Katherine Lee said goodbye to the track at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood in characteristic fashion — as a winner.
In her final meet as a high school athlete on the 200-meter unbanked track, the Shoreham-Wading River senior blazed to victory in the 1,000 meters in the Section XI Championships Monday night.
Before that, though, Lee made her coach, Paul Koretzki, laugh, telling him, “I’m going to go out really hard and hope that they’ll forget about me.”
As if any runner could forget that she was running against Katherine Lee.
Lee has plenty of nice memories from her five years of running at SCCC, memories of races and championships won, laughs shared.
“It’s so sad,” she told reporters afterward. “You know, I really enjoyed racing here, seeing everyone, always having that common ground, having a love-hate relationship with Suffolk West. We’ve had positive experiences here. It’s been a bittersweet goodbye.”
Lee clocked a winning time of 2 minutes, 52.58 seconds, a personal-best by hundredths of a second, according to Koretzki. The second-place finisher, Mount Sinai freshman Kaitlyn Chandrika, was nearly a full seven seconds behind her.
Lee said, “The plan for the race was to go out hard and see what happens and although I didn’t run quite the time that I wanted to, I think that a race like this can show that I’m in good shape and hopefully, you know, with someone on my back on a banked track I can go a little faster.”
Elsewhere, Riverhead sophomore Christina Yakaboski was sixth in the 1,500 in 4:55.66.
The meet was a qualifier for the March 3 state championships to be run at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island.
An indoor state title is one of the few things that have eluded Lee over the course of her glorious high school career. Is she driven to win an indoor state championship?
“Not so much,” she said. “State titles are great, but I’m looking for [personal records]. I just want to try to better myself, and if a state title comes with that, that’s great and it would be very exciting, but I’m just trying to get myself ready for school and just stay in good shape and whatever wins come will come. We’ll see.”
In the meantime, Lee said she is excited about her post-high school career. She will run for Georgetown University and has a clock countdown set for Aug. 19, the day she will move onto the campus.
Lee has shown herself to be a good teammate. She anchored a 4×800 relay team that took third in 9:50.10. Juniors Francesca Lilly and Lexi Smith and sophomore Nicole Garcia ran the first three legs.
Smith, speaking of Lee, said, “She always pushes us to do better and we all admire her.”
Koretzki said this season is Lee’s to run for herself.
“Last season she was running for her team,” he said. “This season she’s running for Katherine. This is her year. She’s sacrificed enough.”
Photo caption: From left, Shoreham-Wading River’s Francesca Lilly, Katherine Lee and Lexi Smith following their 4×800-meter relay race. (Credit: Bob Liepa)