(Photo by Sterling Vernon)
PHILADELPHIA – The goal of any athlete is to peak at just the right right; to run your best when the championship season rolls around.
Few, if any, can argue that Nathan Lopez has simply be at his best when it’s counted the most.
Finishing off a string of top performances over the last month, the St. John’s Prep senior capped off his brilliant high school career by simply destroying a 19-year-old state record in the two-mile run during Day 2 of the New Balance Nationals on Friday night.
In the featured Championship race, Lopez secured the No. 2 spot on the podium with a time of 8 minutes, 44.54 seconds. Lopez time erased the 2004 mark of 8:50.82 by former Newton North star Chris Barnicle from the now-defunct Hartford Invitational. It’s also a New England mark and a PR by 15 seconds! Utah’s Daniel Simmons of American Fork won the race with a time of 8:41.23.
“I knew I had something a lot faster than 8:59,” said Lopez, making reference to his 8:59.29 winning effort from the Meet of Champions two weeks ago. “I felt really good at the (MOC) and close in 57 (seconds for the last 400 meters). I even had a chance to celebrate on the way to it. I think I knew I had something good in me, maybe around 8:50 and just enough to get a state record. But 8:44 was something that I was a little surprised about and at the same time I was very confident I could hang with those top guys. If I could run that fast, I was going to give it my best shot. I was just feeling my best out there and I came out with a great time and a great place. I couldn’t really end it any other way.”
Lopez’s effort at NBN follows his multiple victories at the MOC where he captured the two and one-mile runs and anchored his team’s first-place 4x800m. He also claimed the mile at the Division 1 Championships, a meet he also finished second in the 2M at 9:00.93.
“This season, I wouldn’t say went perfect. There was a week or two in the middle of the season where you get those normal aches and pains that can kind of get a little worrying at times. But we battle through them and I kind of just stuck to what I’m doing,” Lopez said. “I think that’s been kind of part of racing and training. You kind of have to be pushing that line of being a little bit uncomfortable with your health, but obviously not pushing it too far and I think I got that kind of line this season. and really just stuck with it and trained as hard as I could. I think that’s something that I haven’t really gotten the chance to do all the time in high school.”
Catholic Memorial’s Chris Sullivan continued his successful weekend at New Balance. A day after finishing second in the 5K, Sullivan broke nine minutes for the first time by taking seventh overall in 8:53.28. Emerging Elite’s Brian Gamble, a recent grad of the Brimmer and May School, was 13th at 9:00.43.