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Best of Ceres: Part 2
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In today's Courier, we present Part II of the best of 2012 list.

Team Effort

1. Ceres High's varsity boys tennis team compiled a program-best 20-2 overall record, captured the WAC title (11-1) and advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the third consecutive season.

2. Central Valley's varsity boys soccer team extended its streaks of consecutive league titles (five) and playoff appearances (6). The Hawks (24-3-2) set a program record for wins in a season, finished second in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the third time in four years and captured their third consecutive WAC crown (10-1-1).

3. Central Valley's varsity girls basketball team secured its second straight Western Athletic Conference title and Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth. The Hawks lost all of their league games and struggled to a 2-21 overall record during their inaugural season in 2006-07.

4. Ceres High's varsity softball program won its first league title since 2005-06 and returned to the playoffs following two-year absence. The Bulldogs won 10 of 12 conference games, posted a 17-9 overall record and finished fourth at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV championships.

5. Ceres High's varsity boys and girls water polo programs both made history. Ceres High's boys squad compiled a 7-1 record on its way to a first-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference. Ceres High's girls (6-2) took second in league play. Both teams qualified for the playoffs. The girls participated for the first time. The boys team returned to the postseason following a one-year absence and captured its first conference title in eight seasons.

6. Ceres High's varsity baseball team compiled an 18-11 overall record and finished runner-up in the Western Athletic Conference standings (8-4). The Bulldogs also qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoffs for the second year in a row.

7. The Ceres Seahawks junior-varsity youth football team reached unprecedented heights under head coach Randy Flanagan's guidance. The Seahawks made their first-ever Cen-Cal Super-Bowl appearance, posted an 11-2 record and captured the AFC regular season and postseason titles.

Other Notable Stories

1. Thomas Vanderlaan received a hometown hero's welcome from family, friends, teachers, coaches and community members on Jan. 14. The 2008 Ceres High graduate's life was forever changed in June of 2011. Thomas, a 6-foot-7 defensive end, broke his neck and injured his spinal cord while practicing with the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Falcons' football team. He's paralyzed from his mid-chest down. He was hospitalized for over four months. He had two major surgeries. Vanderlaan has since regained feeling in parts of his body, including chest, underarms, left leg and ankle, and right knee. He can also move his arms. Vanderlaan played varsity football for two seasons at Ceres High. He earned honorable-mention, Valley Oak League accolades his senior year. Thomas started at center on offense. He made 28 tackles, registered one sack and forced one fumble on defense. Vanderlaan earned an invitation to the 23rd North/South Chowchilla Rotary All-Star Football Game. He earned two varsity letters in basketball. A standout center, Vanderlaan made the VOL All-Defensive Team as a senior. He ranked fourth on the team in scoring (5.8 ppg). He came off the bench his junior season. He attended grades K-12 in Ceres. He went to Virginia Parks Elementary and Mae Hensley Jr. High.

2. Joey Rossi, a 2006 Ceres High graduate, has faced many challenges in his life. He plans to share his life story as a motivational speaker for children with learning disabilities. Rossi had reading and writing difficulties all through school due to dyslexia. A four-year member of the University of the Pacific men's water polo team (2006-09), Rossi earned his Masters degree in exercise physiology in 2011 and B.A. in sports pedagogy with an emphasis in strength and conditioning in 2010. He swam one season for the Tigers. Joey earned Academic All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honors every year.

3. Latrisha Jordan had a glory-filled career with the Fresno State women's track and field program. The 2008 Central Valley High School graduate placed eighth in the 400 hurdles at the NCAA Division-I Championships her freshman year, and captured three Western Athletic Conference individual titles. Jordan was awarded a full-ride scholarship to Fresno State following a remarkable two-year career with the Hawks. Seeded eighth, Latrisha claimed a fifth-place medal in the 300 hurdles at the 90th CIF State Track and Field Championships. She completed the race in a personal-best 42.40 seconds, which ranked 25th in the nation. Jordan also claimed Masters and Division III titles during her senior year. She swept the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 400 and 200 at the Valley Oak League finals as well. Latrisha graduated with honors from Fresno State on May 19.

