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The Best of 2021 Sports: Part one
Verlis Smith file
Ceres High’s Verlis Smith excelled in football, track and field, volleyball and basketball this past year. - photo by DALE BUTLER/Courier file photo

In today’s Courier, we highlight the success of prep athletes that excelled in their respective sports this past year. Here’s Part One of the best of 2021 list.

Peak Performers

1. Alysabeth Marquez joined rare company this fall by becoming just the second girls golfer from Ceres High School to earn league Most Valuable Player honors for the second time. The junior followed in the footsteps of 2015 CHS grad Caitlin Pfaff, who was named Western Athletic Conference MVP her junior and sophomore years. Marquez was the top player in the WAC South Division this season and shared the WAC MVP award with Central Valley’s Amelia Daoheung as a sophomore. She compiled a 13-1 record versus WAC South cluster competition. She shot a 27-over-par 98 while finishing third overall at the conference tournament. Marquez earned her first-ever berth to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament after posting the fifth-best individual score at the Division-IV Championships.

2. Ceres High softball star Brooklyn Heffernan was voted league Most Valuable Player for the second time in three years. The junior pitcher/outfielder was the top player in the Western Athletic Conference South Division in 2021. Heffernan posted a 10-0 record in WAC play with a 0.88 earned-run average, 118 strikeouts, seven complete games and one save. She batted .375 from the plate with one home run, one triple, seven doubles, 17 RBIs, 22 runs and four stolen bases. Heffernan had on-base, slugging and on-base plus slugging percentages of .485, .589 and 1.074, respectively.

3. Amelia Daoheung wrapped up her career with Central Valley’s girls golf team by being named co-Most Valuable Player of the Western Athletic Conference South Division. Daoeheung compiled a 5-1 record while filling the top spot in the Hawks’ lineup. Daoheung won her second straight MVP award. She was voted the Central California Conference’s best player as a junior.

4. Gabrial Lopez made program history by becoming just the second baseball player from Central Valley to earn Most Valuable Player honors. The junior pitcher posted a perfect 7-0 record with a 0.60 earned-run average, one no-hitter, three shutouts, six complete games, 84 strikeouts and 18 walks during his junior year.

5. Isaiah Hidalgo was voted Western Athletic Conference South Division Most Valuable Player during his final season with Central Valley’s football program. A standout running back as a junior and sophomore, Hidalgo contributed at quarterback senior year. He ran for 1,005 yards and 12 touchdowns on 134 carries. He passed for 189 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Hidalgo caught two passes for 52 yards.

6. Central Valley girls soccer standout Angie Medrano was named Most Valuable Player of the Western Athletic Conference South Division as a sophomore. She tallied nine goals and three assists while starring at forward.

7. Central Valley’s Matteo Bonales was selected Most Valuable Player at the conclusion of the Western Athletic Conference South Division Boys Golf season. Bonales, a junior, compiled a near-perfect 7-1 record against league competition.

8. Allison Stiles was voted the WAC South Division’s Most Valuable Setter during her final year with Ceres High’s girls volleyball team. Stiles accumulated 145 assists, 39 digs, 19 kills, 18 aces and two blocks.

9. Ceres High’s Verlis Smith earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference South Division honors in football, track and field and volleyball. He also excelled in basketball. Smith did a little bit of everything in football. The senior receiver caught 36 passes for 775 yards and 14 touchdowns. He rushed for 277 yards and four TDs on 35 carries. He completed 5 of 13 passes for 117 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Smith totaled 19 tackles, three interceptions and three pass deflections at cornerback. All three of Smith’s interceptions and pass deflections came in a 26-3 win against Pacheco. He returned one of the picks 100 yards for a touchdown. A newcomer to track and field, Smith set personal records on his way to sweeping the 100 (11.25) and 200 (23.00) at the WAC Championships. He was seeded second in the 100 and fifth in the 200. Smith was rewarded for leading Ceres High’s volleyball team to a 4-0 record during the COVID-shortened conference season. He was a WAC honorable-mention selection in the ninth grade. Smith would have most likely received all-league recognition in basketball had he played the entire season. He missed a pair of games against Los Banos after being placed in COVID quarantine for a second time. Smith averaged 11.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He scored a team-high 19 points versus powerhouse Modesto Christian.

10. Mercedez Wood enjoyed a memorable finish to her career with Ceres High’s girls track and field program. She swept the shot put (30-8) and discus (83-8) at the Western Athletic Conference Championships.

11. Kalli Hoffman brought home three individual medals from the Western Athletic Conference Track and Field Championship during her freshman campaign with Central Valley’s girls track and field team. She placed first in the 400 (1:00.54), second in the 100 (12.90) and third in the 200 (27.05). Hoffman set personal records in the 400 and 200.

12. Erik Hott earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference South Division honors following a productive junior season with Ceres High’s boys golf team. The Central Valley Christian Academy transfer won seven of eight matches in league play while filling the top spot in the Bulldogs’ lineup. He compiled a 1-1 record versus league MVP Matteo Bonales of Central Valley.

13. Junior Nicholas Campbell led Ceres High’s boys water polo team in scoring with a career-high 117 goals. He was a second-team, all-WAC selection.

Kalli Hoffman runs
Central Valley’s Kalli Hoffman finished first in the 400, second in the 100 and third in the 200 while competing at the Western Athletic Conference Girls Track & Field Championships as a freshman.