Ceres High School's varsity wrestling program has reeled off three straight victories since losing 53-21 to crosstown-rival Central Valley on Jan. 12.
The Bulldogs beat El Capitan and Los Banos this past week to remain in the hunt for the Western Athletic Conference's second berth to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Team Duals.
"We came into the week with the right mentality," Ceres High junior grappler Diego Diaz said. "We knew they were good opponents. We didn't underestimate them. But we were confident. We were determined. Our past history motivates us."
The Bulldogs escaped with a 50-22 win over the Gauchos of El Capitan on Senior Night last Wednesday at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.
"We're a superior team and we showed it," Bulldogs head coach Steve Festa said. "We were better tonight."
The 1-3 Gauchos challenged the Bulldogs.
"It was a competitive match," Festa said. "It was close. El Capitan's tough. They're well-coached."
Ahead 33-22, Ceres High secured the victory with three consecutive wins.
Diaz won by technical fall (15-0) at 172 pounds.
Austin Hanshew won by pin (1:37) at 184 pounds.
Conner Johnson won by pin (1:30) at 195 pounds.
"Diego's match was huge," Festa said. "If it goes the other way, it (the team result) comes down to Conner's match."
Hanshew competed at the varsity level for the first time.
"Austin stepped up," Festa said. "He seized the moment."
"We kept the momentum going," Diaz said.
John Alba, Aiden Moore, Frankie Mendez, Brian Becerra, Daniel McElwain and Antonio Gonzalez were also victorious against the Gauchos.
Alba won by pin (1:01) at 147 pounds.
Moore won by pin (1:24) at 154 pounds.
Mendez won by pin (2:19) at 108 pounds.
Becerra won by decision (9-6) at 134 pounds.
McElwain (220s) won by forfeit at 220 pounds.
Gonzalez (285s) won by forfeit at 285 pounds.
Derian Cisernos, Jairo Renteria, Isaac Soto and Tyree Williams, Ceres High's four seniors, were recognized before the dual competition.
Ceres High posted a 46-27 victory against visiting Los Banos on Jan. 26.
"They were a tough team," Diaz said. "We knew they'd come out strong. We did what we needed to do."
The Bulldogs won nine of their 14 individual matches while battling the 2-3 Tigers.
Camarillo won by pin (1:59) over Chris Kyles at 128 pounds.
Alba won by pin (0:59) over Saul Madriz at 147 pounds.
Ethan Letras won by pin (5:04) over Gilberto Madriz at 154 pounds.
Spencer Nelson won by pin (1:50) over Jimmy Venya at 172 pounds.
Mendez won by major decision (14-1) over Sebastian Vegara at 108 pounds.
Lal won by decision (6-3) over Devin Vaca at 115 pounds.
Becerra won by decision (7-3) over Dreu Briseno at 134 pounds.
Diaz won by forfeit at 184 pounds.
Johnson won by forfeit at 222 pounds.
Ceres High (4-1) will battle host Livingston (4-1) for second place in the WAC dual-meet standings this week.
The winner will advance to Division-IV Team Sections.
"Our guys are working hard," Festa said. "They're wrestling for each other."
"We're motivated," Diaz said. "We don't feel any added pressure. If we keep this momentum going, we should go to team sections."