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A Diff'rent Path
Ceres High's Glenn Driskell and Central Valley's Mike Reynolds spent part of a recent Friday at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.

The two cross country coaches designed a three-mile course that will be used by their athletes and opponents during the 2010 season.

Reynolds carried a hand-held GPS device, while Driskell used a measuring wheel to mark the distance. They completed the task in 90 minutes.

"We finally have our own home course," Reynolds said. "We've never had anything in Ceres up until this year. The kids are excited. It's going to be a lot more enjoyable than Modesto's Legion Park because of the layout. It's not all grass. There's trails, a hill and a lagoon. Hopefully, we can get more parents out there."

The Bulldogs and Hawks will both compete in the Western Athletic Conference during the regular season. The former Valley Oak League members will face each other, Central Catholic, Livingston, Patterson, Los Banos and Pacheco.

Central Valley's boys will be led by Cruz Mendez (Jr.), Francisco Arreola (Jr.), Raul Castro (So.), Abel Medina (Sr.), Ernesto Gonzalez (Sr.), Ricardo Belmonte (Sr.) and Francisco Gradilla (Fr.)

"I have everybody coming back except for one senior (Oscar Tovar)," Reynolds said. "I think we're going to be pretty solid."

Cruz wasn't a member of the team in 2009. He took first in the mile (4:58.59) at the VOL Frosh-Soph Track and Field Championships last spring.

"He's definitely my top runner," Reynolds said. "He's been working all summer. He's a leader out there for me."

Francisco Arreola placed 24th at the 2009 VOL finals, He finished 17th overall at the Sac-Joaquin Division III Sub-Section Sophomore Championships.

Raul finished 33rd in league and third at the Sub-Section Freshman Meet.

Ricardo and Ernesto took 130th and 132nd, respectively, at the Sub-Section Championships.

Gradilla competed in track and field at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High School a season ago.

"He has potential," Reynolds said. "He just needs experience competing."

Central Valley's girls will be led by Adrianna Mendez (Sr.), Andrea Rodriguez (So.), Alexia Crayton (Jr.) and Karla Rodriguez (Fr.).

"I don't know what to expect," Reynolds said. "I hope we improve from last year."

Adrianna, a third-year distance runner, placed 127th in a field of 146 at the Sac-Joaquin Division III Sub-Section Championships last fall. She completed the three-mile Frogtown course in 26:35. Mendez was sidelined during the VOL meet due to illness.

"She's definitely going to be our top point scorer," Reynolds said. "She's going to win a lot of dual meets."

Andrea, a second-year competitor, finished 26th at the VOL finals. She took 38th at the Sub-Section Frosh-Soph Championships.

Ceres High's girls will be led by Cecilia Carretero (So.), Crystal Duran (Sr.), Vanessa Barajas (Sr.) and Joana Trujillo (Sr.).

Cecilia took third in a field of 18 while propelling the Bulldogs to a first-place finish at the VOL Frosh-Soph Championships last year. She was 25th at the Sub-Section meet.

"I'm just getting to know her," Driskell said. "She's still learning. She's going to be good. She doesn't run with the girls at practice. She stays with the elite group of boys."

Duran, Barajas and Trujillo are first-year participants.

Ceres High's boys will be led by Mathew Mey (Sr.), Jose Perez (Sr.), Richard Solis (Jr.), Judas Chavarin (Fr.) and Juan Botello (Sr.).

Mathew and Jose placed 19th and 41st at the VOL Championships.

Mey placed 60th at Sub-Sections.

Jose finished 41st at the VOL Championships.

Ceres High and Central Valley will compete in a different league this year.

The Bulldogs and Hawks moved from the VOL to the Western Athletic Conference.

Opponents include Central Catholic, Livingston, Patterson, Los Banos and Pacheco.

"As long as they keep improving, that's all I care about," Driskell said. "The winning will take care of itself."

Added Reynolds: "We should be competitive."