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CHS wrestlers plan to continue winning tradition
Bulldogs won Division-IV, WAC titles last winter
Ethan Letras, Daniel McElwain and Jaden Cooper will lead Ceres Highs varsity boys wrestling team this winter. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ceres High's varsity boys wrestling program enjoyed a banner year last winter.

The Bulldogs captured the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV crown.

Ceres High dominated Western Athletic Conference competition by winning overall, tournament and dual-meet titles.

The Bulldogs qualified one grappler to the CIF State Meet, eight to Masters and 14 to Divisionals.

"This year, there are no lowered expectations," Ceres High head coach Steve Festa said. "We're looking to dominate on the mat again."

Seniors Jaden Cooper (152s), Ethan Letras (170s) and Daniel McElwain (220s) will lead the way.

Seniors Shanald Lal (113s), Andrew Gibson (182s), David Caravalho (182s), Spencer Nelson (195s) and Austin Hanshew (195s) also returned to the team.

The Bulldogs' top newcomers are sophomores Sonald Lal (106s) and Edison Jimenez (138s), and freshmen Brian Ayala (132s) and Ricky Gonzales (126s).

Ceres High standouts John Alba, Frankie Mendez, Aiden Moore, Conner Johnson, Luis Camarillo and Diego Diaz were lost to graduation.

"We had a special year last season," Festa said. "This group has a responsibility to carry on the winning tradition."

Cooper qualified for Masters while competing at 138 pounds during his junior year. He placed second at Divisionals and the league finals.

"Wanting to be the best motivates me," Jaden said.
Letras placed fifth at Divisonals and second at conference championships.

Lal and Gibson both placed fifth at the WAC finals.

McElwain missed the entire 2016-17 season after suffering a knee injury at football practice.

The Bulldogs' WAC opponents are Los Banos, Patterson, Livingston, Pacheco and Central Valley.

"We'll have a shot at winning league again," Cooper said. "If any group can do it, I think we can. But it will be a lot tougher than last year. We lost more than half of our varsity lineup."

"Every year is a challenge," Festa said. "We're all on the same page. We all want the same thing."