Fewer than two dozen Maine track and field athletes have qualified for the New Balance indoor national championships.

Charlotte Pierce of Thornton Academy made sure her name was on the list early.

Pierce ran a blistering mile in 5 minutes, 7.52 seconds at the Dartmouth Relays on Jan. 12, putting her well under the national qualifying mark of 5:11.

The national meet is March 8-10 at the Armory in New York City.

In the meantime, Pierce will try to lead Thornton Academy to a Class A state championship. Then, said Thornton Coach Lisa Huntress, Pierce will look to improve on her time for the mile, and Huntress thinks she can.

Pierce opened the indoor season with a personal best of 5:21. She then bolted through the elite heat at the Dartmouth Relays in Hanover, N.H.

At an SMAA meet a week later, Pierce took the lead at the gun in the 800 meters and led to the wire, holding off Pan Nyajock of South Portland and winning in 2:21.29, over Nyajock’s 2:21.59.

Last year’s Class A state indoor meet was won in 2:21.96.

“It was very exciting. The whole crowd was into it. And Charlotte led the whole time,” Huntress said.

“She had an incredible, remarkable weekend. Then she ran that 800. Her best in the 800 before was 2:21 outside.”

Huntress said Pierce, who will run for Columbia University next year, has improved her speed racing by competing in shorter events.

Pierce has qualified for the state meet in the 400, 800, mile and 2-mile.

“We definitely look strong for the state meet overall. And Charlotte definitely adds a twist for us. We’ll look at where she’s the best fit. It’s nice to have choices,” Huntress said.

Pierce could be joined in the mile at nationals by Waterville standout Bethany Brown, the defending Class B champion. Brown already has run a 4:59.14 mile this year. She finished fourth in the 2-mile at nationals last year.

Because Pierce competes in Class A and Brown runs for a Class B school, and their teams are in different conferences, the two won’t face each other except possibly at the New England championships or nationals.

Huntress is thrilled not only with Pierce’s success, but also Brown’s.

“We love that. Bethany is just amazing. And we’re proud in the sense that she’s one of our kids. It doesn’t matter what colors she’s wearing, she is representing Maine,” Huntress said.

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

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