If pure numbers tell the story, Brandon DeMarcus Lee is the unquestioned leader on the Thompson Warriors boys’ cross country.
His season has already included individual championships at the Daphne Invitational and the Shelby County Championships. This past weekend, the junior finished sixth in the Gold Division of prestigious Jesse Owens Invitational, which included runners from at least five states. The meet is run at Oakville Indian Mounds Park, which is also the site of the AHSAA State Championship.
He’s firmly entrenched himself as one of the top cross country runners in the state. However, Lee is quick to deflect the praise toward his Thompson teammates.
“They still push me every day at practice,” Lee said. “We’re all flying at practice. We challenge each other. You may be the No. 7 guy, but they may come up and challenge me. I don’t take it for granted, because, I know if they challenge me, not only will it make me better but it will make them better.”
As a youngster, Lee had no plans on being a leader on his cross country team. He sampled a variety of sports before basketball crept ahead as his athletic passion.
“I really wanted to transition more to basketball because I just kind of stood out,” Lee said. “I was a point guard and was a really good passer. I thought that might be my thing.”
As a sixth grader, his dad signed him up for track. It wasn’t love at first stride.
“I swear, I hated it,” Lee said with a laugh.
Over time, though, he not only began to enjoy track but also realized he had talent in the sport.
“When middle school came, I heard about cross country and thought that would be pretty cool,” Lee said. “I went out there and cross country might be the best thing for me. I’m more of a distance guy. You never know what you’re going to get each race, conditions are different, you get a nice view. If you’re focused on the view while you’re running, I’ll do that sometimes, that helps me.”
Lee has enjoyed success in cross country and track since arriving at Thompson High. In cross country, he won three individual titles last season and placed 13th in the AHSAA 7A State Championship. His track highlights include Shelby County Championship individual titles in the 800 and 1,600 meters and as spot in the AHSAA 7A State Championship in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters.
Now, he’s in the middle of what has already been a great season for the boys’ team. The Warriors won the team title at the Daphne Invitational.
“The guys are really pumped, everybody’s confidence is up, ” Lee said. “After what we did (at Daphne), everybody’s confidence is up. We have to stay humble. We can’t think, just because we had (some good) meets, that’s our season. Once we get to Sectionals, we might not be settling for third, we might be challenging for first. Our biggest goal is to make state as a team. I’ve been as an individual the past two years, but it’s just not the same. Everything is great right now. We’ve just got to stay consistent, keep on working hard and have a great attitude. The biggest thing, right now, is we’re enjoying it.”