Lee Berube, a Ticonderoga High School graduate, will run at the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships in Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Calif., this weekend. He is a favorite in the 5,000 and 10,000-meter races.
As the semester nears an end so does one of the greatest athletic careers in SUNY-Geneseo history. Senior Lee Berube will run his final race in blue and white this weekend at the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships in Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Calif.
Berube is a Ticonderoga High School graduate and Putnam native.
Berube holds Geneseo records in the mile, 3,000-meter, 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter runs; he is a seven-time All-American and finished second overall at cross-country nationals this fall. For all intents and purposes, he’s the most accomplished Geneseo distance runner ever.
Cross-country head coach Mike Woods knew Berube’s potential while recruiting him out of Ticonderoga High School.
“The first memory I have of recruiting (Berube) was the day he called me in January (2007) and told me he was coming here,” said Woods. “That was a great day. I said, ‘Oh my God, I’m getting a really excellent runner, maybe a guy who could be the best runner ever’ and turns out he has been.”
Berube’s crowning achievement came at cross-country nationals on Nov. 19, when he led the men to a program-best fourth-place finish while coming in second in a time of 23 minutes 29 seconds, just five seconds off of the leader. Berube also has three Geneseo Invitational victories, three State University of New York Athletic Conference individual titles and two NCAA Regional individual titles on his resume along with endless praise from coaches and teammates alike.
“He’s brought so much recognition to the program, and I don’t feel like our program really needed any validation – I think it’s already considered as one of the best programs in the country – but he’s pushed it even further,” said Woods. “He has a way about him that endears people to him. He’s such a great guy and his brother Jesse (Berube) was exactly the same way.”
Interestingly, Jesse Berube may just be the forgotten piece when telling the story of his brother’s outstanding Geneseo career. After all, it was Jesse Berube who guided his brother to Geneseo back when he was a senior in high school.
“My brother and Lee Gabler both were teammates at Ticonderoga and decided to come here,” said Lee. “I was looking at places like Syracuse and Providence and Iona, but I came to drop Jesse off one day at a meet and got to go on a warm-down run with the team and I really liked the team atmosphere that they had here so it seemed like a perfect fit.”
Throughout his career at Geneseo, Berube separated himself with a relentless training regiment, a love for racing and a work ethic that Woods called “second to none.”
“I love racing, that’s a key thing. A lot of people don’t like to race. I see a lot of people scared of racing, and I just have a lot of fun racing,” said Berube. “I enjoy making the crowd really into it and seeing that they’re excited and pumped up about it. I love making myself hurt and seeing how fast I can go.”
Berube will compete at the track and field national championships in the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races, and stated that he hopes to capture titles in both.
“I wouldn’t put it past him. I think he can do it. It’s never who has the fastest time going in, it’s who has the fastest time on the day of the race and Lee understands that better than anybody because he’s been to so many competitions,” said Woods. “He has a shot to win both and he certainly has trained hard enough to win both.”
Upon graduation, Berube, a biology major, will attend SUNY Upstate Medical University for physical therapy and will train for the U.S. Olympic qualifiers in the marathon.
Berube said he is excited to begin the next chapter of his life, with his mind on his future as a physical therapist and not on the records he’s leaving behind – a humble and fitting attitude for perhaps the greatest Geneseo athlete of all time.
“Nobody remembers you for what you did however many years ago. That’s not the reason why you run; at least that’s not why I run,” said Lee Berube. “I do it because personally I get to see how fast I can push my body.
“I could stay a fifth year and try and lower those records even further, but I don’t think that’s the main point of why we do collegiate athletics,” he added. “I think it’s a way to enrich your experience at college.”
James Costanzo is the sports editor of the SUNY-Geneseo student newspaper, The Lamron. This story is appears in the Times of Ti with their permision.