Waterville senior Bethanie Brown’s cross country times have improved significantly since last year. The question is how will that translate at Saturday’s New England championships.

Brown is competing on the hilly course at Twin Brooks Recreation Area in Cumberland a year after placing fifth in that competition. Defending champion Elle Purrier of Richford, Vt., is also in the 3.1-mile race. Last year in Rhode Island, Purrier won in 18 minutes, 1 second — 34 seconds ahead of Brown.

“Definitely I’ll be running for (first place),” Brown said. “I guess that’s a tentative goal.”

Brown dominated in-state competition this season, winning the Festival of Champions as well as the Eastern B regional and Class B state titles. All three of those competitions were run on a relatively fast course in Belfast where she ran below 18 minutes twice. Brown also plans to enter the Foot Locker Regionals in New York in two weeks, where she hopes to place in the top 10 and qualify for the nationals in December.

Six teams from each state are allowed to enter the New England championships as well as the top 25 finishers. Lawrence senior Erzsebet Nagy, who won the Class A title, will compete for the first time this year.

“I got a late start to my training,” said Nagy, who had a hip injury this fall. “I think that might have ended up helping me. I’m still feeling fresh right now.”

The two week break between the state and New England competition was also helpful, Nagy said, “because it let me have a really hard week last week and I can use this week to taper.”

Hall-Dale, which won the boys Class C state title two weeks ago, is among the six Maine teams entered. The Bulldogs have practiced three times a week with coach Chris Poulin and on their own on other days.

“It’s been kind of an anticlimactic feel at practice,” Poulin said. “We were so focused on winning states we never thought about what the next step was. I told them to set individual goals, a personal PR or a person you want to beat. I have no idea what the team competition is like.”

Individuals competing include Winthrop’s Marc Hachey, who placed ninth overall among the three classes at the state meet, along with Mt. Blue’s Josh Horne (11th) and Justin Tracy (20th). Maranacook’s Caroline Colan finished 18th overall to qualify for the girls race.

In addition to Hall-Dale, boys teams from Maine competing include Massabesic, Lewiston, Scarborough, Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth. Girls teams include Mount Desert Island, Massabesic, Camden Hills, Bonny Eagle, Washburn and Cheverus. Brown and Nagy are top two individual girls while Ellsworth’s Dan Curts and Silas Eastman of Fryeburg are the top two Maine boys.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

ghawkins@centralmaine.com