Gavin Cooper, white shirt next to Clarence Lowe’s papers, broke from the pack on Saturday morning and never looked back.

CARYVILLE, TN (WLAF) – During the summer off season, it’s a wake up and run routine for ETSU Bucanneer Gavin Cooper. Though Saturday was a little different as he woke up and ran in the 23rd annual Cove Lake 5K.

The former Campbell Cougar led from wire-to-wire on Saturday to win his second Cove Lake 5K. “I had a solid start, and broke from the pack as we entered the wooded loop leg of the course,” said Cooper.

Gavin Cooper, with no other runners even close, approaches the finish line at 8:16 am on Saturday.

Cooper had planned out his strategy for the race and has run through the wooded area countless times. “I know that part of the course, every bend and turn,” added Cooper.

“I was trying to go sub-sixteen (minutes) and just missed it,” stated the college senior. Cooper won Saturday’s Cove Lake 5K with a time of 16:00.49; more than three minutes ahead of the next runner. Five years ago, Cooper finished first at 17:24. He placed second as a high school freshman in 2015 when his time was 18:04.

Cooper plans to run in next month’s Crazy 8s at Kingsport. If time allows, he’ll also participate the Pigeon Forge Midnight 8K Road Race in August.

The 2018 graduate of Campbell County High School is entering his senior year at ETSU. However, he plans on returning for a 5th year of eligibility next year.

Cooper was aiming for a sub-16 minute finish and just missed it.

He’s training all summer preparing for the fall cross country season which begins in September. Indoor track season opens in January.

A typical week day in the off season is a morning run of six to eight miles, and then he’ll log two to four miles in the evening. In between, he’s working at his dad’s shop; Cooper Machine at Jacksboro Station. On the weekends, he puts in more mileage with longer runs of 12 to 14 miles.

Cooper, at 5-8 and 140 pounds, adds that the longer distance stuff suits him better. At ETSU, he runs the 8K cross country as well as the 3K steeplechase along with the 1,500 meter. Indoors, it’s the 5K and the mile. “The 5K is definitely tough, because there’s more speed involved,” said Cooper.

At Cove Lake State Park on Saturday, Gavin Cooper claimed his second Cove Lake 5K championship.

He’s a Kinesiology major and has really enjoyed his time in Johnson City. Cooper pointed out that he’d love to come back home after college if the opportunity is there.

In 2018, Cooper was named to the Southern Conference (SoCon) All-Freshman team. At Campbell High, he holds school records for 5K (15:52.98), 3200m (9:34.37), two-mile (9:51), one-mile (4:27) and part of the distance medley relay (DMR) (11:52)