By Devin Golden
TUNNEL HILL — Dalton State College cross country coach Andy Meyer hoped Northwest Whitfield High School runners Parker and Brody Cook would continue their athletic careers at the same college.
He’s glad he was the one to nab the package deal.
The Cooks, who are identical twins, signed partial athletic scholarships Wednesday at Northwest. They’ll be part of the first men’s cross country team at Dalton State as the college returns to athletic competition later this summer.
Meyer, who is splitting head coaching duties for the men’s and women’s teams with Margie Bruner, has known since he took the job that he wanted to recruit the Cooks.
“I have known Brody and Parker and followed them for the last several years,” Meyer said. “When I got the job, the very first call I made was to (Northwest cross country coach Tom Sell).
“People don’t realize cross country is more of a team sport than most think. You cross the line individually, but you’re scored as a team. Every successful team must have a heart and soul, and there’s no one that works harder than these two kids. And there’s no one that runs with more heart than these two kids. To have a successful program, you have to have a backbone, and these two will be our backbone. They will be great examples. They run with heart and work harder than everybody.”
The Cooks made The Daily Citizen’s 2012 All-Area Boys Cross Country Team — it was the third selection for Brody and second for Parker — after leading the Bruins to the Class 4A state meet. Parker finished 23rd at state, one place ahead of Brody. At the Region 7-4A meet, Parker was fourth, while Brody was one place back. The two also competed in track and field, and at the Class 4A boys track and field state meet this past week. Brody finished 15th in the 3,200-meter run.
Because their times have been so close, Meyer knew that signing either of the twins would be good for the Roadrunners.
“When I first called, I wanted both but I’d take either one of them,” he said. “I thought it was possible (they would go to separate schools), but I was hoping it wouldn’t be.”
Parker and Brody said staying together in college was never something they discussed in depth.
“We thought if it worked out where someone got a scholarship and we felt that’s where one wanted to go, then going to separate schools was fine,” Parker said.
Said Brody, “People asked us and we said, ‘It doesn’t matter to us if we go to different schools or not.’ But with the offer from Dalton State, it just made sense to go there.”
Sell said he thought the pair was inseparable, saying it’d be a “surprise” if they went to different programs. But he believes the joint decision only makes the Roadrunners stronger heading into the first year
“Coach Meyer has a great group coming in,” Sell said.
North Murray High School senior Isaac Pacheco, The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year the past two years, and his older brother Rafael Pacheco signed with the Roadrunners earlier this year. Rafael is a Murray County High School graduate who is already a student at Dalton State. This past week, Paul Patterson of Bradley Central High School in Cleveland, Tenn. signed with the Roadrunners. Patterson was the 2011 AAU national intermediate age champion in the 5K
“The biggest reason I want to go to Dalton State is it’s new, so we’ll be the first ones ...,” Brody said. “Also, it’s the team. I know who’s on it.”
Said Parker, “We’ve competed at a high level of competition here, and now we get to continue doing that. ... I’m happy to be running with Isaac, especially since I’ve ran against him so much.”