Riley Cooney: Kansas pulls another one across the border


Riley Cooney has been a big part of Mountain View's recent success in both track and cross country. Mountain View's loss will be Kansas's gain. Photo by Alan Versaw.


Riley Cooney's personal best marks:

800 meters - 2:15.01

1600 meters - 4:55.10

3200 meters - 11:21.14

5K cross country - 17:58.1


You surely had lots of signing opportunities. So tell us what clinched it for the University of Kansas.
I had the opportunity to visit some amazing schools and meet some very incredible people throughout this process. I was very indecisive about what I was looking for in a college, and after visiting some schools, I was convinced that I wouldn't find be able to find my perfect school. The moment I stepped on campus, however, I knew that KU was the place I wanted to be. It has the perfect balance of academics and athletics. Coach Redwine and Coach Whittlesey are both amazing people who really care about each of their athletes, and the team welcomed me in right away. I also really love the rich tradition that exists at KU. I am so excited that I will get the chance to partake in a small piece of that tradition. 
What is your planned course of study at KU?
I know I want to attend medical school in the future, so I will be taking all the necessary Pre-Med classes. As far as a specific major, however, I'm considering either biology or psychology, but I'm still very undecided. 
This has to have been a very exciting year for you, being part of a state championship team after a couple of near misses earlier in your high school career. What was different--what was special--about this year's Mountain View team?
This year's Mountain View team was determined. In 2013, we were so close, yet so far away, and we walked away from the state meet with the worst feeling. We were willing to do whatever it took to never feel that way again. Every single one of our girls worked so hard from July to October. We had some bumps along the way, but we are all so close that I believe we could fight through anything thrown at us. Coach Clark gave us all the tools we needed to perform well, we just needed to execute, and we did. I could not be more proud of my team and the things we have accomplished together. 
If you had to choose between the two, would it be track or cross country?
Cross Country is a blast because with a smaller team, everyone becomes so close. But I have to choose track as my favorite. The team is bigger, but it's so much more diverse. High school can be a place where kids find their social group and then never talk to anyone else. It's so amazing to see so many kids from all different walks of life work together and cheer each other on at a track meet. Nothing compares to seeing a sea of purple warm-up jackets lined along the fence at the end of the day cheering on the 4x4 together. 
We've already talked about the state championship from this fall. Can you pick another favorite moment from your high school career to date?
This is very difficult because I've been fortunate enough to have many amazing experiences throughout high school track and cross country. I've had many great performances and have gotten to see my team be so successful. But my favorite moment would have to be the Roast our track team had at the state meet in 2013. Originally it was just going to be athletes imitating coaches and coaches making fun of athletes, making fun of each others' worst qualities, but it turned into nearly two hour's worth of us laughing at ourselves and with each other. I have never felt closer to my team than I did that night. 
Are there any goals you have for this spring that will be driving your training between now and then?
I will be trying to lower my personal bests in all my events. In addition, I would love to repeat our 4x8 state title, and see our entire team perform well at the state meet. 
You've been crosstown rivals with Thompson Valley all through high school, and the competition has always been tough. Sometimes it seems like your two teams never get a break from each other. Tell us one or two good things that have come of that rivalry.
This rivalry has been the biggest motivator. It seemed that whenever we knew we would have a good team, our biggest competition would come from across town. Coach Norton and his girls find a way to always keep us on our toes. My mom is actually a teacher at Thompson Valley, and Coach Norton and Coach Clark are very good friends, so it's really hard for either team to have secrets. Our teams are friends, though. We run together in the off seasons and occasionally have a practice together in season. Having a cross-town rival always heightens the pressure, but it has definitely made us a better team.