Calm ‘Cat

Lewis helps Fruita claim title at Phil Wertman Invite

Fruita Monument’s Chloe Brown leaps 15 feet, 3½ inches in the long jump Friday during the Phil Wertman Invitational at Stocker Stadium.



It was just a simple question from Chuck Bisbee to Fruita Monument teammate James Lewis: “You’re the No. 1 long jumper in the state ... do you ever get nervous?”

Lewis’s response: “Being nervous is a waste of time.”

Once again on Friday at the Phil Wertman Invitational, Lewis decided to discard the nerves that often rattled his muscles before this season.

Once again, as he went through preparations for the long jump, being calm was a decision. Of all the nuances involved in long jumping, Lewis distilled all of them except a focus on hitting the board. Lewis and Central’s Kenny Chase went 21-7 1/4 inches to win the long jump.

Lewis also won the 200-meter dash in 22.71 seconds.

Bisbee, meanwhile, took third in the 800 run (2:01.79), scratching from the 1,600 and 3,200 runs, his typical strengths, to make sure he’s at his peak at the end of the season.

Fruita Monument won yet another area meet with 138 points, to second-place Grand Junction’s 110.5 and third-place Montrose’s 94.

And Lewis wasn’t the only ‘Cat wild on jumping. Fruita’s Landon Myers and Tony Vasquez took first and second place, respectively, in the triple jump.

Also, Josh Schweihart won the 400 dash for the Wildcats in 52.25.

Grand Junction won the girls division with 117.33 points, followed by Durango (106) and Fruita (87.5).

The Tigers’ Jamie Derrieux won the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and sprinted a leg in two winning relays — the 800 (along with Sabrina Trujillo, Whitney Jackson and Sydni Brandon)  and 400 (Trujillo, Jackson, Emily Robbins).

Lewis, who will sign a national letter of intent May 2 to run track at Colorado School of Mines, has the top Class 5A long jump this season with his 22-foot, 9-inch leap in the Mickey Dunn Invitational on March 24. The top all-classification jump is Widefield’s Tony Carodine’s 23-4 1/2.

“I used to get all jittery (before a long jump),” Lewis said. “Then I just decided it was a waste of time. It’s just a mindset of being relaxed.”

Ridding nerves isn’t easy for many. Lewis tosses nervousness aside like an apple core.

His mature mindset and self-control impresses teammates.

“He’s just a quiet leader,” Bisbee said. “We were staying at a hotel in Denver (for a meet) and he was doing homework. Like, dude. He’s definitely someone you can look up to as a person. And he’s also a good athlete.”

When Lewis was a sophomore, Fruita coach Tom Goff decided to see what his sophomore long and triple jumper could do in the 200 dash at the Southwestern League meet. Sure, Lewis said, he’d try it out. Goff remembers Lewis placed second.

A sprinter was born. But it wasn’t a pretty debut.

“I just stood up right out of the blocks,” Lewis said.

It wasn’t until this season that Lewis actually began practicing another track and field art — bursting out of the blocks.

But despite his desire to keep everything simple, like focusing on just the board, Lewis notices mistakes afterward. On Friday, after sprinting the anchor leg of Fruita’s 400 relay team — finishing up legs run by Vince Grasso, Schweigart and Derek Winstanley — Lewis crouched, smacked the baton on the track and put his hands on his head.

Sure, Fruita won.

But Lewis only cared that he’d clasped the baton with his right hand, not his left.

Speaking about the blunder afterward, Lewis’s voice remained calm. He laughed a bit. Ease drenched his face.

Who has time for nervousness?


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