Texas Freshman Cooper Lutkenhaus Named Underclassmen AOY

* Cooper Lutkenhaus is our Underclassmen Athlete of the Year, after his historical freshman campaign

Photo Credit: Chris Langford/Texas MileSplit

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Over the last four-and-a-half months, a freshman half-miler just north of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is already one of the fastest in high school history.

The recently-crowned state champion Cooper Lutkenhaus is already making a name for himself throughout his first year at the high school level. 

Lutkenhaus' freshman campaign was one for the record books, as the Justin Northwest (TX) superstar established himself as one of the biggest threats to Michael Granville's 28-year-old national record of 1:46.45.

He ran sub-1:50 over three consecutive high-stakes races, doing so at the UIL State Championships, the RunningLane Track Championships and finally at the Brooks PR Invitational.

His fastest time came in Seattle, where he clocked a 1:47.58, becoming one of only four non-seniors to ever run under 1:48 and the only underclassmen of the quartet.

But not only was Lutkenhaus giving the distance veterans a hard time, but he also moved down the 400m, where he went as fast as 47.33. He broke 50 seconds in all but one of his nine races and he never ran slower than 48.88 in any of them.

Being the fastest boy in the history of Texas and the quickest freshman to ever do it, Lutkenhaus was a no-brainer for the COROS MileSplit 50 Underclassmen Athlete of the Year honor.

Throughout that three-meet stretch where he dipped below 1:50 three consecutive times, he also broke the freshman class record in each of the three races as well. Lutkenhaus' initial record-breaking run came on the state's biggest stage, the 5A 800m at the 2024 UIL Championships

Unsurprisingly, the final went out hot in a blistering 55.42, before Lutkenhaus threw down a negative-split on the bell lap, running 54.43. The freshman was stuck behind a trio of competitors around 200m to go, but made it look easy as he charged past everybody to pull out a four second win.

The phenom knew what he was capable of, especially in regards to his signature kick.

"At TDF (Texas Distance Festival) when I kicked at 200m, it definitely gave me the confidence that I can finish it from 200m-250m, anywhere in that range," he said after his win at the Texas state meet. 

A few weeks removed from his first of what we assume will be a long list of UIL titles, Lutkenhaus' made the trip to Huntsville, Alabama where this time he was set to take on a stacked field at the RunningLane Track Championships.

It was a frenzy of records for the out-of-state star, as he not only lowered his freshman class national record, but also the meet and Alabama (high school) soil record. 

After breaking multiple records and etching his name into even more track and field history, Lutkenhaus had every right to give himself some credit for his jaw-dropping performance, but started off by giving credit where it was due.

"First I want to thank RunningLane for putting this on, it was awesome today," Lutkenhaus said after his performance. "When you have such a good meet like this, you're going to see fast times, so a lot of credit to them."

The freshman won the title in 1:49.12, staying true to his tactics -- including his unmatchable final kick. Even while racing some of the fastest guys in the country, the Texan didn't miss a beat.

"I think in almost every race you've got nothing to lose, so why not just go for it?"

A few weeks removed from RunningLane, Lutkenhaus traveled up to the Pacific Northwest, where he tackled both the Brooks PR Invitational and Nike Outdoor Nationals, seeking the highly sought after double.

Channeling the same mindset he had over the course of the previous five weeks, Lutkenhaus left nothing to chance, running an unprecedented time of 1:47.58 as he became the first underclassmen ever under 1:48 -- or even 1:49 for that matter.

As an eighth-grader, Lutkenhaus showed flashes of greatness, breaking 2:00 four different times, even going as fast as 1:53.39 over 800m and 48.7 for 400m. 

A year later and the soon-to-be sophomore is a superstar.

Over the next three years, the sky is truly the limit for the next great half-miler.

Ladies and gentlemen, we've got a front row seat to watch greatness unfold.