Mt. Ararat senior Lisandro Berry-Gaviria won the Class A individual title and also helped the Eagles win the team championship for the first time in 25 years. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Forgive Lisandro Berry-Gaviria if he seems a bit, well, grumpy before a race.

Diane Fournier, the coach at Mt. Ararat High in Topsham, has seen that look many times.

“Other people wouldn’t understand,” she said. “He’s just mentally preparing himself and he doesn’t want to be bothered. He’s getting himself ready to go.”

When Berry-Gaviria goes, everyone else in Maine is left in his wake. For the third year in a row, he capped an undefeated regular season with a Class A state title. His senior year proved extra special, because he led the Eagles to their first team state championship in a quarter century.

“That’s been the primary goal for my high school career,” Berry-Gaviria said. “That means more than any individual accomplishment that I could ever have.”

For the second year in a row, Berry-Gaviria is the Varsity Maine Runner of the Year in boys’ cross country.

He extended his season further Saturday by finishing third at the Nike Cross Northeast Regional in Wappingers Falls, New York, one of eight regional meets offering the opportunity to qualify for the Nike Cross Nationals. Berry-Gaviria advanced to the national meet in Portland, Oregon, on Dec. 7 for a second straight year.

He was also third in the regional meet last year but slipped to 46th at nationals after becoming ill on the flight west.

“He wasn’t himself,” Fournier said. “I think he’ll do a lot better this year.”

Berry-Gaviria prepared for his last year of high school by organizing coeducational summer practices as part of a capstone project that Mt. Ararat requires of its seniors. Fournier helped him design the workouts, but Berry-Gaviria was in charge of everything else.

“The people who came regularly really showed a lot of improvement over the season,” he said. “We had a really strong JV team this year. That bodes well for the future of the program.”

Berry-Gaviria missed several early season meets because he was away on college visits. After checking out Dartmouth and Georgetown, he eventually decided his best fit was at Notre Dame. He sports a 4.0 grade-point average and is interested in studying economics and political science.

When he did run, he won, even though his main focus was on building a base for his late-season races.

His championship season started with a 20-second victory at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet in mid-October and continued with the Class A North title at Belfast (by three seconds, in 15 minutes, 40 seconds) and the Class A state championship at Twin Brook in Cumberland (by 12 seconds, in 15:51).

Each time, Brunswick senior Will Shaughnessy was runner-up.

“He’s a great guy and a great competitor,” Berry-Gaviria said of Shaughnessy. “He’s always been a talented runner, and this year I think he’s put it all together.”

At the New England meet in Manchester, Connecticut, on Nov. 9, Berry-Gaviria placed fourth, 12 seconds behind winner Gavin Sherry, a sophomore from West Hartford, Connecticut. Shaughnessy was sixth at that meet, then placed ninth at the Nike Regional – one spot away from advancing to nationals.

“I wasn’t very happy with my performance at New Englands,” Berry-Gaviria said. “But it is what it is. I accomplished my biggest goal, which was winning a state title as a team.”

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