Hernandez School track and field prodigy John Lara finished his middle school career on a high note by competing in the Junior Olympic National Track & Field Championship at A&T University in Greensboro, N.C.
Lara ran in the fifth heat of the 800-meter run late last month and finished third out of 12 runners in his heat with a time of 2 minutes, 3.36 seconds. He failed to qualify for the finals but ultimately finished 18th nationally in his event.
“I lost because I put myself down mentally because I doubted myself against my competition," Lara said, "because I got nervous.”
To view a video of Lara's race click here.
It may not have been the finish he was looking for but it was still an exceptional year for Lara. He went from being in the city championship for the 400-meter dash, to winning the Boston Athletic Association invitational mile and breaking the state record for the 800-meter dash (2:04) at the Division 3 middle school track and field state championship. Then, he was runner-up in the New England championship before he won the Region 1 meet by besting the same Rhode Island runner who edged him at New Englands.
“My feelings about John's progress is obvious, he has so much potential and he is just getting started," Hernandez coach Michael Baugh said in an email. "He has been training with me since fourth grade. He was fast but still hadn't grown into running until sixth grade when he got third in the Boston Middle School [Cross Country] Championships.”
When asked how he has been able to accomplish so much, Lara said “my coach and my mother were my motivation, they have supported me and helped with training. I could not do it without them.”
This fall, Lara will attend Catholic Memorial where he will continue to run track and field and also continue to train with Baugh on the side. Lara was disappointed that he didn't qualify for the finals at Nationals last month but he said he will be unhindered by his final summer performances when he starts running for CM.
“Losing made me work harder and to do better," he said. "I’ve been training all summer with my coach to become even better than before.”
And he has big plans for high school.
“I want to be Top 5, no, Top 3 in the nation," he said. "That is my goal.”
Karl Clement is a senior at the O'Bryant School who writes for Teens in Print.
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