She went to the front of the pack early, and she led the race into the third mile before Dollins overtook her.
"I got out quick and tried to stay ahead of the Rockcastle girls, but one of them got me at the end," Lee said.
Fourth trip to state
She'll make her fourth straight trip to the state meet this Saturday, and she said a season of strong conditioning has better prepared her for that race.
"I feel a lot better this year than I have in the past, and I feel better about the season now," she said.
Few people at Saturday's meet felt better than Mercer girls coach Leslie Smith after her team finished fourth with a six-person roster that includes four runners still in middle school.
"I thought we could have two or three qualify, but I wasn't expecting all six," Smith said.
Mercer earned its first state berth in three years, edging Boyle by five points and Casey by 11 for the last of four team qualifying berths. (The top seven runners not on qualifying teams also earn state spots.)
"I knew it would be close," said Mercer's Loran Crowell, who earned her sixth trip to state and is one of three runners on her team who has been there before. "It's just a great feeling. I'm a senior, so I was really hoping we could go as a team."
"It'll be more fun with everybody running with us," added Tiffany Harvey, a seventh-grader who was the Titans' top runner in 10th place.
Harvey is in her first year on the varsity squad, and she said this was only her fifth varsity race.
"It's my best time by far," she said.
Kelsey Barbato of Boyle qualified with a 12th-place finish after missing last year's postseason with a leg injury.
"I surprised myself," Barbato said after cutting a minute off her time from a race a week earlier. "It was a harder course, but I ran a better race."
Senior classmate Anderson finished in the same position as last year. His time of 17:43 was 45 seconds behind champion Thomas Canary of Lexington Catholic, who was second last year.
"Last year I was fourth and I was like, 'I'm going to come back next year and win it,'" Anderson said. "So when I finished fourth I was kind of bummed, but I realized our region is becoming faster and stronger."
Anderson was more gratified by Boyle's third-place finish than with his own achievement.
"This past week we really came together as a team," he said.
Teammate Blake Hendricks, a sophomore, finished seventh and was the only other area runner in the top 10.
"He's going to turn out to be a great runner for Boyle County," Anderson said. "Me and him are the 1-2 punch this year."
Anderson going for eighth time
Anderson will appear in his eighth consecutive state meet, and he hopes to improve on last year's 28th-place finish.
"It's hard to believe I only have one race left," he said.
Boyle coach Grace Jameson said she was thrilled by the boys' result and happy with all of the running Rebels. She said 10 of the 12 Boyle boys and girls entered ran personal-best times.
"They did great," Jameson said. "We had lots of PRs and lots of hard work paying off."
The other individual qualifiers from area schools were Nolan Weddle and Michael Rodgers of Casey, Jim Bob Mangum of Mercer and Lena Hutchins of Boyle.
(3.1 miles; 66 runners)
Team scores - 1. Lexington Catholic (LC) 36; 2. West Jessamine (WJ) 36; 3. Boyle County (BC) 71; 4. East Jessamine 133; 5. Casey County (CC) 139; 6. McCreary Central 168; 7. Wayne County 201; 8. Mercer County (MC) 203; 9. Madison Southern 241; 10. Corbin 265.
Individual leaders - 1. Thomas Canary (LC) 16:58; 2. Will Stratford (WJ) 17:11; 3. Logan Horrall (LC) 17:33; 4. John Anderson (BC) 17:45; 5. Joe Fernandez (LC) 17:59.