Ceres High’s boys wrestling program competed shorthanded during the 2021-22 season due to a thin lineup.
The Bulldogs’ participation numbers have increased significantly this winter.
Ceres High’s roster has grown from eight to 28 grapplers.
“I’m super excited about our numbers,” head coach Casey Paulino said. “We tried to recruit as many kids as we could. We piqued their interest at different events. Other coaches have been an advocate for us, too.”
Ceres High returns five wrestlers from a season ago, including Arturo Estrada (Sr.), Nathan Miranda (Sr.), Shawn Janis (Jr.), Martin Bolanos (So.) and Abraham Rodriguez (So.).
The Bulldogs have 23 newcomers: Dakota Adams (Sr.), Daniel Baker (Sr.), Isaac Camorlinga (Sr.), Jaylin Jackson (Sr.), Omar Maciel (Sr.), Alejandro Plantillas (Sr.), Joseph Alcala (Jr.), Ashleigh Cabrera (Jr.), Oscar Chavez (Jr.), Malakhi Gilmore (Jr.), Caleb Adams (So.), McCoy Adams (So.), Isaac Bravo (So.), Isac Cazarez (So.), Noah Raya (So.), Jaime Torres (So.), Parker Borges (Fr.), Sebastian Carreon (Fr.), Hunter Hammons (Fr.), Evan Letras (Fr.), Jose Nunez (Fr.), Aaron Oliveros (Fr.) and Jaden Silva (Fr.).
“We’re happy with the group that we got,” Paulino said. “They all have good attitudes. They’re working hard. They’re goal-driven. They don’t like to lose.”
“A lot of the kids have never wrestled before,” he added. “We’re trying to give them as much information as we can without overloading their brains. They’re absorbing the stuff we’re teaching them. We’re drilling the basics. We just want them to execute to the best of their ability.”
Estrada placed second at the Western Athletic Conference Championships and fifth at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Tournament in the 126-pound weight division as a junior.
Miranda placed fourth at the WAC finals and competed at Divisionals at 182 pounds as a junior.
Janis and Rodriguez compiled identical 0-2 records at 160 and 152 pounds, respectively, at the conference championships.
Estrada and Borges have been named team captains.
“They make sure everybody stays on task,” Paulino said. “They run the warmups.”
Ceres High’s WAC dual schedule features matches against Beyer, Grace Davis, Johansen, Los Banos, Pacheco, Lathrop and Mountain House.
The conference finals will be held on Feb. 4 at Pacheco High School.
“If we keep our numbers up and the kids keep working hard, I don’t think we’ll have any problem contending in the next two to three years,” Paulino said. “The biggest thing is keeping everybody healthy.”
Ceres High accumulated 47 points on its way to taking seventh at the WAC Championships this past winter.
Grace Davis (288), Johansen (146), Beyer (115), Los Banos (100), Lathrop (96), Pacheco (70) and Mountain House (30) finished first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth, respectively.
The Bulldogs had three individuals qualify for Divisionals.
“We’re excited for this year and the future,” Paulino said. “You fail a lot in wrestling. Once you start winning, you crave it (success). They’re going to get better. Our ultimate goal is to be state-ranked in the top 20 in the next five to six years.”