Ceres High School's varsity boys golf team distanced itself from the rest of the pack in the Western Athletic Conference standings this past week.
The Bulldogs tightened their grip on the top spot in the WAC with a commanding 219-238 victory against host Los Banos on April 19 in Chowchilla.
"The kids were motivated," Ceres High first-year head coach Abel Maestas said.
The first-place Bulldogs improved to 8-1 in the WAC dual standings.
The Tigers dropped to 6-3 in conference play.
Ceres High posted a team score of 437 on its way to topping six other schools, including Los Banos (468), at the WAC Mid-Season Tournament earlier this month.
Gary Condit, Zac Chapman, Jacob Langan, James Cervantez and Jayden Panyanouvong helped the Bulldogs avenge a conference-dual forfeit loss to the Tigers this past week.
Condit led the way with a 4-over-par 40. Chapman (42), Langan (44), Cervantez (46) and Panyanouvong (47) turned in respectable scores as well.
"We came in more confident because we just played there (Pheasant Run Golf Course) a week ago," Maestas said. "Everyone improved their score by a couple of strokes. We're getting better."
Ceres High won its head-to-head matchup versus Los Banos, 171-189, on March 15 at St. Stanislaus Golf Course. The Bulldogs had to forfeit the victory to the Tigers due to a practice violation which occurred minutes before the contest got underway.
"It was my fault," Maestas said. "I'm a new coach. I didn't know the rule. You can't warm up on the course you play on before stroke play. My players were putting on one of the greens before the match. It happened once. It's not going to happen again. It was a learning experience. We moved past it."
Ceres High's final three conference opponents are Patterson, Central Valley (April 28) and Livingston (May 2).
The Bulldogs beat the Tigers, Hawks and Wolves by a combined 113 strokes during the first half of WAC play.
"Coming into the season, I knew we had talent," Maestas said. "I didn't know what kind of talent the rest of the teams in our league had. There's definitely room for improvement. We want to be able to compete at sections. That's going to take a lot of work."
Barring a major collapse, Ceres High will participate in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. The Bulldogs are also closing in on their first-ever WAC championship. Ceres High joined the conference in 2011.
Ceres High won its last league title in 2002. The Bulldogs placed first in the Central California Conference with a perfect 18-0 record.
"We're the best team in the WAC from top to bottom," Maestas said. "It's a great feeling. We set a goal and we've worked hard to achieve it. We're pretty much doing what we wanted to do. There's definitely room for improvement."