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Florez, Rosales Headed To State Meet - Bruin Sophomore Claims Section Crown
Athleticism and endurance are a big part of cross country, but Riverbank sophomore Mikayla Florez showed why a little brain power helps as well during the Sac-Joaquin Section Finals at Willow Hill in Folsom on Friday.

Knowing she had a strong race-finishing kick, Florez stayed at the back of a six-girl pack that led the Division IV field.

With half a mile to go in the three-mile race, Florez charged up the final hill and sprinted for the finish to out-kick the race leaders and claim a Section championship. Flores landed a 19 minute, 36 second time on one of the most difficult courses in the state. She was No. 1 among 79 D-IV qualifiers.

"I told her afterwards to enjoy this moment and cherish it," Riverbank coach Monte Wood said. "She accomplished something tremendous a sophomore."

Florez bested longtime D-IV leader Becky Hobby of Hughson (third) and finished four seconds ahead of Bret Harte's Kaylee Sadler (second). The placement was easily good enough to garner Florez a trip to the state meet on Nov. 26 at Woodward Park in Fresno.

Riverbank teammate Adriana Rosales was sixth overall at 20:28 and also qualified for state, but mishaps later in the Bruin lineup forced the team to miss a collective state advancement.

The trouble started when normally steady Erica Orellana (49th) struggled to maintain a solid pace on the difficult course, and compounded when No. 5 runner Gina Retana (63rd) suffered two bad falls and a blackout. Jackie Herrera was sharp at 20:57 in 13th place and Kelyn Murillo stepped up with a 22:41 finish in 39th place as well.

Riverbank (third overall) was 21 points shy of runner-up Christian Brothers and watched Bret Harte claim a team title after five top-25 finishes. Both Christian Brothers and Bret Harte earned team advancements to state.

"It was kind of disappointing that the girls didn't all qualify for state, but we are happy to have an individual section champion," Wood said. "Mikayla ran a smart race and she ran away with it."

Riverbank advanced two sophomore boys to the D-IV finals and saw Luis Figueroa improve his position by 17 runners in the final mile for a 22nd place finish at 17:59. Adrian Salazar ran 18:43 in 45th place as well.

Riverbank's junior varsity girls were first among Division IV teams after big races from Kim Munguia (14th), Hannah Foster (20th), Tania Vasquez (22nd), Mellissa Romera (24th), Maritza Lopez (25th) and Brenda Gonzalez (26th).

With just Rosales and Florez left in the active lineup, Wood will continue their training with intentions for the pair to peak at state.

Wood said he hopes Florez can finish between 18:30 and 19 minutes on the three-mile course while Rosales should be able to land in the 19:15 to 19:30 range.

He said the Woodward Park course in Fresno allows for some fast times and expects just that from his remaining two runners.