ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Middlebury 12-year-old placed in the top 10 percent of a national cross country running race in Albuquerque, N.M., this past Saturday.
Willem Landis, a seventh-grader at Middlebury Union Middle School, placed 25th at the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic Cross Country Championship in the Midget division for 11- and 12-year-old boys. He covered the 3,000-meter course at Balloon Fiesta Park in 11:00.07.
There were 259 runners in the race who had to qualify at state or regional races earlier this fall. Landis was the only Vermonter to qualify from Region 1, which encompassed New England, Long Island and parts of upstate New York. That race was held on Long Island on Nov. 18.
Ivan Pineda-Dominguez of the Albuquerque Cougar Track Club won the race in 10:10.17, more than 13 seconds ahead of second place.
Landis’ mother, Angela Cobrin Landis, said the 5,000-foot elevation in Albuquerque was a challenge for many of the runners. Nevertheless, Willem had been hoping for a top-50 finish, and he was happy with his finish.
By making it into the top 25, Landis earned the USATF’s All-American status.