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Crosstown sweep in cross country
Ceres High claims WAC dual-meet wins
Daisy Ochoa, pictured left, and Central Valley girls cross country teammate Jasmine Diaz competed against Ceres High this past week at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park. The shorthanded Hawks failed to score a team score against the Bulldogs. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ceres High School's varsity cross country program swept crosstown Central Valley on Wednesday at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.

"We're rivals," Bulldog senior Manuel Baez said. "But we have friends over there. We get along. We motivate each other during the race."

Baez, Christian Linarez, Efren Ramirez, Nick Burt and Angel Macias led the Bulldogs' boys team to a 19-39 win over the Hawks.

Ceres High and Central Valley compiled identical 2-4 records during the Western Athletic Conference regular-season dual-meet season.

Linarez bested all competitors last week, finishing in first place with a time of 19 minutes, 10 seconds on the three-mile course.

Baez (20:43), Ramirez (20:45), Burt (21:21) and Macias (22:01) took third, fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

The Hawks top finishers were Ben Saldana (second, 19:10), Gilberto Alvarez (seventh, 22:14), Diego Andrade (ninth, 22:24), Alejandro Espinoza (10th, 23:22) and Anthony Carrillo (11th, 23:23).

"We knew it was going to be close," said Baez, unaware his team won decisively. "We practiced really hard. We pushed each other when running. We did our best."

"The better team came out on top," said Saldana, a first-team all-conference selection as a junior. "It's not a serious rivalry. We get along. We all love running. That's why we do the sport."

Unable to field at least a five-person lineup, Central Valley's girls cross country team lost by forfeit to Ceres High.
The Bulldogs prevailed, 15-50, and kept their Western Athletic Conference title hopes alive.

"I knew we were going to lose because we didn't have enough girls," said Daisy Ochoa, who along with Jasmine Diaz, represented the Hawks last week. "I admire their team. We respect one another. I'm not jealous. It's nice to know that there are people who are really talented that are representing Ceres."

Ochoa completed the three-mile race in 29 minutes, 17 seconds. She shattered her previous-best time by one minute.
Daisy edged Jasmine (29:18) by one second.

Ceres High had 12 competitors, including Lisette Carretero ( 23:43), Jennifer Cisneros (24:10), Lacey Oliveira (25:02), Karina Torrez (26:30), Cristina Arreola (26:31), Haleigh Leazer (26:40), Mariana Piceno (29:45), Danna Vargas (29:53), Miranda Vasquez (35:50), Abigail Bernal (38:50), Jocelyn Garcia (39:27) and Jeanette Torrez (40:47).

"That's Central Valley." Carretero said. "We always want to do better than them and represent our school because they're our biggest rival. It's a friendly rivalry. We push each other along the way. When we beat CV, we don't get noticed like other sports at our school. We're a minority sport."

Ceres High (5-1) placed second in the WAC regular-season dual-meet standings.

Central Valley (1-5) finished in sixth place.

"We wanted to get PRs today so we could start preparing for next week (league championships)," said Carretero, who was selected to the WAC First Team her junior year. "We've placed second three years in a row. We want to change that. We hope to take first this year."