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Miles from home

Star sprinter’s transfer to UB leads to championships, records on the track

Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013

Updated: Friday, April 26, 2013 00:04

miles

Courtesy of UB Athletics

So far this season, junior sprinter Miles Lewis has set records and set the tone as the track and field team's leader. But he never would have started running if it weren't for being challenged to a race in middle school and catching the eye of a coach.

Junior track star Miles Lewis might not have ever become UB’s “top dog” if he hadn’t accepted a challenge in middle school.

A member of the track team challenged him to a race behind the school building. Lewis gladly accepted his opponent. He hadn’t just won the race, though; Lewis had caught the eye of the middle school track coach.

The coach approached Lewis, asked him to join the team and jumpstarted his career as an elite athlete.

As his track career progressed and offers to run at the collegiate level came in, Lewis was faced with a second challenge that would alter his life: Where would he attend college?

He originally committed to Virginia his senior year of high school, but Lewis began having second thoughts about going far from his home in Coram, N.Y.

“I just wasn’t ready to go away to school,” Lewis said. “I needed to be closer to home, so I ended up at Long Island University.”

Despite having success at LIU and being a part of the 4x100-meter Northeast Conference championship team in 2010, Lewis felt he belonged somewhere else. That’s when he got in touch with Buffalo men’s track and field head coach Perry Jenkins.

Jenkins recalls receiving an email from Lewis, telling him of his interest in transferring from LIU. Jenkins said Lewis was ready for a change and came to train at UB to see what the school was like.

Lewis, however, still had some second thoughts about venturing far from home. He thought of transferring to Northeastern, which is located in Boston, Mass. – closer to home.

Luckily for the men’s track and field team, he changed his mind at the last minute and decided UB would be the better fit for him – largely because of Jenkins.

“He’s just a really cool guy,” Lewis said. “I didn’t feel all the pressure that I did at a lot of other institutions, so I really wanted to come here once I got in touch with coach Jenkins.”

Lewis’ decision to come to Buffalo proved to be a crucial one for the Bulls. He became a star, winning the Mid-American Conference title in the 200-meter sprint and earning first-team All-MAC honors in 2011-12. He also got his name in the record books with his time in both the 100-meter and 60-meter dashes.

“I like that it’s pretty laidback here,” Lewis said of UB. “I like to not be too stressed out.”

Despite being a high-profile athlete and leader on the team, Lewis is described by teammates, coaches and family as easygoing.

Jenkins sees his relaxed sprinter as a role model for the younger athletes.

“He brings the best out of everybody,” Jenkins said. “Especially the freshmen because he’s the upperclassman of the [sprinters]. It’s good to have a role model for the freshmen and the high school kids coming in, and right now [Lewis] is their role model.”

Freshman jumper Austin Price said Lewis and the team bond away from the track as well – from having dinner together in the Student Union to going on team outings to Lasertron. Price describes Lewis as the nicest kid he knows and likens Lewis to a human encyclopedia when it comes to track.

Lewis has not always been passionate about track. Adria Lewis, his mother, said Lewis had a knack for running since a young age, but he’s had to develop his dedication and practice methods through the years.

“As time went on, he’s gotten more aware of everything that comes along with running,” Adria said. “Early on in his running, he probably wasn’t quite as dedicated to training as he is now.”

Lewis said he began to take the sport more seriously after winning his first meet during his junior year at Newfield High School. It was at that point his coaches recognized his talent and began to push him to further dedicate himself to track. Lewis attributes his love for the sport to one coach in particular: Newfield track coach Michael Granatelli.

“Coach Granatelli basically taught me everything I know,” Lewis said. “He kind of motivated me to stick with the sport. I didn’t really enjoy it at first, but he helped me find that love of the sport.”

Now Lewis is described by his teammates and coach as a dedicated athlete who is hard on himself and is always determined to be ready for competition. His hard work has been recognized, as he won the men’s track Top Newcomer Award last season.

Lewis is dedicated to academics in addition to athletics.

“I wish most of the student-athletes were like Miles,” Jenkins said. “He’s so dedicated and determined and so positive about being the best you can be as a student-athlete.”

Lewis credits the UB track program with not causing him any excess stress, adding he only wants to stress about academics.

Lewis’ parents attended all of his meets in high school, but with his transfer and move upstate, they’re not always able to watch him in person now. But Lewis still has his parents’ guidance with him when he heads out onto the track.

“They call me up every week before I run,” Lewis said of his parents. “They tell me I can be the best and not to worry about it, and they always give me support.”

Lewis’ transfer has turned out well for him and the Bulls. He has found happiness in Buffalo.

“Right now, he’s the top dog,” Jenkins said. “Not only on campus, but also in the conference.”

 

Email: sports@ubspectrum.com

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