Long Island track and field aficionados were reminded how good Katherine Lee really is on Saturday night.
Even though she was never pushed in the girls’ 1,500-meter race at the Long Island Elite Track Invitational at St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington, the Shoreham-Wading River senior came within a second of breaking the meet and track record.
Not too shabby.
“This is just a workout for me to stay sharp for the state meet next week,” Lee said. “I feel like a meet like this, you want to do well to prove to yourself that you’re in shape and build up your confidence. But at the same time this isn’t the thing we’ve been working towards all season. It’s just something along the way that can help us to get to that point.”
Lee finished in 4 minutes, 35.81 seconds, slightly more than a second behind the record set by Holy Trinity’s Coleen Schmidt (4:34.80) in 2010.
Lee had no problems in the race, leading Oceanside’s Andria Scaglione (4:42.69), who finished second, and the rest of the pack from virtually start to finish.
“She had a different goal today; that was to break the 1,500-meter county record,” Shoreham co-coach Paul Koretzki said. “But if there’s no one with you, it’s very difficult to do.”
Lee bolted out early and within a few strides she was in the lead. Slowly, but surely the lead grew from seven to 10 to 15 meters.
“From the start, I just decided to take it out, go at my own pace,” she said. “I felt comfortable, not too slow for me. I just kept it at that the entire way, picked it up a little bit at the end to get my legs moving.”
Next week the Georgetown-bound Lee will have her legs moving a lot in the 1,000 meters at the state meet in Staten Island.
“A big goal of mine is to make All-State,” she said. “I don’t like to set my expectations too high. I know in the back of my head I have really, really high expectations. Some of that can be scary. So I just try to go easier on myself and understand this is high school track and I am going to be running collegiately and I want to have a good collegiate career. So, it’s always good for me to take a step back and say, ‘You know what? Do what you can in this race. Do the best you can because there’s always going to be another race.’ ”
Koretzki liked Lee’s chances.
“I think she can win,” he said. “We have to find out one more thing and that’s the weekend, who is going in the 1,000? There are three more trials from other sections. We’ll look at that this weekend and see if anybody is pushing down into the 2:50s or something like that.”
Lee turned out to be a gracious winner. After her competitors crossed the finish line, she went up to every runner and hugged them, also giving teammate Alexandra Smith (5:02.81), who finished ninth, a high five as well.
“It’s something that I do most of the time just because I know a lot of these girls,” Lee said. “Just talking to them before and after every race, seeing them over and over again throughout the season, they really become your friends. We support each other every race, good or bad. It’s something that I really appreciate just running here [on] Long Island. You get to know a lot of the other girls. They’re all great competitors.”
In other results:
Shoreham’s Rickie Casazza won the high jump (6 feet, 4 inches), Luke Rey took third in the 55-meter dash (6.63), Adam Zelin finished third in the 3,200 (10:07.00) and Daniel Montenegro was sixth in the long jump (19-10.25).
“It was a good race,” said Rey, who was injured for most of the season. “I didn’t expect to get third. My last time was 6.71 and I just got a [6.63] … The last week of the season, it was a good way to finish it.”
For Riverhead, the Blue Waves’ girls 4 x 800 relay team of Christina Yakaboski, Kristina Deraveniere, Olivia Pizzuto and Laryssa Olsen finished fifth (10:17.57), Max Solarz was sixth in the triple jump (41-6 3/4), Iyriy Denys tied for seventh in the pole vault (10 feet) and Yakaboski was seventh in the 1,000 (3:05.26).
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River senior Katherine Lee came within a second of breaking a meet and track record in the 1,500 meters Saturday night. (Credit: Bill Landon)