While John Lara hopes this season doesn’t mark his peak in track and field, the Hernandez School student has already soared to new heights.
The eighth grader won the city championship for the 400-meter dash, won the BAA invitational mile, and broke the state record for the 800-meter dash with a time of 2:04 at the Division 3 middle school track and field state championship Saturday at Fitchburg State.
He is the first BPS student to win a state title at the middle school level.
“Thank God," said Lara. "I’m blessed to do good in track and field and to do good in the 800-meter."
Hernandez coach Michael Baugh saw not one but two of his student-athletes break the record in the 800-meter dash. Just two heats before Lara, Jovan Talavera broke the two-year-old record of 2:13 with a time of 2:10 to get him third place.
“Jovan had the record for, like, 5 minutes,” Baugh said.
The coach said that Talavera, who ran with a hip flexor injury, wasn’t disappointed when he saw Lara win. With the year Lara has had, he even expected it.
Baugh brought 10 student-athletes to the championships, and each one placed top-five in at least one event. John’s brother, Joel Lara, placed seventh in the 800 meters. The 4x400 relay team of Brian Sanchez, Reynaldo Gutierrez, and the Lara brothers captured third place in the state.
Overall, Hernandez came in 10th place in the championships.
“I’m proud of [John], I’m proud of all my boys,” Baugh said.
It wasn’t always this easy for Lara. Baugh said he didn’t start winning races until the seventh grade. In his first two years on the track team, he struggled to make the GPA requirement and wasn’t academically eligible.
If his gold medals don’t testify enough to his turnaround, Lara surely will when he gives an honors speech at the Hernandez graduation.
“This year he really got himself together and did a phenomenal job,” Baugh said.
However, the coach might want to give himself more credit.
“I thank my coach for giving us good training,” Lara said. “It paid off.”
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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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.