Interview 5 with Jonathan Lewis - February 23, 2003
This is the fifth in a series of interviews conducted by the staff of the ECCP. With us is Jon Lewis, our young (school wise) stud on the team. We have all been waiting for this time, for it is now our turn to ask question after question after question. To begin with, his high school and current P.Rs.
2 mile -- 9.21
1 mile -- 4.17
800 -- 1.58
5000 m -- 14.36.74
3000 m -- 8.11.50
3000 st -- 8.56.31
73rd at 2002 NCAA Cross Country Championships
What got you into running, how did this all get started?
It all started when I was a little boy, my dad would go on these runs and I would go with him. Then we did these fun runs, we weren't big time fun runs, but we did a couple.
How old were you?
I was in elementary school. Then I decided that I would run track in middle school.
Did you do any other sports besides running?
In high school I didn't, in middle school I played football, and I did summer league swimming for about 9 years. I couldn't do those as good. I was all right in swimming, but I was better in track.
So I heard that Kingwood sucks. Is that true or is it just Weidig.
This is false. It is just a rumor. People have this thing against Kingwood. They hate the top guys, they hate the studs. It was all the blue jean shorts.
One question that has been on everybody's mind about Kingwood, is not concerning you, but more of Weidig, and the nickname he had in high school. We are just curious if it is true or not?
He was before my time. I heard the nickname. That is something that is beyond me. I don't want to touch it. I touched it once. I don't want to touch it again. Not touching it literally (laughs). Talking about it.
Okay, what was it like your first year of college, adapting to the new lifestyle and training?
My first year?
Yeah, like your first cross season.
My first cross season was rough. I was living with Joe Lanzilotti and that was trouble. I got no sleep. I ran harder than I ever ran before. I decided to do this VO2 max test and Needum Steed so I was doing like 3 hard workouts in a row every week. And I was just mush. I was sucking in school, sucking in everything.
So what was your VO2 max you got your freshman year?
I can't remember straight off, I don't know what Prefontaines was, I remember that I was far off of that. I don't remember if I was in the 70's or 82 or something. I don't know.
Last year about track season was really when I guess we could say you "broke out" here in the college scene. You were redshirting outdoor and training for the steeple. What times were you running?
The first steeple that I ran was 9:17. And then I ran the next weekend, and I just wanted to kinda loaf it, because coach was already talking about taking my redshirt off. But then my old high school archrival, Villa Raul from Sam Houston was entered in the race and I was like, it is on. So I run a 9:11 and my redshirt came off.
This summer you left to go train up in Wisconsin. Tell us a little bit about that.
It was fun living with my old high school bud (Sam Jackson). We had some good times.
I heard the place you stayed at rivaled the Trackshack.
No, it surpassed the Trackshack. I am sorry to say.
Wow, how did it surpass the Trackshack?
Surpassing the Trackshack included, that uh, in the Trackshack the dishes aren't always piled up, and they take the trash out. There was like 10 trash bags on both floors of the place. They just take the trash out the container, set it next to it, and start filling it up again. But never take the other trash outside. The first night we were there, they had a huge party. And all the beer cans stayed in the same position on the kitchen tables, all over the house, the whole time I was there. The three months I was there. They never change positions. The floor was like a dirt colored brown. The shower came out in a little trickle and you had to splash the water on you. Where the shower would trickle, they had mushrooms growing on the base on the tile. I don't even know how the mushrooms got there. But they were inside this house. So it was like we were watering the mushrooms. And the shower was pink colored, but the only spot it was pink was were you stepped, the rest of the shower was brown. It was gross. And then the curtains are all glued together with mildew, completely black. And the sink and all on the floor was covered in hair from when all of them went to nationals in track. They all shaved their heads, Spiker and them, and they never cleaned the hair up the whole time. So you would step on hair, and you would have hair tracking you somewhere. It was bad.
So what was your mileage this summer?
My miles this summer was about 65-70, but that was badger miles. We counted all our runs at 7 minute pace. Say we want to do 10 miles, we would go run 70 minutes. But it was probably more actually be like 11-12. So you can really add on about 1-2 miles each day of the week to my total mileage. It would be I was doing more like 80 miles a week, or maybe a little more. We were probably averaging all our runs about 6 minute pace, 5:50.
So onto this year in cross. We qualified as a team again, first time since 1999. And we did this with our number 1 and 2 runners both being hurt over the summer and not being at full strength throughout the season. What do you think really lead to our team's ability to qualify for nationals?
We just pulled it together. We were an overall well-rounded deep team. And the chemistry was on the team this year. We have a whole bunch of studs on the team and we stepped it up and took care of business.
