Time flying by for Campbell Lee
Campbell Lee is having a hard time believing he is entering his four year as a scholarship runner at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y.
“It has been crazy. I remember around this time three years ago when I was first getting ready to go for first year,” the former Niagara Olympic Club member said. “It has flown by and it has been awesome.”
The 21 year-old St. Catharines resident has enjoyed his time as an NCAA Division 1 student/athlete.
“Everything has honestly been great. The past year has been difficult but being there with the guys and living, training and racing with them makes everything fun.”
His biggest accomplishment as a runner came in 2021.
“What I am most proud is this past year scoring at the NCAAs for the first time,” the Holy Cross graduate said. “I was the fifth man so I was our last scorer and it was really nice to be able to contribute to the team.”
At cross country races, the top seven runners from a school race and top five at the meet score.
“It was awesome, especially doing it at nationals. We were 10th there and it was an awesome race,” he said.
Lee placed fifth overall at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference All-Academic, helping Iona win its 30th straight conference crown. Iona runners finished one through five to give the team a perfect score of 15.
Lee feels he has made solid progress as a runner.
“Training is completely different. I remember in high school it was a lot more speed work and it was go until you can’t any more. Now it is a lot more strength work where we do a lot of volume and get really strong. When it comes time to race, you maybe won’t feel great about the pace but you will be able to do it for longer. In high school, being comfortable with the pace was not as important.
“As a runner, I have gotten a lot stronger and I run a lot more mileage with a focus on the longer distances.”
His progression as a runner will come from sticking with the process.
“My coach’s philosophy is that it is not taking new steps but just consistently doing the same work and building up milaege and volume and taking a bunch of little steps instead of bigger steps,” he said. “It is coming back every year and every day and putting in the same work.”
He’s confident he is still growing as a runner.
“One of the things that I have noticed changing training styles from speed focus to strength work is that is has taken a while to get used to it but now I am a few years in I am finally getting used to it and comfortable with it,” Lee said. “I am feeling a lot of fitness starting to come and I am start to feel good in races and workouts. It was big adjustment but I feel there is a lot of room for improvement.”
That improvement should help him reach his goals.
“I want to be back in our top seven and top five in scoring for our team at the NCAAs in Florida and I want to do as well as I can for our team,” he said. “We were 10th last year and every team, unless you were in first place, wants to do better. With the team we have, we could be inside the top five nationally.”
Lee believes he has matured a lot as a person but doesn’t think he has changed much.
“I have surrounded myself with similar people to high school. They are athletes and good people that are here and they help keep me who I am. I am the same person but I’m in a different place right now.”
Lee has done well academically and has received several MAAC All-Academic honours.
“Running or any sport is only going to get you so far and especially at our school, they really stress being an all-around athlete,” he said. “Academics is huge part of being a student/athlete. School comes first and you have to make it a priority so you can do the things you really want to do and be able to compete with your team.”
He is majoring in education and will be doing his student teaching this September in New Rochelle at a high school close to the Iona campus. He is not sure if he wants to be a teacher.
“That’s one of the things that has changed a lot. I was really sure of what I wanted to do in high school and now I am not so sure. I want to see what happens and take what comes to me.”
He will graduate from his education program next spring but because of the COVID pandemic and red-shirting his freshman year he still has two years of athletic eligibility remaining.
“I will be there for six years if I want to be there that long,” he said. “Obviously right now I want to.”
Training and going to school during a pandemic wasn’t easy.
“It was tough not being able to race for a while and not being able to go to class in person. You kind of felt like you were cooped up inside a house but not a whole lot changed other than no racing. I found a little bit of normalcy in it.”
The former national cross country champion returned to Iona last week in anticipation of the start of preseason workouts.