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Johnson, Pata expect to do even better this year
Track and field expectations
Bulldog senior Conner Johnson will be vying for his third straight Western Athletic Conference title in the boys shot put this spring. - photo by Courier file photo

Ceres High's varsity track and field program has two of the top throwers in the Stanislaus District.

Senior Conner Johnson will try to win his third straight Western Athletic Conference title in the boys shot put this spring.

Senior Julia Pata will look to capture her first crown in the girls shot put.

Johnson and Pata both have the same ultimate goal: to qualify for the CIF State Championships.

"That would mean the world to me," Pata said. "That's my dream."

"I have a really good chance at making it," Johnson said.

Johnson took 20th with a throw of 44 feet, 73/4 inches at the 2016 Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships.

He set a personal record (47-41/2) while finishing in fourth place at the Division-IV-V competition.

Conner placed first in the shot put (46-11) at the WAC Finals. He won the title at the junior-varsity level as a sophomore.

Seeded eighth, Johnson finished first (45-11) at Stanislaus/Merced County Clash IV.

"I'm by far the smallest thrower out there," said Johnson, a 6-foot-tall, 200-pounder. "It's been like that for as long as I can remember. I feel like people underestimate me."

Caden Johnson, Conner's older brother, placed first in the high jump and triple jump at the conference finals during his senior year at Ceres High.

Caden and Conner will team up in football at Southern Oregon this fall.

"He set the bar so high in all of his sports," Conner said. "He pushes me to be the best that I can. I wouldn't say there's added pressure. He's really supportive. Not only is he my brother, he's my best friend."

Pata advanced to Masters during her first season with the Bulldogs last spring.

She placed 22nd in the shot put (31-13/4).

Julia finished fifth (33-111/4) at Divisionals.

Pata took second in the shot put (33-6) and third in the discus (97-1) at the WAC Championships.

Julia shocked just about everybody in attendance when she uncorked a throw of 39 feet, two inches to win the shot put at the Modesto Junior College Invitational. She obliterated the old meet record of 35-7, which was set in 2011.

"I wasn't expecting that great of results," Pata said. "I give a huge amount of the credit to my coaches and teammates. I'm hoping to go a lot further this year."