Joseph Cox Attempts TAPPS Triple Crown And Set Three Records

Joseph Cox (#710) will attempt to win three TAPPS state titles and get three meet record in them

Today, Joseph Cox kicks off his 2021 TAPPS Track and Field State Championships. This will not only be his last opportunity to compete for a state track title, but it'll be his best. Last fall, Cox went through the same situation and was able to capture his first state championship when he won the 2020 TAPPS 2A individual championship.

Since then, the Austin Waldorf senior has worked tirelessly to make even more strides as a runner and to be in the position he now finds himself in. That position is where he can possibly win three state titles beginning with the 3,200m tonight. Not only can he win, but Cox could break three TAPPS 2A records (800m, 1,600m, and 3,200m).

Currently, the TAPPS 2A records are 1:57.50 in the 800m, 4:25.45 in the 1,600m by Anthony Allman, and the 3,200m record is 9:27.10 set by Abraham Avila-Martinez. Cox has already run faster than all three of those marks. This season, he has already run PRs of 1:56.83, 4:25.45, and 9:18.48, which are all elite times for any athlete on any level, but especially in TAPPS 2A.

Running at a high level is something that Cox has wanted to do. He has witnessed other TAPPS runners compete at high levels since he has been in high school. He has not only watched them win state titles in TAPPS, but also accomplish national notoriety. 

Over the past three years, distance stars like Carter Cheeseman and Abraham Avila-Martinez have qualified for national championship meets. Currently, Ben Shearer has been able to continue that trend, helping to give Cox the desire to do the same. Cox admitted, "Abraham (Avila-Martinez) has always pushed me in previous years and seeing Ben drop great 3,200m times gets me pumped, for sure."

 "He is the best athlete I have ever coached, that's not based on time, but his work ethic and range." 

Gerald Smith

However, it wasn't as easy as just seeing and going out to replicate the success Cox wanted. "I was not that fast in the eighth or ninth grade, so I just ran to have fun; just the act of running is fun," Cox said.

His coach, Gerald Smith portrays the same sentiment, "When we started his high school training, Joseph would ask, coach do you think I can break five minutes in the 1,600m and 10 minutes in the 3,200m; I would smile and say yes." Smith acknowledged that in the beginning, Cox was the kind of kid that even though he would finish seventh out of eight runners he was happy because he was improving.

Cox would grow into his body, but still wasn't quite at the level as some of the top TAPPS runners. "I saw great improvement in his junior year, but I couldn't validate what I thought because we couldn't run any meets because of COVID," Smith said.

That has all changed. Now, with a TAPPS state cross country title under his belt, Cox is bigger, stronger, faster, and flat out better. His performances show it and now so does his confidence. "I was pretty excited at the Texas Distance Festival when I ran 9:18 and I also surprised myself with the 1:56 in the 800m earlier in the season."

The success and fast times are well deserved and didn't come without trials. His training partners graduated and then COVID interrupted his training, so it was just him all alone to train and with no end in mind. "I started focusing on having fun in workouts. My mindset became how do I enjoy today, even if it meant a slower rep. I wanted to enjoy the process and I think it helped me not get injured and allowed my body to recover because I wasn't dreading workouts."

When Coach Smith and Cox discussed the season, they tossed some things around in the air. Smith said, "Joseph and I talked about what events he wanted to run in the state meet. Since he already had the school records in the 800, 1,600, mile and 3,200 we discussed what direction we should go. Should we try to set the TAPPS records in the 3200 or try a triple crown. . . Joseph did not hesitate and his face lit up and he said try for a triple crown."

The triple crown is a difficult and tiring process. Now that the training is out of the way, all that is left for Cox to do is leave it all on the track. "I am definitely shooting for those records. I think I have a good shot, so I will be pacing my splits with them in mind," Cox said. "I told him it would not be easy, a lot of people have tried, but Joseph is not going to hold back," Smith said.

Cox loves running and it's a major part of his life and it's also become a part of his parent's lives. Coach Smith tells how supportive they are of him and how he has even told Cox that he is the best athlete he has ever coached, "that's not based on time, but his work ethic and range," Smith said.

Whether he wins a triple crown or not and breaks any records or not, it's all just a part of running and that's what's enjoyable for Cox. "I love the feeling of a perfect race when the splits are even and my form is smooth, it almost doesn't hurt. I just like how simple the sport is. Just run."

Joseph Cox's athlete profile

Personal Records High School
800 Meter Run1:56.83
1500 Meter Run4:23.04
1600 Meter Run4:25.45
One Mile Run4:24.08
3000 Meter Run9:31.96
3200 Meter Run9:18.48
One Mile Run4:40.03
3200 Meter Run9:49.79
Two Mile Run10:02.00
Three Mile Run17:21.10
5000 Meter Run15:39.25