|Tough Girl: Stinson's training, experience gives her an edge for state meet|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
May 11, 2006 - COMO - Como-Pickton track coach Frances Mowat expects distance runner Bethanie Stinson to do well at the state track meet on Friday for one reason.
"She's really tough," Mowat said, "really tough."
On the outside, Stinson doesn't look the part. A slightly-built sophomore, she has earned her toughness through hundreds of miles she's put in over the last several years.
It has earned her a place at the state cross country meet, the Junior Olympics and the junior national cross country meet. On Friday, she will be on the track at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus to participate in both the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs at the UIL State Track and Field Meet.
She goes into the events with the sixth-best qualifying time in the 3,200 (12:04.36) and the seventh-best mark in the 1,600 (5:31.97) out of eight runners. But, Stinson believes she will do better when she gets into the races.
"I expect to do well," she said matter-of-factly. "I want to place very well. I'd like to place at least in the top half."
She regularly puts in about 40 miles per week, though she has been concentrating more on speed work the last couple of weeks.
Stinson would like to go under 11:48, which would be a personal best, when she runs the 3,200 at 9 a.m. Friday. Then, she would like to dip under 5:29 in the 1,600 at 9:05 that night.
Mowat said Stinson has a plan for making her mark in both races.
"She's going to have to definitely have a feel in both," Mowat said. "She's going to have to not let those other girls too far out in front of her. She's had trouble this year with her starts, so she needs to get out a little faster. Of course, it won't be as crowded since there will only be eight girls, and I think that will be better for her."
Because of her summer experience in the Junior Olympics, Stinson has ran in front of large crowds. There will be several thousand people on hand for the Friday morning race, and there will likely be in excess of 15,000 for the main session Friday night.
No problem, she said.
"I really forget they're there when I'm on the track running," Stinson said. "I concentrate on the splits I want to hit, passing people, those things. I try to be consistent on my splits because I don't like them to be too far apart. I focus more on myself."
That type of concentration has paid off.
"She's very consistent, that's her strength. From one lap to another, her splits hardly ever vary," Mowat said.
She will be running against girls who have big meet experience as well. Back this year are the girls who placed 1-2-3 last year in the 1,600 (Loren Hodges of Paradise, Chelsea Ervi of Salado and Kristie Krueger of Argyle), and three of the top seven finishers in the 3,200 (Sarah Delos Santos of Shallowater, Ervi and Beth Skaggs of Celina).
"I think the crowd is something she can handle," Mowat said. "She went to nationals in Junior Olympics, and has ran in front of some large crowds. That should help her a lot when she gets there."