Ian Wilson sat at the front of the bus on a cold, dark December night on the ride home from an early season track and field meet and complained about how cold his truck was going to be when he drove home. Bethanie Brown responded to her coach that it was probably going to be pretty chilly on her cool down run.
“She said, ‘I didn’t really have a chance to do a cool down after the meet, so I’m going to see if my mom will drive behind so I’ll have some light so I can do my cool down,’ ” Wilson, Waterville’s indoor track and field coach said. “It’s like 9:30 at night and it’s really cold. I might be sharing training secrets, but that is why she is who she is. No one else is willing to do that.”
That late night cool down run is just one example of the dedication Brown has displayed during her incredibly successful career at Waterville. The University of Connecticut-bound runner put that hard work on full display her senior year, setting a pair of state records, finishing second at the New England championships in the 2-mile and breaking her own Maine indoor record in the mile at the New Balance Grand Prix.
For her outstanding season, Brown has been named the Morning Sentinel Girls Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year for the second straight season.
To say Brown lives and breathes running would probably not be entirely accurate because Brown is a well-rounded student athlete. She is one of the top students in her class and recently placed in the top five in the northern region in the Poetry Outloud Competition. But her dedication to her sport is obvious to anyone who spends any time around her.
“She is a really neat kid to sit down and talk to,” Wilson said. “We talk about training a lot of the time and we’ll talk about her workouts, but we also talk about diet and food and sleep. She is really a student of the sport.”
Brown got a chance to study some of the best in the sport when she competed at the New Balance Grand Prix in February at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston. Brown, who finished second in the junior mile with a time of 4 minutes, 54.57 seconds, road the same bus as three-time Olympic gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethopia, warmed up in the same warmup room as Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp of the United States. She also got to see American high school star Mary Cain set the high school indoor 2-mile record.
“It was pretty incredible, it was an honor to be near them and to watch them compete and warm up,” Brown said. “It was pretty inspiring to watch all these athletes compete.”
For Brown, the opportunity to see athletes at the next level — whether it was Dibaba or Rupp or Cain or any of the top collegiate athletes — compete was an opportunity to see what’s next.
“Once you look at the collegiate level, everyone is so much faster,” Brown said. “It was so incredible to be able to see that, to see the next step I that I can take. I’m really excited. I wanted to jump into one of those other races with them.”
Before she moves onto that next level, she has plenty of left to do in high school. After returning from the Grand Prix, Brown prepared for the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and Class B state championship meets. The KVAC meet was postponed but it had little impact on Brown, who adjusted her training and dominated the Class B meet.
Brown went in to the state meet hoping to break the state record in the mile and the 2-mile and finishing as high as possible in the 800 to help her team win the state title.
She started off with a dominant victory in the mile, breaking her own state record with a time of 5:00.31. She then narrowly lost to Aleta Locker of Ellsworth in the 800, 2:18.96-2:19.30. Brown bounced back with another state record in the 2-mile, winning by nearly 40 seconds with a time of 10:46.95 to help the Panthers win their third straight state title.
“It has been awesome for our team to have her around,” Wilson said. “We are at the Dartmouth Relays and she wins and her teammates are talking to other kids going, ‘That’s my teammate. I know her.’ There is never a selfish bone in her body. Some kids would cut back to try to set state records, she has never done that. She’s always willing to do whatever to help the team score points.”