The women’s track and field team has been off to an encouraging start with many of their athletes reaching individual milestones, and even making program history. While only two months into the indoor season, freshman Juleen Lewis has made a difference from the team while who competing in sprints and jumping events.
Lewis comes to URI by way of O’Bryant High School in Dorchester, Mass. where she enjoyed a stellar track and field career. Although the transition has been different for her, as it is for many freshmen leaving their hometown for the very first time, Lewis has quickly become an important part to her program’s success.
“It’s been a big adjustment for me,” Lewis said. “In high school, I did not do much lifting with my training, and the competition is way more advanced going against other athletes with great experience. It has been a big step up when it comes to competing every week and competing against people who are better than me, which was not really the case in high school.”
In her first ever season of competitive Division-1 track and field competition, Lewis was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Co-Performer of the Week on Jan. 24, and also named A-10 Rookie of the Week on Jan. 17. With high recognition of her ability early on in her career, Lewis is ecstatic about receiving credit for all of the hard work she has put in. However, she knows that this is only the beginning for her career in URI women’s track and field. Lewis has been able to quickly establish herself as one of the premier athletes on the team for the years to come.
“It makes me feel really good with how well I have been doing so far, and it’s motivational to me that I am not even close to my peak yet,” Lewis said. “I have so much more to accomplish, but I am really happy and thankful that I have been recognized for all the hard work I have put in this season. Going to practice, eating correctly, and doing everything I can to be the best version of myself has really been my key.”
One of the most significant accomplishments for Lewis came during her first indoor track when she broke the school record for the long jump (19′ 1.5″). She placed first in at the Beantown Challenge hosted by Harvard University and surpassed Pascale Delaunay’s (’04) previous record of 19′ .74″.
“I was surprised because I didn’t actually know the long jump record so when it happened I was like really? Wow,” Lewis said. “Right now my favorite event to compete in is the long jump because I am still just okay at it, as there is still stuff I need to work on so I can get better. I feel like so far I have been doing alright with it so that’s definitely my top event.”
Most recently Lewis placed first in the long jump, (18′ 10″) and second in the 60 meter dash, (7.72s) at the Coaches Tribute Meet this past Saturday where her team finished in second place overall. With the help of her teammates and coaches, Lewis has felt right at home since arriving here at URI.
“My coach (John Melnick) is very hands on with the team and always is open to hearing our thoughts and making sure that we’re all feeling well physically going into competitions,” Lewis said. “The team has also been very welcoming to me always feeding each other encouragement to become the best we can be, and keeping the end goal in mind. It has been great sportsmanship all around from the team.”
Lewis has honed her skill through her dedication, which head coach Laurie Feit-Melnick and Assistant Coach John Melnick believe is the reason for her hot start of what looks to be a promising career at URI.
“She brings a great work ethic, she is a good competitor,” Melnick said. “She works really hard, and that is important. I mean her performances don’t hurt, but that is the product of the hard work she puts into it. Things have really been moving in a positive direction, and she has filled some niches for us so we are really excited for her.”
This Friday Lewis and her team will visit Boston to compete in the Valentine’s Classic. Success at this upcoming meet could position Lewis and the Rams favorably for the Atlantic 10 Championships the following weekend, The prospects of adding another conference title to the program’s history is a primary motivating factor for Lewis and her teammates.
“Our team has been doing well and recently we have been doing so much better with each meet that progresses,” Lewis said. “I feel like we will win the A-10’s through competing the way we have been so far, and if we keep up the rate we have been moving at, I don’t know what the future holds.”