SONORA -- Steven Grolle hopes to go crazy, and his coach Glen Bass thinks his star pupil is capable of "selling the farm."
Fresno's Woodward Park will play host to hundreds of runners for the CIF State Cross Country Championships, and for the peach of Sonora High's cross country program to emerge with a medal, well
Grolle will have to go bananas, as in push an incredible pace. Thus far, he hasn't had do much of that. With a take-charge-early strategy, Grolle has breezed through the season's major checkpoints:
Stanford Invitational Division champion;
Valley Oak League final undisputed champion, one year after he finished first but was later DQ'd;
Sac-Joaquin Sub-Section meet, at Frogtown in Angels Camp Division 4 champion by get this 38 seconds.
Sac-Joaquin Section meet, at Willow Hills in Folsom two-time Division 4 champion, this time by half a minute.
The odds will flip at state on Nov. 24, where Grolle will be a longshot to claim victory.
"Going crazy, I generally do that when there's competition and I'm all psyched up. State is perfect for that," he said. "When you're running by yourself, it's hard to tell your brain it's worth the pain. The whole 'go crazy' part is when there's a real person in front of you."
Grolle likely will be chasing defending state champion John Lawson (Sir Francis Drake) of the North Coast Section and the Southern Section's Daniel De La Torre (La Salle). De La Torre and Lawson were ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the last release from PrepCalTrack.com. Grolle was fourth and climbing.
"My plan is to stick to their backs," he said.
Grolle won't be alone in his pursuit. The Stanislaus District will be represented by 14 individuals and one team, the Livingston boys.
Enochs' Faith Makau (Division 1) and Riverbank's Mikayla Florez (D4) headline a girls' contingent that includes: Harleen Pabla, Manteca; Ellie Waters, Ripon; Samantha Smith, Sonora; Kristen Turner, Summerville; and Annalicia Luis, Central Catholic.
Grolle will be joined by: Abraham Alvarado, Atwater; Josh Spooner, Sierra; Zach Morrett, Hughson; Ryan Torres, Ripon; Jeremy Hart, Big Valley Christian; and Eric Salcido, Pacheco.
The Livingston boys finished second at the section's Division 4 championship, and will be represented by Ismael Bucio, Isaias Contreras, Sergio Garcia, Diego Millan, Izzak Mireles, Andy Ponce, and Dilpreet Singh.
Grolle turned in the fastest time among the locals at Willow Hills
with a wince and a limp. He turned an ankle in the final mile and still finished in 16 minutes, 5 seconds. Fully recovered, and in the best shape of his life, Grolle has his eyes set on a podium finish.
"Realistically, I'd be more than happy with third place," said Grolle, who finished 20th in his division at state last year, despite a calf injury that restricted his training to the pool and a stationary bike in the final month of the season.
"First is a possibility, though. If I can go crazy, if I can find that extra gear, it's a possibility."
Bass believes Grolle can summon a little more speed and strength on race day. Physically, Bass hasn't had many athletes like Grolle.
At the height of his training, Grolle was running twice a day, and logging 40 miles a week. His most recent speed workouts have included five one-mile repeats with a sub-5-minute target time.
"You can't give him a workout that's too hard," Bass said. "He never complains. Afterwards, you have to fish for clues. 'Anyone sore?' He won't complain. He's amazing."
And itching to go crazy.
Grolle says he hasn't used his finishing kick since the Sac-Joaquin Masters track meet in May, when he stole a state berth in the 1,600 with a sprint finish in the final 100 meters.
"Mentally, he's ready to sell the farm," Bass said.
State BoundThe Stanislaus District will send 14 individuals and one team to the CIF State Cross Country Championships on Nov. 24 at Fresno's Woodward Park.
Faith Makau, Enochs, senior (18:40, third, D1)
Harleen Pabla, Manteca, junior (20:01, 13th, D3)
Ellie Waters, Ripon, frosh (20:25, seventh, D4)
Mikayla Florez, Riverbank, junior (19:03, first, D4)
Samantha Smith, Sonora, senior (19:30, second, D4)
Kristen Turner, Summerville, senior (19:54, third, D4)
Annalicia Luis, Central Catholic, senior (21:36, second, D5)
Abraham Alvarado, Atwater, senior (16:15, ninth, D2)
Josh Spooner, Sierra, junior (16:16, sixth, D3)
Zach Morrett, Hughson, junior (16:58, sixth, D4)
Ryan Torres, Ripon, soph. (16:48, fifth, D4)
Steven Grolle, Sonora, junior (16:05, first, D4)
Jeremy Hart, Big Valley, frosh (18:28, eighth, D5)
Eric Salcido, Pacheco, senior (16:19, eighth, D3)
Livingston boys (second, D4): Ismael Bucio, Isaias Contreras, Sergio Garcia (17:14, ninth), Diego Millan, Izzak Mireles (second, 16:38), Andy Ponce, Dilpreet Singh