AUGUSTA — Moments after he had finished way ahead of the pack at the Laliberte Race, Lisandro Berry-Gaviria sounded like someone who had been stuck in the middle of it.

“I wouldn’t say it was a great race, for me personally,” he said. “I didn’t get the time I wanted to.”

It was more than good enough for the win, however. The Mt. Ararat sophomore crossed the finish line at Cony High School all alone, winning the 18th edition of the annual race with a time of 13 minutes, 45 seconds, 19 seconds ahead of runner-up Dominic Sclafani (14:04) of Oxford Hills. Lewiston’s Abbas Muktar (14:33) was third, followed by Mt. Blue’s Zeke Robinson (14:35) and Cony’s Caleb Richardson (14:41).

Mt. Ararat also had the top girls result in the race, which combined both genders in one running. Katherine Leckbee had the top girls finish (23rd overall) at 15:34, while Edward Little’s Jillian Richardson was next among the girls at 15:44, followed by Maranacook’s Molly McGrail (16:25) and Gorham’s Iris Kitchen (16:35) and Anna Slager (16:48).

“It was, surprisingly, a little bit tougher than I was expecting, with the constant rolling of the course,” Leckbee said. “I lost a little bit in the middle, but I picked it back up. It felt pretty good.”

Mt. Ararat won the meet, which combined the top five boys scores and top five girls scores, with a total score of 496, followed by Gorham (610), Maranacook (730), Mt. Blue and Cony (742). It all started with Berry-Gaviria’s performance, which came after a year marred by a chronic hamstring injury, an ailment that didn’t clear up until just before the summer.

“(It) kept me out for a while, a few months, so I really didn’t put as many miles as I wanted to into the summer,” he said. “I first pulled it really badly back in the spring of 2016, and it bothered me ever since. But I got some treatments on it, some PRP injections this past winter and spring, so that really helped.”

He was 100 percent for the start of Friday’s race and got off to a fast, confident start, and Berry-Gaviria said he thinks the injury woes are over.

“I’m pretty confident that I’m back to being healthy now,” he said. “Just got to focus on staying that way.”

Robinson edged out Richardson for fourth in the last stretch. The Mt. Blue runner had a note of concern going into the shorter 2.4-mile run, since his training was for longer distances and slower paces.

“My feeling going into the race was a little iffy. I trained during the summer, so instead of doing a lot of speed workouts, I did a lot of long runs,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how quick my legs were going to be, but I felt good. I had a lot left at the end.”

Enough left to hold off Richardson, a friend from summer running camps in Acadia, and who had his own injury concerns to overcome with nagging shin splints.

“Doing some runouts beforehand they were starting to bother me, (but) they ended up not bothering me during the race,” said Richardson, who had a teammate in Myles Quirion (15:09) finish close behind in 11th. “Going into it, I just didn’t want to hurt myself worse with the shin splints. … To finish at that (time) and feel that good, I was extremely happy.”

Leckbee’s status as the fastest girl wasn’t a given — Jillian Richardson caught and passed the Mt. Ararat senior in the middle of the race. But rather than run harder to try to catch the Edward Little runner, Leckbee stuck to her pace, confident it would win out by race’s end.

“I usually try to keep running the way I have been, the way I was doing before,” she said. “But I also try to make sure I keep them in the same general area, so if I have the opportunity, I can catch that ground back up. It makes for some competition, but that’s what the whole point of the game is.”

Maranacook’s McGrail, a sophomore, notched her third-place finish while acknowledging that she ran without a target time or finish in mind.

“My coach told all of us girls to go out a little slower, not super, super fast, and then on the hills make up a lot of time,” she said. “I would probably pace it a little slower (over 3.1 miles) than I ran today, but other than that, I’d probably do it all the same.”

Seventh place among the girls went to Erskine’s Courtney Paine at 17:05, who was running her first varsity race and said there was an intimidating factor to lining up with 20 other schools and around 350 other runners.

“I was very, very nervous. Looking up, there were kids that were, like, four feet taller than me and the first thing I was thinking was ‘Holy cow, I’m going to have to get out fast,’ ” she said. “But you’ve just got to kind of keep yourself calm and collected and just know where you belong, and find someone to stick behind.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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