Senior Sendoff: Pontotoc High School's Cooper Parmer

For this week's MileSplit Mississippi Senior Sendoff, we are sending off the 3 x state champion from Pontotoc High School, Cooper Parmer!

The distance standout from class MHSAA 4A will be heading to Mississippi College, which is coached by Matthew Reneker, in the Fall. 

As we mentioned above, Parmer blossomed his senior season, winning the trifecta state titles of cross country, as well as the 1600m and 3200m state titles in outdoor. 

Parmer also went undefeated in every 1600m and 3200m that he raced, winning a total of 15 straight races. 

To cap off both his cross country season, Parmer ran a PR of 16:01 to place fourth overall at the 2021 Mississippi XC Meet of Champions, taking down multiple Mississippi distance standouts such as Grayson Childress, Luke Johnson, Bennett Ferguson, and Taylor Brown. 

RESULTS: 2021 Mississippi XC Meet of Champions

Finally, Parmer finished on the coveted 2021 All-MileSplit Mississippi cross country team, finishing as the No. 7 overall ranked runner in the state. 

Once Parmer begins his journey as a Choctaw, he will run cross country before he eventually transitions into a 5k/10k specialist on the track. 

Mississippi College had a 2022 event squad ranking in the 5k of 14:33.32, which was led by indoor NCAA Division II All-American Hunter Kurz

In the 10k, they were led by Mississippi College 5k and 10k school record holder Gabe Poulin, who went 30:21 at the 2022 Raleigh Relays

Finally, the Mississippi College men is coming off of a 23rd-place finish at the 2021 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships and were the first team to qualify for NCAA Division II Nationals in Mississippi College athletics history. 

Included on that national team were Mississippi alumni Cole Benoit, Brock Kelly, and Christian Balcer

On the side of academics Parmer will be working on getting a degree in Secondary Education, a major for students wishing to teach in grades 7-12. 

We asked Parmer some questions and insight in regards to his high school career, what he loves about running, and some advice that he would leave behind to all of the track and field athletes that are still on their journey. 

Check them out below!

Q: Explain your 'running journey'... (How did you get into running, how did your senior season go, and how did you get connected with the college that you are going to?)

A: Well it all started the summer before seventh grade.

I was at my grandmother's and my mom saw a post on Facebook about the cross country team having practice open for all upcoming seventh graders. My mom asked me if I wanted to go, and I told her that I didn't even know what cross country was. My grandmother pitched in and told me that I have a runner's build, so I gave it a shot.

showed up at the first practice, and it was a 4 mile run on the tanglefoot trail. Luke Hatcher, the Corinth High School coach was there to help. He ended up running the whole workout with me, I remember looking up and him smiling and asking if I was okay, and if I wanted to keep going or turn around. I knew he wasn't expecting me to go the whole way, but I did, I wasn't very fast but I finished it.

I was most definitely not in the shape i needed to be in but look where I am now, going to college.

My senior year didn't start off the way I wanted it to but, throughout the season I worked and pushed myself and came out of the state meet with an individual gold medal and a team third-place finish, with a time of 16:12, but my cross country season wasn't over yet. I still had the meet of champions where I finished 4th with a time of 16:01(PR) then off to the running lane national meet where I finished with a time of 16:05.

Track season rolled around and I had high expectations for myself and I fulfilled most of them. I went undefeated in the 3200 and the 1600 with my best times being 10:02 and 4:35. The 800 didn't go as I wanted it to and the fastest time I ran was 2:03.

After track season I was making my final decision on where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do later in life. Coach Bain, I will say, had a huge deciding factor on where I was going. Coach Bain is an alumni of Mississippi College, and with their outstanding track and cross country programs, I figured why not, so that has been my goal ever since the summer before junior year. Here I am now going to attend MC in the fall and be a part of their wonderful cross country and track programs.

Q: What is your most memorable meet/race and why?

A: I will have to say the most memorable races I've ever had have to be the 1600m anytime I was racing against Parker LeGoff, Lukas Dykes, and Curt Cartman.

Every time we raced we would always talk about going slow and then just crossing the line at the same time or just going out with 200 left to go and seeing who has the better kick. We never did that. We would go out the first lap slow, laughing, joking, and having fun. The second lap would come around and we'd still be going slow, but that third lap would come around and in every race, someone different would make the first move and then the true race began.

It may have not led us to the personal records but it for sure left us with stories to tell.

Q: Out of all your high school achievements, which one means the most to you and why?

A: I would probably have to go with the Warrior Award. It is an award voted on by all the coaches for outstanding academic and athletic accomplishments.

Q: If you could go back and do it all over again, what would you change, if anything?

A: I would've loved to be more serious about it earlier than I was and get my team more involved.

Q: Who is somebody that you look up to/someone that helped you along your journey to get you where you are today?

A: Definitely Coach Bain and Luke Hatcher

Q: What will you miss the most?

A: I'm gonna have to say I'm going to miss my teammates the most, I may have gotten "sick of it" a time or two but they make up for it in laughs and jokes.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to the younger athletes that are just getting started on their journey?

A: Just because you put lots of mileage in doesn't mean you are going to automatically be faster.

Watch the 2021 MHSAA 4A Boys Cross Country Championships (ground view )below!

Filmed by Brian Pope