The much-anticipated showdown between Ceres High’s and Central Valley’s cross country programs took place this past week.
The Western Athletic Conference South Division dual meets were staged on March 2 at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.
“We all belong to the same town,” Bulldogs’ head coach Owen Brown said. “There’s no animosity.”
The members of Ceres High’s varsity boys team were all smiles after cruising to a 21-34 victory against Central Valley.
“They’re super excited,” Brown said. “They didn’t realize at first that they won. They competed proudly for Ceres High. There was pressure to do well against our crosstown rivals. We didn’t want to embarrass ourselves.”
Rey Soto led the Bulldogs with a second-place finish.
He completed in the 3-mile race in 21 minutes, 2 seconds.
“He’s just a freshman,” Brown said. “We’re excited about his potential.”
Ceres High’s Eduardo Ortiz (21:09), Cesar Bolanos (21:28), Paul Ruiz (22:02) and Ryan Ashby (22:41) took third, fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively.
Bolanos and Ruiz are sophomores.
“It’s another meet where our boys improved their personal records,” Brown said. It’s the performance I expected. We got a great group of kids. They’re trying to beat each other. But at the same time, they want to be there for each other.”
Central Valley’s Alejandro Gonzalez finished first overall with a time of 20 minutes, 17 seconds.
“Alejandro went out fast with a Ceres runner, made a strong move in the last mile to take the lead, and after that he didn’t look back,” Hawks’ coach Michael Mrgudic said.
Central Valley’s Jesse Vazquez (22:21), Jeremy Alvarez (22:52), Daniel Soares (22:57) and Nico Gil (24:08) took sixth, eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively.
Alvarez and Gil are sophomores.
Ceres High’s Simon Mann (11th, 25:28) and Nathan Martin (12th, 31:28) did not contribute to the Bulldogs’ point total.
Ceres High’s and Central Valley’s varsity girls squads didn’t have enough runners to post team scores.
The Hawks had just three total competitors in Ashley Anaya, Victoria Guajardo and Claudia Aguilar.
She posted a time of 25 minutes, 47 seconds en route to a first-place finish during the 3-mile race.
Guajardo (34:25) and Aguilar (34:27) took fifth and sixth, respectively.
Wendi Lizola placed second in 27:38 to lead the Bulldogs.
Elizabeth Mercado (28:06), Esmeralda Garcia Guzman (31:49) and Mitzi Collantes (36:30) took third, fourth and seventh, respectively.
“They improved their times quite a bit,” Brown stated. “They’re starting to get themselves into shape.”
“This was our first race at River Bluff for this season so a lot of runners set personal bests at the course,” Mrgudic said.
“Our team will be stronger as the season progresses, as we’ve been training hard through these weeks to get ready for the championship races,” he added.