah Cook by Alina Dhanani

A sharp, loud silence reverberates through the air as a constant sense of commotion surrounds the atmosphere. With eyes shut closed in the anticipation of a change, the audience holds onto their words as she stands up to assume her stance with a shot put in hand. Sophomore Kaylah Cook went to state last year in both shot put and discus in lengths to break freshman stereotypes of not being good enough. Now, she returns to that stage, competing in the state meet today in Austin.

“I feel great about breaking freshman stereotypes,” Cook said. “If they think you’re not good enough, then throw in their faces.”

With the current personal records of 39-5 1/2 and 135-1 in shot put and discus, respectively, Cook is now reflecting on her achievements from last year accomplishing her goal of reaching State again.

“Of all throwers, Kaylah is the most dedicated,” teammate Suba Johnson said. “Even before the season starts, I would always see her practicing. She works hard all the time to get where she is.”

Cook’s dedication is apparent in her practices after school with her teammates and the discus and shot put coach, Coach Brock, and lessons with her personal trainer.

“I remember when I came freshman year, I was holding the shot put wrong,” Cook said. “Without [Coach Brock], I would still be that lost eighth grader throwing things everywhere.”

In the same lengths her coach has made an impact on her skills, her parents act as her personalz mental coaches.

“I tell her to always stay confident, find something deep inside and let those emotions come out,” Cook’s mother Kym Rucker said.

Cook’s main goals for the track and field season last year was to always beat her personal record and never let A&M Consolidated High School beat her. Her motivation stemmed from her devotion to the team and wanting to score points for them.

“She had the motivation of ‘I can do this’,” Rucker said. “Not that she was a freshman, not that she was a younger youth, but she was strong physically, mentally and hyped for the next step.

Prior to a meet in Bryan last year, she never realized her potential for the two sports.

“The meet before I had thrown a 33 [in shot put]. Then at the Bryan meet, I was equivalent to everyone else in score, and then out of nowhere I threw a 36,” Cook said. “I was really surprised.”

As she gathered motivation from her family, friends and teammates, she went into the 2014 State meet, shaking and scared.

“At state [last year], I pressured myself more than anything when I didn’t do well I learned that if it’s in the past, then just leave it there, and you can always do better the next time,” Cook said.

Rucker said that as the season wrapped up last year in her journey to state, Cook took all the things she learned and gathered it into lessons in hope to reach State the next year. Her 128-5 discus and 38-7 in the shot put at region on May 1-2 gave her the opportunity at state again.

“It was a very humbling experience from the beginning to the end,” Rucker said. “No matter the outcome, she is still a winner and accomplished her goals. She conquered [shot put and discus] and had the experience and opportunity to compete with other great competitors.”