Lee Berube, a Ti High graduate who is now a senior at SUNY-Geneseo, finished second in the NCAA Division III cross country national championship race in Oshkosk, Wis., Nov. 18.
Lee Berube was a thousand miles away racing for a national championship, but Ticonderoga High School was filled with cheers as he battled stride for stride to the finish line.
Berube, a Ti High graduate who is now a senior at SUNY-Geneseo, finished second in the NCAA Division III cross country national championship race in Oshkosk, Wis., Nov. 18.
Coming from way behind, Berube caught eventual winner Ben Sathre of St. Thomas College of Minnesota with about a mile to go. The two exchanged the lead several times before Sathre pulled away in the final meters for the win.
Back in Ticonderoga, family and friends cheered and cried as the tense race unfolded on a large video screen in the high school. Chants of “Lee Berube! Lee Berube!” rang out as the Putnam resident caught the leader. The gathering then fell mostly silent as the stress of the last mile reached across the webcast. Finally, tears and disappointment gave way to pride.
Sathre won the five-mile race in 23 minutes, 44.27 seconds. Berube was second in 23:49.6. It was a blistering pace; one of the fastest in the history of the championship race. Berube’s time would have won the 2010 championship by nearly 40 seconds. His time was a personal best for the distance by nearly a minute.
“He ran a great race,” said Jay Wells, Ticonderoga assistant track and cross country coach, who ran in the national championship race himself a decade ago. “He gave it everything he could, just as I expected. He should be happy with his race.”
Berube is pleased, although not totally.
“Initially, I was disappointed,” he said after the run. “But being second in the country is a big accomplishment. It’s something I can look back on and be proud.”
Sathre sprinted to the front of the pack at the gun. Running a 4:30 first mile, he opened up 100 yards on the field. Berube ran with the pack the first two miles, expecting the rabbit to die. Sathre never did.
“I figured he’d come back to us; I didn’t think he hold that (pace),” Berube said. “At about two miles I decided I had to go get him.”
Berube made his move alone, leaving the pack behind and making it a two-man race. He knew Sathre would be tough to beat.
“He finished second (at the national championship) last year and was undefeated this year,” Berube. “He’s a really strong runner. I knew it was going to be a battle.”
“We just ran together that last mile or so,” Berube said. “I’d make a little move and he’d make a move. We traded the lead three, four, I don’t know how many times. It was a great battle — it was the most exciting race I’ve ever run.”
Adding to the excitement was the team race. Berube led Geneseo to the fourth place finish.
“That’s so cool,” Berube said of his team finish. “We wanted to show we were one of the best teams in the country. We did.”
Berube was named All America for his efforts. It’s the second consecutive season he’s been a cross country All America. He has also earned All America honors five times in track.
The runner-up finish at nationals capped a strong season for Berube. He won his third straight State University of New York Athletic Conference championship and his second straight Atlantic Region championship this fall.
Berube is coming home this week to celebrate Thanksgiving, then it’s the indoor track season. His first meet is in two weeks at Cornell University, where he hopes to run the 14:20 time for 5-kilometers needed to qualify for the NCAA indoor track championships.
Former Ticonderoga High School runner Josh Cook ran a 28:08 to finish 30th overall and lead North Country Community College Nov. 5 in the NJCAA Cross-Country Championships held at Holyoke Community College.
Cook, also a Putnam resident, set a personal best by 40 seconds.
The winner of the five-mile race was freshman Robert Allen, of the Community College of Rhode Island, with a 25:23.