LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
At the Region IV-A track and field meet May 3, Stacey's 800-meter runner crossed off two items on her to-do list: best the school's 800-meter time and qualify for the state championship.
Sophomore Janae Lewis ran the 800 meters in 2 minutes, 26.37 seconds at the regional meet to advance to the 2010 Track and Field State Championships tonight at the University of Texas in Austin.
"This year, I realized if I want to get better and go to state I have to work harder and stop complaining and do what coach says because he knows best," she said. "I worked hard."
Stacey track and field coach Jeff Smith said Lewis seems to get better with each race.
He said the reason Lewis keeps improving is her dedication to training.
Following a successful freshman year that included setting a school record 800-meter run time, Janae Lewis set her mind to getting faster in her second year.
Her hard work included running track in the Amateur Athletic Union during the summer and her first attempt at cross country during the fall, while also playing volleyball and basketball.
Stacey's sole runner at state this year, Lewis said having goals to work toward is very motivating.
"I set a goal for myself every time I run, to beat the (school record)," she said. "That keeps me going."
"Janae understands the relationship between success and hard work," Coach Smith said. "A lot of people can run - if they happen to be born fast - a 100-meter or a 200-meter, but the 800-meter is probably the toughest race in track and field. It's a brutal race."
Lewis, daughter of Chief Master Sgt. Juan Lewis, 502nd Air Base Wing command chief, said the race is tough but she's finds a way to keep running.
"Your adrenaline kicks in a lot," she said. "You just have to keep running. My dad and coach Smith always give me the motivation to keep going."
Lewis said she prefers to be one of the two leaders in that critical finishing stretch.
"When you hit the last lap, you think about all the energy you have left," Lewis said. "That last 200, you have to kick it."
A few days before her most important race, Lewis admits she'll be nervous, but come race time she'll be ready.
"You just think about what you have to do, listen to your music and warm up," she said.
Lewis is entering as the sixth seed in the championship.
Smith has taken runners to the state championships a few years in a row now.
"It's a privilege and an honor," Smith said about Lewis' opportunity to compete at state. "Hopefully, this is just the beginning."