COLUMBIA – Zach Cook sits in the training room at Rock Bridge High School on a stool next to his older brother Jordan Cook, who rests on a table icing his ankle after practice. The two act like any other brothers would. They joke with their teammates and join in the laughter of the group.
The Cook brothers both started running in fifth grade and were talented from the start. In 2006, they went to the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in Spokane, Wash.
“That was a really cool experience,” Jordan Cook recalled. “It was our first plane ride, our first time to go that far away. It was a big trip of firsts.”
These days, the brothers represent the Bruins as two of the seven runners on the boys varsity cross-country team, ranked first in the state on Sept. 29 by Big River Running Company.
It’s clear the brothers have spent a lot of time together throughout their lives through running. But their personalities are very different.
On a typical day in the Cook household, the brothers wake up and go to school together, run at practice together, then go home to eat dinner and eventually do homework.
“I usually get into my schoolwork too much, and so I stress out too much from that," said Jordan Cook, a senior and the older sibling. "People ask me what’s my stress level for the day, and it’s usually insanely high.”
He almost seems tense perched on the table talking about his own personality. His teammates confirm that he stays serious and focused during practice. However, his brother is the opposite.
“I’m usually never stressed,” Zach Cook said. “Like on homework and stuff, I’ll just get it done and be done with it and not really worry too much about it.”
The younger brother speaks in a calm voice as he slouches casually on the stool. Zach Cook’s teammates also claim that he is a “ladies man,” though he just shrugged off that claim and changed the subject quickly.
Although Zach Cook is the relaxed younger brother, he is also the forgetful one according to Jordan Cook, who says that he always remembers things his brother forgets. He usually likes to help him out, with one exception.
“Sometimes he leaves me places,” Zach Cook said nonchalantly, telling a story about the time his older brother left him at a team pasta party so he had to find a ride home from another teammate.
“That was one of our fighting days, and we weren’t quite getting along,” Jordan Cook said. “Our different personalities collide sometimes.”
“A lot,” Zach Cook added, laughing. “But even though we fight, we still come together at the end or whatever and solve it out and laugh it off.”
And although they fight sometimes, like any brothers would, at the end of the day there are two things that Jordan Cook says brings them together:
“Running and living in the same house.”