Before the start of the indoor track and field season, Bethanie Brown looked at the state records in her events and wasn’t sure she had a realistic chance to run those times.

“My mom and I looked at those and kind of laughed,” Brown said.

What Brown accomplished this season was no joke, and those records were well within her reach.

The Waterville junior set the Class B state record in the mile with a time of 5 minutes, 2.15 seconds. She followed that up with a 4:56.35 at the New England championships, making her the first girl in Maine high school history to run a sub-5 minute indoor mile, according to Waterville coach Ian Wilson. While she didn’t set the state record in the two-mile, she blew the time away at the New Balance National High School Indoor Track and Field Championships, finishing fourth with a time of 10:29.04.

Along the way, she won two Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B individual titles, three Class B state titles and helped the Purple Panthers capture their fourth state title in seven seasons.

For her outstanding season, Brown has been named the Morning Sentinel Girls Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Teammate Olivia Thurston, who won the state title in the 55 hurdles, was also considered.

Brown won the Class B title in the mile (5:26.21) and the 2-mile (11:46.92) as a sophomore as well, but made significant strides as a junior. Wilson contributes that growth to Brown’s decision to run cross country for the first time in high school this fall (Brown ran cross country in middle school).

“Serious runners who break records run year-round,” Wilson said. “Her summer mileage and her cross country season would give a season of real good aerobic training.

“The work matched the ability.”

Brown enjoyed success during the cross country season, winning the KVAC B and Eastern B titles, while finishing second at the Class B state meet. However, Wilson said her strength is running track and thinks she could be a 5,000-meter runner in the future.

“She really likes running on the track,” Wilson said. “She likes it better than the cross country course. She has such an intense focus, she finds it difficult to run her best in cross country because of the terrian. On the track, every lap is the same, she can just focus on going.”

Brown gained confidence early in the season when she ran a 10:48 in the 2-mile in the first meet of the year.

“The first time I ran the 2-mile, Coach and I were aiming to get a sub-11. I was thinking 10:59 or 10:57,” Brown said. “I was running under my splits the whole race and I finished in 10:48 and I was like, ‘Wow, maybe I could go lower.’ “

She did go lower and while she didn’t break the state record (state records can only be set at state championship meets) she did run faster than both the Class A (10:58.3) and Class B (10:48.23) records at nationals.

“That was an absolutely amazing experience,” Brown said. “In Maine you have a few girls that can run at the front, then you get to nationals and there is a whole pack running up front.”

She did set the state record in the mile and was even faster at the New England championships. Not stopping there, Brown was less than four seconds away from setting the state record in the 800, winning with a time of 2:19.09.

“Coaches, we are rarely surprised because we tend to be an optimistic group, but she blew away everything we thought,” Wilson said.

And that is something Brown can laugh about.

Scott Martin — 621-5618

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.