This has been a year of change for Katherine Lee. With most of her teammate’s from last season’s dominant Shoreham-Wading River cross country team in college, she’s been left to her own devices — often training with the boys team or on her own. With colleges hot on her trail, Lee had the first half of her season interrupted by recruiting visits and the general stress of picking a college. She chose Georgetown in October.
But with all that change, here’s one thing that hasn’t — her dominating speed. Lee is still faster than most high school girls in the country, and she’s as determined as ever to prove it.
Lee finished second at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional, running the 5-kilometer Van Cortlandt Park course in 17 minutes, 50 seconds Saturday morning in the Bronx. The finish qualified Lee for the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championship, scheduled for Dec. 9 at Balboa Park in San Diego, California.
“I just wanted to qualify,” Lee, who won her third public school state Class B championship on Nov. 11, said. “I’m having a pretty difficult season, so near the end of the race when I realized I had reached the goal, I just cruised in on the final straightaway, finished it up, and got the job done.”
Marlee Starliper of Pennsylvania Northern York won in 17:47.5. Despite all the outside distractions, she was the only girl faster than Lee.
“It’s awesome,” Lee said of qualifying. “It really makes me excited to see what I can do, not only with the rest of this year, but in college. Through something pretty difficult, I’ve been able to meet what I think was my biggest goal of the season. I’m really excited about that.”
Lee won the New York race at the Nike Regional last season and finished 10th at the competing shoe company’s national meet in Oregon, but she decided to try Foot Locker this season.
“I just came here for a different experience,” Lee said. “I wanted to try everything out and not have to do the same thing over and over again. I went to Nike last year and it was an amazing experience, and, although I wish I could have it again, I thought it was important to do Foot Locker Nationals out in San Diego, see a new course, and see how a different company could put on a different nationals.”
Lee said she had to push through the difficulty of the Van Cortlandt Park back hills, the most mentally taxing part of the course.
“They can take a lot out of you,” Lee said. “Even though your body is able to recover, you have to make sure that your mind does, too. You’re telling yourself the whole time that you’re going to get through it.”
Sacred Heart’s Maggie Maier placed 19th in 19:10.2.