What began as a dream a little over six years ago for Raynesha Lewis became a reality on Monday at Cahokia High School.
The versatile track and field athlete has given a verbal commitment to attend and compete at the University of Nebraska beginning later this summer. Wearing a red and while Nebraska t-shirt and red Nebraska sweat pants, Lewis was expected to make it official later on Monday by signing with the Cornhuskers.
“I guess I started doing track in the sixth grade so its been six years of hard work to get to this point. It’s nice to see that all of the hard work has paid off. I’m excited to be going to the University of Nebraska,’’ Lewis said. “It’s a great place and a place where I feel like I’ll have the chance to push myself to my full potential as a college student-athlete.’’
Lewis has been the ultimate student-athlete at Cahokia. A good student in the classroom, Lewis has been a vital cog for a Comanches track program which will go for a third straight Class 2A state championship this weekend at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.
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Lewis is an 11-time medal winner in her three trips to Charleston and has earned medals five different events. Lewis will compete in the long jump, 100 meter hurdles and triple jump and also qualified in a sixth different event — the high jump — at the Class 2A Mascoutah Sectional on Friday.
Lewis had offers from several schools but visited only four, including Kansas and Indiana State. But from the time she arrived on the Nebraska campus, her decision was made.
“All of the schools I visited were nice, but I like Nebraska because it seemed like home,” she said. “Everybody was so nice and the facilities were everything an athlete would want. I watched them (track team) train and the opportunities which are available to the student-athletes are just tremendous. When it came down to it, the final decision wasn’t that difficult.’’
At Nebraska, Lewis will be reunited with former Edwardsville standout Kristen Dowell. The daughter of Cahokia girls track coach Roscoe Dowell, Kristen Dowell runs the hurdles for Nebraska and will be a teammate of Lewis for the next two years.
“I’ve known Kristen (Dowell) for a few years. We ran summer track together and when I went to Lincoln for my visit, Kristen was my guide for the weekend,’’ Lewis said. “It’s gonna be nice to already know someone on the team when I come in to start.
“I’m planning on majoring in psychology. I took some classes in high school and just really found it very interesting. When I talked to the academic advisors at Nebraska, they told me a lot of athletes major in psychology which made me feel good.’’
Lewis’ versatility makes her an ideal multi-event athlete at the college level. She may even be interested in attempting the heptathlon in the future.
“When they (Nebraska) were recruiting me they mentioned me doing multi events. I’m willing to try,’’ Lewis said. “I’ve never thrown the shot put and the javelin isn’t a high school event so I’ve never done it. We’ll see what happens.’’