It’s been a year since Bethanie Brown finished second at the Class B cross country state championship meet. Since then, the Waterville senior has pulled away from the pack, bettering her 5K times of last year by more than a minute this fall.

Brown has not only set her sights set on an individual state title this Saturday at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast, but on a course record. A lot of that will depend on course conditions. Brown won last week’s Eastern Regional race by more than a minute on a course that had been saturated by rain most of the preceding week and quickly turned to ankle-deep mud. A week of sun and wind should make course conditions much better Saturday.

“If the conditions are good I’ll probably be looking (to break) the course record,” Brown said.

The girls course record is 17 minutes, 48 seconds, set by Old Town’s Cassie Hintz in 2004. Brown set a meet record of 17:56.69 on the course earlier this season at the Festival of Champions, finishing more than a minute ahead of her time in the same event last year.

“I’ve gotten a lot stronger,” she said. “I feel pretty good where I am this year.”

Lawrence senior Erzsebet Nagy will also be the individual favorite in the Class A girls race. Like Brown, Nagy finished second a year ago. Her training has been slowed by a hip injury this fall but she did place third at the Festival of Champions in 18:33. She won last week’s Eastern Class A Regional in 20:10.33, saying afterward that she went out too quickly.

“I’m going to go out more conservatively,” Nagy said. “I just want to have a good race and I want to feel strong in the race, that’s my main goal.”

Boys and girls team championships will be decided in three classes with the three state champions and the next three highest scoring teams advancing to the New England championships on Nov. 10 at Twin Brook Recreation in Cumberland. Individual state champs in each class plus the next fastest 22 finishers also qualify for the New England meet. The Mt. Blue boys team finished fourth at last week’s Eastern A regional, a week after finishing second against the same field at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A meet.

“We looked at the virtual meet and we see that on paper we’re predicted to be fifth,” Mt. Blue coach Kelley Cullenberg said. “We know the course and we know the conditions.”

Lewiston won the Eastern A title last week and will be one of the favorites for the overall title. Bangor was second and Mt. Ararat third. In the West, Massabesic upset favored Scarborough followed by Marshwood.

“We’ve done a lot of talking this week, especially since the regionals,” Cullenberg said. “A top three finish would be awesome. We’ve beaten Bangor twice this season.”

The Mt. Blue girls also qualified for the Class A team competition while the Maranacook, Waterville and Winslow boys and girls teams have each qualified for the Class B meet. In Class C, the Western Maine champion Hall-Dale boys will be aiming for their first Class C state title since 1988 while Winthrop and Monmouth have also qualified. Monmouth has also qualified for the girls team race.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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