McALESTER — Nathanual Lucero is a relative newcomer to both McAlester and track. Born in Dalhart, Texas, Lucero lived in Clovis, N.M., Piney Creek and Canadian before transferring to McAlester High School for his sophomore year.
When he got to MHS, Lucero befriended several people with previous track experience and they convinced him to try it. Injuries curtailed his first two seasons, but so far this season he’s stayed healthy and eager to make his senior season his best.
“My major goal this year is to go to State,” Lucero said Wednesday.
Lucero said he primarily competes in four events: the 200 meter dash; 400 meter dash; the 4x400 meter relay; and the 4x800 meter relay. He anchors a 4x800 relay team, making that event his favorite.
“I love having the pressure,” Lucero said. “I think pressure-wise, it pushes me to do my best as I can.”
The 4x800, or two mile, relay starts with Samuel Adams, then goes to Zach Godwin and Colin Smith before Lucero finishes. The team almost broke its goal of a nine-minute race at the Clark Bass Invitational meet in McAlester on April 17, finishing in 9:01.
“From the week we went to Henryetta two weeks ago to last week, we took 50 seconds off our two-mile relay,” Lucero said.
“You pace yourself, but not only do you pace yourself, you have to have good stamina and good speed.”
Sports like track and swimming don’t always promote the same sense of teamwork and camaraderie that sports like football and basketball might. Most races feature a different team’s representative in each lane, and runners often say they feel by themselves while competing.
Even though relay runners only run together for as long as it takes to hand off the baton, it’s still far more team-like. And even if Lucero and his fellow Buffaloes might compete as individuals, he said McAlester’s track team stands out for how much the athletes support each other.