Marshfield's Bodey Lutes, the reigning 4A champion in the 400, and his mother, Amy Nickerson, an 11-time state champion.
Marshfield's Bodey Lutes, the reigning 4A champion in the 400, and his mother, Amy Nickerson, an 11-time state champion.

Bodey Lutes isn't lacking for motivation on the track at Marshfield, where he is on his way to rewriting much of the school record book.

But deep inside him, he draws on extra inspiration from the stellar high school career of his mother, Amy Nickerson, an 11-time individual state champion at Coquille in the late 1990s.

“I guess it rubbed off,” Lutes said. “Seeing her on the record board at her old high school is super cool. It made me want to do it a little bit.”

Lutes, a junior, transferred to Marshfield from Arizona as a sophomore and immediately set the track on fire, winning a 4A title in the 400 meters and finishing runner-up in the 800.

A year later, the 5-foot-11 Lutes continues to blaze a trail, improving his school record in the 400 (47.83 seconds) and breaking a 31-year-old school mark in the 200 (22.09). His state-leading time in the 400 ranks No. 15 all-time in Oregon.

“I think I'm a little ahead of where I should be,” Lutes said. “My plan was to go low-48, so that kind of shocked me a little bit.”

Lutes' success is a thrill for Nickerson, who at Coquille was a four-time state champion in both the 800 and 1,500 and a three-time state champion in cross country.

“He runs with such heart,” Nickerson said. “I love watching him run. He's very hard-working, very committed, but he's also very free-spirited. He's a fun-loving, charismatic person. He's has the biggest heart.”

Marshfield head coach Chad Scriven marveled at Lutes' natural athleticism.

“The kid's a freak,” Scriven said. “He could probably be all-state in whatever sport he wants to do. He's probably the second-best basketball player in our school, but he doesn't play basketball. He's a really good surfer. He flat-footed 5-9 in the high jump.”

Lutes, who ran 48.09 in the 400 last year, believes he has much room for improvement. He could make a breakthrough Friday in the Oregon Relays at Hayward Field, where he will race against Liberty (Nev.) senior Ronnie Kendrick, who ran 46.46 to win the Arcadia Invitational on April 6.

“I'm super glad I'm able to run against him,” Lutes said. “My plan is just to stick on him and see how long I can hold on, give him a run for his money.”

Marshfield sprint coach Joe Cook expects Lutes to rise to the occasion.

“He hasn't really been pressed this year,” Cook said. “Oregon Relays will be the first time he's really seen any competition this year. If he's not under 47, I would be surprised.”

Lutes has big goals for his high school career. He hopes to challenge the state record of 46.47, set by Benson's Nate Anderson in 2005.

“By the end of the season, I'd really like to go 47-flat, maybe 46.99,” he said. “I'd love to see a 46 on the big screen at state. Next year I really want to hit that 46.47. That's the long-term goal. With the competition, I should get there.”

With two school records in the bag, Lutes is going for more. His PR in the 800 of 1:55.85 is within range of the school record of 1:53.8, held by the legendary Steve Prefontaine (1969). And he is part of 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams that are pushing the school marks.

“I just think it would be awesome to hold all of those,” he said. “Especially taking it from Pre, that would be crazy. That would be the cherry on top, to do all that.”

Lutes ran cross country as a sophomore but opted not to compete last fall. He said he “got tendinitis pretty bad” during the 2022 cross country season, costing him about two months of training for track.

He was able to spend the fall and winter getting ready for track season.

“He put in an incredible amount of work,” Cook said. “When the season started, he was in top form.”

Scriven praised Lutes for his work ethic.

“I never realized how rare it was to have somebody who's that gifted and still wants to work that hard,” Scriven said. “Especially coming from a smaller classification, because he could just show up and dominate at our level. But I know he's trying to run at a big school in college. That's his dream, and he's putting it all into it.”

Lutes said he is more committed to track this season.

“I wasn't super invested last year,” he said. “I didn't use blocks in the 400. I was just kind of out there. This offseason, I really took the next step. I was in the gym a lot, moving a lot of weight.

“Last year, I was kind of contemplating playing basketball. This year, it really wasn't in the conversation. I was just ready to focus 100 percent on track. I think that was the next step that I needed to get to that 46.”

Lutes' new approach to the season includes a shift away from the 800 and toward the 200.

“I just had to follow my heart. It wasn't with the 800,” he said. “But I love the 200, and I love being on the 4x100 and focusing on the speed aspect to help my team, and just have fun. I'm going to run a few 800s.”

Nickerson said that Lutes has a hunger to compete and push himself, but isn't defined by being a track star. His mentality is encouraging to Nickerson, who struggled with striking a balance during her career.

“When I was running, I didn't care about anything except for running,” said Nickerson, whose college career at Oregon was cut short by injury. “It was literally my life. Bodey is very much not that person. He works himself into the ground, and is very committed, but he has a lust for life. He surfs whenever he can. He loves running up in the hills, riding his four-wheeler out at my mom's, hiking, going to the sand dunes and exploring.

“He's a well-rounded person who happens to be incredible at running.”

Lutes said his mother is happy that he runs track, but doesn't push him.

“She's kind of like, 'Do your own thing,'” Lutes said. “She tries to just stay out of it and let me experience it, which I'm very grateful for. Just kind of feeling it out for myself, making those independent decisions. But if I ever have something to ask her, she's always there.”