Ceres High’s varsity boys cross country program received disheartening news prior to the start of the Western Athletic Conference season.
Luis Yepez, the Bulldogs’ top returner, was lost for the year with a back injury.
Yepez qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships and finished seventh at the WAC Finals as a sophomore.
“We would have had a stronger team with Yepez,” head coach Katie Thiele said. “But the other boys did a good job of picking it up. Not doing well wasn’t an option for them.”
Ceres High managed to place second in the conference’s overall standings despite competing shorthanded.
The Bulldogs secured a runner-up finish after taking second at the conference finals on Oct. 30 at O’Neill Forebay.
Ceres High took second at the WAC’s third cluster meet.
The Bulldogs were third at the conference’s first and second meets.
“I’m not surprised,” Thiele said. “I knew they could take second. That was the goal. It’s such a hard-working team.”
Flores, a sophomore, medaled at the WAC Championships.
He placed eighth on the 3-mile course with a time of 17 minutes, 53 seconds.
The top eight individuals were rewarded.
“I’m super proud of Ronaldo,” Thiele said. “He is the only boy from Ceres to get a medal. Fabian (Amparo) and Bryan (Erenas) just missed out.”
Amparo (18:00) and Erenas (18:18) placed ninth and 10th, respectively.
Jossue Portillo (18:51) and Gonzalo Rivera (19:06) contributed to the Bulldogs’ team point total as well by taking 14th and 20th.
Bulldog teammates Kevin Wise (19:19), Elijah Vas Dinis (19:53), Brian Estrada (20:17), Paul Ruiz (20:43), Daniel Gonzalez (21:03) and Eduardo Ortiz (21:51) finished 25th, 33rd, 40th, 45th, 51st and 60th, respectively.
Ceres High finished 28 points behind Pacheco (33) at the WAC Championships.
The Bulldogs bested Lathrop (69), Los Banos (111), Mountain House (120), Beyer (157) and Johansen (164).
“Our newer guys (Flores and Amparo) got used to racing and became more confident,” Thiele said. “They pushed themselves a little bit more and that put the team in a better spot.”