It wasn’t a knee injury, per se, that limited Lauren Brown during her sophomore season with the Waterville Senior High School cross country team. There were no torn ligaments or fractures.

All Brown could do was grow out of it.

Last year, Brown suffered from Osgood-Schlatter disease, an inflammation of the patellar ligament brought on during a growth spurt.

“It made running pretty difficult,” Brown said.

This fall, with her knee feeling better, Brown returned to the trails. She was at her best in the big meets. Brown earned top-five finishes at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, Eastern Class B, and state championship meets, culminating with a fifth-place finish at the state meet in Belfast on Nov. 1.

For her strong season, Lauren Brown is the Morning Sentinel Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.

“She really never had bad results,” Waterville cross country coach Rob Stanton said. “She had consistent results all season long.”

In taking fifth place at the Class B state meet, Brown set a personal record with a time of 19 minutes, 47.24 seconds. A key to her improvement and success this season was her attitude, Brown said.

“What helped me a lot was positive thinking,” Brown said.

Another key was learning to better control her pace. In the past Brown would go out too hard at the start of a race, only to be gassed at the end.

“I had been going out fast and just holding on,” Brown said. “I have to make sure I’m not all-out sprinting early.”

Beginning with the KVAC meet, where Brown placed second with a time of 21:44.7, she lowered her time in each of the big end of the season races. Brown followed the conference meet with a third place finish at the Eastern Class B championship, with a time of 20:14.76. At Belfast again for the state meet a week later, Brown set her PR.

“She got progressively better as the season rolled on. She’s very even-keeled. She puts in the work every day. Those attributes get overlooked sometimes in athletes,” Stanton said.

Also a member of Waterville’s indoor and outdoor track and field teams, Brown will compete in the 1-mile, 2-mile, 800 meters and 4×800 relay for the Panthers this winter. Last spring, Brown placed second in the 3,200 at the Class B outdoor championship.

“I think she can expect to contend for state championships in cross country and track,” Stanton said.

Running pain-free, Brown kept her goals simple.

“I just want to get better,” she said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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