FRESNO - It was well past 30 minutes after Moises Medrano crossed the finish line and the Highland senior was still feeling the effects.
In the boys Division II race of the 31st CIF State Cross Country Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday, Medrano left it all on the course.
Medrano, who led for a portion of the race going into the last mile, finished ninth overall in a time of 15:33 for his second state medal. He took third in the state in the 800-meters in the state track and field championships in June.
“I was feeling good in the race while I was going with the leaders,” Medrano said. “Then I hit the final half-mile and I was feeling dead. When I crossed the finish line, I felt dead. I was light-headed.”
The D-II finals got off to a hot start, which played into Medrano’s favor as a middle-distance runner. As the pack did not let up on the pace, however, the extra distance got the best of the Cal-bound senior.
“I do like the short distance, which is where I excel,” Medrano said. “My goal was to wait to the end to give it my all, because I felt I could finish faster, but still that distance is something I need to build up to. I tried this season, but I just couldn’t.”
Medrano’s time was the fastest for any boys runner from Kern County, edging out his best friend and Stockdale junior Marcus Mota, who finished 18th in the D-I finals with a time of 15:35.
“There is a part of me that is pretty bummed,” Medrano said. “I was so close and couldn’t get the title.”
Medrano was one of two locals to medal at state. Ridgeview senior Bryan Gaxiola finished ninth overall in the boys D-III race with a time of 15:55, leading the Wolf Pack to a sixth place finish.
“That was probably the best feeling I’ve ever had,” Gaxiola said.
Gaxiola said he was playing the numbers game in his head during the race. Coming down off the hill into a straightaway during the final mile, Gaxiola recognized how many runners were in front of him.
“I said, ‘I’m in 8th place right now.’ Then I see two guys past me and it’s 10th place," Gaxiola said. "If I have never counted, I doubt I would have finished like I did.”
Ridgeview’s sixth place finish is the best for a Kern County boys team in the 31-year history of the state championships other than McFarland, which has won nine state title, tied for best all-time.
“We all worked hard. The dedication to the sport finally paid off,” Gaxiola said.
Mota knew staying with the pack for the first two miles of the D-I finals was in his wheelhouse. Then the Stockdale junior quickly realized the caliber of race he was in.
Mota, who was a top-10 finisher in the 3,200 at the CIF State Track and Field Championships last spring, finished 18th overall in the D-I finals on Saturday in 15:34.
“In my mind I just kept thinking to myself to finish as hard as I can,” Mota said. “I wanted to have the strongest finish I can. But I believe I did the best I could in this race. It’s the hardest race I’ve had all season.”
Mota was in the lead pack going into the final mile before the leaders broke away.
“The first mile went too fast,” Mota said. “Then the second mile, I just had to keep going. That third mile, it was basically whoever had the most left and wanted it the most.”
Justin Hazell of North Hollywood-El Camino Real won the D-I title in 15:03.
As the first team in Kern County history to advance to the state championships in D-I on the girls side, McFarland finished in 18th place as a team. They were led by junior Dede Salcido’s 34th place finish in 18:44. Cougars freshman Hilda Gonzalez finished 62nd (19:05) and Stockdale senior Alexandra Cholometes finished in 93rd in 19:27.
Clovis-Buchanan finished second overall as a team behind Temecula-Great Oak, despite Buchanan runners Corie Smith (17:16) and Meagen Lowe (17:19) taking the top two spots in the D-I finals.
Malibu junior Claudia Lane set the state meet course record for all divisions on the girls side with a time of 16:30 in the D-IV finals, beating out the second place finisher by 1:19.