Marlboro’s Lee Geller looking forward to Penn State

By Brad Stratton
Staff Writer

FOR MANY student-athletes, high school graduation marks the end of a playing career.

Not for recent Marlboro graduate Lee Geller. For his track career, this is only the beginning.

While running for Marlboro, Geller was a consistent sprinter. During the indoor season, he took fifth place in the 55-meter dash at the Shore Conference Championships. On May 3, he finished a close second to Manalapan’s Corey Brooks in the 100 and 200 at the Freehold Regional High School District Meet on May 3.

After running in the districts, Geller commented on how he was looking forward to running in the Monmouth County Championships a week later.

But fate would be against him. A few days later, Geller “twinged” his hamstring, forcing him to take time off to allow the injury to heal.

“I could have ran through it, but I didn’t want to take a chance,” Geller said. “The coaches wanted to save me for the sectionals (on May 25-26), but on that morning, I felt (the hamstring) again.

“It was frustrating, because I knew I wanted to run. But I knew it would be too much of a risk.”

With high school behind him, the next stage will be college. Geller will be starting in August at Penn State University. He intends to run for the Nittany Lions, who took first place in the Colonial Relays on Apr. 7 and in the U.S. Coaches Series Penn Quad Meet on Apr. 14.

The Lions finished third in the Big Ten Championships on May 18-20 at Indiana, the school’s highest-ever finish in the conference championships.

“I would like to be on their 4×100 team,” Geller said. “They have a good one.”

On the academic frontier, Geller will be enrolled in Penn State’s Division of Undergraduate Studies, a program intended for students undecided about their major.

In addition to Penn State, Geller applied to Ohio State University, Binghamton University, and Boston University.

“But as soon as I got into Penn State, I decided that’s where I wanted to go,” Geller said.

Geller’s Penn State odyssey begins sooner than expected. He will be heading for Central Pennsylvania on Saturday, to take part of the school’s Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP).

Spending the summer at Penn State also gives Geller additional benefits in training for his freshman track season.

“Right now, I’m not doing anything heavy,” he said. “I’m just doing a few mild runs. I’m hoping once get to Penn State, I can use the facilities there. And in time, I can do more 400s, and get back into swing of things.”

Geller started down the road to track when he was in seventh grade. At the time, he was playing soccer for the Marlboro Middle School, as well as for a traveling team, but was frustrated by his team’s struggles.

In order to showcase his individual talents, Geller turned to track. And before long, he found himself enjoying the sport.

“I remember when I was little, it was just one of those things,” Geller said. “I was just naturally fast. And I liked the competition (in track). It’s different. There’s more of an opportunity to show off your stuff.”

Geller continued playing soccer until his first year of high school, when he took up cross country as a way to keep himself in shape of the spring track season.

Geller does more than just run. He explained that, outside the track, he enjoys hanging out with friends. Playing pool is an enjoyable pastime for Geller, as well as playing soccer with friends, and watching movies and playing video games.

Drawing is a hobby that Geller has been doing for many years. He took an interest in art when he was eight years ago.

“I used to paint a lot,” he said. “I’ve slowed down a lot in recent years. Now I do a lot of doodling. I draw a lot of mazes. It’s hard to explain, but (the mazes) are really small.

“I try to draw whenever I have some free time. But I haven’t had a lot of time lately, with getting ready for college.”

And since he’s going to be attending one of the elite sports colleges in the nation, Geller has already sent in his season-ticket applications for Penn State football and basketball tickets. Penn State is completing a $93 million expansion of the school’s football stadium, raising the seating capacity from 93,967 to approximately 103,500.

“I was there (four) weeks ago,” Geller said. “It’s really impressive.”

When Geller departs for University Park, he leaves behind many years of memories and friendships.

“I’m going to miss all my friends,” Geller said. “I’ll be leaving my best friend (Dan Katz) since since I was 3. And I’ve ran with (recent Marlboro track graduate) Brandon Portelli since we were in seventh grade. Now he’s not going to be there to motivate me.

“And I’m going to miss my brother, David, more than anything.”

Asbury Park Press (Marlboro-Manalapan Reporter) – June 21, 2001