Running his way from Lynnfield to Michigan
Senior track star Nathan Lopez has committed to run track at the University of Michigan this fall. Although he was born in Boston, Lopez moved to Lynnfield when he was in the third grade and has contributed his competitive spirit to the town.
“Being in Lynnfield, there’s a lot of competitive people here. Even in the classroom, which has helped me stay focused academically,” Lopez said. “We moved here for academics originally and to challenge me as a person. Growing up Lynnfield has always been good in sports, so I was able to get a strong competitive mindset.”
From running with friends after school at a Boston park to running the school mile in gym class, Lopez was always at the front of the line.
“I remember back in Boston in kindergarten and first grade we would always race in the playground, and then in elementary school and middle school in gym class I was always the fastest,“ Lopez said.
Despite being fast growing up, it wasn’t until the seventh grade when Lopez joined a track team. He joined Haverhill Elite, now known as New England Elite.
Once Lopez joined the team, he started to get hooked.
“When I picked up track I was pretty quick to be towards the top of my team,” Lopez said. “Just running fast and trying to get better was what really sparked my interest and got me going in the sport.”
It wasn’t until Lopez arrived at St. John’s Prep for high school that he started to think about potentially running at the next level.
“Track wasn’t always something I wanted to do in college,” Lopez said. “When I first got into it, it was just something I liked and was good at. It didn’t cross my mind that it was something I’d do in college.”
“When I got to high school I realized it was an opportunity to do it in college,” he added. “As I got older through high school, it started to become more of a reality and something I was really interested in.”
It was during Lopez’s sophomore season when schools began to notice him.
“I think it was around sophomore year when I think interest peaked from schools. I was running some of the top times in the state,” Lopez said. “I wasn’t talking to schools yet, since it was still outside of the window when they’re allowed to talk to us.”
At the spring’s state championship meet, Lopez ran a race that gathered the attention of the top schools in the nation. Lopez competed in the two-mile race and finished in first place with a time of 9:06 – a personal best.
“After the race when the window opened for coaches to talk to me, some of the top schools in the country started to contact me about running for them,” Lopez said. “That’s when it really started to sink in that I could be doing this at the next level.”
In September of his senior year, Lopez ended all speculation about where he would be running when he committed to Michigan. When asked why he chose Michigan, Lopez highlighted all the positives.
“Historically, they have a great program. They’ve always had successful runners and I saw that as a possibility,” Lopez said. “I took one of my official visits there and I liked the guys on the team. Coach Sullivan is a three-time Olympian and I felt he could help me progress. They could offer me everything I was looking for, especially academically. They are amazing.”
Lopez currently competes in the two-mile and mile run, however, in college there is no two-mile race. Instead, he believes he’ll compete in the 5K at Ann Arbor.
“I’m guessing I’ll be moved to the 5K and potentially run the mile, but the 5K will probably be my sweet spot,” Lopez said.
Lopez admitted there may be some initial challenges when he arrives at Michigan, but he is looking forward to embracing them.
“Competition will be a lot stiffer. The guys I’ll be competing against are all on my level and have been recruited to run,” Lopez said. “Adjusting to the competition and figuring out how to compete with them will probably be the hardest part, but I’m looking forward to that challenge.”