Ticonderoga 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.