Hitting her stride: a Q&A with Timber Creek’s Tierra Hooker

The all-state high jumper collected two Meet of Champions titles last season and just committed to Mississippi State, too. So what’s it like to be a senior with all of that already accomplished?

Timber Creek senior Tierra Hooker announced her college decision on Thursday: she’ll continue her track and field career and study animal sciences at Mississippi State University. (Special to South Jersey Sports Weekly)

After finishing in second place in back-to-back years in the high jump at the outdoor Meet of Champions as a freshman and sophomore, Timber Creek’s Tierra Hooker finally collected her gold last June.

Hooker cleared the 5-10 mark to earn her first outdoor MOC title as a junior. 

The medal was nicely complemented by the Meet of Champions first-place finish she earned during last winter’s indoor season, too.

None of these wins should come as a surprise to anyone who has followed Hooker’s acclaimed scholastic career. She pretty much announced her arrival as not only one of the state’s best, but among the top track and field teenagers in the country three years ago, when she broke the (ages) 13-14 high jump and pentathlon records at the USATF Junior Olympics in Kansas.

And now Hooker has one of her final high school chores checked off well before graduation, too: her college choice. Hooker announced last week that she will continue her track and field career (while studying animal sciences) at Mississippi State University.

“One of the coaches (Holland Sherrer) who had been recruiting me to go to Syracuse took a job at Mississippi State, and they texted my club coach and came to my house,” Hooker said. “Coach (Steve) Thomas, the heptathlon coach, is one of the best coaches in the country.”

South Eastern Conference track and field is no joke: 24 of the last 31 team state championships have been awarded to SEC programs.

“I think I’m ready for it,” Hooker said.

The Chargers star and soon-to-be Bulldog chatted with South Jersey Sports Weekly last week:

South Jersey Sports Weekly: Senior year. How does that feel —  bittersweet, fun?

Hooker: For the most part I feel like this season I want to have fun. Since I already know where I’m going to school I can just enjoy it and not put as much pressure on myself. So I mainly just want to have fun.

SJSW: Does that help you perform, when your almost stress-free?

Hooker: Yeah. If I’m thinking too much then you can see it in my whole performance. If I’m thinking too much during high jump, you can tell. So it’s less stress and it makes everything easier.

SJSW: Do you have a No. 1 goal you want to accomplish before graduation?

Hooker: Obviously hitting 6 foot for high jump. But I also want to be more versatile. I know that I do long jump, high jump and hurdles. When it’s time to execute and get medals, I want to be able to do that to get points for my team. 

SJSW: What inspires you or makes you tick?

Hooker: With a lot of people, they have to work hard, but with track it just came easily to me. So I feel like God put me on this earth for that. A lot of people in other sports have to work for it, but this just came easy to me. I know I still have to work hard, but this just feels like the right sport. 

SJSW: You were given this gift so you have to work for it.

Hooker: Yes.

SJSW: Your mom was a track athlete at Camden High. What was her speciality?

Hooker: She was mostly sprints but did high jumps, too.

SJSW: Are you a better high jumper than she is?

Hooker: Yes. [Laughs]

SJSW: What’s the one thing your mom has taught you either in track or outside of track that’s helped you get to where you’re at right now?

Hooker: She always tells me not to think about things too mentally, to just know that everything happens for a reason, so if I did bad in one meet, that’s just God setting me back and letting me know I have to work on things and I have other blessings coming toward me. Like if I don’t get the height that I wanted or time that I wanted, then it’s just God telling me I need to work harder. I just have to be patient and let everything come to me.

Hooker won two Meet of Champions titles as a junior — in the winter and spring — but she’s still to hit the 6-foot mark in her high school high jumping career before she graduates in June. (RYAN LAWRENCE, South Jersey Sports Weekly)

SJSW: I know you had an older sister at Timber Creek last year. Do you have any other siblings?

Hooker: Six sisters. I’m the baby. 

SJSW: What’s that like growing up? Were they tough on you?

Hooker: Yes. Yes. Every day my mom would make us match with the same colors, same dresses or shirts. 

SJSW: [Laughs]

Hooker: It was crazy.

SJSW: Tiyanna wrestled here and is in college for rugby, right?

Hooker: Yeah she’s in Missouri, at Lindenwood University. 

SJSW: You tried rugby, too, right?

Hooker: Yes. 

SJSW: Did that make you better in track in any way?

Hooker: It helped me become more aggressive, because that sport is very aggressive. It was kind of easy because a lot of time when I got the ball nobody could catch me, so it was really just running. But it taught me to be aggressive and to work harder and I’ll be better.

SJSW: Who is the athlete in South Jersey you most admire?

Hooker: I would say my best friend; she goes to Pennsauken: Jade Pope.

SJSW: If you could pick one person from South Jersey’s event to add to your own game, who would you take? You could take their sprinting or their hurdling.

Hooker: I would take Athing Mu. She runs the 800. She’s up in Trenton and runs for her club team; she doesn’t do high school track.

SJSW: How about on your own team here at Timber Creek. Who is your funniest teammate?

Hooker: Well, we had this girl named Princess Hayes — she transferred to Overbrook — but she was literally the funniest person on our team and the second fastest behind me.

SJSW: So if she’s no longer here, who is the second fastest person on the team after you?

Hooker: Chastiney Pearson. 

SJSW: How about the smartest?

Hooker: Ali Hauer. 

SJSW: Who is the best male athlete at Timber Creek?

Hooker:  Tarheeb Still.

SJSW: Oh, yeah, he’s a wide receiver going to …

Hooker: Maryland. 

SJSW: Do you have a favorite school subject at Timber Creek?

Hooker: I’m not taking it this year but math is definitely my favorite. 

SJSW: Do you have a favorite teacher?

Hooker: Ms. Alicia Truman; she teaches marketing.

SJSW: Best movie you’ve seen recently?

Hooker: “Queen & Slim.”

SJSW: How about a TV show you’ve been into lately?

Hooker: Well you know how Disney+ just came out? I’ve been watching “Hannah Montana.”

SJSW: If you win another Meet of Champions trophy and you can pick any song to come out to when they announce your name at the medal ceremony, what song are you walking up to?

Hooker: “Bop” by DaBaby.