Kal Lewis can run, but he can no longer hide. The Shelter Island sophomore stood on top of the state 5-kilometer leader board after last weekend’s Brown Northeast Invitational in Rhode Island. Lewis won the Division I race in 15 minutes, 27.24 seconds. The time was the fastest in the state, regardless of class, entering this weekend, according to milesplit.com.
While running in Class D, Lewis had the tendency to fly under the radar. Competing in the state’s smallest public school classification hadn’t attracted much fanfare so far, but that’s likely to change with Lewis’ name atop the state 5k list.
“It’s a good and bad thing,” Lewis said. “It’s good to know that I’m the fastest man in New York. But, it’s bad because now everyone knows who I am. But it’s going to make me work harder, so that I can have a bigger drive and a bigger push for the rest of the season.”
After the initial shock of realizing what it means to be known subsided, Lewis began to relish the target that is now firmly placed on his back.
“It’s all right with me,” he said. “If people are going to try and come for me, I’m fine with that. I’m just going to have to work harder than anyone else to beat anybody.”
His competition got a good look at Lewis’ back through the Brown race. Lewis took the race out hard from the opening gun and used his top position to navigate his way toward the finish, giving his competition little chance to catch up.
“I got out of the starting line pretty quickly, so I got great positioning,” he said. “The course is really narrow . . . It was mostly flat with a couple of rolling hills. It was really not that bad.”
Lewis won by 9.57 seconds.
Lewis, who finished fourth in the Class D race at the state public school championships last November, was the top ranked runner in his class following last weekend’s action, according to tullyrunners.com.
Lewis said he feels comfortable on the Wayne High School course, where the public school state championships are scheduled to be held on Nov. 11. He ran 20:35.43 on it at the Pre-State Invitational on Sept. 16.
“It was really not that bad of a course,” Lewis said. “There’s one uphill that was pretty hard and one downhill after that. I feel like I could run a really good time on that course.”
Lewis’ next big test will be the Suffolk Division championships on Oct. 24 at Sunken Meadow State Park. This will give Lewis a chance to run against the best in the county, regardless of class.
“That’s my favorite race before states,” Lewis said. “I get to run against Class A, B, C, and D schools, where there is the most competition . . . I believe I can win that race. My teammate, Joshua Green, has pushed me this season and I assume he’ll push me throughout the Division race and give me that drive to come in first, or whatever position I can.”
Long Island has become a cross country hotbed in the last few years, making traditional upstate dominance a thing of the past. The top five times in the state, entering the weekend, were held by Long Islanders, according to milesplit.com.
After Lewis, St. Anthony’s Mason Gatewood (15:32), Northport’s Isaiah Claiborne (15:32.06), Southampton’s Gustavo Morastitla (15:37.79) and Northport’s Dan O’Connor (15:42.66) rounded out the top five. All except Gatewood ran their times at last weekend’s Brown Invitational. Gatewood, who won the 4K Eastern State Championship at last weekend’s Manhattan Invitational, ran his best 5k at the Ocean State Invitational in late September.