06/13/04 — News-Argus Boys track athlete of the year Ñ Keith Cobb

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News-Argus Boys track athlete of the year Ñ Keith Cobb

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on June 13, 2004 2:00 AM

PIKEVILLE -- An eerie hush fell over Hardy Talton Stadium early in Charles B. Aycock's football opener against Clayton back on August 15.

Five plays into the Golden Falcons' endowment game, starting running back Keith Cobb went down with a serious ankle injury while pass-blocking against the Comets.

The right ankle dislocation caused a fracture in Cobb's fibia.

He eventually missed a season that promised to be a break-out year for the fleet-footed junior.

"Nothing ever, ever good comes from passing the football," Aycock coach Randy Pinkowski joked recently.

For Pinkowski and Cobb's Falcon teammates, the injury was certainly no laughing matter at the time.

On the bright side, Cobb will get another opportunity to shine in his senior season this upcoming August. If his performance on the track this past spring is any indication -- opposition beware.

After rehabbing the injury all winter, Cobb finished either first or second in every 100 and 200 meters in which he participated. Due to a still-tender ankle, he didn't run the 200 until the later portion of the season. When he got back into 200 races, the junior went unbeaten until the Class 3-A state championship.

During that run, Cobb emerged an Eastern regional champion in the 200 with a time of 21.81-- one of the fastest-recorded times in the event in the state this year. He went on to place third at the state championships with a 22.33.

"That whole week, I was kind of nervous because I knew it was the biggest thing out there," Cobb said. "I didn't run my best early in the day, but in the finals of the 200, I dug down and did my best then."

For these accomplishments and the ability to overcome a serious injury, Cobb is the 2004 News-Argus boys track athlete of the year.

Sure, Cobb is blessed with plenty of god-given talent. But these feats were far from easy.

After three days in the hospital, two months in a cast and two more months in a splint, Cobb went to the YMCA every day for extensive weight training. He put in a lot of time in the swimming pool and on the exercise bike.

His dad, Keith Cobb Sr., has been his biggest supporter. "He helped me out the most," Cobb said of his father.

Cobb was a little frustrated early during track season in February and March, but believes he started picking up steam during the Wayne County meet.

"I was getting down on myself, because I wasn't running as many races as last year," he said. "Then I ran a 10.7 in the 100 at the county meet.

"I started feeling pretty good then."

Steadily, his confidence started to build and the results kept looking better -- and most importantly, feeling better to Cobb. Coach Kevin Smith praised the regional champ for his comeback, and also for being a team leader.

"Keith leads by example. He's our anchor leg on the 4x100, and he runs the 4x200 when we need someone to fill in," Smith said. "He was also an extension of a coach with the young sprinters. There were a lot of times when I told him to work with the younger kids on hand-offs and getting out of the block."

As for football, it's almost a guarantee that Keith Cobb will take a hand-off somewhere early in Aycock's opener this coming August at Clayton. He might even receive the opening kick-off.

He appaears ready.

"I have a lot of confidence going out there," Cobb said about the upcoming season. "I'm not going to be scared going out there like people think I might be. "I'm just ready to play."