Northwest freshman Cooper Lutkenhaus is a ‘generational talent.’ The sky is the limit.

Justin Northwest’s Cooper Lutkenhaus had an eventful freshman year.

At the UIL state track and field meet, he put an exclamation mark on his debut season with a state championship in the 800-meter race.

Lutkenhaus set the national freshman record with a time of 1:49.84. He missed the Class 5A state meet record by less than half a second and, at 15-years old, he was one second away from the state record.

“I just wanted to win it,” Cooper said. “That was the big thing. That freshman national record — I knew there was a possibility I could hit it. That wasn’t the main focus. I executed how I needed to and it went well.”

Lutkenhaus, for the majority of the race, wasn’t in the lead. He was in fifth place when he turned on the jets to finish the final 250 meters with incredible speed. The second gear comes from the training, and he trusts it.

“When I was sitting in fifth, I wasn’t worried,” Lutkenhaus said. “I believe in staying patient and waiting for my time to go. It was about 200 to 250 – that’s when I really turned it on.”

To some, training can be repetitive and boring. But Lutkenhaus enjoys training, and speed work is the perfect way for him to test his limits.

“I love doing speed stuff,” Lutkenhaus said. “400s at 55 seconds. 200s at 24 seconds. I find that stuff really enjoyable. A lot of people might not feel the same. It is something fun to do because I can test my fitness.”

Binning said Lutkenhaus’ accomplishments as a freshman athlete are “shocking.”

“I’ve been around of high-level athletes,” Binning said. “ … Cooper is on that level and more. He is a generational talent. It’s pretty fun.”

Binning said one of the goals he set for Lutkenhaus is to win four 800 state titles, which would be an incredible accomplishment at the Class 5A level.

Cooper Lutkenhaus may be a state champion with historic times, but he is still a 15 year old freshman. And he acts like one.

“He can be a little goofy,” Binning said. “But he is incredibly respectful. And that is a testament to his parents. They’ve done an amazing job raising all three of their sons.”

Although Lutkenhaus is young compared to his competition, he is fully aware of the moment. He doesn’t take it for granted.

“It’s awesome, honestly,” Lutkenhaus said. “Not many people get a chance like I did. I’m taking the gift I have and putting it to work – that’s something I have always preached.”

Racing is a family affair

Cooper Lutkenhaus has run cross country and track his entire life, and he has several role models to look to for advice. His brothers, Andrew Lutkenhaus and George Lutkenhaus Jr., ran track at Northwest High School.

Andrew Lutkenhaus is running at Tulsa while George Lutkenhaus is a swimmer at Adams State. Cooper Lutkenhaus said he looked up to his brothers, who gave him a blueprint for success.

“I’ve grown up with cross country and track all my life,” Cooper Lutkenhaus said. “I went to the state meet to watch my dad coach and went to the state meet for my brother. Seeing them do it and being successful at it helped me get into it.”

His father, George Lutkenhaus, is the director of athletics at Northwest ISD. He introduced cross country and track to his sons, and has guided them to successful athletic careers.

“His dad is my boss,” Binning said. “We talk often about the plan and the path. We’re trying to be as smart and as patient about this as we can. But there are certainly some lofty goals and dreams in mind.”

Cooper Lutkenhuas got to train with Andrew Lutkenhaus last year and saw his work translate to results. In that year, Andrew Lutkenhaus palced fourth in the Class 5A 800 meter at state.

Lofty goals for a special athlete

What is next for Cooper Lutkenhaus? The sky is the limit for a freshman with his resume. Binning said despite what people expect, Lutkenhaus’ training plans include standard, low-volume workouts for someone of his talent level.

Binning emphasized he is only 15 years old, even if he “doesn’t look the part.” One of the top priorities is to prevent overtraining and ensure Lutkenhaus stays healthy.

“Race as fast as you can, have as much success as you can on the most minimal training you possibly can,” Binning said.

But they will test him and “go by what his body is saying” as he matures as a runner throughout his high school career. Binning said Lutkenhaus handles nutrition, hydration and recovery perfectly.

Lutkenhaus is a special athlete with an abundance of potential. The 15 year old state champion will focus on enjoying the moments throughout his career.

“Getting faster every year and having fun with it,” Lutkenhaus said. “That’s the big thing about running. If something doesn’t go the way you want it to, you just have to move on. Just have fun with it.”