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Former Baler athletes make their final jump

Simone Cooper and Elizabeth Reikowski compete against each other for the final time while attending college on the East Coast

On May 15, two former San Benito High School track athletes competed against each other for the final time. What made their competition remarkable is that these two 2013 high school graduates were attending a college track meet in suburban Philadelphia.

Simone Cooper and Elizabeth Reikowski each jumped the triple jump (as well as other events) for the Balers while attending SBHS. Elizabeth finished ninth in the Central Coast Section during her senior year; Simone was injured at the end of her senior year and could not qualify for CCS. Each then attended colleges on the East Coast; Simone at New York University in New York City and Elizabeth going to Haverford College in Philadelphia.

Each were on their respective college track teams for four years, and over the years had the opportunity to renew their friendship at various East Coast track meets as well as compete against each other. They each attended Division III schools where student-athletes compete for the love of the sport and the camaraderie of teammates because D-III schools do not offer athletic scholarships. Each was honored during their senior year by being named captains of their respective teams (Elizabeth was also a captain her junior year).

They had a final meeting on May 15 at Swarthmore College in Philadelphia. Elizabeth had graduated the previous Saturday and Simone was slated to graduate back in New York City the following day. Simone ended her career that day by jumping her best jump ever at 37 feet. 6.5 inches. Elizabeth’s best career mark was 35 feet, 7.75 inches.

At meet's end, the two friends gave each other hugs and best wishes and parted ways for their post college life. Elizabeth is moving to Corvallis to work for the U.S. Forest Service and Simone is moving to Boston to attend graduate school in sports psychology.

It is not often two San Benito High School graduates go so far from home and yet maintain a thread of connection. Hollister can be proud these two young women represented our community so well.

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