North Yarmouth native Ben True placed sixth in the World Cross Country Championships to lead the United States to a surprising silver medal over heavily favored Kenya on Sunday in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Nineteen-year-old Japhet Kipyegon Korir of Kenya won the 12-kilometer race in 32 minutes, 45 seconds, but Ethiopia took the team title, with its top four runners totaling 38 points.
True, 27, qualified for the race by finishing fifth in the U.S. championships in early February. On Sunday, however, he was the first American in the field of 102, with a time of 33:11. Combined with teammates Chris Derrick (10th), Ryan Vail (17th) and Robert Mack (19th), True led the Americans to a 52-54 edge over Kenya for second place among the 15 countries represented.
Kenyan men had won the team title in 24 of the previous 26 world championships.
A graduate of Dartmouth College, True trains in Hanover, N.H. Earlier this month, he won the national 15k road racing title at the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Fla.
In the women’s race, 2012 Beach to Beacon runner-up Emily Chebet won by three seconds in 24:24 to lead Kenya to the team title. Ethiopia was second followed by Bahrain and the United States.
The first American in the junior men’s race was another Maine native. Matt McClintock of Athens, a Madison High graduate who is now a freshman at Purdue, placed 20th, to lead the U.S. to fourth overall behind Ethiopia, Kenya and Morocco, among 17 countries.