Ceres High varsity swimmers Zachary Jones and Julia Pata turned in career-best performances while competing at the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships last week at Lodi's Tokay High School.
"There were very few athletes from below the Stockton area at sections," Bulldogs coach Sue Garcia said. "I felt we represented our area very well."
Seeded 48th, Jones placed 27th with a personal-best time of 22.68 seconds in the 50 free during trials for the varsity boys division on Thursday.
Zachary, a junior, finished ahead of 44 other participants.
He also placed 27th in the 100 free (50.18).
"I'm satisfied with what I did," Jones said. "I tried my hardest. I was a little intimidated. But I didn't let it get in my head. I focused on me. I thought I did amazing."
Zachary placed third in the 50 free and eighth in the 100 free at the 2013 frosh-soph section meet.
"It's a whole another level of competition when you jump from JV to varsity," Garcia said. "For Zach to do what he did was incredible."
Pata and fellow Bulldog teammates Ciana Sather, Kiera Brownlee and Lindsey Reedy raced in the frosh-soph girls division.
Julia placed seventh in the 100 free (56.01) in the finals on Saturday. She topped 58 other competitors.
Pata set a personal-record during Thursday's preliminaries (55.86).
"It's a huge accomplishment when you consider the competition," Garcia said. "Most of the other swimmers compete and train year-round."
Pata also placed 17th in the 50 free (26.01). The top 16 advanced to the finals.
"She wanted to do better," Garcia said. "That shows she cares."
Sather placed 44th (1:08.22) in the 100 fly.
Ceres High's 400 free relay team of Sather, Brownlee, Reedy and Pata placed 24th in a season-best time of 4:11.54. The Bulldog quartet shaved nine seconds off their season-best time.
The Bulldogs' 200 medley relay team of Pata (back), Brownlee (breast), Sather (fly) and Reedy (free) placed 37th (2:09.16).
Pata, Sather, Brownlee and Reedy are freshmen.
"The kids put in three extra weeks of practice," Garcia said. "It paid off. I'm expecting them to get even better."
Added Jones: "I want to make it to finals next season. I'm going to have to do some extra workouts."