4. Jasveen Brar experienced just about every emotion during her final season with the Modesto Junior College women's track and field team. Sidelined with the flu for two weeks, the 2010 Central Valley High School graduate lost seven pounds. Brar had reason to smile after willing herself to a seventh-place finish in the 400 hurdles at the 2012 California Community College Track & Field Championships on May 19. Jasveen posted a time of 64.55 seconds. She passed two girls during the final 100 meters and avoided finishing in last place. She placed sixth in the 400 hurdles at State in 2011. She earned All-American status for the second year in a row. Brar will continue her track and field career at San Francisco.

5. Jamie Beck had a memorable freshman year with the Modesto Junior College women's basketball team. The 6-foot-2 center/2011 Ceres High grad shattered former Pirate and Bulldog Krystle Brown's single-season blocks record (78). Gena (Weese) Beck, Jamie's mother, played for the Pirates in 1987-88. She was a dominant rebounder. Gena ranks in the top 10 for boards in a single season.

6. With new head coach Jason McCloskey leading the way, Central Valley High School's varsity football team enjoyed its best start in program history. The Hawks won four of their first five games and appeared headed for the playoffs. Needing to win two of its final four games to secure its first-ever postseason trip, the Hawks mustered just one victory the rest of the way. Pacheco (5-6) edged out Central Valley (5-5) for the final berth in the Division-III bracket.

7. Jose Ramirez, Gerardo Cazares and Larry Hernandez accomplished a lot together while starring on Central Valley High School's varsity boys soccer team from 2008-10. The Hawks posted a 50-8-9 overall record, advanced to the section finals twice, won three league titles and participated in the playoffs every season. Ramirez, Cazares and Hernandez continued their soccer careers at Cal State Stanislaus. Jose, Gerardo and Larry all logged playing time during the Warriors' 2012 record-breaking campaign. Stanislaus compiled a program-best 12-5-3 record, advanced to the NCAA Division-II Championship Tournament for the first time and captured the California Collegiate Athletic Association crown.

8. Playing on campus for the first time, Central Valley's varsity football team came oh-so-close to notching its biggest win in program history. Head coach Jason McCloskey didn't make any excuses following the Hawks' agonizing 21-20 loss to tradition-rich Patterson. Emergency quarterback Brandon Williams scored on a 1-yard run with 44 seconds to play, Bryan DeAnda booted the go-ahead point-after kick and Ruben Rosas blocked Alvaro Rodriguez's potential game-winning 36-yard field-goal as time expired. Central Valley junior Ja'Quan Gardner rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Hawk quarterback Abraham Navarro completed 5 of 11 passes for 81 yard with one touchdown. Kenny Lopez caught two passes for 25 yards and one TD. Gardner put the Hawks ahead 20-14 when he scored on a 1-yard run at the 11:09 mark of the fourth quarter. Rodriguez missed a PAT for just the second time this season. Central Valley had two drives stall at Patterson's 35-yard line late in the game.The Hawks' tiring defense allowed the Tigers to march 80 yards during their final offensive possession. When the game was on the line, Williams completed a 29-yard pass to Jordan Levu on fourth-and-10. Levu outjumped Gardner and Raul Godinez at Central Valley's 1-yard line. Patterson star quarterback Joey Lopes exited the game with a left shoulder injury early in the third quarter. The Hawks got the ball back with 37 seconds to play at their own 25-yard line. Navarro marched Central Valley into position for the potential, winning field goal. Abraham completed a 26-yard pass to sophomore Angelo Bermudez. Angelo stepped out of bounds at Patterson's 24. An offsides penalty moved the ball to the 19-yard line with 3 seconds to play. The Hawks lost 33-0 to the Tigers last season.

9. Ceres High's varsity boys and girls basketball teams both placed first at their own tournaments in December. Ceres High's boys took first at home for the first time in eight years. The Bulldogs captured their 15th home tourney title. Ceres High's girls finished first at the Ceres Lions Tournament for the first time since 2005.