Ceres High School's varsity wrestling program fell short in its quest to capture the championship at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Team Duals this past weekend in Stockton.
"We put ourselves in a position to win a section title," Bulldogs head coach Steve Festa said. "My kids wrestled hard. I'm real proud of their effort. This is one of the best teams I've coached. These types of teams don't come around every year."
The third-seeded Bulldogs had to settle for runner-up honors after losing 44-19 to crosstown-rival Central Valley in the finals on Saturday at Lincoln High School.
"Regardless of the outcome, it's something we'll never forget," Festa said. "It was exciting having an all-Ceres finale. We have the two best teams in our section."
Ceres High's Frankie Mendez, John Alba, Brian Becerra, Michael Vargas and Tyree Williams all picked up individual wins in defeat against Central Valley.
Mendez won by pin (4:36) against Trent Craig at 108 pounds.
Alba won by major decision (16-5) against Jose Castillo at 147 pounds.
Becerra won by decision (10-4) against Ryan Hendrix at 128 pounds.
Vargas won by decision (6-3) against Wilbur Arellano at 115 pounds.
Williams won by decision (4-2) against Adrian Badillo at 184 pounds.
Ceres High's Aiden Moore, Spencer Nelson, Conner Johnson, Luis Camarillo, Jaden Cooper, Diego Diaz, Julian Lopez, Daniel McElwain and Antonio Gonzalez dropped their respective matches to Central Valley.
Moore lost by decision (3-2) to Central Valley's Severo Vazquez at 154 pounds.
Nelson lost by decision (12-8) to Alex Alvarado at 162 pounds.
Johnson lost by major decision (18-6) to Gabriel Martinez at 197 pounds.
Camarillo lost by major decision (12-0) to Luis Saucedo at 122 pounds.
Cooper lost by pin (4:15) to Christian Oliver at 134 pounds.
Diaz lost by pin (3:15) to Andrew Marquez at 172 pounds.
Lopez lost by pin (1:59) to Will Sprouse at 140 pounds.
McElwain lost by pin (0:49) to Jason Beckhart at 222 pounds.
Gonzalez lost by pin (0:30) to David Lezama at 287 pounds.
The Bulldogs lost 53-21 to the Hawks during their Western Athletic Conference dual-meet showdown on Jan. 12.
"I'm not taking anything away from Central Valley," Festa said. "I give them a lot of credit. They wrestled hard and won close matches. We came up short."
Ceres High beat second-seeded Lincoln of Lincoln 39-24 in the semifinals.
Johnson won by pin (0:07) at 197 pounds.
Diaz won by pin (0:39) at 172 pounds.
Camarillo won by pin (1:06) at 122 pounds.
Vargas won by pin (5:13) at 115 pounds.
Mendez won by decision (6-0) at 108 pounds.
Alba won by decision (7-2) at 147 pounds.
McElwain won by decision (13-10) at 222 pounds.
Nelson won by decision (6-3) at 162 pounds.
Williams won by decision (6-5) at 182 pounds.
Ceres High defeated El Dorado 54-24 in the first round.
Becerra won by pin (1:02) at 128 pounds.
Camarillo won by pin (1:19) at 122 pounds.
Johnson won by pin (1:23) at 197 pounds.
Diaz won by decision (14-8) at 172 pounds.
Moore won by decision (8-3) at 154 pounds.
Mendez won by forfeit at 108 pounds.
Vargas won by forfeit at 115 pounds.
Alba won by forfeit at 147 pounds.
Williams won by forfeit at 184 pounds.
Gonzalez won by forfeit at 287 pounds.
Ceres High (13-4) reeled off six straight dual victories before losing to Central Valley in the section finals. "It was a great opportunity," said Festa, whose team brought home a second-place plaque from Stockton. "We don't take it for granted. Our goals are to win conference and section titles. We're going to keep striving to improve so we can accomplish that. If you work hard, great things can be achieved."