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Salute to the champs: Kal Lewis overcomes frosty course to take Class D state cross-country title

Kal Lewis of Shelter Island crosses the finish

Kal Lewis of Shelter Island crosses the finish line in 16:44.6 to win the Class D NYSPHSAA cross-counrtry championships at Wayne Central School on Nov. 11, 2017. Credit: Jack Haley

It’s too early to tell what the next two years will hold for Kal Lewis, but if they’re anything like this season, there will be a bucket of medals coming his way. Lewis broke into the state championship conversation last season and began to dominate the talk this year. The Shelter Island sophomore won the Class D public school state cross-country title on Nov. 11, running the Ontario Center 5-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 44.6 seconds.

As a freshman, Lewis finished fourth. This year, he was in it to win it — and did just that.

“The key was placement in the very beginning,” Lewis told Newsday after the race. “I wanted to get out fast so I could work off people from there. When I hit 3,200 meters, I had eight or 10 seconds on the second-place guy.”

Lewis had to overcome tundra-like conditions as he ran toward his championship. With temperatures sub-freezing and an overnight snowfall to deal with, the ground was reduced to either solid ice or a sticky mud pit.

“Even though I had half-inch spikes, I couldn’t get into the dirt at all because it was frozen solid,” he said. “You would hit a turn and your ankle would roll and you wouldn’t be able to catch your ground. Other spots were all muddy, where you would sink into it. You just had to keep on going through it.”

Despite being in the state’s smallest class, Lewis is hardly a small-time runner. All season, he proved that he can run with the best. A week after winning the Class D championship, Lewis finished eighth in the state Federation championship in 16:24.3.

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