James Petersen may be only 10 years old, but with the times he’s putting down this summer, he’s certainly talented enough to compete with the big boys of Maine track and field.
The Hermon youth, who is entering fifth grade, performed well at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics last week in Sacramento, Calif., placing fourth in the 400-meter dash and sixth in the 200.
He posted times of 1 minute, 2.38 seconds and 28.33 seconds, respectively.
Petersen was not only seeded 16th in the 400 and 21st in the 200, he was the only “unattached” athlete to make finals in each race.
Petersen was competing against athletes from elite teams in both races. His 400 time would have placed him fourth at the PVC freshman outdoor track championships last spring.
“He is at an elite level in the country at a sport that is highly competitive,” said Petersen’s father, Dan, a former high school cross country and track athlete.
James Petersen’s 400 time was a personal best by 3.66 seconds, while he also PR’d by 0.86 seconds in the 200.
The 400 time also would have been a state record for his age group (bantam), but he must eclipse the time of 1:07.41 in the state 14-under USATF meet later this summer.
Petersen’s competition at nationals in the 400 was vastly different than that in Maine.
“At the Hershey state meet, the second-place time was 12 seconds behind him,” said Dan Petersen.
That competition aided him to run a PR.
“Dropping that number of seconds off a 400-meter time is very difficult to do when you’re already at a fast level,” his father explained.
Seeing the elite level of competition was also fun.
“It was awesome to see these huge teams, all these big Southern California elite teams were there. It was nice to see these places that have a lot of interest in track and field and have big elite programs in track and field,” sand Dan Petersen, who also ran a year of college cross country and track at North Carolina State University.
Next up for James Petersen will be the Hershey Track and Field North American Final in Pennsylvania on Saturday. There, he’ll compete in the 400.
“Who knows who will be there, but he’s actually got a shot to win at Hershey,” Dan Petersen said.
The elder Petersen coaches the Hawk Track Club, a club-level track team for middle school athletes in Hermon which competed in the Eastern Maine Middle School Track League on a club basis this spring.
The Petersens also have visions of expanding James’ future in track. He may be introduced to the pentathlon next summer.
“This coach [from Southern California] was telling me we need to get him into the pentathlon because of his versatility,” said Dan Petersen.