AUSTIN — Killeen senior Devonte Cochran recorded a personal best and set a school record, jumping 49 feet to take third place in the triple jump Saturday at the UIL State Track and Field Meet.
“It feels good,” Cochran said. “Last year I didn’t finish as strong as I wanted to so I had to come back and make a statement.”
Cochran said his season started off rough, but he finished strong by taking gold in the triple jump at every meet on the way to state — the Killeen ISD Relays, the District 8-6A Meet, the area meet and at regionals.
“He works hard, that’s a tribute to his work ethic,” coach Bobby Sapp said of Cochran. “He comes to work every day. He’s a professional about what he’s doing, that’s all him.
“He’s a good kid. I’m proud of him.”
In his junior year, he placed first in district for the triple jump but took fifth at the area meet. Not ending last season the way he wanted, he made adjustments to his approach.
Cochran takes two skips before taking off on his run, which he said is “something I just picked up this season.
“At first, I was going straight into it, but now I have to figure out what works comfortably for me, and I did that.”
A season without injuries also helps, according to Sapp.
Cochran now plans to compete in track and field for Garden City (Kan.) Community College before transferring to compete at the Division I collegiate level.
“We’re going to miss him on our track,” Sapp said. “Our jumpers are going to miss him because he’s a leader on our team.”
Cochran was the only track and field athlete to qualify for the Roos at the state level and gladly represented his school and his town.
“Everyone was telling me to put on for the city, put on for Killeen,” he said. “Everyone knew I was going to to make it out.
“At first I was like, ‘It’s a possibility,’ but I stayed focused and I knew I’d be good.”
If there’s any way to cap off your senior year, Sapp believes this was the way to do it.
“You want to do your best jump and (personal record) on this stage with the best jumpers in the state of Texas,” he said.
“That’s what you want when you come here, you want to have your A-game and he brought it — and he brings it every week.”
Although he started off with a foul, Cochran didn’t worry.
“It was just the hype,” he said of the early fouls. “Every time I first come out I know that first jump is going to either be one of my best runs or one of my worst.”
After making slight adjustments to his form and speed, he jumped his personal best of 49 feet.
“I’ve been doing the triple jump since my sophomore year,” Cochran added. “It’s been growth.
“When I first started out, I wasn’t hitting those marks like I wanted to, then I got back in the lab, started practicing more and continued to progress each season.”
Ending his high school track career with a third-place showing is exciting for Cochran, but he wouldn’t be here without his support system.
“Really, I thank God for just pushing me and continuing to keep me strong because it’s been a quiet struggle,” he said. “ God has really just brung everything out of me.
“Then I have my coaches, my parents, my friends, all my loved ones who supported me. I just thank them for helping me to stay strong.”