IN HER GLORY DAYS: Malinalli Cooke


Calvin Ru, Asst. Photo Editor

As a group of friends were playing soccer, one suggested that they all try out for Bishop Amat High School’s cross country team in La Puente. At the time, Diamond Bar High School chemistry teacher Malinalli Cooke, then known as Malinalli Martinez, was unsure of the idea of running as a sport. Little did she know that during the span of her high school and college career, she would set new records and win two CIF championship titles.

During Cooke’s high school career, she played in club soccer, sprinted in track and field, and ran in cross country. In track and field, Cooke set personal records and broke school records in one-mile and two-mile events, finishing with times of 5:19 and 11:38, respectively. Cooke made the switch from soccer to cross country during her freshman year after her friends made her try out for the team.

“Once I started running, I realized [soccer] wasn’t my sport,” Cooke said.

Despite starting off her freshman year completely oblivious to the existence of cross country, Cooke had the endurance that pulled her through to the CIF Finals that year after joining the team. Cooke was able to surpass previous school records in cross country as well, finishing the Otterbein/Schabarum meet with a time of 19:13 her freshman year. She also continued to place first by finishing with top times under 19:30 at the Stanford meet her sophomore, junior, and senior years.

As an upperclassman, Cooke placed first among her peers with the fastest time of 19:03 as a junior and 18:26 as a senior. She made the all time list for cross country at Bishop Amat by running with a time of 18:32 her senior year at the Woodbridge meet.

Cooke received a notable write up in the Los Angeles Times after she won the Colton invitational with a time of 18:50. Cooke was also named All-Southern Section selection in San Gabriel Valley and the Del Rey League’s female athlete of the year, and placed first in the Del Rey League Finals with a time of 18:39 later that year. Cooke placed second in the CIF Prelims and third in the CIF Finals twice, with a time of 19:01 during her junior year.

Cooke was offered athletic scholarships to USC and Long Beach State, before deciding to attend Loyola Marymount University. She quickly rose to the top of her peers and broke several records throughout her following years at LMU. She was able to place top three in the entire region during her time at college, and was chosen as San Gabriel Valley Champion for three out of her four years at LMU.

“At the time, I ran with a lot of really good runners,” Cooke said. “Some of them were in the Olympics and ran professionally, not on my team, but people I competed against regularly. I was like ‘Oh my gosh I wish I could run like her’.”

After graduating from LMU in 2000, Cooke went on to teach at Suva Intermediate for one year and Montebello High School for eight years before finally coming to Diamond Bar High School’s science department. Now, although not actively participating in competitions for the sports she loves, Cooke holds the position as assistant coach for DBHS’s cross country team.