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Best Feet Forward - Bruin Pair Prepare For State Meet
When the Thanksgiving table is littered with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, ham and pumpkin pie, most Americans tend to picture themselves as Takeru Kobayashi at a hot dog eating contest.

But most Americans aren't preparing for the California Interscholastic Federation Cross Country Championships, either.

Riverbank senior Adriana Rosales and sophomore Mikayla Florez will have to forego extra helpings of their Thanksgiving meals on Thursday, in consideration of their season finale at the state's biggest stage just two days later.

Saturday's state meet features 10 different races for boys and girls across five divisions of enrollment, and Rosales and Florez will kick off the action during the first race of the day with an 8:30 a.m. start for the D-IV girls.

The pair will take to Woodward Park in Fresno, the site of the CIF Championships since 1987. It's a 5,000-meter course with grass, asphalt and compacted dirt trails with few elevation changes and a penchant for speedy times.

And speedy times are just what Rosales and Florez are aiming for.

"We have trained all year for this," Rosales said. "We have goals we are trying to reach time-wise and we want to run well."

Rosales will cap her prep career with a second straight trip to the state meet. She advanced with Florez to the same event a season ago after Riverbank qualified as a team, but mishaps at this year's section finals prevented team advancement in 2011.

But while the team faltered as a whole, Florez shined with an incredible late kick to nab a D-IV individual section title.

"I wasn't expecting to win, but I ended up winning the race and I felt really good afterwards," Florez said. "Now I want to try and get into the top-10 at state with a time under 19 minutes."

Thirteen D-IV runners finished under 19 minutes on the Woodward Park course a season ago, and Hughson's Becky Hobby landed a top-10 award in eighth place (18:39). Florez beat Hobby at the section championships, but both should fight to stay in a top-10 that graduated only two runners a season ago and returns state champion Cami Chapus of Harvard-Westlake (17:45 in 2010). Florez was 72nd (20:16) and Rosales 67th (20:09) at the same meet, but both have made huge strides to better times this season.

The pair will fight to stand out in a field that includes 212 D-IV girls and 1,919 total state qualifiers.