LEWISTON — Greely senior Kirsten Sandreuter was jogging around the Bates College indoor track last week laughing and joking.
But then Sandreuter is not only favored to win the 2-mile with her state-leading seed time of 11 minutes, 7.76 seconds, she knows better than most what it means to run fast.
That’s because Sandreuter has spent the past three years chasing the current state record holder in the event: Bethany Brown of Waterville, who set the mark last year, winning the Class B title in 10:46.95.
Since she was a high school freshman, Sandreuter has finished runner-up at the Class B state meet behind Brown in the 2-mile, as well as finishing second in the mile the past two years behind the former Waterville star. Now Sandreuter finally has a chance to win a state title.
The Class B state meet will be held at Bates College in Lewiston Monday while the Class A state track and field championships will be held at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. Both meets start at 10 a.m.
But with that elusive state title before her, Sandreuter is still only focused on running fast. And she knows what it means to run fast.
She finished third at the New England Championships last year in a time of 10:51.77. Then she went on to run 10:47.75 at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York City.
So Sandreuter, a five-time runner-up at the indoor state meet, is finally poised to win a state title, but is looking past the podium.
On Monday Sandreuter will start the meet with a leg on the 3,200-meter relay and run the mile to help Greely score points and chase a team title. Then Sandreuter said she’ll try to run a fast time in the 2-mile to qualify for nationals. Those are her goals.
“I like having competition. New Englands is probably my best chance to qualify for nationals because there’s great competition,” Sandreuter said. “But I think I’ve learned a lot this year. I’m not quite where I want to be. My best (outdoors) is 10:34. That’s a big gap. But I know I have it in me to run it.”
Focusing on the bigger picture always has been Sandreuter’s approach, said Greely Coach John Folan. This fall, she chose Cornell University early decision based on its health curriculum, as well as its cross country program.
And this season, Sandreuter is not focused on where she finishes at the big meets, only how fast she runs.
“I think she’ll run fast. Last week at the (Western Maine Championships) she ran the final leg on the 3,200-meter relay and she ran very, very fast,” Folan said. “The thing about Kirsten that I like, she’s motivated, she has a desire to win and she has a sense of pace.”
But if Sandreuter is far out in front in the two-mile, as she often is, she will have a tough time running sub-11-minute pace. When she ran her seed time of 11:07, it was in a boys’ heat.
As much as possible this year Sandreuter has trained with and competed with the boys. She won’t be able to compete in their heat in the state meet.
“She’s been running 50 miles a week this year, up from 40 last year. We will start a practice where I’ll say ‘You boys and Kirsten, this is your workout …’ And truth be told especially if it’s a distance run, she’ll be the first to finish,” Folan said with a laugh.
While coach and athlete both have their sights set beyond the state meet, both are looking forward to her finishing first for the first time at a state meet.
“She’s first in her class. She’s very smart, and she advocates for herself. God forbid we ever make her workouts too easy,” Folan said smiling. “She knows about running as much as anyone.”
Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at: