WATERVILLE — After making campus visits that took her to the south and the West coast, the state’s top female high school runner has decided to attend the University of Connecticut.

Waterville senior Bethanie Brown made a verbal commitment last week to attend UConn where she will run cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track and field. She has been offered a full scholarship, but it won’t become official until she signs a letter of intent in February. Brown went on five official campus visits, the maximum allowed by the NCAA, before making her decision.

“It was actually a really hard decision to make,” she said. “You meet a lot of great coaches. There are just so many factors that come into consideration.”

One factor that impressed Brown was the cross country team’s finish this season. The Huskies qualified for the NCAA championships for the first time this fall and finished eighth out of 31 teams at the nationals. Coach Andrea Grove-McDonough was named Northeast Region Coach of the Year.

Grove-McDonough contacted Brown last summer shortly she won the New England 1,600- and 3,200-meter titles. During the indoor season, Brown finished second in New England in the mile, posting a time of 4 minutes, 56.35 seconds, the first time a Maine schoolgirl had broken 5 minutes for that distance. At one point last winter, Brown had the fastest indoor two-mile time in the country. She subsequently finished fourth at the nationals in the two mile, posting a personal record of 10:29.

She didn’t begin running cross country until her junior year, but improved rapidly, going from a second-place finish in the Class B race last fall to a dominating first-place finish last month in which she finished nearly a minute ahead of the next closest runner, regardless of class. Brown also won the prestigious Festival of Champions this fall. Her only disappointment was a seventh-place finish at the New England cross country meet recently when she became dehydrated.

“I was dizzy and nauseous after the race,” she said. “It took me several days to recover from that.”

Brown can redeem herself Saturday at the Foot Locker Northeast Regionals at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y. The top 10 finishers advance to the nationals in San Diego, Calif. on Dec. 8. After that, it’s on to indoor track.

“Obviously my goal is to just improve,” Brown said. “I’d actually like to improve my 800 time.”

Brown, who is ranked No. 1 in her class, is considering majoring in pharmacy or kinesiology, but has made no decision.

“I could be happy with most majors,” she said.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

ghawkins@centralmaine.com