Winning the state cross country championship changed the way Shelter Island’s Kal Lewis thought about the rest of his high school career. Only a sophomore, Lewis had spent his freshman winter season on the school’s basketball team, trading hills for hoops in the colder weather. But immense success breads tough decisions and Lewis, thinking it better for his overall development as one of the best distance runners in New York, decided to run from basketball and embrace track and field full time after winning the state Class D public school cross country championship in November.
“Basketball would not have helped me anywhere in the long run,” Lewis said. “I definitely miss basketball, but it was the right decision for me to do track.”
And while the scenes may have changed — with Lewis more accustomed to the treacherous hills of Sunken Meadow State Park than the long, blue flatness of Brentwood’s Suffolk County Community College — the results haven’t. Lewis is still a winner, taking the 3,200 meters in 10 minutes, 4.8 seconds and the 1,600 meters in 4:41.01 at the Suffolk V championships Saturday morning.
“Track is basically just straight running and left turns,” Lewis said. “It’s so flat. I like that kind of running because you know where to go, where to pace yourself, and where it’s going to be over soon.”
Lewis eventually broke away from the pack in both races, cruising to victory in each and showing that, even though it’s the winter, he hasn’t lost his dominant streak.
“I sat in second of third place for most of the race, so I could just let the leaders do the pacing,” Lewis said of the 3,200. “Then, I just went off in the last three or four laps.”
Lewis added a third victory when he, along with Joshua Green, Jonas Kinsey, and Michael Payano won the 4 x 400-meter relay in 3:47.64. Green also won the 1,000 in 2:40.15 and the 600 in 1:28.05, needing to come from behind to notch both victories.
Green’s 1,000 victory featured a down-to-the-wire battle with Bayport-Blue Point’s Kevin Lessing, who finished second in 2:40.53. Lewis passed Lessing, who had been leading, with 200 meters left, only to be thrust into second again by Lessing with 150 meters left. But Green used a final bit of energy on the final straightaway to sneak to the finish line first.
“I was just testing to see where he was,” Green said. “ . . . I was pretty confident [when he passed me]. I was just thinking, ‘do your best, and whatever happens, happens.’ ”
Mount Sinai won the team championship with 101 points. Bayport-Blue Point was second with 66. Mount Sinai’s Kenneth Wei won the 55-meter hurdles in 7.95 seconds.
Babylon’s Evan Parise won both the 55 meters in 6.86 seconds and the 300 in 38.48.
“I had a good start, picked up speed and at the end, it was close so I just leaned across the finish line trying to beat him,” Parise said of the close 55 finish with Greenport’s Max Pasko (second in 6.97).
Southampton’s Sebastian Pereira won both the long jump (20 feet, 111⁄4 inches) and triple jump (46-0).