Cooper Laird thinks about the positives in his life when he steps onto the cross-country course.
Last spring during track season, the Inglemoor High runner said he often overthought things and stressed himself out. He aimed to change that mindset over the summer while he prepared for cross-country season.
This fall, he’s been focused on “just being grateful to be on the line and to be racing, and that allowed me to have positive success, run free and run happy,” he said before a recent practice.
Heading into the Nov. 2 class 4A KingCo championship meet at Lake Sammamish State Park, the Viking senior was ranked first in the league with a personal-record time of 15:27.6, which he notched at the Nike Hole in the Wall XC Invitational on Oct. 12 at Lakewood High. He won the KingCo race in 15:53.25 and is headed to the state meet for the third consecutive year on Nov. 9 at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. He’s ranked eighth on the 4A state list.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve had a lot of success this year in racing, which has been good, ‘cause I’ve worked really hard,” Laird said.
Cross country runs in the Laird family, with his dad competing in high school and college. Cooper took up the sport in fourth grade and then two years later, he became “full-on” serious about running.
“One thing that’s special about running is how quantitative it is. If you put in the work, your results will show up,” said Cooper, adding that his parents tossed that motivational advice his way.
The Reporter asked Laird a series of questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his life:
If you could go to dinner with one person, who would that be?
Steve Prefontaine, he’s a runner from the ’70s. He’s kind of the iconic runner and I think it would be interesting to talk to him. He’s just kind of that motivational figure for a lot of people in the running world.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
“Miracle,” the movie about the 1980 (United States) Olympic hockey team. Something about it, gives me chills every time I watch it. I watch that a lot before races just to get inspired.
What’s your favorite subject in school?
I’m a math guy, I like numbers, they just kind of make sense to me. In some classes, ‘This could be the answer or this could be the answer,’ but in math, this is what you’ve gotta get.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
My brothers, sometimes they chew really loudly and it grinds on my ears every time. I’m not a morning person, and they’ll be sitting on the counter eating their cereal, just munching away — that annoys me.
What makes for a successful runner?
Commitment and patience are the most important things. Something that’s unique to cross country is you can’t start preparing for cross country once the season starts, you have to start basically at the end of track season. You have to be patient with it. Day in and day out, you may not wanna go run 10 miles, but you just have to — it’s part of what it is.