By Greg Ford
WYLIE — Martha Brown set some lofty goals, making regionals and then possibly state, for this, her junior year.
So far, the Lady Panther cross country runner is well on her way to achieving them, at least if the early results are any indication. First, she opened the 2016 season with a school-record time of 18:42.9 at the Plano ISD Invitational, which was good enough for third, and then last Saturday she finished a solid second (19:08.7) at the inaugural Raider XC Invitational at Wylie’s Founders Park. Her Plano rival, Ashlyn Hillyard, took first in a time of 18:39.7.
“(I’m trying) to cut down (my time) every race, and run hard every race,” the junior said shortly after her Wylie finish. “I’m just going to fight really hard.”
Brown and her teammates had at least three more meets, starting with the Sept. 17 Ken Garland Invitational at the UNT golf course in Denton, before the postseason, where Brown aims to make a statement.
“We’ve got eight weeks left (until state) and a lot of good training left to be done,” said Lady Panthers’ head coach Robert Reed.
That regimen started in the offseason, where Brown spent time working on medium to long runs during the start of the summer, and right before the season commenced Brown and her teammates were pushing about 35 miles a week.
“I want to try to cut down to an 18-minute 5K or lower if I can,” said Brown, who’s been running long distance since the seventh grade.
In fact, it was as a sophomore, during her time on spring track (1,600 meters), that Brown and Reed saw the potential for a great junior campaign. At one point, she set another school record, this one in the 1,600, by running a 5:01 during the prestigious Texas Relays in Austin.
“She is really talented, and has a good group of girls to train with,” Reed said. “It’s about consistent training.”