Caden Byrer has spent much of his life looking straight ahead, chasing his older brother.
He took an opportunity to do the ill-advised opposite Saturday. He looked back — and got away with it.
Mindful of setting a fast pace and maintaining a late lead, the Lewiston senior won his fourth cross country title of the season, holding off Sandpoint’s Nikolai Braedt to win the boys’ race in the 13-team Inland Empire Challenge at the Lewis-Clark State course.
Sophie McManus of McCall-Donnelly captured the girls’ title, and Sandpoint won both team championships in mild, sunny conditions in the Lewiston Orchards.
Byrer, of course, knows that looking over one’s shoulder is taboo in track and cross country, but he figured he could sneak a quick peek during the homestretch this time.
Surely it’s never happened before.
“Sometimes — I’m not going to lie,” he confessed.
Byrer had paid his dues in this race, setting a fast pace and finishing in a personal-record time of 15 minutes, 33 seconds for 5,000 meters. Braedt took second, setting a school record with a 15:35.
In fact, Byrer’s been paying dues for years, thanks to older brother Austin, who won this race in 2015 and 2016 and now is running for Weber State. Caden lacks his brother’s long stride but makes up for it with resolve and snappy cadence.
The looping LCSC course over stubbly straw always has been fast, but alterations the past two years have made it more so. Byrer was explicitly bidding for a swift time, and so was Braedt.
The Sandpoint junior had planned his split times but, when the gun sounded, forgot to start his watch. So he aligned himself with Byrer’s pace and his own inner clock, actually taking the lead for a stretch midway through the race. Second place was hardly disappointing, he said, because the school record had been his primary goal.
“Lewiston is such a fast course,” he said. “This would be my first chance this year — I could really go for it. I’m just glad he (Byrer) was here to bring that time down.”
Braedt led a tight pack of four Bulldogs placing second through fifth, keying their stellar team score of 22. Lewiston was second as a team with 98 points, getting a seventh-place effort from Payton Bigler.
Logos freshman Nate Plotner took sixth to guide the Knights to third in the team event, while Korben Bujnicki was ninth to pace Moscow to fourth.
McManus, a McCall-Donnelly junior, won the girls’ race in a personal-best 18:20, improving upon her third-place showing of a year ago.
Laurel Hicke of Moscow placed fourth, also with a PR, and the Bears’ Bec Kirkland was 10th.
“I felt really good the first 2 miles,” Hicke said. “I was, ‘Wow, I’m really on top of everything.’ And then I started to die in the third mile, but I’m like, ‘I’m almost done.’”
Through a premeet agreement with Moscow coach Mohammed Mansour, Hicke’s PR will earn her a strawberry milkshake.
“I thought about that during the race and it kept me going,” she said.
Nicole Jones of Pullman took eighth, leading the Greyhounds to third in the team scoring.
Team scores — Sandpoint 53, Lake City 61, Pullman 71, McCall-Donnelly 99, Moscow 101, Logos 143, Prairie 172.
Top placers — 1, Sophie McManus, MD, 18:20. 2, Clara Stephens, LC, 18:58. 3, Angelyca Chapman, LC, 19:05. 4, Laurel Hicke, Mos, 19:20. 5, Paige Davidson, San, 19:37. 6, Bionce Vincent, San, 19:38. 7, Taylah Chapman, LC, 19:40. 8, Nicole Jones, Pul, 19:41. 9, Cori Hatfield, MD, 19:47. 10, Bec Kirkland, Mos, 19:53. 11, Megan Oulman, San, 19:57. 12, Clara Anderson, Log, 10:59. 13, Josie Yovichin, CdAChar, 20:11. 14, Kylie Franklin, Pul, 20:15. 15, Ara Clark, San, 20:15. 16, Madeline Jones, Pul, 20:16. 17, Kelli Heim, Pul, 20:37. 18, Jillian Primgaard, San, 20:50. 19, MacKenzie Suhy-Gregoire, San, 20:56. 20, Elly Kunkel, Pul, 21:24.
Team scores — Sandpoint 22, Lewiston 98, Logos 119, Moscow 124, Southridge 133, McCall-Donnelly 154, Asotin 164, Lake City 173, Pullman 216, Clarkston 258, Clearwater Valley/Kamiah 320, Potlatch 342, Garfield-Palouse 396.
Top placers — 1, Caden Byrer, Lew, 15:33. 2, Nikolai Braedt, San, 15:35. 3, Jett Lucas, San, 15:54. 4, Gabe Christman, San, 16:05. 5, Seth Graham, San, 16:16. 6, Nate Plotner, Log, 16:18. 7, Payton Bigler, Lew, 16:18. 8, Keegan Nelson, San, 16:21. 9, Korben Bujnicki, Mos, 16:24. 10, Carter Gordon, LC, 16:26. 11, Logan Davis, CdaChar, 16:29. 12, Trey Clark, San, 16:34. 13, Carson Sellers, Tim, 16:37. 14, Mick Brown, Clk, 16:38. 15, Maximillian Bazler, LC, 16:40. 16, Solomon Howard, Log, 16:41. 17, Elijah Sabo, Lew, 16:48. 18, Luke Nelson, MD, 16:50. 19, David Phillis, Troy, 16:52. 20, Corey Johnson, Mos, 16:54.
OTHER RACE WINNERS
JV girls — Lily Denham, Aso, 21:05.
Middle school girls — Dakota Braden, Lew, 12:45.
JV boys — Brady Nelsen, San, 17:01.
Middle school boys — James Stubbers, Lew, 11:22
Grummert may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2290.