Central Valley’s and Ceres High’s cross country programs lack numbers for the 2020-21 season.
The participation rate has declined significantly due to safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic among other reasons.
“Our numbers are 25 percent of what they should be,” Bulldogs’ head coach Owen Brown said. “Parents have concerns about letting their kids participate. They want to play it super safe. That’s not the only factor. Once kids are at school, it’s a lot easier to participate. Students can’t get to practice if they’re parents are working.”
“There are a lot of factors playing into our low numbers. Parents and families are concerned about COVID. I completely understand. We’ll do whatever we can to keep our students safe.”Coach Veronica Moreno
“There are a lot of factors playing into our low numbers,” Hawks’ Coach Veronica Moreno said. “Parents and families are concerned about COVID. I completely understand. We’ll do whatever we can to keep our students safe.”
Central Valley’s varsity boys and girls teams have a combined nine athletes.
“We’re focusing on competing and improving individually,” Moreno said. “We hope our roster grows this fall.”
Alejandro Gonzalez (Sr.) will be the top runner on the boys teams.
Jesse Vazquez (Sr.), Daniel Soares (Jr.), Nico Gil (So.), Jeremy Alvarez (So.) and Alfredo Garcia (Fr.) will also contribute.
Central Valley’s girls team has three runners in Ashley Anaya (Sr.), Adriana Huaracha (Sr.) and Estefania Carrizales (Jr.).
Ceres High’s varsity boys and girls teams have a combined 12 athletes.
Ceres High’s boys have eight runners, including Ryan Ashby (Sr.), Simon Mann (Sr.), Nathan Martin (Jr.), Eduardo Ortiz (Jr.), Cesar Bolanes (So.), Paul Ruiz (So.) and Rey Soto (Fr.).
Mitzy Collantes (Sr.), Wendi Lizola (Sr.), Elizabeth Mercado (Sr.), Gabriela Soto (Sr.) and Esmeralda Garcia Guzman (Jr.) are members of the girls squad.
“It was hard for the kids to stay motivated (during quarantine) because of the environment they were in,” Brown said. “They’ve been cooped up too much. They’re anxious to get back in shape. That’s not a small task.”
Central Valley and Ceres High will compete in the Western Athletic Conference South Division, along with Johansen, Los Banos and Pacheco.
Central Valley relocated from the Central California Conference for just this season.
“We’re really happy we’re having a season,” Moreno said. “Seeing the kids run is so exciting. We’ll make the most of our opportunities.”
The cross country season was supposed to start this past fall but was moved to the spring due to COVID-19.
High school athletics had been put on hold since mid-March of last year when the statewide shutdown began in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I would have been disappointed if we didn’t have a season,” Gonzalez said. “Without sports, I don’t know where I’d be right now. You learn about being a team leader and consistent, and having a positive mindset playing sports. Most importantly, it keeps you healthy.”
“Obviously, we want to do well and win,” Moreno said. “At this point, we’re just happy to be out running. The kids have the same perspective. Things will get better.”
“The kids are excited for this opportunity,” Brown added. “They’re looking to improve. I’d like to see them maintain their health. I’d like them to bring their grades up. It’s not just doing well in sports.”