Eighth Grader Cooper Lutkenhaus Runs 48.70, 1:53.59 At Nike

Cooper Lutkenhaus competes at the 2023 Texas Track and Field Coaches Association Meet of Champions

At only 14 years old, Cooper Lutkenhaus just completed his middle school education at Pike Junior High School and will soon be a high school student athlete. As his older brother Andrew (Lutkenhaus) ends a chapter of his life and begins a new one, so will Cooper.

Andrew just graduated from Justin Northwest and will be attending the well established running program at the University of Tulsa. He finished fourth at the UIL State Track & Field Meet and ran a 1:51 personal record at the TTFCA Meet of ChampionsWhile Andrew makes his exit from Northwest HS, Cooper will begin and he is already making a grand entrance.

Today, Cooper ran a time of 1:53.59 in the middle school 800m at the Nike Outdoor Nationals track and field championships. That of course got him the win and the meet record, but it also earned him another personal best in the event.

This past Wednesday, Andrew ran 1:54.20 in the junior high school boys 800m at the Brooks PR Invitational; he won by nearly four seconds. Then came the trip north to Eugene, Oregon for yesterday's junior high school boys 400m at the Nike Outdoor Nationals. His performance was another elite result of 48.70, a win by 1.19, which is a significant margin in the 400m.

Cooper is showing that he is fast, but he's also training and competing with a lot of confidence, which is producing ahead of the curve type of results for a middle schooler. His future coach at Northwest HS Burke Binning told MileSplit that they expected for Cooper to run 50 or 51 seconds in the 400m and added, "it looked like a normal 400 for him." Lutkenhaus has run 52.25, 51.17, and 51.10 this season prior to yesterday's big time PR.

The 800m is the primary race at this point in Cooper's career. It was his brother's race that he inherited the love for as well. This season, he's run 2:01.91 at the January North Texas Winter 3200m/800m event against mostly high school competition. He returned in March to run 1:57.83 on the same track and again, it was versus high school competition at the Texas Distance Festival

Perhaps the most impressive part of it all is that he's continued to train for six to seven months and on a miniscule middle school schedule be able to peak for big races. In May, he ran 1:56.40 at the TTFCA Meet of Champions, the same race his brother PRed in and then dropped one of the all-time youth performances at the Brooks PR Inv. Binning says, "patience is the key, but he just keeps racing amazingly."

What we've seen this week from Cooper isn't just elite, but he is running in rare company. Very few middle school boys have run this fast. Brandon Miller (Mo) ran 1:51.23 the summer after 8th grade at the AAU Junior Olympic Games (2016), Robb Gomez (Fl) ran 1:55.9 in 800 yards (1975), and Michael Granville (Ca) ran 1:56 in 8th grade track (1992). As for Texas youths, Jonathan Simms (Tx) ran 1:57.45 in 2019, the summer after seventh grade for the top Texas middle schooler half miler until Lutkenhaus.

Miller went on to win a NCAA title, Granville set and still holds the high school national record holder in the 800m (1:46.45 ) and Simms has focused on the 400m in his first two years of high school winning the UIL 6A state title last month and going 45.90 this week at Brooks.

Lutkenhaus' performance has will continue to receive a lot of attention. What we know is that the 14 year old is fast, he is well coached, athletics runs in his household.  

Today was scheduled to be the last race of the year for Cooper and he will pick up where his older  brother left off at Northwest HS in track and field. Binning says the he next step for him is to take a break and then start preparation for the upcoming cross country season.