Of all Duane Lewis’ coaching achievements, the most stunning might be his longevity.
Lewis has been the head boys track and field coach at Lynnwood High School since it opened in 1971. He added the role of head girls coach in 1976 and has kept both jobs ever since.
Lewis’ Lynnwood squads won two team state championships (girls in 1990, boys in 1994). His athletes have earned 26 individual state titles and 25 runner-up finishes.
Those accomplishments are the big reason Lewis will be inducted today into the Washington State Track and Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame. The ceremony is scheduled for noon at the Holiday Inn in Everett. Lewis is the first Snohomish County coach to enter the hall.
Lewis has a sense of humor about the honor.
“It’s something that I guess if you’re at it long enough, they give you something either before you can’t appreciate it and it turns up in the obituary section, or else you’ve been around long enough and they’re trying to get rid of you,” he said this week.
But Lewis, who is vacationing in Hawaii and won’t attend the ceremony, is appreciative. “It’s something your peers are recognizing you for and I think those are the most important,” he said.
A 1961 graduate of Shoreline High School, Lewis lettered in track and field three times at Seattle Pacific University. He was team captain his final season.
His legacy at Lynnwood — this spring will be his 38th season — includes three of his former athletes who are now high school track head coaches in the area: Jeff Page at Lake Stevens, Eric Hruschka at Jackson and Tony Perkins at Meadowdale.
Hruschka is a 1984 Lynnwood graduate. He said Lewis was tough on him but helped Hruschka reach his potential. “He’s just a master motivator,” Hruschka said.
Page, a 1973 Lynnwood graduate, competed in middle-distance races. He said Lewis “made track and field fun and he made it important. He coached us up and made us good and made us successful so it was something that we wanted to keep doing.”
Lewis, whose longtime Lynnwood assistant was Ernie Goshorn, was a master of evaluating talent and maximizing points in a meet, Page said. Page recalled competing in a late-season dual meet against Seattle Prep. Lewis shifted many Lynnwood athletes to new events, surprising everyone. But the strategy worked. Lynnwood won.
“Wow. How did he know? How did he do that?” Page remembered wondering after the meet.
Lewis’ Lynnwood teams have won 30 league and district championships. The boys won 58 consecutive dual meets from 1990-1997. The girls were unbeaten in duals from 1986-1991, a 44-meet streak.
One of Lewis’ favorite moments was when the Lynnwood girls won the 1990 state title in Tacoma. The Royals scored 49 points, seven more than second-place Rainier Beach. “That is always going to be a special team,” Lewis said.
The squad included his middle daughter, Krista, who was on crutches during the state meet because of a stress fracture, Lewis said.
While the awards are nice, they are not what bring Lewis back year after year.
“More than the honors, it’s just the relationships with young people,” said Lewis, who retired from teaching eight years ago. “You run into them from an academic point of view and an athletic point of view and they say, ‘You really made a difference in my life.’”
Writer Mike Cane: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam.