SMALL SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIP
There are runners who cross the finish line after a race and can barely stand. The look of exhaustion on their face says it all. Some simply collapse onto the track after the finish line before regaining the strength to walk again.
Then there are runners like Katherine Lee.
Moments after she crossed the finish line as the winner of the 1,500-meter race Saturday — her second victory of the day — the Shoreham-Wading River freshman sensation smiled, high-fived a fellow runner and looked as if she had barely broken a sweat.
After all, she still had one more race to go.
“I’m tired,” Lee admitted after running the anchor leg of the 4 x 800 relay. “But I’m happy with myself so that kind of cancels it out.”
Lee’s two victories — in the 3,000 and 1,500 — helped lead the Wildcats to a tie for second place in the small school county championship at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood. Lee, a state champion during cross country season, became the first Shoreham girl to win two individual events at an indoor county meet since 2007. That year, Erin Hays — then a senior — swept the 3,000, 1,500 and 1,000.
Lee closed her meet on a relay team and ran the fastest split among the four girls on the team. Shoreham’s relay team took fifth in 10 minutes 15.2 seconds.
“I was preparing for a lot,” Lee said about the meet. “I was preparing for maybe a mental breakdown or too. But I ended up OK.”
There was no breakdown, only smiles for Lee.
She easily won the 3,000 in 10:29.53 with teammate Kaitlyn Ohrtman taking second in 10:40.75. Lee ran a slower time than she would have liked, but it was necessary to conserve energy for the 1,500, which came about an hour and 40 minutes later.
Without having anyone push her for the lead in the 3,000, Lee ran a smart race.
“Coach always tells us, it’s about points, not about your time,” Lee said.
That’ll change next week when Lee competes in the Section XI State Qualifier.
In the 1,500, Lee hung back in the pack for most of the race, and even got boxed in briefly. With 400 meters to go, Lee and McGann-Mercy junior Meg Tuthill were neck-and-neck for second with Harborfields’ Jamie Grossman still in the lead.
That’s when Lee and Tuthill began to make their moves. Just before hitting her final lap, Lee surged into first and never looked back, winning in 4:53.76. Tuthill maintained second and finished in a personal best time for the indoor season in 4:56.26.
Tuthill was hopeful that running on fresh legs might give her an advantage over Lee. But Lee was simply too strong down the end.
Mercy coach Collin Zeffer said he thought Lee helped pull along Tuthill to a faster time.
“I don’t think [Meg] would have been able to run as fast a time if Lee wasn’t there, which is good,” he said. “A little teamwork I guess.”
Tuthill also ran the 4 x 800 relay and the Monarchs’ team finished seventh in 10:16.84.
Shoreham sophomore Alexandra Hays had a big meet, finishing third in two events. She came in behind Lee and Tuthill in the 1,500 in 4:58.27 and also ran the 1,000 in 3:05.57.
Shoreham finished with 45 points, tied with Westhampton Beach for second.
Mercy sophomore Kaitlyn Butterfield was fourth in the 1,000 in 3:07.25.