FRESNO -- The Stanislaus District sent 21 runners to the CIF State Cross Country Championships on Saturday morning.
Only two returned with medals and enough motivation to carry them through the track and summer seasons.
Juniors Mikayla Florez and Steven Grolle earned their way onto the podium at Woodward Park, finishing in the top-10 of their respective Division 4 races.
Florez, the tenacious but soft-spoken Sac-Joaquin Section champion from Riverbank, crossed the line in 18 minutes, 44 seconds well off her stated goal of a sub-18:10 finish.
Florez continues to trend in the right direction at the state meet. She was 72nd as a freshman, 17th last year and seventh Saturday.
Likewise, Grolle's medal has neither the color or clout he desired.
The Sonora junior had hoped to shock the field and the establishment: champion David De La Torre (La Salle, 15:30) and 2011 champ John Lawson (Sir Francis Drake, 15:34) with a blistering final kick.
But the pace was too much and Grolle, a two-time section champion, finished 10th, 26 seconds off the leader.
His official time: 15:56.
There was one consolation waiting for him back home.
After days of fighting the hunger pains, he can finally dig into his mother's pumpkin pie a Thanksgiving Day treat he sacrificed during taper week.
Florez's time was the fastest of the district's girls.
Enochs' Faith Makau clocked an 18:59 in the D1 race, while Manteca's Harleen Pabla (D4, 19:15) was the only other Stanislaus girl to crack the 20-minute barrier on the 5,000-meter course.
A few others came close:
In Division 4 girls, Sonora's Samantha Smith (53rd) closed her season with a 20:04. Summerville's Kristen Turner (93rd, 21:00) and Ripon's Ellie Waters (144th, 21:58) also earned certificates.
In Division 5 girls, Central Catholic's Annalicia Luis (22:12) was 136th.
Atwater's Abraham Alvarado closed his cross country career with a 16:26, good enough for 64th place in D2.
In Division 3 boys, Pacheco's Ryan Salcido finished 38th at 16:20 18 seconds faster than Sierra's Josh Spooner.
In Division 4 boys, Hughson's Zach Morrett (16:33) was 28th and Ripon's Ryan Torres (16:41) 42nd.
In Division 5 boys, Big Valley Christian's Jeremy Hart (18:47) was 151st.
The Livingston boys the only district team to qualify for state finished 20th in Division 4.
Izzak Mireles (16:40) was followed by Sergio Garcia (17:09), Andy Ponce (17:52), Isaias Contreras (17:58), Dilpreet Singh (18:40), Ismael Bucio (19:06) and Diego Millan (19:12).
The Wolves' banner season included team titles at the Pacific Tigers and Merced County invitationals and the program's first state berth.
"It was a great ride. Those (kinds of) seasons don't happen year after year," Livingston coach Daniel Wright said. "I'm very excited we, as a team, got to experience it. It's going to be one to remember for a long time."