One Utah State University researcher who is used to being recognized for his pioneering as a scientist is now being recognized for his success as an athlete. Utah’s “spider-silk man” will travel from Logan to California for the honors.
Randy Lewis is among five athletes who will be inducted into the fifth Caltech Athletics Hall of Honor Class at the institute’s annual scholar-athlete’s awards banquet in Pasadena, California.
A native of Powell, Wyoming, Lewis was familiar with hard work raising farm animals and wrestling on the high school team. After high school, Lewis was accepted to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
“Once I got out there, I connected up with the wrestling coach," he said. "It turns out that for very strange reasons we had a number of people who came out for the wrestling team.”
The next year the Caltech wrestling team won their first team championship. That would be followed by two conference titles in a row. Lewis was an individual champion all four years he studied at the institute.
In sports, Lewis said, there has to be a champion every year. What made it significant for him and his team was that Caltech prioritized academics significantly more than sports.
“For instance the basketball team we used to joke that a win for them was not to get doubled," he said. "If your advisor decided that you weren’t meeting your potential, then he could actually have you dropped from the team or at least suspended until your grades came back up.”
For most athletes, Lewis says getting your grades back up meant moving a GPA from 3.9 to a 4.0.
“There’s no doubt about it," he said, "it’s a brain school. You argue whether it’s the best or one of the best, but certainly when you look at the people that are there, they’re there because of their academics.”
Lewis says balancing wrestling and academics wasn’t easy, but the extra work is still paying off.
“Any outside interests certainly makes somebody a much more well-rounded person after they get out of there,” he said.
Lewis is the only Caltech Beaver to win titles at different weight classes 126 and 137 lbs. He was a two-time recipient of the Thomas W. Latham Trophy for ability, attitude, improvement and performance and was named Caltech’s Outstanding Athlete of 1972.