Mark D’Alessandro of Saint Dominic Academy is the 2018 Sun Journal All-Region Boys’ Cross Country Runner of the Year. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

Mark D’Alessandro crossed the finish line at the Festival of Champions at the end of September in 76th place.

All D’Alessandro said after the race was, “I will come back.”

And he did. In the final race of the year, the St. Dom’s junior finished as the runner-up in the Class C state championship with a time that was 35 seconds faster than what he ran at the Festival of Champions.

That high finish has garnered D’Alessandro the 2018 Sun Journal All-Region Boys’ Cross Country Runner of the Year.

To get through the rough patch between Festivals and states, D’Alessandro stuck to the plan.

“(Festival of Champions) was a race I was going for a fast time and see how I stack up against the whole state, but I wasn’t going to let it throw my whole season out,” D’Alessandro said.

D’Alessandro didn’t have great races leading up to states, so the week before the race, D’alessandro and head coach Josh Brown decided to take things really, really easy.

“Festivals to regionals were mediocre, and we came to conclusion he was tired, so from regionals to states we backed off the last week,” Brown said. “It’s a tough season in Maine because you race for 10 weeks straight. I never thought he lost confidence. Early in the season he got some good results, but they weren’t happening. He was waiting for the good results he had early in the season.”

The breakthrough wasn’t realized until the starting gun went off.

“On race day, I woke up that morning and didn’t feel super-amazing, but not really bad, either,” D’Alessandro said. “Warming up, even on the start line, I wasn’t going into it thinking it would be the best race of my life, but once the gun went off I started to figure things out and had a pretty good day.”

After the first mile and a half, D’Alessandro found himself in second place, and from then on he was playing with house money. D’Alessandro finished in second place with a time of 17:18, behind Waynflete senior Henry Spritz. The finish justified all the trials and tribulations endured in 2018 for the junior.

“It felt amazing,” D’Alessandro said. “This summer, the week after (outdoor track) states, I was looking at last season’s (cross country) state meet and I was seeded sixth, so I made that a goal to get into the top five. It kind of felt like everything paid off from what I did over the summer, and what I went through over the season, it just felt like everything was worth it.”

Mark D’Alessandro of Saint Dominic Academy is the 2018 Sun Journal All-Region Boys’ Cross Country Runner of the Year. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

Saint Dominic Academy’s Mark D’Alessandro runs up a short incline during the Class C South regional race in 2016. (Sun Journal file photo)


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