How is liver night?
You have the macaroni and cheese, kool-aid, and the fried liver. At first it was so-so, but then I became addicted to it, it was good. I put some ketchup or some bar-b-que sauce on it. Some good stuff.
Throughout the whole cross season, you were either our first or second man. But it always ended up your name being printed first on the newspaper whether you beat Andrew or not.
This is true, poor Andrew.
So how much money did you pay them off with?
(laughs) I didn't sleep with anybody.
After the Griak Meet, on the bus ride home, we had the annual hang-man competition. You were paired up with Joe. Y'all finished a respectable third, but got beat twice by the Trackshack. How does it feel to be bested by Heavy and Boga?
At first I though that y'all wouldn't have a chance. But it turned out that it actually was better to be lighter. If you weigh as much as me, you are going to be in trouble. Heavy and Cook were just tearing it up.
You have your nickname Big Daddy. How did that start?
It came from high school. Everybody in high school called me Big Daddy. I guess that it was from that I would always call my friends big daddy, like, "What's up big daddy." So they started calling me Big Daddy.
Our first meet of the year, at Seattle, we woke up Saturday morning, and you had no hair. By the end of the week, everybody except for one had their head shaved. What was the reasoning behind this?
It was time to get fast. Something to bring us together. I just wanted to see your head shaved Boga. Your hair was getting too long. I didn't want to be by myself. I think that is was a great thing. It brought us together, we had a great year.
Well, this week we are heading into conference for indoors. What are your goals in this meet?
My goals...qualify for nationals...(smiles) and take Lengenfeld's record down. I am going to have to hurt him.
Ahh...ole Scooter. What are you going to say to him when you beat his record?
I don't know about that. I don't want to count the chickens before they hatch, you know. To break Lengenfeld's record is no easy task, because that guy is a stud.
So far, what has been you most memorable race?
That last 3K before conference...Stanford last year. A lot of them, they stick in my mind a lot, could be just because I had one of my best races. Some of my toughest races were like nationals in cross, and Seattle was a pretty tough race. Heck, all the races this year was tough. Griak was real tough. Man, that course at Griak, that was a tough course. Very hilly course.
This might be a little early, you still have a few years left collegiately. Do you have any big plans when you are done with college?
I will see when the time comes to it. If I am at the level, I give it my shot. It has always been my dream to perform at that level, the Olympic level.
That would be awesome.
That would be sweet. Based on my times now, I am not at that level, but if I ever get to that level, which is possible, I have two more years, then I will give it a shot. I will kinda just play it by ear. Take it easy.
This is probably going to be the last year of the Trackshack. Any fond memories of that place?
I don't know. I have missed a lot of the good ones. People walking in naked, and sabotage. I have heard some good stories come out of there. Ummm, after regionals this year. That was a pretty good party (laughs). Their was some good ones my freshman year. My freshman year I didn't sometimes even make it to Trackshack, and sometimes when we finally did, I don't remember much of it. Umm, Kitty's wedding was fun too.
Okay, so what is your philosophy about dating other people on the team? I know some people say that they never will.
I mean, you are with those people all the time. Like they become your best friends, and it is just natural...you are just so similar, runners are so similar. They both sacrifice so much time. It is kinda just natural that people just start falling for each other. You spend a lot of time with people, you grow closer to them, it is just how it is.
All right, so why don't you say something nice about Megan?
(laughs) She can kiss good.
How is Chemistry treating you this semester?
Chemistry is rough. Don't take three sciences in the same semester. It makes it seem like you are taking 18 hours instead of 12. But uh, one can do it. Just remember, Boga and T. Sav have done it. Boga last year. Boga is definitely not hitting it this year, but it's all good.
One of the little quirks most of us have noticed at the end of your races is the very noticeable head nod and sometimes the occasional yell. Can you explain to us what this head dip does to you?
It means that, you are signifying that...One it is signifying to yourself that it is time to let it go and hold yourself accountable because sometimes you just don't feel like putting it on the line the last 400, you are dead, you have to get up for it. I gets me up for it, from knowing that it is time to go.
What is your favorite sport to watch on TV or in person or anything?
Besides track, it would be football.
Okay, one final question, if you are stuck in the mud, should you put your Jeep in 2WD or 4WD?
Man, it was in four-wheel drive.
Ummm, you sure?
Man, was Chris Lee was mad at me. He was covered in mud.
There were five or so of us back there pushing, and we all ended up covered in mud.
I thought that I could do it. Joe was in the car with me, and he said don't go in the ditch. But I though that I could do it.
By the way, Megan is more than just a good kisser. She is a special girl to me.
I will stick that in there.