John Lewis said he doesn't worry about the competition, choosing to focus on himself instead.
Judging from the performances the senior turned in Saturday at the PIAA championships, he did not have to think twice about anyone matching his awe-inspiring efforts.
Lewis set an all-time state record in his lone individual event and delivered the defining moment in the final track event of the weekend, the Class AAA 4x400-meter relay.
“No,” Lewis said when asked if the crowd at Seth Grove Stadium saw him at his best and fastest. “I never think about peaking or something. I just try to go out and run a PR.”
And the senior did just that in the 800. Roaring into the lead from the gun, Lewis pulled away from the other 11 finalists and cruised through an opening lap in 51 seconds.
Filled with four of the next six fastest of the 2015 outdoor season, the chase pack tried to close a sizable gap, with Fox Chapel's Elias Graca making the first move toward Lewis on the backstraight of lap 2.
However, Lewis kept his challengers at a safe distance and gathered himself for the drive to the finish as the clock rolled over to the 1:40s. With the crowd voicing its appreciation of his work, he reached the finish in 1 minute, 48.72 seconds to rework a pair of state records and improve on his US#2 position.
“I wasn't really focused on them,” the winner said of the late-race challenge to his place at the front. “I just like to run my race.”
The effort by Lewis erased the 1:48.82 by Drew Magaha in 2012 as the fastest ever by a Pennsylvania prep. The Cheltenham standout's time also displaced the state meet record of 1:49.31 by Tom Mallon in 2010.
“I have a month of training left (before New Balance Nationals Outdoor) so we'll see when the time comes, see how I do,” he said of predicting a faster time later this summer.
Lewis dropped his PR from a 1:49.15 at the District 1 final, but he wasn't the only finisher to make waves nationally as his pursuers also are among this year's top 800 runners. Runner-up Alek Sauer of Pennsbury is now PA#2 and US#7 with his 1:51.00, while Dylan Eddinger of Boyertown is PA#3 and US#10 at 1:51.19 and Graca is PA#6 with a 1:51.97.
Less than an hour later, the Clemson signee lifted the Panthers into the lead and to victory in the 4x400. With the top spot changing hands throughout the opening three legs, Lewis got the stick in second and blasted into the lead on the backstraight, ultimately clocking a 46.0 split in Cheltenham's US#6 3:13.44 victory.
“No, I'm used to recovering quick,” Lewis said of his ability to be ready to anchor the 4x400 after setting a state record in the 800. “I'm good with recovering, so I was ready.”