Lisbon sophomore Aidan Laviolette crosses the finish line second at the boys Class C state championships at Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland in November. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

After a successful freshman year, Aidan Laviolette took it to the next level as a sophomore this season.

Laviolette was convinced to run cross country last year by Lisbon coach Jeremy Williams, who also was Laviolette’s middle school track and field coach. In his first high school season, Laviolette qualified for the Class C state meet but didn’t compete due to an injury he suffered the week leading up to it.

That disappointment served as motivation for his sophomore season.

“This year he came back in shape, had a focus and wanted to prove himself and make up for his freshman year,” Williams said.

Laviolette said his goal for the season was to place at states, and he did just that, finishing second at the Class C state meet at Twin Brook. That high finish also earns Laviolette the 2019 Sun Journal All-Region Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

The journey to get to the runner-up finish at the biggest meet of the season was one of patience, study, and, of course, hard work.

Williams saw a different Laviolette as Lisbon entered its regular season race at Winthrop High School. 

“At Winthrop, I could see he had some motivation and he ran against Winthrop’s James (Cognata) and he said, ‘What can I do here?’ We didn’t want to go out too fast and he didn’t, then the second mile he finally took off,” Williams said. “You could tell he had an understanding as to when to push and not push and when to go with another runner. You could tell he had a feeling on what to do.”

Laviolette gained confidence throughout the season, and with faster times came higher expectations for himself.

Laviolette soon turned his attention to Boothbay’s Will Perkins, who had been winning races all year. 

“As the season went on, I started passing the people that were way ahead of me,” Laviolette said. “In the last couple weeks I tried to pace myself with Will Perkins at Boothbay and just closed the gap a lot on him.”

At the Mountain Valley Conference championship, Laviolette finished runner-up to Perkins by 23 seconds. Going into the C South regional championship, he wanted to cut into that deficit. 

Laviolette finished in third to Perkins and Seamus Woodruff of Maine Coast Waldorf.

“We kind of looked at other teams that we would be facing, with Maine Coast and Traip and teams we don’t see,” Williams said of Laviolette’s preparation for regionals. “We looked at times at MVCs and then moving it to regionals, and I had him at fifth before we actually ran. At regionals he stayed with Seamus, but he got Aidan at the last hill. (Laviolette) knew it and said, ‘I should’ve gotten him earlier.’”

At the state championship meet, Laviolette made the necessary adjustments and took second, a little more than five seconds behind Perkins. 

“I was shooting for second because at the regional meet I slipped on a muddy turn,” Laviolette said. “That was my goal, but I was nervous at the beginning. I wanted to keep Will in my vision in the first 800 meters and go from there. I started off pretty slow, in my opinion, but after the first mile I just took off. I got a surge of energy and pushed through the nerves.”

Laviolette’s finish was a confirmation of his talent and the work poured into the season. Williams thinks the sophomore can be at the top of the state for the next two years. Laviolette’s confidence also is high.

“I was thinking, ‘I actually did it,’” Laviolette said. “That was the goal throughout the championship season, and I closed the gap a lot. There was a six-second difference. It was just an amazing feeling.”

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