Liam Levasseur of Saint Dominic Academy runs on the Whitman Spring Road trails in Auburn on Monday. Levasseur qualified for the Class C state cross country championship, which was canceled Monday afternoon, around the same time as Levasseur’s practice run. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Editor’s note: The Maine high school cross country state championship races, which were supposed to be held this week, were canceled, so over the next few days the Sun Journal will be recognizing the area runners who qualified.

Liam Levasseur had his eyes on the Class C cross country state meet since the coronavirus pandemic began in March.

The Saint Dominic Academy senior had high hopes of a strong finish in the season’s final race. On Monday afternoon his preparation for glory stopped in its tracks when the Maine Principles’ Association announced that the state championships, which were supposed to be held at Saxl Park in Bangor on Wednesday (the girls were to race Saturday), were canceled because a sharp rise in cases of COVID-19 in Maine recently.

Levasseur experienced a wide range of emotions Monday after he heard the news.

“It was pretty difficult, it was frustrating and extremely disappointing. I had been looking forward to this race since March. When (the) outdoor (track and field) season got canceled, I started training for cross country,” Levasseur said. “I was building up to this moment and getting it taken away at the last second, it was really frustrating and disappointing.

“But I understand why it was canceled. Safety always comes first and we want all the runners, families and the community all to be healthy. So, I do understand why it was canceled.”

St. Dom’s cross country coach Dan Campbell said Levasseur’s training for his senior year was evident.

“When I look at the season, the season started last year,” Campbell said on Monday, prior to the announcement that state meet was canceled. “Based on that, he made a strong commitment to raise himself above the certain plateau he was at last year and had gone to a whole different dimension as a runner.

“He was a better-than-average runner last year. Because of the hard work and the commitment he put in since last year, coming into this year, he’s not just a better-than-average runner, he’s one of the runners to beat.”

Campbell said if the race happened as scheduled on Wednesday, Levasseur could have been in contention for a top-five finish.

The scenario of the race being canceled was always a possibility in the back of Levasseur’s mind. That thought entered his mind when Gov. Janet Mills mandated that masks must be worn at all times, including during athletic competitions.

Levasseur said wearing a mask while running was fine with him.

“Absolutely, I would have done anything to race,” Levasseur said. “I was really looking forward to this moment, it was going to be my last cross country race in high school, as I am a senior now. It’s disappointing, I would have done anything I had to compete against all the other runners. We had really good competition in the race. I would have definitely sacrificed wearing a mask to being able to compete.”

GOING OUT A CHAMP

While his opportunity at a chance to become a state champion was dashed, Levasseur did end his season on a high note: A few weeks ago, he won the Western Maine Conference Class C boys championship with a time of 17 minutes, 30.10 seconds, which qualified him for the state championship meet.

“I was happy with the season, I had a lot of good races. I am not complaining, I am happy that I even got to compete, the season went longer than I expected it to,” Levasseur said. “That’s always good, I am trying to be optimistic about it. The conference (race) went well, I am happy that I got that opportunity because it was a good race, good competition. I am grateful for that experience.”

The WMC championship was Levasseur’s fourth win this season. In fact, he won every race he competed in during the truncated season. His other three wins came in a meets against Poland on Sept. 25, Waynflete on Oct. 2 and Lake Region on Oct. 8.

TRAINING FOR TRACK

Just like in March, Levasseur has pivoted, and now his focus has turned to the 2021 outdoor track and field season.

Levasseur normally does indoor track and field, but with indoor capacity limits in place and college facilities likely not being available for public use, the indoor season is in doubt. That won’t stop Levasseur from looking forward to the spring.

“I have been talking to my coach about my future plans and adjusting because indoor (might not) happen,” Levasseur said. “What I am planning on doing is cross country skiing for the first time, as well as running on my own to train for outdoor track in the spring.

“I think right now we have to be flexible and adjust to whatever life throws at us.”

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