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SWR’s Katherine Lee verbally commits to Georgetown

Shoreham-Wading River High School’s cross country and track and field star, Katherine Lee, had a teaser for Julie Culley, Georgetown University’s director of track and field/cross country, earlier this week. During Lee’s conversation with the coach, the senior said, “I’ll be having some good news for you later this week, but I can’t say anything right now.”

It was only after having let coaches at Stanford and Villanova know that she would not be attending their schools that Lee made another phone call to Culley on Friday morning, letting her know she had made her college choice: Georgetown it is.

Lee has verbally committed to accept a full athletic scholarship and run cross country and track for the Hoyas.

“It’s just an amazing place,” Lee told the Riverhead News-Review. “For me to say that I’m going there is such an honor for me. I’m so excited. I think it’s going to be an amazing time. I’m just excited to go there and do as good as I can.”

At Georgetown, Lee will run for Culley, who herself was the 5,000-meter champion at the 2012 Olympic Trials and competed in the London Games that year.

Lee had visited all three schools, but Shoreham coach Paul Koretzki sensed she had been leaning toward Georgetown. “That’s where I wanted her to go,” he said. “I think it’s perfect for her.”

Koretzki said Lee will be a difference-maker at Georgetown.

In Lee, Georgetown gets a national-caliber runner with tremendous versatility. She can run competitively anywhere from 800 to 5,000 meters. “That’s a big range,” said Koretzki.

Last year Lee became the first Shoreham girl to run in a national cross-country meet, according to Koretzki, finishing 10th in the Nike National Championship in Portland, Ore. She also won Suffolk County, New York State Class B and Nike regional championships in a junior cross-country season that Koretzki said was “almost perfect.”

Lee, a three-time Riverhead News-Review Athlete of the Year award winner, saw her winter track season cut short by injury, but still led the Wildcats to their 14th indoor county championship. At the Millrose Games trials, she was part of a 4×800-meter relay team that won in a school record time of 9 minutes, 18.12 seconds. Lee ran the 1,600-meter leg for Shoreham’s distance-medley relay in the Zeitler Relays as Shoreham won in 12:15.87, which Koretzki said at the time was the fastest time in the nation for the year as well as a school record. Lee also set a county indoor record in the 3,000 at the Art Mitchell Invitational, clocking 9:37.77.

Last spring she set two county records in the state championships, coming in second place in the 3,000 meters in 9:26.78 and third in the 1,500 in 4:23.48.

For Georgetown, successfully recruiting an athlete like Lee is like winning the lottery.

“She’s almost a perfect teammate, in all honesty,” Koretzki said. “The first practice this season, she took it upon herself to take the first-time runners out in the woods” for a training run.

Lee visited Georgetown twice. Her official visit to the campus in Washington, D.C., was last month. She said when it was time for her to return home, she wanted to stay.

“It’s just a special feeling being there,” she said. “Being in the city, there’s so much energy.”

Next year Lee will become the sixth Shoreham girl to actively run at the NCAA Division I level. Four Shoreham graduates — Allie Hays (Columbia), Payton Capes-Davis (Bucknell), Amanda Dwyer (Monmouth) and Maria Smith (Marist) — are college freshmen. Former Shoreham runner Kaitlyn Ohrtman is a sophomore at Iona.

“It was awesome just to have so many options open to me, although it was difficult to say no to two other great schools,” Lee said. “I got a lot of input from a lot of people, but mainly what they said was you can’t choose wrong. They’re all great places.”

Photo caption: Katherine Lee competes at the Nike Cross Nationals last year. (Credit: Kyle Brazeil/MileSplit NY)

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