Might As Well Jump…
Bismarck native Brandon Lewis is leaping for greatness at NDSU.
You played a few different sports growing up in Bismarck. How did you settle on track & field as the one to truly pursue?
I started doing track in middle school and I wasn’t very good at all so I didn’t even run my freshman year of high school. The head track coach at Legacy was subbing my PE class my sophomore year of high school. We were playing basketball and he went over and asked me if I wanted to do track. I said no because I had been so bad at it previously.
I was actually pretty adamant that I wouldn’t do track. Two weeks later, he ends up subbing us again. He had me come to his office and I was thinking I was in some big trouble or something. He just put down a document for me to sign and after I did he shook my hand and said I was on the track team. He kind of swindled me.
But I wouldn’t change anything about that because it got me to where I am now.
And what sold you on North Dakota State track & field specifically?
It was the coaches. My mind wasn’t really set on needing to compete for my home state or anything. My whole decision revolved around the coaching staff and how welcoming they were.
The first time I met [Don] Lars, it felt like I was talking to my grandpa. You could tell him anything and he’ll give you so much wisdom. He steered me to NDSU really and then I eventually met Clayton [Pritchard]. Knowing how his mind worked with how technical everything was and how young and relatable he is was big too. Having all that knowledge and relatability really helped me choose North Dakota State because the coaches are like family.
What were the biggest learning curves for you when coming to college from high school?
Well, freshman year was pretty difficult. I did not know how to do school whatsoever. I had to really dive deep and be diligent in my schoolwork initially. That meant taking designated study times, setting reminders and things like that. Coming here was a huge wake-up call for me because I had to become self- sufficient quickly.
The biggest thing is just trying to keep your mind open about things. Yes, you are working so hard and so often, but just because you’re working over and over and over again on specific things doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to improve overnight. That was a huge thing in my mind because I was a preferred walk on coming in. I kind of put a chip on my shoulder and felt like I needed to prove myself because I think I deserved this opportunity. I didn’t care what anybody else thinks, but I knew I deserved it.
When you work your butt off, you earn people’s respect. Once you earn respect from coaches, teammates and even other schools, stress is more easily managed. Sure, there may be a lot more stress because you want to be great, but it’s a lot more relaxing because you know what it is going to take to be great. It’s kind of up to you to decide if you want to be great or not.
You will learn how to subconsciously and cognitively feel and learn everything once you get here.
Where have you seen yourself improve the most? Has it been more of a mental growth or a physical one?
I think it’s both honestly. I’ll say more maturity-wise, right? Obviously, when you’re going through college, there’s a lot of stuff going on, you have to mature and have to deal with the consequences for doing certain things. I wouldn’t necessarily put that up against physical growth because they are very different.
Obviously, there are ups and downs to both of them, like injuries or mental illness. I know I’ve struggled in both of those categories and I’ve bounced back from both those categories. Having to learn how to balance, manage and cope with everything can be hard. Each day, I try and remember that today’s a new day and that it will be a great day. Keeping a positive attitude helps when you’re trying to balance all of these things.
Now that you have had time to reflect on the conference indoor meet, what do you have to say now? Not only did the team perform, but you were a conference champ as well.
That whole week leading up to it, I was having major calf issues. I was doing my nerve stretches the night before we were leaving, right? And it popped. My calf tightened up and I couldn’t walk the Friday before conference. We got to the hotel, we did our practice and I still couldn’t walk. I just went over to coach, sat down and just started bawling. I was so mad that I may have taken a spot from somebody else that would be able to go out there and succeed. There are so many people on this team that deserve that spot. I didn’t want to be the one to show up and not do anything. Coach just said that we would need to see how I felt in the morning.
If I could jump, I would, but we wanted to be cautious. That was the first meet ever since high school where I took all six jumps in the long. Having to go out and do that after the emotional breakdown I had was very challenging. I posted on Instagram that it was one heckuva roller-coaster week. Even after triple jump, I cried too, but it was just a surreal feeling given everything leading up to it.
What is next? What goals have you set for yourself that will allow you to succeed in the future?
I don’t know. I explained this to coach yesterday: winning for me isn’t necessarily everything. This is going back into the indoor season, but this was my first time in two years where I long jumped. At the first meet, I didn’t have a mark after two jumps. I knew I needed a mark, but I had jumped over 25 feet on my previous two jumps, I just fouled on them. I then got a decent mark and it ended up winning at the meet, but I didn’t really care about that. I cared about how I jumped over 25 feet multiple times.
Coming into any season, I want to have that mindset. I can jump 25 feet, I can jump these big marks, but I just need to get them officially registered as marks. That’s the next goal for me. Obviously, making regionals and nationals is the big goal every year. I want to get on that big wall inside the track facility and that gets done at those big events.
Hometown: Bismarck, N.D.
2020 Summit League Indoor Champion – Long Jump