Hoisting a silver trophy above his head on the podium at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Sunday morning, John Lara had the crowd eating out of his palm.
But during the post-race press conference, Lara — who blew away the middle school 1000-meter boys' field with a time of 2 minutes 54.7 seconds — could barely string two words together as he doubled over breathlessly.
“It was a pretty long race … when you do your first loop … I practiced hard to work my stamina up and to do better this year,” was all he could muster when asked how finishing second last year helped him win this year.
His teammate, Jovan Talavera (3:05.1) finished second and could say even less: “I go to the same school as [Lara].”
Their cross country coach, Michael Baugh, explained that they aren’t tight lipped. He said they just left everything on the course.
“John took it out,” Baugh said. “He’s very much the class of the field and he runs all out, it doesn’t matter if he’s last or first, he’s done that since fourth grade. So when he’s [doubled over] like that it’s just because he has nothing left. And the kid who came in second he’s the same way. He’s my kid too. He does the same thing. They are both competitors.”
The race — which loops around Boylston and Newbury Streets before finishing on the Boston Marathon’s finish line — began with high school mile events in 2009. The middle school races were added in 2010.
The race features two athletes from each city or town along the Boston Marathon course.
Lara finally got his breath back when he came down from the podium. Especially when he was informed that he was the first Bostonian to win at the event. (To date, no student from Boston has won the high school events).
“Oh really,” he said. “[I feel] honored actually, to win it for my city, I’m honored. I gotta represent Boston, I’m from here.”
Latin Academy eight grader Catherine Van Even finished the girls’ middle school race in eighth place with a time of 3:45.7.
“In the second lap I got tired as we kept going,” Van Even said. “I think I started too fast. I think it will help me push harder and try harder in other races.”
Sarah Kiamie of Boston Latin finished with a time of 3:52.2 for a 12th place finish.
“It went a lot faster than I thought it would,” Kiamie said. “I haven’t been feeling really well lately. I didn’t do as well as I hoped I would. It was a great experience and I wish I could do it again but I’m in eighth grade. Maybe next year I can do the mile.”
Boston Latin sophomore Alannah O’Brien did the mile for the first time this year. She finished 11th with a time of 6:04.7.
“It was really fun because there’s a lots of people cheering and it was just a great atmosphere,” she said.
For the second straight year Boston Latin senior Michael ward ran the high school invitational mile. Last year he finished in fourth and this year he was disappointed with his eighth-place finish and time of 4:45.
“It’s a really awesome event,” he said. “I took it out pretty hard and then didn’t really hold it very well. I fell back a lot. I wasn’t really happy with how I ran it but it’s a great event. You can’t complain; it’s awesome.”
Ward, who qualified for indoor and outdoor states meets the last three years for the 1000 meters and mile, said he still had a bit of a hangover from running the 1000 meters at the indoor national meet last month.
“Last year I got fourth [here] and it really helped a lot,” he said. “I beat a lot of guys I hadn’t beaten before. This was kind of a switch. I ended up in the back and I wasn’t really happy about it. My season only started a few weeks ago. I haven’t really gotten back much so I think if I keep up the work I’m doing by the end of the season I’ll be in good shape.”
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.