LARAMIE, WYOMING (May 9, 2020) — Jasmyne Cooper joined the Cowgirl cross country and track & field teams just under two years ago and has recently had her sophomore season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, during a shortened 2019-20 track & field season, she set the university record in one of the toughest races in track & field.
Cooper runs the 800m race for the Cowgirls. It is classified as a middle-distance race; the longest of the sprints and the shortest of the distance. As such, it requires a rare blend of speed and endurance.
“The 800 is definitely hard,” Cooper said. “With the training, there’s certain things you do that sprinters can’t quite do, and the distance runners can’t quite do. It’s only the middle distance runners that can handle it.”
This February, she ran the 800m in 2 minutes, 9.20 second at the Mountain West Indoor Championships, setting a new indoor school record during just her second indoor season as a Cowgirl. Cooper didn’t even know she set the record at the time.
“I thought it was still slow because I thought the record was a second faster, at least,” Cooper said. “It took me a few hours to figure that out. I was like ‘did I really break that record?’”
But setting the record wasn’t quite the highlight for her as it might be for others. She was only focused on improving her time this year, and she didn’t quite run the time she thought she was capable of.
“At the conference meet, I was kind of very disappointed in myself, so it didn’t really phase me that I broke it,” Cooper said. “I was mad that I didn’t get the time that I was supposed to.”
“Jasmyne is very competitive and doesn’t like not winning races even if she sets school records or personal bests,” said head track & field coach Bryan Berryhill. “I know she always expects more from herself and there is a lot more room for improvement. However, when you look at what she has done her first two years at UW it’s very impressive.”
Cooper has been running middle distances since junior high, when she was allowed to compete on the high school track & field teams. During the trials before the season started, she found out she was one of the fastest on the team and had the endurance to run those tough races.
“In high school what stood out was she had a great blend of speed and endurance,” Berryhill said. “That is what it takes to excel at the college level in the 800. You need very good 400-meter speed and still have 5k endurance. When watching her races from high school, you could see how competitive she was and that desire to win races.”
Cooper had a solid freshman campaign for the Cowgirls in 2018-19, earning up a pair of event wins during the indoor season. Then, at the MW Indoor Championships, she set a personal-best time of 2:10.29 in the 800m and finished seventh overall. That time was No. 2 all-time in program history.
Then, in the outdoor season, she picked up three more event titles and a pair of runner-up finishes during the regular season. She had another strong showing at the MW Outdoor Championships. Even though she finished ninth in the finals, she posted a personal-best time of 2:09.90 in the preliminary round, which is the fifth-fastest outdoor time in program history.
After the summer, she came back in 2019-20 and ran with the Cowgirl cross country team.
“Running cross country is very important for my ability to run better in the 800 for the track season,” Cooper said. “Otherwise, I’d be very out of shape.”
Once the indoor season started, Cooper ran a few 400s to test her fitness. She said middle distance runners will base their possible 800m times on how well they run a 400m. That way, they’ll know if they need to train harder before running the grueling 800m race.
The cross country season certainly helped Cooper, as she eventually went and set the school record at the MW Indoor Championships. Cooper has had a fast start to her Cowgirl career, with her name already at the top of the record books.
“Jasmyne has put together some amazing races during her first two years as a cowgirl,” Berryhill said. “Setting the indoor school record as a sophomore is very impressive and something she should be very proud of. I believe we will see Jasmyne continue to get better throughout her career and continue to reset the school record.”
Even though she is the university’s record holder, Cooper still has plenty of motivation for the rest of her career.
“I just want to train harder and strive to become an Olympic runner, so I have a lot of motivation for that,” Cooper said.
While she’s had an incredible first two seasons in the Brown and Gold, the future looks, even more, promising for Cooper.