But after watching a movie last week with his coach and teammates about Billy Mills, the American Indian that came from obscurity to win the 10,000-meter long distance race in the Tokyo Olympics, Landrum had a surge of confidence.
At Friday's league meet in Antioch he claimed the early lead, with De La Salle's Alex Davies hot on his heels.
"At the first mile I passed everybody else," Landrum said. "I just kept thinking of that movie the whole way through and it kept me going."
It soon became clear that De La Salle's Davies must also have watched "Running Brave," as he exploded in the final 20 yards to win the race. Davies finished with a time of 16 minutes, 12 seconds. Landrum finished second at 16:13.
While Landrum's experience at the league finals doesn't exactly mirror Billy Mills' story of triumph over prejudice in his ascent to becoming one of the world's best distance runners, it was enough to give the young runner confidence as he heads into next Saturday's North Coast Section meet at Hayward High School.
"De La Salle is a Division II school, so Wyatt's actually the favorite for North Coast as an individual, since we're Division I," said Liberty coach Peter Foster. "His race today was great. He ran the way he had to run. If he ran any slower, the De La Salle guy would have stayed on his rear, so he was trying to get farther ahead so the guy couldn't catch him. I'm really proud of him."
Kyle Trantum was Liberty's second finisher, placing eighth overall with a time of 16:49. Johnny Cattolico (16:56), Devin Carter (17:06), Gary Pomeroy, Stephen Foster and Justin Harris also finished for Liberty.
The Lions earned the second-place team title behind De La Salle.
Heritage High, which didn't field a complete team at the league finals, did not place in either varsity division. But the Patriots did see plenty of individual success.
Freshman Dustin Reed was the first Heritage runner to finish the varsity boys race. Having competed at the JV level for the majority of the season, Reed delighted in moving up to varsity at the season's end.
"It was an amazing experience to be able to do that as a freshman," Reed said after the race. "There are so many more people in this race; it's so much more competitive and every wants to win. I had a blast doing this."
In the varsity girls division, Liberty enjoyed its best team finish in years, going third in the regular season and third as a team at league finals.
Cynthia Aguilera was the first Lady Lion to cross the finish line in the varsity girls race. She placed 10th overall with a time of 20:46. Tori Russick (21:07), Lyndsay Hammond (21:29), Julianne Gaul, Cathy Kursuris and Casey Chipman each helped the team earn points by finishing.
"That's the highest place our girls team has had since I've been coaching," Foster said. "The girls have done an awesome job this season."
Heritage sophomore Sarah Guerrero was the first Patriot runner to finish the varsity girls race. She too, ran most of the season on the JV team and was pleased with her performance at league finals.
"It's a lot more competitive compared to JV and it's a lot longer, too," Guerrero said. "I could have gone a little faster at the end. But I'm happy with how things went."
For Heritage coach Jennifer Guerrero, the school's first cross country season was a definite success.
"I'm proud of all of them," she said. "Quite a few of them improved their times throughout the season. It's been really exciting to watch."
Liberty and Heritage will send their varsity runners to the NCS meet next weekend at Hayward High School.