Elise Cooper's Motivation Comes From Family Bonds

"Track has brought us closer together. We are always training and traveling together. I definitely wouldn't be doing it without them. I can't imagine myself not doing track."

by Olivia Ekpone - MileSplit

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One of the country's up-and-coming stars on the track is a standout sprinter from Maryland. 

Elise Cooper remembers her younger seven-year-old self being put into a race with her classmates before committing to become a member of the Owings Mill Track Club. After having a few practices underneath her belt, however, she made a shocking decision. 

"Eventually, I quit because I didn't want to be alone," Cooper told MileSplit.

Luckily, that decision didn't last. She did some recruiting of her own, inviting her twin, Elena, and older sister Ella, to tag along. 

"I like how we get to support each other," said Elise, now a junior with McDonogh School. "They get to be my lifetime training partners. It's fun being around them." 

Ten years later, Cooper has turned into a national-class star, rewriting record books along the way. At the end of the month, she will feature at the Ocean Breeze Invitational in Staten Island, New York, where she is scheduled to run in the 60m and 300m.

Deep down, she says, her sisters were the motivation that kept her going.

"Track has brought us closer together," she said. "We are always training and traveling together. I definitely wouldn't be doing it without them. I can't imagine myself not doing track."

When Cooper was asked what she would do if her sisters were to quit track again, her response was simple.

"I would drag them back to the track," she said.  

* Elise Cooper won the 100m and 200m AAU Junior Olympic titles in 2017

Photo Credit: Raj Mehta / USA Today

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The future looks bright for all three. Elise remains one of the country's top juniors, while Ella will continue her career with Harvard in the fall. Elena, meanwhile, does a little bit of everything in the sport, from the 55m and 200m (25.29 PR) to the long jump and triple jump. 

As a freshman in 2022, Elise ran the No. 2 all-time class performance in the 300m with a time of 37.60 seconds, becoming one of three freshmen in history to dip under 38 seconds in this event. 

The McDonogh sprinter was ranked in the top five for the sophomore class' all-time list with a 23.42 in the 200m and a time of 37.93 in the 300m. Cooper also holds the fourth-fastest time in state history in the 55m with a 6.91 and she's sitting at No. 2 on the Maryland all-time list in the 300m with a 37.60.

When she moved to the outdoor track her sophomore year, Cooper set a new Maryland state record in the 200m with a time of 22.80, clocking that time at the Pan American U20 Championships. 

That race was special, she says. 

When she finished second in the 200m at Hayward Field a month prior, Cooper punched her ticket to her first international trip. Then she capitalized while there, leaving Puerto Rico with a state record, a silver medal and a lifetime best of 22.80. 

This indoor season Cooper has already pocketed lifetime bests of 6.91 in the 55m, 7.41 in the 60m and 55.16 in the 400m. She's earned MIAA/IAAM Indoor Track and Field Championship titles in the 55m, 300m and the 500m. 

Before her junior season comes to an end, there are some items on her bucket list that she wants to accomplish, she says. 

Along with hopes of gaining medals at national championship meets and earning All-American honors, she will compete at the USATF U20 Championships later over the outdoor season to earn a spot to represent the United States for the second time. 

This time around, though, Cooper much more confident. 

"It felt really surreal," she said. "I made it really far. I feel like before I was nervous about competing at a higher level. It seems so stressful. But since I got my first glimpse at it, it's exciting. I'm more open to that."

* Elise Cooper at the Maverick Madness

Photo Credit: John Roemer/MileSplit

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