Adam Lee decides to stay home and become a Gryphon

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH — Adam Lee, a master of many track and field events at the high school level, has decided that he’s going to stay home to attend the University of Guelph and compete on their varsity track and field team beginning in the fall.

“That’s a really big thing for my personality,” the three-event District 10 high school champion from John F. Ross CVI said. “I know a lot of people, they love to move out and they love to try new things. For me, especially being a track and field athlete and having Guelph win the points total the past two years, I just thought they have some of the best coaches I can have access to and it just happens to be in my hometown which I really like. I like being comfortable and I like improving on what I started with and I feel comfortable in Guelph and I just want to build on that community. And I can live at home.”

“The decision for a student-athlete is always an intimidating one,” Gryphon associated head coach and coach of speed and power events Jason Kerr said. “I think in his case what was critically important was the known quantity. It was important for him that he had a relationship and trusted the people that he was going to work with. I think that’s the type of person that he is. I think he’s going to be great for our group and I think that the relationship that the coaches have had are going to make the process pretty seamless for him and there’s not going to be anything intimidating that he’s going to have to go through.”

Lee, the D10 champion in senior boys’ high jump, long jump and pole vault, has worked with many of the coaches he’ll have as a Gryphon as he’s also a member of the Speed River Track and Field Club.

“A support network for any young person wherever they go is the most important thing,” said Gryphon assistant coach Guyson Kuruneri. He specializes in jumps and combined events and has worked with Lee for a few years now. “An athlete who feels comfortable and happy in an environment they’re used to generally helps that person settle in. He’s moving on to a different place, but he’s still within the same unit, same coaches, same environment. I think that will take him a long way. It’ll be able to keep him in school, keep him on top of grades and, hopefully, become a better athlete as well.”

With the Gryphs Lee could end up working with several of their coaches including Michelle Taube who looks after long jump and James Sniatenchuk who looks after pole vault.

“Adam Lee to us represents the playground-to-podium philosophy that we’ve always tried to have in Guelph where we look at our club program being able to deliver programming from the elementary school level all the way to the Olympic level,” Kerr said. “Adam represents someone who’s been through the entirety of that and is now heading into the more high performance-oriented collegiate side of things. He for us is what we want to be able to build as a community.”

One of the difficult things for the Gryphons might be deciding which events would be best for Lee. This season he added events to his repertoire and was successful at all of them.

“In our first year, we’re going to kind of play around and let him explore a couple of events to see what he excels in,” Kuruneri said. “We know he excels in the jumps. He’s played with the multi-events in high school and I think that’s a direction we’re going to go for the first year and see how he improves. I think it’s a very good thing to let him spread his wings and figure out where he feels most comfortable and where he can excel the most.

“For the first year at least he’ll probably do the multis and if he starts to show great potential in some of those individual events where he could be an individual medallist, in per say long jump or high jump, it may be a good idea to put him in and do those three events. He seems to be really into the multi events so I think we’re going to roll with it and see where it takes us.”

“That’s one of the decisions you make when you’re trying to balance the collegiate points-scoring elements and also the long-term development of the athlete,” Kerr said. “His best event is almost certainly going to be the combined events because he’s so good in so many areas. There will be decisions, particularly early on in his career because he is so good in the long jump and he’s so good in the high jump that if mid-season we figure out that this guy can be a very good individual point scorer, then we might bias it that way, but I do see long-term him being more a combined events athlete.

“He’s just such a multi-faceted guy. He can do it all and that’s such a rare feat.”

As for Lee, the busier his schedule the better he seems to perform.

“It’s more a recent thing that I started being serious about the multi events,” he said. “People ask me how I do it, how I do the decathlon and how I do all these events. I love it, I love it to death. Running around, it looks like I’m panting and I’m having a rough time, but I love long jumping, I love pole vaulting, I love shot put, etc. It keeps me going.”

It’s kept him going to the point where he’ll leave Ross holding 10 school records, including a couple as a member of winning relay teams.

Kuruneri used to hold some of the school records that Lee broke, including one for senior boys’ long jump that fell during the Gaels Relays competition at Alumni Stadium. Kuruneri saw the record get broken as he was officiating the event that day.

“To be honest, it was mixed feelings,” he said. “As someone who has records, you want to keep your records, but also at the same time it’s exciting to see someone that you coach break your records. Records are meant to be broken so it’s exciting from a coaching perspective that it was someone who I’ve coached and who’s been so passionate chasing that dream for many years.”

“I feel like he’s been challenging me at some meets,” Lee said. “I go to some meets where he’s officiating and I tell him ‘I’m going to break your record’ and he says ‘No, you’re not. Not today.’ To that I just say ‘watch me.’”