Culver grad Lewis shines in first decathlon

by: LARRY LAWSON/PORTLAND STATE - The hurdles are not his strongest event, but former Culver grad Nevin Lewis scored enough points in the event to help push him to Portland State's second highest decathlon score in school LARRY LAWSON/PORTLAND STATE
 - Lewis has one more attempt at scoring enough points to get into the NCAA national meet.To many at the Mondo Mid-Major Challenge, Nevin Lewis was a bit of an unknown. But he has a way of getting people's attention.

The Culver grad and former Portland State football standout turned more than a few heads April 12 in Sacramento, Calf., doing what he does best. Lewis won his debut in the decathlon and has put himself in position to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships next month.

"It was an eyeopener for me," Lewis said. "It showed me some things I need to work on. It definitely gave me some good ideas."

Lewis scored 7,268 points over the 10 events to secure first place by 199 points. It also earned him the Big Sky Co-Field Athlete of the Week award and put him in some stellar company. His 7,268 points rank second all-time at PSU, trailing former NCAA All-American Nick Trubachik.

His score was also the best in the conference by 600 points and put him at 15th in the nation, an important place, since the top 24 scores qualify for the NCAA Championships.

But than none of this is a susprise to anyone that knows Lewis.

"I'm not suprised at all," Culver High track coach Mike Dove said. "He is just one of those guys that can do anything."

Lewis' exploits at Culver are legandary in Central Oregon.

He was a four-year letterman in three sports, quarterbacked the Bulldogs to a state title in football in 2007 and a return trip to the title game the following year. All-league in basketball, state champion in high jump, the list goes on and on.

And he did the same at PSU.

Lewis played football for the Vikings for four years and led the team in receiving yards and all-purpose yards during his senior year in 2012.

He had every intention of competing in both football and track at PSU, but a new football coach put the kibosh on that.

When he injured his back and didn't get the interest he was hoping for from the NFL, he turned to track and field.

"He has always been that level of athlete that could easily navigate the various events involved in a decathlon if given the opportunity," PSU track coach Ronnye Harrison said.

With one science degree already in hand, Lewis is undertaking a second degree, this one in civil engineering. And he heard that he could still have some NCAA playing time.

"We looked into it and found out that I still had a year of eligibility left," Lewis said. "I was fortunate that we were able to work something out."

Lewis competed in the heptathlon during the indoor season and finished fourth at the Big Sky Championships. Not too shabby for his first year in the event.

Lewis could become PSU's first national qualifier since Trubachik qualified in the decathlon in 2010. But there is work to be done, he said.

While he was at or near the top in seven of the 10 events, he struggled in the long jump and 110-meter hurdles. Those are key areas he wants to improve before his next and final shot at clinching a spot at the NCAAs.

"We reorded everything, so I can go back to look at things," Lewis said. "I'm taking the necessary steps and working on the hurdles."

While impressive for a first decathlon, Lewis said he knows his 7,268 will most likely not get him to the championship meet. To ensure being in the top 24, a score of 7,600 will be needed, he said, but he'd like to hit close to 8,000 points just to make sure.

His final chance comes May 14-17 at the Big Sky Conference meet at Northern Arizona University. And despite a bad hamstring that has limited his ability to compete more, he is determined to make it.

"It does kind of put the pressure on me, but that's just how it works," Lewis said. "It's my last opportunity and I want to make the most of it. It's been a little bit of a struggle, but worth it."

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