Saint Dominic Academy senior Liam Levasseur said he got serious about running in middle school and hopes to continue running competitively in college. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Editor’s note: The coronavirus pandemic made the 2020 fall sports season different than any before it. Some teams didn’t play. Those who did, played shorter schedules, and some only a handful of games or less. There were still standout players, though. And while there might not have been enough games to compile the typical All-Region teams, the Sun Journal still wants to recognize some of the standouts by selecting players of the year for the sports that had seasons.

As a young boy racing with his friends on the playground or a trail, Liam Levasseur learned the greater the distance of the race, the better his chances of winning.

“Endurance has been one of my strengths from the start,” the St. Dom’s senior said. “I noticed at a young age that longer distances were better for me.”

Every cross country race Levasseur ran this fall for the Saints was a testament to that stamina. He won all four of them in the COVID-19 truncated season, capped off by the Western Maine Conference championship in Cumberland on Oct. 28 with a time of 17 minutes, 30.10 seconds.

Levasseur’s dominating performance this season has earned him recognition as the 2020 Sun Journal All-Region Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

His parents, Shane and Melissa, fostered his love for distance running by entering him in the road races they ran, starting when he was in third grade. He enjoyed success in his age group almost right away, which only fueled his competitive fire more.

“I’ve always been a competitive person, and I found out at a young age that I was good at running,” he said.

The love for running goes beyond its nurturing of his competitive nature, though. The 15-mile runs he begins most days with are relaxing, even therapeutic.

He said running has opened up new experiences and opportunities for him that he might not have otherwise had. He credits St. Dom’s cross country coach Dan Campbell and assistant coach Moninda Marube with helping him learn about life and himself through running.

Liam Levasseur of Saint Dominic Academy runs on the Whitman Spring Road trails in Auburn last week. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“They’ve both been very crucial in developing me into the runner and person I am,” he said.

While his coaches’ wisdom has also helped him learn the correct mental and strategic approaches to racing, it’s also been a process of trial and error. This season, his experience as a senior started paying off.

“You have to acquire that knowledge of what you’re capable of and how your body works through experience,” he said. “A race doesn’t always go the way you want, so you have to think on your feet, put your head down and push through the pain. It’s a mental sport. I can’t stress that enough.”

Levasseur does a lot of cross-training to sharpen himself mentally and physically for his favorite sport. He has a background in swimming, and ultimately hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps as a triathlete.

He also runs distance events in indoor and outdoor track. With the high school indoor track season in doubt this winter, he plans to take up Nordic skiing for the first time.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I think it will be a good alternative.”

If everything works out for a spring season, he plans to run outdoor track. Whether on the snow or in the water, he hopes his training leading up to that season will help him reach his goals of breaking the 4 ½-minute mark in the mile and 9:50 in the 2-mile.

If he can continue on that track, he’ll have good reason to feel confident about finding even more success at the next level.

“I want to run year-round in college,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to cross country, because it’s 8K (kilometers, more than the 5K for cross country races), and I think I can do extremely well at that distance since it’s going to play to my strength.”

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