The disappointment of failing to qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Team Dual Championships, and finishing behind Central Valley and Los Banos and losing to Livingston during the Western Athletic Conference dual-meet season, served as motivation for Ceres High's varsity wrestling program.
The Bulldogs will be taking their entire 14-person lineup to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Tournament this week at Foothill High School.
"It's incredible," Ceres High head coach Steve Festa said. "It's something we've never done before. It shows we're going in the right direction."
Rudy Gonzales, John Alba, Daniel Raya, Abel Morales, Diego Diaz, Aaron Page, Luis Camarillo, Spencer Nelson, Jaden Cooper, Brian Becerra and Tyler Fleming earned berths to Divisionals after finishing in the top four in their respective weight divisions at the Western Athletic Conference Championships last Friday in Livingston.
Gonzales (220s), Alba (152s) and Raya (145s) claimed individual titles at the WAC finals.
Daniel was seeded fourth.
"When everyone counted him out, he persevered," Festa said. "He kept pushing. He's a warrior."
Alba avenged a loss to Central Valley's Andrew Marquez.
"John was the most dominant wrestler at the tournament," Festa said.
Gonzales was ineligible during his junior year.
"He focused on his grades," Festa said. "He did it the right way."
Morales (195s) finished in second place.
Diaz (170s), Page (126s) and Camarillo (120s) all placed third.
Nelson (160s), Cooper (132s), Becerra (113s) and Fleming (106s) took fourth.
Brian Quintanilla (285s), Daniel McElwain (182s) and Aiden Moore (138s), fifth-place finishers at the WAC tourney, were named alternates for Divisionals.
Quintanilla will compete in the tournament. The WAC picked up an additional heavyweight berth because the SVC had only three grapplers in that weight class.
Ceres High totaled 220.5 points en route to a second-place showing at the WAC Championships.
The Bulldogs topped Los Banos (210), Livingston (168), Pacheco (122), El Capitan (121) and Patterson (117).
Central Valley (233.5) won the team title.
"We're peaking at the right time of year," Festa said. "It's exciting."