Bethanie Brown didn’t run her fastest time on the mud covered course at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast at the Eastern B championship meet. It is, however, the race she is most proud of.
The Waterville senior won the Eastern B title, running through the mud and finishing in 18 minutes, 46 seconds. Her nearest competitor, Aleta Looker of Ellsworth, finished more than a minute slower than Brown — 20:14 — and was more than a minute slower than she was the week before in winning the Penobscot Valley Conference title (19:06).
“When I looked at everyone else’s times, they were a minute to a minute and a half slower,” Brown said. “I calculated that into my time and thought, another day on this course I might have cut a minute off my time.
“I felt strong that day. Really focused and mentally tough in those conditions.”
The regional championship was one of many highlights for Brown this season. She also won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B and Class B state titles, and set the meet record at the Festival of Champions.
For her outstanding season, Brown has been named the Morning Sentinel Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. Lawrence High School senior Erzsebet Nagy was also considered.
While Brown looks back proudly on her effort in the Eastern B regional, Waterville coach Rob Stanton remembers her effort on that same course at the Festival of Champions as maybe the highlight of Brown’s season. Brown won the Festival of Champions in a meet record time of 17:56.59, breaking the record of 17:58.35 set by former Kennebunk star Abbey Leonardi in 2010.
“There have been a lot of good runners who have gone through that meet,” Stanton said. “To have the opportunity to do something like that and to go out and do it …”
As a junior, Brown won the KVAC B and Eastern B regional titles before finishing second at the state championship meet. She moved on to indoor and outdoor track and field, and was dominant.
Brown took a short break after the spring season, then set about increasing her weekly mileage over the summer. During the school year, Brown said she ran about 35 miles a week. Over the summer, she pushed that to about 45 miles a week, with a high of 50.
“I was just trying to get stronger. That was kind of the challenge,” Brown said. “I don’t know if you are supposed to up your mileage as much as I did this summer, but I thought it might be a good thing.”
The work paid off for Brown, who was strong all season. She set a goal of running in the 17 minute range and was able to crack that barrier at both the Festival of Champions and at the Class B state meet when she ran 17:56.32, also at Troy Howard Middle School.
Brown went on to finish seventh at the New England championship with a time of 19:18.60 and 11th at the Foot Locker Northeast Regionals at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, N.Y. in a time of 18:42.3.
“That wasn’t my strongest race in the world, but I felt like I had my good races when I needed to at states and KVACs and I felt pretty good,” Brown said. “(Foot Lockers) was icing on the cake, to run a meet like that. And I think I did pretty well.”
Brown’s focus now turns to the indoor track and field season, where she is the defending state champ in the mile, 2-mile and the 800. In outdoor track and field, she won both the 1,600 and the 3,200 at the New England championships.
Next fall, she’ll attend the University of Connecticut to run both cross country and track and field.
Scott Martin — 621-5618