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Ceres High’s Smith, Esparza place at Sac-Joaquin Section D-IV Championships
Fermin Esparza
Ceres High’s Fermin Esparza finished second in the 200 and fourth in the 100 while competing at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Championships this past week at Weston Ranch.

Ceres High School track and field standouts Verlis Smith and Fermin Esparza extended their track and field careers this past week.

The Bulldog seniors competed at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Championships, held May 11 and 13 at Weston Ranch High School.

Smith and Esparza both qualified for Masters.

Smith advanced in the 100 and long jump, while Esparza moved on in the 100.

“They’re peaking at the right time,” Bulldogs’ leader Brett Johnson said. “When you put in the time and are coachable, good things happen.”

“They push each other,” he added. “They have a friendly rivalry.”

Smith placed second in the 100 (11.09), fourth in the long jump (20-111/2) and seventh in the 200 (23.72) at Divisionals.

He set a personal record in the 100.

“I’m not surprised,” Johnson said. “It’s totally what I expected from him. You don’t get athletes that are that good at multiple sports like he is. He excels at everything and competes at a high level. He doesn’t know what it’s like to not give 100 percent.”

Smith had a busy week with track and field, all-star basketball practice and work.

“It was tiresome,” Smith said. “I’m surprised I did as well as I did (at Divisionals). The competition pushed me to do my best. I’m glad I got to move on for something.”

Esparza placed second in the 200 (22.90) and fourth in the 100 (11.17).

He set personal records in both events.

“He’s quiet but works very hard,” Johnson said. 

Ceres High’s 4x100 relay team saw its season come to an end at Divisionals due to injury.

Smith, Esparza, Austin Munguia and Tarrell Lee-Gill placed fifth in the event (45.62).

Lee-Gill pulled a hamstring while running the lead leg.

“If we ran our regular time, we would have qualified easily,” Johnson said.

Faiva Tuakalau, Lilly Blevins, Alexa Sandoval and Aliyah Strehl also represented the Bulldogs at Divisionals.

“They gave it their all,” Johnson said.

Tuakalau, a junior, placed 10th in both the shot put (38-061/2 and discus (98-08).

He set a personal record in the shot put.

“Each throw, he got a little better,” Johnson said.

Tuakalau was a late addition to the discus as another athlete failed to show up for the event.

Blevins, a sophomore, placed sixth in the shot put (27-4).

“She’s new to the sport,” Johnson said. “She competed at the JV level most of the year. We opted to bring her up (for the WAC Championships) because she improved quite a bit. To perform the way she did was awesome. She’s a great kid. She works hard. She’s very coachable.”

Sandoval, a junior, placed 11th in the shot put (25-0).

“She surprised herself this year,” Johnson said.

Strehl, a junior, placed 13th in the triple jump (26-07).

“She improved throughout the season,” Johnson said.


Roberto Tiscareno and Joseph Alamo capped off their athletic careers with Central Valley High School’s track and field program this past week.

The senior standouts represented the Hawks at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III Championships.

“I’m super proud of Roberto and Joseph,” Central Valley coach Michael Mrgudic said. “They did amazing this year.”

Tiscareno tied for ninth in the pole vault at Divisionals, staged May 10 and 12 at Weston Ranch High School.

He cleared 11 feet, 6 inches.

“That’s right on par with what he’s been jumping,” Mrgudic said. “I know he wanted more.”

Tiscareno placed second at the Central California Conference Championships and Tiger Rustbuster Invitational, and third at the Stanislaus County Meet. He had marks of 11-4, 9-6 and 10-0, respectively.

“He’s been super consistent,” Mrgudic said. “He had the best season of his high-school career. He trained and worked hard. It showed in his results.”

Alamo placed 19th in the long jump at Divisionals.

He leapt 17 feet, 21/2 inches.

“The way sports work, sometimes you’re not on,” Mrgudic said. “He still had a great senior year. He was our best jumper. He had multiple 19-plus jumps throughout the season.”

Alamo placed fourth at the CCC Finals with a personal-best mark of 19-51/2.

He also took fourth at the Carl L Chandler V. Invitational and Tiger Rustbuster, sixth at the County Clash, and seventh at the Stanislaus County Meet. He had marks of 17-8, 17-0, 18-10 and 19-3.

Verlis Smith runs
Bulldog Verlis Smith took second in the 100, fourth in the long jump and seventh in the 200 at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Championships this past week.