Area athletes look to make history at newly expanded UCCS track and field program

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Photo - <p>Coronado's Jaydon Lewis will be running track for UCCS. He and five other athletes from Coronado High School signed ceremonial letters of intent to play their sport in college on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette</p>
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Coronado's Jaydon Lewis will be running track for UCCS. He and five other athletes from Coronado High School signed ceremonial letters of intent to play their sport in college on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette

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Quite regularly, Jaydon Lewis and his Coronado track and field team train alongside University of Colorado at Colorado Springs at Garry Berry Stadium.

So when the incoming freshman begins high jumping as a Mountain Lion this fall, he'll continue honing his craft at his old stomping grounds while a new indoor facility is constructed on campus.

"It will be very familiar for me," said Lewis, who was one of many Pikes Peak-area student-athletes to sign National Letters of Intent to the recently expanded track and field program at UCCS. "I live right down the street, so it's very nice not to have to go far away. I mean, I still have to get away from my parents and live in a dorm. I need the full college experience."

For years, UCCS didn't offer the full track and field experience, with a team fielding competitors in only the distance events.

Then came an announcement in September 2015 that called for an expansion of track and field, along with the additions of baseball and women's lacrosse.

Now, it's an entire track and field team that's finishing its first full season.

"Being in the RMAC, it's a distance powerhouse conference, so a lot of sprinters and throwers get overlooked," Mountain Lions co-coach Ross Fellows said. "That's where we've come along. Our big goal is to recruit our backyard as much as possible, and we want every good athlete in Colorado to get a phone call from us."

Fellows estimates that up to 25 student-athletes from the Colorado Springs area have signed with UCCS or will do so in the most-recent signing period and upward of 40 overall.

And just to think that a few years ago, these opportunities didn't exist.

"It just felt so right for me," Cheyenne Mountain sprinter Michaela Moore said. "I know a lot of the new recruits, so it'll be a reunion. UCCS has an amazing campus. It's home but it doesn't feel like it, just being enclosed in a beautiful campus. It's for the best, and it's really exciting to be part of a new program."

As a long-distance athlete, Fountain-Fort Carson's Matthew Schramm already fit the mold of the prototypical UCCS runner of the past.

The promise of competing on a complete team, along with some well-timed financial aid, was enough to keep Schramm close to home.

"One of my best friends runs the 400," Schramm said. "When I found out they were filling out all the events, not just long distance, I thought to myself how big this is going to get. I can see this team doing amazing things in the future."