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Sean Lewis takes on distance running and a career in graphic design

Photo Credit: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Damascus Christian graduate Sean Lewis poses at the ticket window at Providence Park. He moves into a condo across the street later this month. Sean Lewis is in the record books for running short distances. Zipping down a straightaway while jumping over waist-high hurdles. No problem. Flying around a lap with a baton in his hand and his teammates cheering. Sure thing.

Now, Lewis is tackling a whole different challenge — distance running.

It’s like a super hero discovering he can lift skyscrapers and has X-Ray vision, too.

“Running distance is something we would also razz him about, and now here he is making the switch,” said Dr. Bill Wood, a history professor at Point Loma — a private school in San Diego where Lewis graduated in 2013. “He has this ability to balance all these different aspects. He just has a great spirit about everything.”

During a recent visit to San Francisco, Lewis figured an afternoon jog would be a good way to take in the sights. What he expected to be an hour-long excursion soon became an 11-mile adventure as he moved among the city’s landmarks.

He has gone on to complete a pair of half-marathons this summer and will be among the throng of runners taking on the Hood-to-Coast challenge this weekend.

“I remember when I first started, I’d go out for five or 10 minutes and be bored. I tried pump-up music to get me going. It was a struggle at first, but I find it relaxing now,” he said.

Lewis was a standout track athlete at Damascus Christian, scoring 158 points in his four seasons with the Eagles. He powered the school to 1A team titles twice and to runner-up finishes his last two seasons. Lewis remains the small-school record holder in both hurdle events.

His clocking in his final high school race was so fast that coaches at NAIA Point Loma feared they would lose him to a bigger college. But Lewis honored his commitment and went on to a stellar career with the Sea Lions.

As a rookie he was the only member of the team to score at Nationals.

By the end of the next season, he was a four-event conference champion.

Then came his junior year.

He was in the qualifying rounds of the 400-meter hurdles with whispers going around that Lewis and his teammate and friend Eddie Morrow were on their way to pulling off a rare 1-2 finish.

“I was feeling the pressure,” Lewis said. “I was kind of a head case going into it.”

The distractions were about to get more difficult when Lewis cheered his buddy in the semis only to see Morrow crash into the third hurdle and miss his spot in the finals.

A few minutes later, it was Lewis’ turn.

“I remember being so devastated about my friend, that I was still thinking about that as I was getting into the blocks for my race,” Lewis said.

He was able to regain his focus as the starting run was raised. Lewis won his qualifying heat and went on to set a school record with a win in the finals — coming up just a few tenths short of qualifying for that year’s Olympic Trials.

“He’s one of those guys who is going to give maximum effort in everything he does,” Wood said. “You would watch him in the relay, and if it was anywhere close he would run you down. He threw a fury into it.”

Photo Credit: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Sean Lewis expresses his artistic side through writing and painting.

His senior season failed to produce the same elite level of success.

“I couldn’t find a rhythm — my timing just seemed to be slightly off,” he said.

But it was a track meet that guided him to his future career path.

Traveling to Eugene to compete at the Oregon Relays, he applied for a job with a Portland ad agency. Shortly after graduation he found himself doing graphic design and web development work along the waterfront at the Sasquatch Agency.

“I see myself as artistic and a tech guru, so this is a good mix,” Lewis said. “The ad agency is a fun, playful environment. I’m able to be creative with things that people can easily access.”

When he’s not enhancing websites, he expresses his creative side through writing and painting.

The 23-year-old has also enjoyed the chance to return home with family. He is staying at his parents’ house while waiting for his condo across from Providence Park to come available at the end of the month.

“I formed a great community in San Diego — it was such a tight-knit group,” Lewis said. “But my brother Ryan has a 2-year old, so this was a chance to come back and be with family — to be uncle Sean.”

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