April 8, 2013

BILL STEWART: Enjoy greatness while you can

By Bill Stewart bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Ready or not, the spring sports season is upon us and soon there will be games, matches and events to watch.

click image to enlarge

IMPRESSIVE CAREER: Waterville Senior High School senior Bethanie Brown has set numerous records in her high school career. Brown is about to begin her final season as a high school athletes before continuing her career at the University of Connecticut.

Portland Press Herald file photo by John Ewing

As you fill the calendars with what you hope to see this spring, particularly when the weather pleasantly warms, do yourself a favor and go see Waterville senior Bethanie Brown run.

Do it. You won't be disappointed.

For those of you who don't know of Brown -- and really, how could you not at this point? -- she is the most dominant distance runner in the state.

Period.

And time is running out to see Brown do what she does best, which is rewrite the record books here in Maine. In a few short months Brown will graduate. She will enroll at the University of Connecticut in the fall.

From there?

Who knows, but her ceiling is as vast as the summer sky in Maine. Now is the time to see her compete because someday soon she will be gone. Bigger meets in bigger states in front of bigger crowds await.

OK, so you aren't a track and field fan. The term PR means nothing to you, unless public relations is your thing. You think a blind pass is only made on a basketball court or perhaps at Oxford Plains Speedway on a sticky July night. You think a crossbar is a goalie's best friend and drafting is how you assembled the world's greatest fantasy baseball team (good luck this year, by the way).

Splits? They're something that require ice cream, bananas, chocolate sauce and maybe a cherry -- or what happens to your pants if you eat too many of them.

It's OK to admit it.

The sport can be a tough one to follow if you aren't connected to it somehow, someway. Show up at a meet and at first glance (and probably second, third, fourth and so on) you see organized chaos. Or maybe it's just chaos.

Anyone who's been to McMann Field in Bath for the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship meets knows there's a fine line between the two.

The KVAC and Class B championship meets will be held at McMann Field this spring. Anyone who's seen Brown run knows she's worth the trouble trying to find a parking spot there.

Brown set Class B state records in the mile (5:00.31) and 2-mile )10:46.95) during the recent indoor season. She went on to finish second in the 2-mile (10:45.86) at the New England indoor track and field championships. She was third in the 1,000-meter run with a time of 2:53.88.

Waterville coach Ian Wilson said with a laugh recently that Brown could win every individual event at a meet if rules allowed. I'm not entirely convinced he was kidding.

The Panthers are heavily favored to win their seventh consecutive Class B state title this spring. Brown, like she did last year, will likely run the 1,600 and 3,200.

Brown should win them both, like she did last spring, but victories are only a small part of the package. With Brown, it's all about times and the PR (that's personal record).

She set state records in both events, finishing the 1,600 in 4:55.23 and the 3,200 in 10:34.79.

"She loves to compete," Wilson said. "She sees every race as another opportunity to compete. She has had an accomplished career. It's funny, because I remember her as a freshman and she was just pretty good. But you had no clue what she would rise to. None. But thanks to a relentless work ethic and her determination, she has enjoyed such an accomplished career here. The future is bright."

Indeed it is, which is all the more reason to see her in the present.

Bill Stewart -- 621-5640

bstewart@centralmaine.com

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