State Farm Natalie Arnett 

By Chris Cox

For some athletes the first sport they fall in love with might not end up being the one that offers them the best chance of success. Choctaw senior Gabe Lopez is one of those athletes. Lopez first thought that football would be his ticket to college but, as he soon realized, that was not going to be the case.

“My freshman and sophomore year I was playing football and I wanted to go to college in football, but it didn’t really turn out that way,” Lopez admits. “My junior year I got into running with a group in Texas. It was a distance group called Born to Run out of Austin. After that, it really changed running for me and turned me into a different runner.”

Lopez, who runs in the longer events like the 800 meter race, 4x800 meter relay, 4x400 meter relay, and the mile, says that while you are running by yourself, track is a team sport.

“We have guys who push each other in practice,” he says. “The race may be easier because we push each other in practice. If I didn’t push my teammates, they wouldn’t have run a better time this year. If they didn’t push me, my time wouldn’t have gone down.”

Lopez really likes to follow the mantra “practice hard, race easy” when it comes to track.

“It’s a whole mentality,” he says. “It means working hard, being a leader, and waking up every morning like someone is chasing after you. Because they are. I’m chasing after the best in the state and there is also always someone chasing after me.”

That chase mentality has pushed Lopez into the category of one the top runners in the state. He has a personal best in the 800 meter race of 1 minute, 56 seconds. That time has garnered plenty of attention from colleges. Lopez says that he is currently weighing scholarship offers Kansas State, University of Texas at San Antonio and St. Edward’s University.