Published July 24, 2019


LYNNFIELD — Incoming St. John’s Prep freshman Nathan Lopez has quietly earned a reputation for being one of the top young runners in the country.

Lopez, 14, of Lynnfield, competed in the 2019 New Balance Nationals Outdoor in North Carolina last month. He finished second in the one-mile competition and was third in the two-mile.

“I was happy with my finishes at the 2019 New Balance Nationals Outdoor in North Carolina,” said Lopez in an email sent to the Villager. “I feel as though I was right where I expected to be in the two-mile, where I placed third. I surprised myself with my performance in the one-mile because I ran a personal best by 10 seconds to get second place, missing first place by only 0.04 seconds.”


Lopez has been running for the Haverhill Elite Track Club for the past year-and-a-half, where he competes in the 800 meters, 1,500 meters and 3,000 meters in the 13 and 14 age group.

“When I first decided to start running seriously after a 5K road race I competed in, there weren’t any track programs in Lynnfield for middle school kids,” said Lopez. “One of our family friends told us about a team called Haverhill Elite and how they were very good, so I decided to try it out. In the beginning, it seemed like it was going to be really hard, but as I went on, I realized that the hard work was making me a lot better. I ran my first sub five-minute mile about halfway through my first indoor season in 2018 with the team. I really enjoyed the good coaches, teammates and racing, so I’ve been there ever since.”

Lopez has competed in a number of races since he started running competitively. He competed in the Junior Olympics Cross-Country Championships in Reno, Nevada last fall, where he finished sixth in the country.

“It was my first cross-country season and I trained really hard and was happy with my result,” said Lopez. “For the 2019 indoor season, I competed in two national meets. At the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York City, I placed second in the middle school mile. At the U.S.A. Track and Field Indoor National Championships, I placed second in the 3,000 meters, third in the 1,500 meters and was third in the 800 meters.”

In addition to competing in the New Balance Nationals Outdoor Championships, Lopez won the mile at the 2019 Massachusetts State Middle School Track and Field Championships in Clinton. He shined during other meets this year as well.

“I recently competed at the AAU Junior Olympic qualifiers in Queens, New York in June, where I won all three of my events: The 800, 1,500 and 3,000,” said Lopez. “I also just got home from the AAU Club National Championships in Orlando, Florida, where I won the 3,000 and 1,500, but I fell short and got third in the 800. It was pretty exciting to win two national titles. Next week, I will be traveling to Greensboro, North Carolina to compete in the National Junior Olympics. There will be some really tough competition there, but I’m excited to run and hope to make the podium for my events.”

Lopez noted his best time in the 800 meters is 2:01. His best time in the 1,500 meters is 4:13. His personal best in the one-mile is 4:30. Lopez’s fastest time in the 3,000 meters is 9:14. Lopez’s quickest time in the two-mile is 9:49.

Over the course of the last 18 months, Lopez has been crowned a two-time champion in the 3,000 meters and 1,500 meters at the AAU National Club Championships’ age 14 division. He has also been named a 12-time All-American for cross-country and outdoor track for ages 13-14.

“That means I got on the podium at 12 national championship events,” said Lopez.

Lopez was the first Lynnfield runner to cross the finish line at the Lynnfield Athletic Association’s 52nd Fourth of July Road Race. He finished sixth overall and concluded the race in 18:37.

“I feel okay with how I placed in the Fourth of July 5K,” said Lopez. “I would have liked to do better, but my coach told me I wasn’t allowed to run the race at race pace because I had a big national meet in Florida the next week. So, I ran it as a training run at a slower pace.”

Lopez said running is an incredibly enjoyable and cathartic experience for him.

“I really enjoy the fact that it takes my mind off all the stresses around me and allows me to focus on the race, doing what I love and what I am good at,” said Lopez. “Running is a very friendly sport and I enjoy traveling and competing as well as meeting new friends from all around the country that share the same love for the sport that I do.”

Lopez and his family moved to Lynnfield from Jamaica Plain while he was in third grade. In addition to running, he has competed in a variety of sports such as baseball, basketball, soccer and rock climbing. He attended Summer Street School and just graduated from Lynnfield Middle School. He is the son of Dave and Lisa Lopez. His sister, Abby, is going into sixth grade at Lynnfield Middle School and she also competes on the Haverhill Elite team.

“I will not be attending Lynnfield High School, but I am going to continue both cross-country and track at St. John’s Prep,” said Lopez.