Heptathlete Cooks places second at state meet

Brian WilkinsonMay 29, 2013 

Riley Cooks, one of the most talented female athletes in Yosemite High School's history, placed second in the seven-event heptathlon at the State Community College Track & Field Championships May 17 and 18 at San Mateo Community College.

Alexis Balton of Cerritos Junior College in Southern California won the event.

A freshman at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, Cooks' school record of 4,704 points and second place finish in the meet, helped her team place 20th at the state meet.

Cooks posted personal bests in five of her seven events and broke her own school record in the heptathlon by more than 300 points. Her personal bests came in the shot put (35-5.5), high jump (4-10.25), 100 high hurdles (15.08), javelin (106-2.5) and 800 meters (2:34.62).

She entered the community college state meet seeded No. 5 in the heptathlon. The field included the top 12 community college heptathaletes in the state -- six qualifiers from Southern California and six from Northern California.

Cuesta track and field coaches encouraged Cooks to take on the challenging heptathlon at the start of the season but she was a little skeptical of the idea at first because of the rigorous training schedule one must commit to for the seven events. She also had never thrown the javelin in high school.

"Once I started, I began to like the challenge of doing all seven events," Cooks said. "I wasn't very successful in the javelin all season long with my best throw about 95 feet," Cooks said. "But I had my best throw of the season at the state meet."

In her first year at Cuesta, Cooks has made her mark across the Cougars' all time leader board as well. She owns the heptathlon record (4,704 points), is No. 2 in the 200 meters (24.89) and 100 hurdles, No. 3 in the long jump (18-2), No. 5 in the shot put and No. 9 all time in the high jump.

Cooks also played volleyball for Cuesta this season. She was named the team's Most Valuable Player and was named to the All-Western State Conference first team.

Cooks, A 5-foot-8 freshman, led the Cougars, coached by Roche (Rocky) Nystrom, with 227 kill shots, 23 service aces and ranked second on the team for digs with 177.

Cooks finished the season ranked No. 7 in kills and No. 22 in both service aces and digs in the 13-team conference.

In her senior year at Yosemite, she was named the North Sequoia League's Most Valuable Player in both volleyball and soccer. She was the schools' and the Sierra Star's female student-athlete of the year.

While at Yosemite, she was the only YHS athlete to be named to the Fresno Bee all-star teams in two sports (volleyball and soccer) and graduated with a 4.1 GPA.

In volleyball, Cooks helped lead the Badgers to a 24-7 record overall and 9-1 in the NSL where YHS tied Chowchilla for the league title. She had 57 assists, 75 kill shots and 38 service aces during the season along with 47 blocked shots and 168 digs.

In soccer, Cooks was coached by her sister-in-law Natalie Cooks and led the Badgers with 26 goals on her way to being named the NSL's MVP.

In her four-year varsity soccer career, she had 87 goals and 28 assists and was the most dominant player in the NSL.

Cooks ran varsity track at YHS as a freshman and sophomore, and holds the school record in the girls 100 meters with a time she posted in 2010 as a sophomore -- 12.65. She did not run track her junior and senior year, but decided to come back to the sport at Cuesta.

After a summer working at Miller's Landing Resort at Bass Lake, Cooks will return to Cuesta for another season of volleyball and track & field.

Her goals are to help her team finish higher in the league volleyball standings (third last season), and return to the state track & field meet.

Cooks is the daughter of Roosevelt and Roxie Cooks of Coarsegold.

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