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Shelter Island's Kal Lewis wins 3rd consecutive state cross country title

Kal Lewis (1127) of Shelter Island wins run

Kal Lewis (1127) of Shelter Island wins run in the NYSPHSAA Championship Cross Country Meet at SUNY Plattsburgh in Plattsburgh,NY on Saturday, November 16, 2019. Credit: Steve Jacobs/Steve Jacobs

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Kal Lewis knows that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. The Shelter Island senior used just about everything he had to hold on to his position as the class of Class D. Lewis won his third straight state public school Class D cross country championship in 14 minutes, 28.1 seconds at SUNY- Plattsburgh Saturday morning.

Lewis ran with, but never ahead of, Beaver River’s Colton Kempney for most of the race. After falling 10-15 feet behind Kempney late in the race, Lewis charged forward and outsprinted him in the final 100 meters, giving one last look to his competitor mere moments before crossing the line. Kempney, a sophomore, was second in 14:29.3.

Lewis ran the second-fastest overall time of the day. The event featured four boys races, separated by class. Only senior Sam Lawler of Pittsford Mendon, who won Class B in 14:26.1, ran faster.

“I was so close to giving up,” Lewis said. “I saw the distance opening and I thought ‘all right, you have to dig deep here, Kal. You’re not feeling good, but you have to stick with (Kempney),’” Lewis said. “…. As soon as we hit the turn, I put on the jets, just let them go. I took off, looked behind me, saw I had a lot of space and was like, ‘I got the third one.’”

The course was a little shorter than the usual 3.1-mile distance that is standard during cross country season. Because of snow, ice, and a general concern for the safety of the runners, organizers shortened the race to about 2.8 miles, state Public High School Athletic Association Executive Director Dr. Robert Zayas said.

Lewis, who will run at the University of Iowa next year, said that he wasn’t happy with the way the first half of his season went and needed to give himself a final push to hold on to his title.

“First half, I just wasn’t in the right mindset,” he said. “I wasn’t wanting to compete and run my races. I was overthinking everything. Towards the end of the season, I had to dial in. I had one month left to three-peat my state title… You can’t give it up in your senior year. It’s your last one, your last rodeo, and you had to leave it out there. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I knew I had it.”

Elsewhere, Eastport- South Manor junior Michael Silveri was sixth in Class A in 14:52.5. In Class B, Westhampton sophomore Gavin Ehlers was fifth in 14:55.2 and Seaford senior Jason Linzer was sixth in 14:58.4.

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