Stefans Lusis will run for Pacific Lutheran University in the fall. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Stefans Lusis will run for Pacific Lutheran University in the fall. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Stefans Lusis signs with PLU

Lusis is one of the top distance runners in Kitsap

KINGSTON — Bucs distance runner Stefans Lusis has signed on the dotted line. He’ll head to Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma in the fall to run for the Lutes.

But four years ago, he likely imagined a different path to college.

Lusis had been a runner at Kingston Middle School, but was actually more focused on basketball. He didn’t even run cross country as a freshman due to his commitment to his AAU team — he would later go on to finish second at districts in both his junior and senior year.

But his experience on the track as a freshman changed the trajectory of his athletic life forever. He quickly took to the talented group of senior distance runners on the team and wanted to follow in their footsteps.

“I really looked up to them, so I put my focus into following how they operated in practices and meets,” Lusis said. “My coach [Lee Willson] also has really gotten me to love the sport more and get better at it.”

It turned out to be a good decision. Lusis has won the league and district titles in the 3200-meter race the last two years and has made it to the finals at the state meet in both years as well. He also just missed out on a top 30 finish at the 2A state cross country meet his junior year.

It also landed him a spot at Pacific Lutheran.

Lusis said he enjoyed the campus when he visited last fall and he realized it was the place he wanted to be. He also cited head coach Adam Frye’s clearly demonstrated commitment to recruiting him as a reason to become a Lute.

“He was a lot more personal than some of the other coaches,” Lusis said.

With just a few weeks left of his high school career, Lusis is once again looking to qualify for the state meet in the 1600 and 3200 as he did last year. He recently ran a 9:58.62 in the 3200 (2019 season best) at the Shoreline Invitational, which indicates he is trending in the right direction.

“It’s my last race, I’m going to have to leave it all out there,” Lusis said.

Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at mkrulish@soundpublishing.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.