Dale Cooper, Class of 1986

Dale Cooper was a known talent by the time he decided to go out for the track and field team in the spring of his senior year at Kent County High School.

Just weeks before he had punctuated an outstanding high school wrestling career with a third-place finish in the state tournament at 145 pounds.

But his accomplishments on the wrestling mat, which included a region title and three district titles, pale in comparison to what he did on the track in one year — three gold medals and a silver medal at states.

Not surprisingly, Dale was the outstanding male athlete in the Class of 1986.

“Remarkably, he only ran for one year, but was very talented,” said KCHS Hall of Fame coach Dennis Herrmann.

As the District VII and Region IV wrestling champion, Dale Cooper in 1986 matched the accomplishments of his older brother Wardell in 1983.

And in true brotherly fashion, they both finished third in the state at 145.

Dale Cooper’s state tournament journey in 1986 might have had a different outcome had he not faced unbeaten and eventual three-time state champion Steve Shifflett of Smithsburg in the semifinals.

But after losing to Shifflett on points, Dale came back to win the match for third. In the consolation final, he decisioned Brian Lafond of Hereford, the Region II champ, 9-4.

We haven’t asked Dale what led him to try out for the track and field team in the spring of ’86.

“He told me he viewed other athletes as being faster than he was, so he never tried. I don’t know why he finally did come out. Awfully glad he did,” Herrmann said.

At the state-qualifying region meet held at Stephen Decatur High School, Dale won the 100 meters (11.2) and 200 meters (22.9) and teamed with Bernard Brooks, Eric Jackson and Lamonte Phillips to win the 400- and 800-meter relays in 44.7 and 1:32.4, respectively.

A week later at the Class C state championships, hosted by Francis Scott Key High School, Dale again was first to the finish line in the 100 (11.1) and 200 (22.9) meters.

The unbeaten relay of Brooks, Cooper, Jackson and Phillips took gold in the 400 in 44.8.

But what Herrmann described then as “a slight mistake in the exchange zone” proved costly in the 800. “We lingered too long and too wide and we lost a step,” he said at the time.

Stephen Decatur (1:32.5) nosed out previously unbeaten Kent (1:33.1) for the gold.

In the team scoring, Decatur, which at that time was in the same enrollment classification as Kent County, headed the field of 24 schools with 81 points.

Easton, also then a Class C school, was a distant second with 58 points.
Smithsburg (55) was third, followed by North Dorchester (50), Beall (47) and Kent County (46).

After high school, Dale made a career in the military. He retired after 20 years with the Air Force.

He now lives in Frisco, Texas near Dallas.

Any related posts will be listed here:

Skip to content