Ceres High’s Elias Saldana and Jacqueline Ruiz have been named the Ceres Courier’s Male and Female Breakout Athletes of the Year, respectively, for the winter sports season.
Saldana excelled in boys wrestling.
Ruiz starred in girls soccer.
“It’s easy coaching a player like Jackie,” Bulldogs’ leader Miguel Saldate said. “She’s very competitive. She really knows what she’s doing on the field. She’s a great finisher.”
“I did a lot better this year because I had experience. I knew what moves would and wouldn’t work.”Miguel Saldate
“I did a lot better this year because I had experience,” Saldana said. “I knew what moves would and wouldn’t work. Practicing all the time with (Bulldog teammate) Argel Arroyo really helped me out. I got better at everything.”
Saldana enjoyed a major turnaround during his second season with the Bulldogs.
The junior amassed a 28-11 overall record while competing in the 285-pound weight division.
Saldana won two of four matches at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament.
He placed at six different events.
Saldana took third at the Division-IV Championships and second at the Western Athletic Conference Finals.
He claimed the title at the Mike Tamana Tournament, and finished second at the Ceres Invitational, and seventh at both the Tim Brown Memorial and Pat Lovell Classic.
Saldana went 22-18 his sophomore year. He lost the majority of his league matches.
“When I first started, I wasn’t good,” he said. “Going to big tournaments and placing changed my mindset. My coaches, teammates, family and friends motivated me. They believed in me. I wanted to prove them right.”
Ruiz tripled her goal total during her second season with the Bulldogs.
The sophomore forward led the Bulldogs with 18 goals in 25 games.
She ranked second on the team in assists with eight.
Ruiz was selected to the WAC Second Team.
She tallied just six goals and two assists her freshman year.
“Jackie had a different role this season,” Saldate said. “She became a great player. She helped out the team a bunch. She’ll do even better next year. She has the potential to be league MVP.”