Barry races at ice-cold national meet

For a seventh-grader, Alex Barry is a busy guy.

Two days after leading his middle school basketball team to a big win against a Port Angeles squad, the youth raced with the best cross country runners at the USA Track & Field Junior Olympics National Cross Country Championships, held Dec. 12 in Reno, Nev.

Barry finished 51st of 283 in the boys midget 3-kilometer (1.86-mile) race in a time of 11:36.

His finish was an improvement from an 83rd-place

finish last year in Virginia.

Barry's Federal Way Track Club finished fifth out of 18 teams; the Southern California Roadrunners team took first place overall.

Conditions were not ideal, said Barry's father, Michael.

"It was in the 20s, snowing lightly with a lot of snow on the ground," Michael Barry said. "Alex fell once in the race, losing some time. He also hasn't been running a lot since basketball - part of the challenge of doing two sports."

Barry qualified for the national meet after strong finishes at the Pacific Northwest Association meet Nov. 14 in Seattle and the Region 13 meet Nov. 21 in Spokane.

In Seattle, he finished third out of 34 runners in the midget boys division, completing the 1.86-mile course at Woodland Park in 11 minutes, 25 seconds.

A week later at Spokane's Plantes Ferry Park, Barry completed the three-kilometer race in 11 minutes and 5 seconds, good for seventh place out of 55 runners. The top 20 runners advance to nationals.

Barry won all six races for Sequim Middle School this fall, with teammates Matthew Brown and Dylan Chatters close behind. Sequim's boys easily won the middle school league championship.

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