Matthew Lewis had four things written down:
t Conference champ a
t Region champ a
t Sub 50 a
t Top three at state a
The LaRue County standout ran 49.32 at the Class 2-A state meet to finish second, one better than the goal.
“It’s crazy to think about that day,” he said. “It really was a dream come true. I’m not satisfied, though. I have more work to do next year. It’s pretty cool knowing that I accomplished my goals. The biggest thing I wanted to do was to be comfortable knowing what I needed to do and then going out and doing it.”
That run also was four places and 1.76 faster than the previous season.
“I worked pretty hard this season to get there,” Lewis said. “I pushed harder than I ever had before and I know that has to increase next year. Every day I had to grind to get where I needed to be.”
Lewis has been selected the Area Athlete of the Year in an incredibly close vote. He received 15 points and two first-place votes from area coaches and The News-Enterprise sports staff. Elizabethtown’s Bryan Herringshaw was second with 13 points and two first-place votes, while Panthers teammate Ryan Hawkins and North Hardin’s Darion Moton were tied for third with 12 points each. Moton had two first-place votes. Central Hardin’s Tre’Jean Sanders was fifth with 11 points and a first-place vote. Fort Knox’s Jatarrius Battle also received a first-place vote. There were 10 nominees.
“I’m pretty excited about this honor,” he said. “It’s been a great season. I have a great coach and great teammates and a great community that supports me. I couldn’t do it without them.”
Lewis also ran the 100 (14th, 11.34) and the 200 (16th, 23.72) at the state meet.
“I started running the 100 this year to get ready for the 400,” he said. “That race helped me get loose before the 400. I’m glad I decided to run the 100.”
Lewis owns seven school records — 100 (11.28), 200 (22.62), 400 (49.32), the indoor 60, indoor 200, indoor 400 and he was a member of the 4x100 relay.
“That’s pretty amazing,” he said. “It’s pretty cool that I’ve been able to do that.”
This coming from someone who had to be talked into running track.
“In the seventh grade my middle school coaches and my dad told me I needed to run to help me prepare for football,” Lewis said. “I didn’t want to do it. I was hesitant. I tried it one time and when I went out there I ended up loving it. It’s now my favorite sport. I now have plans to run track in college somewhere and if you would have told me that five years ago I probably would have laughed.”
Lewis qualified for the state meet as a sophomore, where he ran 51.08 in the 400 and was a member of the 4x100 and 4x400 relay squads. He qualified with the 4x400 team as a freshman.
“I fell in love with the sport and it’s funny because track is a fraternity of runners,” he said. “In a sport like football, it’s so intense, just like basketball can be also. Track is just a cool sport because you can run against someone and, win or lose, you can be friendly right after the race and talk with them. It’s cool being able to run against people you are really close with. I don’t know of any sport like that.
“What’s cool about it is once you’re done running, if you get beat or beat someone, you can get together and congratulate each other and say, ‘Good job man’ or something like that. It’s a very laid back sport in that way. But it’s also a hard sport because you have to put in a lot of work. You have to grind to get better. At meets, you have time to chill out and get mentally prepared, run your event, and then chill and cheer on everyone else.”
What’s next for Lewis is adding to his resume — running the 800.
“I’m running in an AAU summer league and my coaches there are trying as well to get me to run it at least one time,” he said. “I might end up trying it before next season. The 400 is a pretty rough race. But then I think that if I’m able to run one lap in a minute and then run the next lap in a minute, that would be a really good time in the 800. I’ll probably practice it and see how I feel about it.
“The thing about the 800 is, I don’t want to regret not doing it and wonder if it would have been something great. I’ll try everything and see what I can be. I felt that way about the 400, too.”
Back in the day — in the eighth grade — Lewis “kind of just focused on the relays with three seniors when I first started.”
He was then given a suggestion.
“Coach said I should give the 400 a try,” Lewis said. “I dreaded it and each time it wasn’t a fast time, but I got better at it and I learned how to run it. There’s a strategy on how to run it and now I know how to train for it.”