BELFAST, Maine — Lisandro Berry-Gaviria is not used to being passed on a cross country trail, particularly by any fellow Maine high school distance runners.
So when the two-time defending Class A state champion from Mt. Ararat School in Topsham felt his lead being challenged by Brunswick’s Will Shaughnessy during Saturday’s North regional championship race at the Troy Howard Middle School, his reaction was predictable.
“I think the first thought that goes through my head is, ‘All right, I’ve got to pass him back,” Berry-Gaviria said. “I used to like sitting and kicking, but I’m not really that kind of racer anymore. I enjoy the challenge of leading a race. I feel like it establishes myself as the favorite and I like having that pressure on me in a sense.”
Shaughnessy, who won the Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions race on the same course earlier this month, briefly took the lead in a wooded area of the second mile of the regional, but Berry-Gaviria responded quickly and went on not only to win the race but lead Mt. Ararat to the Class A team title.
“Before we exited the woods I took the lead back and I tried to push a little bit and open up a gap,” said Berry-Gaviria, whose team was joined as a North regional champion by Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor in Class B and Orono in Class C.
Berry-Gaviria completed the 3.1-mile course in 15 minutes, 40.67 seconds, to fend off his nearest pursuers in Class A, Shaughnessy (15:43.93) and Bangor sophomore Daniel McCarthy (15:47.66).
“Once I got a lead in the second mile I tried to maintain it and I don’t think I really found that extra gear the way maybe I did [in winning the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship last week],” Berry-Gaviria said. “My time was not very good at all, and certainly Will and Daniel were very close to me and I was not anticipating that.”
Berry-Gaviria was backed by a Mt. Ararat pack of Grady Satterfield (fifth overall), Nate Cohen (ninth), Lucas Bergeron (10th) and Jace Hollenbach (11th) that all finished within 38.35 seconds of each other as the Eagles totaled 36 points to shade runner-up Brunswick (42) and Bangor (59).
Brunswick got two other top-10 finishes from Tyler Patterson (fourth) and Joey Valliere (eighth), while Gordon Doore finished sixth for Bangor and teammates Gavin Sychterz (14th), James Fahey (16th) and Fritz Oldenburg (20th) also helped the Rams stay in contention.
Hampden Academy, led by Abbott Valentine’s seventh-place finish and a 12th from Charlie Collins, was fourth with 129 points. Messalonskee of Oakland (151), Cony of Augusta (171) and Brewer (210) also qualified for states.
MDI won its first boys regional crown since 2002, led by the third- and fourth-place finishes of Ponce Saltysiak and Jon Genrich. All five scorers for the Trojans placed in the top 15, with Sam York seventh, Stephen Grierson 13th and Mason Soares 15th. MDI scored 39 points, well ahead of runner-up Caribou (67) and two-time defending champion Hermon (70).
“From the beginning of the season we’ve come out strong and have shown that we were capable, and today was just another example of that,” Genrich said.
MDI, Caribou and Hermon qualified for states along with Ellsworth (157), Erskine Academy of South China (172), Belfast (186), Old Town (200) and Lawrence of Fairfield (216), which was led by race winner Josiah Webber (17:06.36).
Hermon’s Dylan Fowler was second in 17:14.41, while Jordan Duplissie was fourth and Ethan Holmquist fifth to lead Caribou.
Individual champion Kyle McLellan paced Orono to the Class C crown, with the Red Riots’ sophomore running at a 5:32.8 mile pace. He finished in 17:13.85, more than a half-minute ahead of runner-up Luke Barnes of Sumner Memorial High School in East Sullivan (17:47.93).
Orono’s Thorin Saucier (third), Tucker Ellis (fifth), Gabe Livengood (eighth), Colby Pawson (12th) and Eli Ewer (15th) all finished within 81 seconds of McLellan as coach Lin White’s squad totaled 26 points.
George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill, led by Clark Morrison’s fourth-place finish and a seventh from Sol Lorio, was second with 46 points, while Washburn (103), Bucksport (127), Maine School of Science and Mathematics (181), Dexter (197) and Madawaska (217) also qualified for next Saturday’s state meet at Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland.