TWIN FALLS — Cross country runners sometimes race against time or themselves, rather than their opponents. But at Wednesday’s Canyon Ridge Run, they couldn’t help but notice the runners they were passing, or the ones passing them.
The course at Rock Creek Park is hilly and tight, which leads to a bit more intimacy than other races.
“Everyone’s right next to you,” Wood River senior Gabe Smith-Nilsen said. “Pack running makes me stronger.”
Smith-Nilsen made that clear with a sixth-place finish at Wednesday’s 13-team meet. He was one of the few District IV runners to finish near the top of the loaded field.
“It’s competitive,” Canyon Ridge junior Trajan Holtzen said, “because you’ve got all these top schools.”
The host team of the Canyon Ridge Run finished tied for second in the boys field at last year’s meet. On Wednesday, the Canyon Ridge boys finished fourth, and the three teams ahead of the Riverhawks — Vallivue, Shelley and Borah — were new to the event this year.
District IV runners didn’t enjoy getting passed up by new runners, but they did appreciate the competition.
“It depends on what school they’re from and how many of them pass you,” Holtzen said. “It’s not super discouraging because they’re the top teams in the state.”
Holtzen didn’t need extra motivation going into Wednesday. His younger brother, Ryker Holtzen, beat Trajan in the first two meets of the season.
“My No. 1 goal is to get him, to beat him,” Ryker said.
The freshman came up just short of his goal on Wednesday. Trajan finished with a time of 17 minutes, 12 seconds to finish 11th among boys individuals. Ryker finished 13th with a time of 17:17.
“I’ve gotta thank my brother,” Trajan said. “He’s the one who really pushed me here.”
Trajan’s time was a season best, and it was the fastest he’s ever run at Rock Creek. Ryker’s time was a personal record.
Among local boys, the Holtzens were No. 3 and No. 4. Burley sophomore Jacob Detemple finished fourth in the boys field with a time of 16:45, 28 seconds behind winner Siyad Matan, of Borah.
Detemple set a personal record, breaking 17 minutes for the first time in his career.
Nilsen-Smith finished nine seconds behind Detemple for his sixth-place finish.
“It’s the best race I’ve had this season,” Nilson-Smith said. “I didn’t think I was gonna make top 20. I knew there were a lot of fast runners here.”
As a team, Wood River finished seventh in the 12-team varsity boys field.
The Wolverine girls finished sixth, and they were led by sophomore Sasha Leidecher. Her time of 22:42 placed her 17th in the girls field, and it was a personal record.
Leidecher’s teammate, junior Jenna Nurge, placed 20th with a personal best 22:46.
Boys: 1. Vallivue 59, 2. Shelley 82, 3. Borah 90, 4. Canyon Ridge 106, 5. Caldwell 114, 6. Elko (Nev.) 140, 7. Wood River 159, 8. Mountain Home 202, 9. Burley 227, 10. Minico 287, 11. Jackpot (Nev.) 292, 12. Xavier Charter 366
Girls: 1. Elko 25, 2. Mountain Home 89, 3. Boarh 95, 4. Caldwell 96, 5. Shelley 115, 6. Wood River 145, 7. Vallivue 167, 8. Xavier Charter 209, 9. Canyon Ridge 226, 10. Burley 241