The Western Athletic Conference Scholar-Athletes of the Year luncheon banquet was held at the Turlock Golf & Country Club on May 21.
Seniors Ivan Arita and Shania Evans attended the event as Ceres High’s award recipients, along with 12 student-athletes from other WAC schools.
“I was honored to represent Ceres High in that way,” Arita said. “All my hard work paid off.”
“I’m super honored,” Evans said. “There are only a select few that get the award. Only two athletes from each school receive it. It shows all my hard work, academically and athletically, paid off.”
Evans’ three biggest supporters, parents Bill and Sheena and grandma Sharline, all smiled when she was recognized.
“It was almost like they were winning the award,” she said. “They’ve put in so much time behind the scenes to help me succeed. It was a group effort.”
Arita’s parents Jeremias and Sandra also applauded when his name was announced.
“Seeing the joy on their faces was very humbling and a really good experience,” he said.
Arita posted a 3.9 cumulative GPA during his high-school career.
He didn’t always excel in the classroom.
“I didn’t care about my education until I flunked third grade,” Arita said. “The talk my parents gave me changed me. Ever since then, I’ve got A’s and B’s on everything. It was a complete turnaround.”
Evans had a cumulative GPA of 4.1.
“I’ve always had good grades,” said Evans, who’s earned straight A’s since elementary school. “My parents expect that out of me. It’s definitely challenging but it pushes you to work harder in the classroom.”
Arita earned six varsity letters, including three in volleyball, two in soccer and one in football.
Arita received first-team all-WAC honors on defense as Ceres High’s boys soccer team complied a program-best 20-2-4 overall record, claimed the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III title and advanced to the Northern California Regional Championship for the first time this past winter.
Arita was also a first-team performer on the boys volleyball team, which set three program records by compiling a 19-12 overall record, finishing in second place in the WAC (9-3) and qualifying for the playoffs for the second time in four years this spring.
Arita contributed at receiver during his first season playing football last fall.
Evans earned nine varsity letters, including four in tennis, three in track and field and two in softball.
A standout hitter and shortstop, Evans was a first-team pick in softball this spring. She filled a key role as the Bulldogs posted a 19-6 overall record, captured the WAC crown with a near-perfect 13-1 mark and qualified for the Division-III playoffs.
She took fifth in the triple jump at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Track & Field Championships.
She placed third in the triple jump and sixth in the long jump at the WAC finals.
Evans’ individual excellence translated into team success for Ceres High, which finished second overall in the WAC dual standings (5-1).
In the fall, Evans advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I Singles Tennis Tournament.
She amassed a 15-2 record during the WAC campaign. Evans won three of four matches en route to a runner-up finish at the conference championships. She was a first-team all-league selection.
Evans helped lead Ceres High to a runner-up finish in the WAC standings (11-3).
Arita and Evans will attend Sacramento State and Humboldt State, respectively, beginning this fall.
Ivan will major in mechanical engineering and try to join the school’s soccer team as a walk-on player.
Shania earned a softball scholarship.
She will major in liberal studies elementary education.
“I’m super excited for what’s to come,” Evans said. “But I’m super nervous to leave my family. I’m going to miss them.”
“I’m going into college with the same mindset I have now, which is to strive for the best,” Arita said.
Arita and Shania will be first-generation college students.
“My family is proud of me,” Evans said. “It’s nice to set an example for all of the younger nieces and nephews in my family.”
“I’m very thankful for what my parents have done,” Arita said. “They came here (to the United States) for us to have a better opportunity. I’m not going to let them down again.”