Jake Lee left the Fenton varsity cross country and track program as one of the school’s top runners of all time, earning a Division 1 3,200 run championship as a senior in 2016, and also earning All-State honors at the state cross country meet once.
Now, the 2016 Fenton graduate who graduated Summa Cum Laude, is making his mark on the University of Michigan’s track and cross country programs.
Competing in his redshirt sophomore season, Lee recently helped the Michigan Wolverines men’s cross country team qualify for the NCAA National meet. He ran a 32:12.3 in the 10K regional race, placing 54th overall and helping the Wolverines finish third overall at the meet. The finish enabled Michigan to qualify for Nov. 17’s NCAA Championships, hosted in Madison, Wisconsin. The Wolverines finished 19th out of 31 teams while Lee was Michigan’s fourth runner to finish. He placed 172nd in the 10K event with a time of 31:16.18.
Lee has spent the entire season as one of the Wolverines’ scoring runners.
“It’s gone really well,” Lee said about his fall cross country season. “We have a tight-knit group of guys and we are all around the same fitness level. As a pack we are all pretty packed up close together. … That’s what makes us strong.”
It ended up being a pretty strong season for the program. The team took second at the MSU Spartan Invitational and then placed 13th out of 33 teams at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational. Lee was Michigan’s top runner at the 8K event, posting a time of 24:04.6. But even with his performance, Lee’s thought about the team’s pack running was proven out. All five Michigan scorers finished within 22.5 seconds of each other at the event.
Lee was the team’s fourth runner (75th overall) as the squad took 11th out of 35 teams at the Pre-National Invitational’s 8K race. Lee posted a time of 24:50.1). His final 8K race saw Lee finish 38th at the Big Ten Championship race with a time of 24:40.1. Michigan placed fourth at that meet.
It’s fair to say Lee’s season has been a success. His redshirt freshman season on the men’s track team also was pretty successful. Lee placed 24th at the Big Ten Indoor Championships in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 14:41.63. He also ran a 14:15.60 in the 5,000, placing fifth at the Power Five Invitational.
His indoor track season was a precursor for what was going to happen during the outdoor season. Lee finished the Big Ten Outdoor Championships with a career-best time of 30:55.98 in the 10,000-meter run, placing 10th in the event.
“So far that’s my biggest accomplishment,” Lee said of the 10,000-meter race.
Lee says he made the right decision continuing his running career at Michigan. I took one visit to Michigan and I knew right then and there this was the program I wanted to be with,” Lee said. “They were Big 10 champions and have had multiple All-Americans here. I couldn’t have wished for a better school when it comes down to academics, athletics, the support group and the team.”
With still plenty of time remaining in his athletic career, Lee has plenty of athletic goals he’d like to accomplish.
“I’d day No. 1 I want to make All-Big Ten. I’m closing in on the 10K. I’m two spots off. I want to make All-Big 10 and once I’ve accomplished that goal I want to be an All-American in cross country, track or both of those sports. … And maybe reach out and be a national champion. This year gave me hope that anything can happen.”