US news
2003 indoor

5th Nike Indoor Championships

March 15-16, 2003 at Prince George's Sportsplex, Landover MD

Press Release
Freshman from Guyana Will Contend in 400

by Pete Cava

LANDOVER, Md., March 7, 2003 --- A year ago in his native Guyana, Randy Lee was a big fish on a small pond. Today the Washington, D.C., high school freshman is on the verge of becoming one of the top prep 400-meter runners in the United States.

"He hasn't been pushed yet," says Mark Landry, Lee's coach at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington. "He's just been outrunning people. Right now everything is coming easy to him."

Lee's first big test will be at the Nike Indoor Championships, which take place March 15-16 at the Prince George=s County Sports Complex in Landover. One of the youngest entries in the 400, the 5-foot-9, 135-pound Lee is also one of the best. He's run an indoor 48.87 quarter this year, as well as an eye-popping 47.3 relay split.

That season best came Feb. 22 at Penn State and, says Landry, "there wasn't anybody near him. He was just coasting."

The impressive relay leg took place in the 4x400 at the Virginia Tech Invitational in Blacksburg, Va., on Feb. 1. "We were in a fast heat," Landry explains, "and Randy led off. A club team [New Horizon TC] beat us [3:22.00 to 3:22.10], but they made him run, and that's what he needed."

Born Feb. 3, 1988, in Georgetown, Guyana's capital city, Randy Lee has been fascinated by running for as long as he can remember. At a very early age he began pestering his father about competing at track meets. "One day he finally agreed to let me run," says Randy, "and I really enjoyed it. It was great."

So was Randy. Last year as a 14-year-old, he won national outdoor 400 and 800 meter titles in under-15 and under-17 competitions. Track officials in Guyana began wondering what Lee could do against higher-quality competition in the U.S. Richard and Karen Lee, Randy's parents, began looking around for an American school and decided on Archbishop Carroll.

"I can't take credit for this one," says coach Landry. "He was dropped into our laps. Randy's father introduced himself last summer, and showed us a newspaper article about him. I said, 'Oh, yeah! We'll welcome him with open arms!'"

Randy came to U.S. last September and moved in with relatives in suburban Silver Springs, Md. Foster Sampson, Lee's club coach in Guyana, was happy for his prize pupil. "Randy is a very promising athlete," Foster told the Stabroek News, a Guyana daily. "With better facilities in the U.S., we're hoping for good results from him."

Lee took full advantage of the opportunity. Although no fan of cross country, he competed last fall to get in top condition for track season. "I totally hated it!" he laments. "It's entirely too long. I really like sprinting, but I don't like long distances."

A diligent scholar, Lee has a 3.2 grade point average in advanced placement classes. "The first quarter was kid of rough," says Landry. "After that, he started getting all A's."

Track and school are Lee's top priorities. "I train almost every opportunity I get," he says. "When I'm not doing schoolwork, I'm training."

Landry, who's been coaching for nearly two decades, says he's never had anyone like Randy. "I've had some good sprinters," he says, "but I've never had someone come in at this age and run these kinds of times. I don't know any freshman who's done this."

Lee is an aggressive runner who likes to get in front and stay there. "He doesn't let anybody pass him," says Landry, "and if they do, he never forgets it. When he's out there on the track, he looks like a baby. He's got that baby face, but a killer instinct. He'll be happy as a little kid at a meet, but then a half-hour before his race I can't even talk to him. Can't get into his zone."

The Nike Indoor Championships are Lee's first big U.S. meet, and Landry has warned him that the competition will be fierce. "I tell him, 'There are at least six other guys running as well as you, and you've got to be ready,'" says Landry. "Basically, this is his baptism. But he's not scared of anything. He might just turn around and conduct the baptism."

Landry says he's expecting big things from Lee during the outdoor season. "I expect him to go 46 [seconds] if he can get to the right meets," says Landry. "By the time we get to the Penn Relays [in April], we hope he can get around 46."
The national high school freshman record is 46.55 by William Reed of Philadelphia in 1985.

Lee remains unfazed by his new surroundings and his budding reputation as a high school track sensation. Asked about his biggest adjustment since coming to Washington, the soft-spoken Lee answers without hesitation. "The weather," he says. "I had to get used to this cold climate."

Nike Indoor Championships


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