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Feats immortalized: Munising High School’s Andy Cooper won 4 times at Upper Peninsula track finals in consecutive years, noted in listing of top-20 all-time Michigan track records

Munising’s Andy Cooper, center, puts on a final sprint to edge out North Dickinson’s Tim Hruska, left, and win the 110-meter high hurdles at the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 3 boys track and field finals in Kingsford on May 31, 2014. Cooper won by a hundredth of a second, with track officials reporting an examination of finish-line film indicated he won by a single inch. (Journal file photo by Steve Brownlee)

MARQUETTE — Former Munising High School track and field star Andy Cooper and DeTour sprinter Gwen Wilkie earned mention in what was otherwise an entirely Lower Peninsula list of the top 20 Michigan high school track records of all time that Mlive writer Jared Purcell compiled and wrote about in an online story released last week.

They are among the only three athletes who have been back-to-back four-time champions at the state championship meet — in the case of Cooper and Wilkie, the Upper Peninsula Track & FIeld finals.

The trio, which also includes Sami Michell of Reed City in the Lower Peninsula girls finals in 2012 and 2013, shared the No. 20 spot on a list that includes some athletes who have gone on to stellar careers at the NCAA Division I collegiate level and even Olympic and worldwide fame.

For anybody in Michigan high school track and field, winning four times is as good as it gets since athletes are only allowed to participate in four events in any one meet, including the peninsula championships.

Cooper’s performances in 2014 and 2015 were described by the Mlive author this way: “The small Upper Peninsula town of Munising is home to one of the most decorated male track and field athletes of all time as Andy Cooper claimed the maximum four individual state titles in a single meet — twice.”

Munising's Andy Cooper tied for first in the high jump with a height of 6 feet, 4 inches during an MHSAA Division 3 track meet on April 17, 2014, at the Superior Dome in Marquette. (Journal file photo)

The Mlive story mentions how Cooper scored a big percentage of the Mustangs’ U.P. Division 3 championship points.

A look at the records shows he had 40 of Munising’s 107 1/2 points when he was a junior in 2014, then 40 of the Mustangs’ 134 when was a senior in ’15. No other D-3 boys team in either of those years even made it to 70.

In 2014, Cooper won the high jump by clearing 6-feet and added victorious times of 23.8 seconds in the 200-meter dash, 16.11 in the 110 high hurdles, and 40.77 in the 300 intermediate hurdles.

While two of his wins were relatively easy, he was pushed hard in the other two.

Cooper won the 300 hurdles with a margin of more than two seconds, then added a two-inch win in the high jump over three athletes, including teammate Alex Hill.

Munising's Andy Cooper clears the last hurdle on his way to winning the 110-meter high hurdles event on May 27, 2014, at Bark River-Harris High School. (Escanaba Daily Press file photo)

But the two shorter races he won by razor-thin margins. He took the 200 by just two hundredths of a second as Cole Potvin of Big Bay de Noc came in at 23.91, and in the 110 hurdles, Cooper won by an ever closer one hundredth of a second over Tim Hruska of North Dickinson, who clocked 16.12.

In 2015, he won the same four events, improving his times and heights by enough that he also set a pair of U.P. Finals Division 3 records. He cleared 6-2 in the high jump, then clocked 22.80 in the 200, 14.96 in the 110 hurdles and 40.13 in the 300 hurdles. His finals records came in the hurdle events.

He also had wide margins of victory in all four events — by four inches in the high jump, again over a trio that included teammate Hill; by 1.15 seconds in the 200, more than 1.5 seconds in the 110 hurdles and just shy of four seconds in the 300 hurdles.

Munising track coach Matt Mattson had a succinct summary of Cooper’s performance in 2015 at the conclusion of the finals.

“Andy had a great day and I think he’s the best athlete in the U.P.,” the coach said to reporter Ryan Stieg, who covered the U.P. Finals for The Mining Journal that day in Kingsford. “If there’s someone out there that’s better, I’d like to see it.”

Munising's Andy Cooper looks over at the clock just after crossing the finish line in the boys 200-meter dash at the Upper Peninsula Division 3 track and field finals held in Kingsford on May 30, 2015. (Journal file photo by Steve Brownlee)

Though Cooper had a huge portion of Munising’s points, their big totals were supported by several teammates. In 2014, Brett Hannah won the 1,600 and 3,200 while coming in second in the 800, then in 2015, Hannah won all three of those events, setting a D-3 finals record in the 800.

In 2015, the Mustangs’ Ben Stasewich won the shot put and the quartet of Hill, Garrett Blank, Garret Elore and Austin Kelto won the 400 relay.

Wilkie’s double-quadruple was attained way back in 1983 and ’84. In each year, she won the 100, 200, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles. Her 15.2-second time in the 100 hurdles in ’84 was retired as the U.P. Finals Class D record.

Purcell in his story said he investigated the online site michtrack.org and ones for the Michigan High School Athletic Association, National Federation of State High School Associations and Track and Field News.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

Munising's Andy Cooper, center, leads the pack as he races to first place in the 110-meter high hurdles at the Upper Peninsula Division 3 regional track and field meet held in Rapid River on May 15, 2015. (Escanaba Daily Press file photo)

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