Ceres High’s Mercedez Wood, Bulldog teammate Verlis Smith and Central Valley’s Kalli Hoffman earned all-league patches for turning in standout performance in track and field this spring.
Conference patches were awarded to athletes that finished first in their respective events at the Western Athletic Conference Championships on May 15 at Patterson Community Stadium.
“I didn’t think we were going to have a season because of the pandemic,” Wood said. “I’m happy with the results.”
Wood, a senior, swept the shot put (30-8) and discus (83-8) during the girls’ finals.
“I’m really proud of her,” Ceres High coach Brett Johson said. “She’s come a long way since her early years. When her confidence started to build more, she grew as a person and that carried over to her growing as a thrower. She believed in her abilities.”
Added Wood: “I changed mentally. I wasn’t so hard on myself.”
Wood and other high school athletes throughout the United States had their seasons cut short in the spring of 2020 due to COVID-19.
Wood finished first in the shot put and second in the discus at the WAC Championships her sophomore year.
She placed fourth in the discus and 10th in the shot put at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Championships.
She was fourth in the discus and fifth in the shot put at conference finals as a freshman. Wood placed ninth in the discus at Divisionals.
Wood was a newcomer to throwing events when she entered high school.
“Coaches convinced me to do it,” she said. “I fell in love with it. It challenged me, mentally and physically. I wanted to do better.”
Wood joined the Navy and will complete her basic training in Ill.
“I’m excited,” she said. “It’s a little scary. I’m ready to take the next step in my life.”
Hoffman set a personal record while placing first in the 400 (1:00.54).
She’s just a freshman.
“She’s super competitive,” Hawks’ coach Vanessa Goblirsch said.
A newcomer to track and field, Smith set personal records on his was to sweeping the 100 (11.25) and 200 (23.00) during the boys’ finals. Smith, a junior who also excelled in football, basketball and volleyball, was seeded second in the 100 and fifth in the 200.
“I’m proud of what I did,” he said. “Going into it, I was nervous. It was my first big meet. I did surprise myself with the times I put up. The competition pushed me to do my best.”
“We haven’t had anyone do that in quite a while,” Johnson said. “It’s pretty special. He had a great day.”