John Hassett first began thinking about running for the University of Maine last year.

Now that vision has become a reality for the George Stevens Academy cross country and track and field star.

Hassett, who has had an outstanding senior year for the Eagles, signed a National Letter of Intent in Blue Hill on Wednesday to run at UMaine.

Hassett, who will enter the school’s engineering program, will receive a scholarship and plans to run cross country and track for head coach Mark Lech.

“My senior year of cross country was when I really realized I wanted to go to the University of Maine,” said Hassett.

Hassett’s resume from his senior year includes Class B state and PVC-Eastern Maine Indoor Track League championships at 800 meters, along with individual Class C North and state championship gold medals in cross country.

“I think he’s got really strong potential for the collegiate level,” said GSA track and cross country coach Erich Reed. “He’s really looking forward to working with coach Lech, who has such a good reputation for developing talent.”

The Black Bears are gaining one of the state’s most versatile distance runners, as Hassett has the blend of speed and endurance to excel at any race from 400 meters up to 5,000 meters.

“He’s got more speed than the average distance runner,” said Reed.

The challenge of going from the 3.1-mile distance of high school cross country to the 5-mile races at the collegiate level is a challenge Hassett is looking forward to undertaking.

“I have thought about it [and] I’m just going to have to get used to it,” he said. “I’m up for a challenge.”

Hassett said UMaine was the only school he seriously considered.

“I really liked the sense of community at the University of Maine,” he said. “I did one of those campus visits where I stayed overnight with the cross country team. I realized these guys have fun with what they do and they work hard. I just figured that’s the environment I want to be in.”

Now that his NLI is signed, Hassett can now shift his focus onto his outdoor campaign with the Eagles.

Regular-season meets are scheduled to start next week, but a family vacation to Chicago will postpone the start of Hassett’s outdoor season by a week.

“It’s all really about having fun at this point in time,” said Hassett.

Hassett wants to break at least one record — conference or state — before his career ends. He’s not sure which might be possible.

“Based on the training I don’t know which one [yet] but I know at least one will go down,” a confident Hassett said. “The body achieves what the mind believes.”

His participation at UMaine is contingent upon admission to the institution and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.

Follow Ryan McLaughlin on Twitter at @rmclaughlin23.

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Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports freelancer Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins.