Bethanie Brown of Waterville made a huge leap as a junior, going to the New Balance national indoor and outdoor track championships. And chances are good her success and progress will continue as a senior, because she viewed the entire experience as fun.

“I get nervous. But at nationals I like knowing there will be five to 10 more girls running right with me. It definitely gives you some nerves but I go into it thinking, ‘It’s fun. I’m from Maine. And now I get to go to this cool meet and run against some really fast girls from other states.’ That takes the pressure off,” Brown said.

In the New England high school championships, Brown came from behind to win the 1,600 meters, then enjoyed a runaway victory in the 3,200.

Brown is the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram top performer for girls’ outdoor track and field.

Brown was a strong candidate for athlete of the year in indoor track after victories in the 800, mile and 2-mile at the state meet. Outdoors, she won the 1,600 with a state-record time of 4:55.23 and the 3,200 with a state-record time of 10:34.79.

Brown runs events the same way she views track: with a curiosity, maturity and intensity.

Her double win at the New England meet was nothing she imagined. She just took it one event at a time, and when she found herself taking the lead in the 1,600, she just went for it despite the fact she had another race to run.

“I thought about saving myself for the 2-mile, but then I found myself with good competition and thought I could (run a personal-best time) with all these girls running around me. I ended up getting the win,” Brown said. “I never got to run the 2-mile fresh. I’d like to try that sometime.”

After the New England meet, Brown went to the New Balance outdoor nationals in Greensboro, N.C., where she was seventh in the 5,000 meters (17:11.14), a seldom-run race in high school. She chose the event after placing fourth at the New Balance national indoor meet in the 2-mile (9:49.98).

Brown stood a better chance to finish in the top six in the 2-mile outdoors but wanted to try an event she’ll run in college.

“An athlete like her comes along once in a lifetime,” said Waterville Coach Ian Wilson.

Brown already is considering running for a Division I school. But the outdoor track Gatorade athlete of the year, who has a 4.1 grade-point average, said she may consider Division III programs.

“I’m trying to pick my college based on a good healthy track program,” Brown said.

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

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