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Kal Lewis qualifies for State Championships

With the regular winter track season ending three weeks ago, the last couple of weeks have been filled with competition in the championship season.

This season starts with Small and Large School Championships, where the top 24 small school and top 24 large school athletes compete in each event in their respective class.

This top 48 gets whittled down to the top 12 athletes countywide at the State Qualifiers, where if you place in the top three positions at the State Qualifiers, then it is on to the State Championships.

The Small School Team Championships were held at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus on February 2 for the girls and the following day for the boys. For the lady Indians, junior Emma Gallagher qualified for the 600-meter run and took 16th place with a time of 1:49.96 minutes.

Junior Kal Lewis qualified for the 600-, 1,000- and 1,600-meter runs, but chose to run the 1,600, a distance that plays to Lewis’ strength. Running all three events would have been unwise since there is not a lot of time to recover between the races.

Kal ran to a first place finish at the Small School Team Championships in 4:26.18 minutes, which advanced him to the State Qualifiers.

The State Qualifiers were held at Brentwood on February 11. Lewis was the only Indian to make the mark for State Qualifiers. He was entered into the 1,600-meter run against the top athletes in Suffolk County. No matter how fast an athlete runs all season, it comes down to this one race in order to advance to the State Championships.

One has to hope for good health, good speed and good luck.

Lewis’ heat went off on time. The first four laps covered 800 meters, and the pace was definitely a bit slower than what most of the athletes were capable of, as they bided their time and felt each other out.

As the front runners began to pick up the pace, the field started to stretch out. With three laps to go, a runner from Eastport had a 50-meter lead on everybody. Lewis and Northport’s Sean Ryan, the two favorites, knew it was time to pick up the pace, and they did.

The last 400 meters were the fastest two laps of the entire race as Lewis and Ryan battled it out. With 250 meters to go, Lewis was in second place just off Ryan’s shoulder. But then the Islander took the lead with Ryan a step behind him. With only 5 meters to the finish line, Lewis tripped and went down in a sideways tumbling somersault as the entire crowd gasped in shock. Ryan passed Lewis to the first place finish.

Lewis, still down on the track, got his wits about him and got up to make it to the finish line to a second place finish only a couple of seconds before the athlete in third place came across. The Islander’s time was 4:29.98 minutes.

By virtue of placing in the top three for this event and running the state qualifying mark earlier in the season, Lewis will advance to the New York State Championships, which will be held at New York City’s Ocean Breeze Facility on Saturday, March 2.

This will be Lewis’ second time making it to the State Championships for track. In the spring of 2018, he was the Small Schools State Champion in the 1,600-meter run.