Track & Field |
May 30, 2008
This article was published in the April 19 edition of the Bearcat Sports Digest. For more information or for ordering, please contact ISP sports subscription manager Amanda Vellucci at 1-888-877-3473.
By DOUG GOODWIN
The outdoor track season is now in full swing and what was anticipated as a big year for the Bearcats is quickly exceeding expectations. A couple of reasons to believe that UC will have a great year on the track are two freshmen throwers -- Chris Littleton and Troy Cooper.
The only thing little about Littleton is his name. The Harrison (Ohio) High School product came to Clifton with the size and strength needed to make an immediate impact. The former state champion in the discus is no stranger to success and has already put the BIG EAST on notice that he will be a competitor to be reckoned with for four years.
While at Harrison, Littleton excelled as an all-around athlete.
"I was also recruited to play football at several schools, including UC," said Littleton.
He was so successful on the gridiron that he was selected to play in the prestigious Big 33 Football all-star game, pitting the best players in Ohio and Pennsylvania against each other.
The experience at the Big 33 game may end up having a major impact on shaping the future for Littleton.
"I'm a criminal justice major, but I really have an interest in working in special education. While we were in Hershey (the Big 33 game is played in Hershey, Pa.), we got the chance to talk to some special education kids and it was something that I could see myself doing for a living."
When asked why he ultimately chose track over football, Littleton said, "I started getting banged up a bit in football and had to battle through some injuries. My long-term best interest seemed to be better in track."
On why he selected UC, Littleton said, "I love everything about this place. There were a lot of schools that wanted me but I wanted to be at UC."
In the first three meets of 2008, Littleton has already moved into fifth place all-time on the UC discus distance list. At the Southern Ohio Cup, which included competition from Ohio State and Miami, among others, Littleton came away with a first place throw at 161'5". Against a much larger field of 29 schools at the Oliver Nikoloff Invitational on UC's campus, Littleton finished a strong fourth with a throw of 160'8".
In terms of goals early on in his career, Littleton says, "I definitely feel I can compete for a BIG EAST title starting this year."
In the shot put, UC is led by Cooper, a freshman from Bishop Brossart High School in Alexandria, Ky. Cooper was a three-time high school state champion in the shot put and also won a state title in the discus. Another multi-sport prep athlete, Cooper also lettered in soccer and basketball.
When asked what his goals are for his freshman year at UC, Cooper said, "I want to throw 55 feet. I think I can do it if I keep working hard."
Cooper threw for 54'4" at the Nikoloff Invitational to finish second in the event. That landed him at number four all-time in the shot put at UC.
Ultimately, Cooper came to UC to continue his championship history.
"I want to win the BIG EAST," he said. "That's what I came here to do."
In the first three meets of Cooper's college career, he showed great consistency to compete at a high level. In the first meet of the year -- the Early Bird Relays, held on the UC campus -- Cooper finished second with a throw of 50'7". He followed that performance with a throw of 50'6" at the Southern Ohio Cup, good enough for first place and leading a group of Bearcat shot putters as they took the top four places in the event.
Cooper is well on his way to perhaps becoming UC's all-time leader in the shot put.
To put into perspective what both Cooper and Littleton have already accomplished at UC, one simply needs to compare their performances against the results of the best in the conference. The two freshmen have already placed near the top of the BIG EAST in their respective events. Cooper's current best throw of 54'4" ranks him eighth in the shot put in the BIG EAST, just 4'5" from the top spot. Littleton, with his best discus throw of 161'5", has the sixth-longest throw in the conference for 2008.
Both of these young men have done a great job of adjusting to college life and are poised to have very successful careers at UC and beyond.