In today's Courier, we present Part 2 of the best of 2017 list.
1. Ceres High's varsity boys wrestling program claimed the blue Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV championship banner. The Bulldogs also dominated Western Athletic Conference competition by winning overall, tournament and dual-meet titles. Ceres High qualified one grappler to the CIF State Meet, eight to Masters and 14 to Divisonals.
2. Central Valley's fifth-seeded varsity boys soccer team upset upset No. 1 East Union and No. 4 Rio Americano on its way to advancing to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III title game. The Hawks amassed a 20-7-3 overall record and finished in third place in the Western Athletic Conference standings (9-4-2).
3. Central Valley's varsity girls soccer team amassed a 20-3-1 overall record. The Hawks collected 13 wins, one loss and one tie en route to finishing in first place in the Western Athletic Conference standings for the second year in a row. Central Valley advanced to the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the second straight season.
4. Central Valley's varsity boys cross country program annexed its first-ever league title. The Hawks captured the Western Athletic Conference overall championship. Central Valley placed first at the league finals and beat all five of its dual opponents. The Hawks posted wins against Livingston (18-37), Los Banos (15-45), Pacheco (15-70), Patterson (23-32) and Ceres High (17-54). Central Valley finished fifth at the WAC Championships and dropped all five of its conference dual meets in 2016.
5. Ceres High's varsity boys golf program defended its Western Athletic Conference title. The Bulldogs won all six league cluster meets and took first at the WAC year-end tournament. Ceres High participated in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. The Bulldogs took fifth at the Division-IV tournament for the second straight year.
6. Ceres High's varsity boys tennis team placed first in the Western Athletic Conference (14-1) for the third time in four seasons. The Bulldogs also qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the eighth straight year. Ceres High compiled a 1-1 record on its way to a top-four finish in the Division-III bracket.
7. Ceres High's varsity softball team defended its Western Athletic Conference title (9-1) despite returning just four players from 2016. The Bulldogs went 20-9 overall and finished in the top eight in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs. Ceres High outscored its WAC opponents, 85-15. The Bulldogs made their sixth straight postseason appearance.
Other Notable Stories
1. Nicole Bates' run of success over the past two years has been nothing short of amazing. The 2016 Ceres High grad helped lead the USA Softball Junior Women's National team to a gold medal at the World Baseball Softball Confederation World Championship in July. She singled, knocked in one run and scored twice as USA routed top-seeded Japan 13-4 in the finals at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Florida. Bates also had a productive freshman season with the University of Washington. The Huskies advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division-I Women's College World Series. Washington claimed Super Regional and Regional titles. Bates was a finalist for the 2017 Schutt Sports/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I Freshman of the Year award. She earned NFCA Pacific-Region Third-Team honors. She was also selected to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team. Nicole started all 64 games for 50-14 Washington, with her primary position being second base. She posted a batting average of .338 with three home runs, six triples, 10 doubles, 33 RBIs and 42 runs. Bates collected 66 hits. She committed just five errors. Nicole ranked first on the team in triples, second in total hits and runs scored, fourth in doubles, fifth in RBIs and total bases, and sixth in homers, walks, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. She led the conference in triples.
2. Central Valley grad Ja'Quan Gardner wrapped up his gridiron career at Humboldt State. Gardner finished seventh in voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy, the NCAA Division-II College Football Player of the Year Award. Gardner was named a Second Team Associated Press and First Team Conference Commissioners Association (CCA) All-American on Dec. 13. Ja'Quan was voted 2017 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Gardner was named to the CCA All-Region First Team on Dec. 1. Ja'Quan propelled the Lumberjacks to an 8-2 overall record this fall. Gardner, Humboldt State's all-time rushing leader, gained 1,259 yards and scored 19 touchdowns on 203 carries. He became the GNAC's all-time leader in career touchdowns scored (75), points scored (450), all-purpose yards (6,979), all-purpose yards per game (170.2), rushing attempts (878), rushing yards (5,426) and rushing touchdowns (70). Ja'Quan set conference single-game marks with 446 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns, and tied another league record with five rushing TDs during Humboldt State's 52-49 Homecoming win over Azusa Pacific.
3. Central Valley grad Janita Vongphoumy filled a key role during the Modesto Junior College Women's golf team's record-breaking season. The Pirates captured their first California Community College Athletic Association State Championship on Nov. 13 at Morro Bay Golf Course. Vongphoumy led Modesto JC with a two-day total of 149. She shot 74 the first day and 75 the second day. Janita took seventh in the individual standings.
4. La Rosa Elementary School's Andre Flores captured the 65-pound title at the 50th Annual Silver Gloves National Championships on Feb. 4 in Missouri. Flores (Region 8) collected victories against Ohio's Deshaun Carter (Region 2) and New York's Fynest Cummings (Region 1) in the Boys Open 8-to-9-year-old Pee-Wee Division. He also claimed titles at the Ringside World Boxing Championships in July and the USA Boxing Western Elite Qualifier & Regional Open Championship in May. Andre placed first at the 2017 California State Silver Gloves Championships on Dec. 3 in El Monte. He won the 75-pound crown.
5. Ceres High grad Jimbo Pernetti's play on the field and dedication in the classroom earned him special recognition. A standout senior first baseman at Chico State, Pernetti was selected to the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings Gold Glove Team. He was the top Division-II defender at his position. Jimbo had a fielding percentage of .998, committing just one error in 441 chances. Pernetti earned California Collegiate Athletic Association honorable-mention accolades. He batted .289 with seven homers, one triple, 13 doubles, 43 RBIs, 30 runs and six stolen bases in 52 games for the 45-11 Wildcats, who posted the best winning percentage in the history of the CCAA while capturing the conference's regular-season and tournament titles for the first time since 2000. Jimbo also received CCAA All-Academic honors for the second time.
6. Central Valley grads Ozzie Ramos (Seattle University), Angel Lopez (Cal State San Bernardino) and Andres Velasquez (UC Davis) played college soccer for four-year schools. Ramos started at defensive midfielder for the Redhawks, who qualified for the NCAA Division-I Tournament and won the Western Athletic Conference Championship Tournament. Lopez made three starts and played in 12 games at midfielder as a true freshman for the 8-8-1 Coyotes. A redshirt freshman, Velasquez didn't appear in any games with the Aggies. He practiced with the team. UC Davis won the Big West Conference regular-season title.
7. Bret Durossette resigned as head coach of Ceres High's football program. Bret directed the varsity team for a total of 13 seasons (2011-17, 2000-05). The Bulldogs amassed a 46-86 overall record, claimed one conference title and participated in the postseason twice under Durossette's guidance. Ceres High won a share of the Modesto Metro Conference title-its first league championship in 18 years-and secured its second straight Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth in 2004. The Bulldogs finished 7-4 on the year, placed third in the Central California Conference (7-2) and returned to section playoffs following an eight-year absence in 2003. Ceres High had a combined record of 20-50 from 2011-17.