He's been at the helm for 25 years, molding a mob of runners and keeping his athletes on a strict workout regimen that places strong emphasis on personal bests and goal-oriented agendas.
Having grown the program from the grassroots level, he's seen many prosperous teams come and go.
This season, the seeds of a youthful boys' team took root.
Helping meld a team that used strength in numbers to its advantage, Lee returns nine of his top 10 runners next season.
The squad is headlined by junior standout Ryan Hertzog, who earned a berth in the PIAA Class AAA Championship following a laudable season.
High school cross country consumes Lee.
With summer workout regimens, runner diaries that he implores his runners to use throughout wear and tear of the long autumn and the constant scouting of opponents, Lee's innate passion for the sport is evident.
Lee loves cross country for numerous reasons. He enjoys the challenge, the man-vs.-nature theme which always allows for an opportunity to break a personal high-water mark. He loves the scenic home course that South Western has thrived in.
Most importantly, however, Lee loves the team concept of what's often pigeonholed as an individual sport.
Because of his high-order commitment to the sport and ability to harvest new talent, Lee is the All-Area Boys' Cross Country Coach of the Year.
"Everyone thinks of cross
An aspect paramount to success for Hertzog and freshman standout Kirk Mummert was their rigorous summer workout regimen. Each runner bought into Lee's summer workout schedule and logged hundreds of additional miles on their own. The preparation proved prophetic for both athletes.
"We have our optional practices, like all schools do, a couple days in the summer each week," Lee explained. "We also put a training program out. We have them do a running diary to keep them motivated and to progress them at a proper rate. The summer is so important to having a successful season.
"When they come into the season, it shows up right away if they can complete the workouts at the times they want. They know what workouts we're going to do. They know what repeat miles we're going to do. They know they need to come in ready to go."
That's simply what Lee has come to expect of his runners, on whom he keeps tabs and advises which runners they need to beat to score points in pivotal meets.
Years ago, Lee helped expand South Western's cross country program with a feeder system at the middle school level. Lee says the junior high program has provided the right exposure to the sport and helped generate interest to a sport that was once perceived as the stepchild to other fall sports.
"If you don't get kids interested in a certain sport at the junior high level, they may never have the opportunity to look at and experience it," Lee said. "If you have kids who are motivated and see what it takes to achieve some success and contribute to it, you're certainly going to be successful."
Lee has created an environment tailor-cut for building success. Using seasoned runners and veteran coaches helped the runners progress on a workaday basis.
Among Lee's staff is Pete Dodd, a veteran assistant who's been instrumental in working out runners. Dodd, like Lee, applies a great deal of scouting and studying the times of other runners so he can project his runners' splits and finish times.
The formula of studying the opponent, melding together a team that's bolstered by strength in numbers and a tight upfront pack, has produced a winning climate for Lee. Though the season is over for South Western, Lee is already strategizing for what may be one of the best teams he's ever coached next season.
With the return of a formidable nucleus, new lofty aspirations are thrust to the front stove.
The painstaking workout regimen. Long mileage sessions. Intervals. Recovery runs. Timed mile trials. This will remain the same. There are mountaintops to ascend to, records to shatter and competition to overwhelm.
"All those kids out of our top five returning, plus basically our top 10, so pretty much is all going to be intact for next year," Lee said. "I think they have some high expectations. They had high expectations and realized that some of those high expectations that they could not meet, they can meet next year.
"Depth is something you have to have because it keeps it competitive. It is great to have kids that are going to be fighting for that position. Having a little bit of depth will always make you better."
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