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Slacking off not an option for student-athletes
Moore, Nunes, Fregoso & Espinoza earn WAC honors
Oso Fregoso and Blanca Espinoza were among the dozen students named WAC Scholar-Athlete recipients for the 2016-17 school year. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Aiden Moore, Callie Nunes, Oso Fregoso and Blanca Espinoza have been rewarded for their athletic and academic performance.

The recent grads, Moore and Nunes of Ceres High, and Fregoso and Espinoza of Central Valley, were among the 12 students named Western Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete recipients for the 2016-17 school year.

The award ceremony was staged during a luncheon on May 23 at the Turlock Country Club.

"It was an honor I got chosen for the award," Espinoza said. "We all deserved to be there."

"It's nice to be recognized for the hard work we've put in," Nunes said. "I enjoy school. I enjoy learning. It's not boring to me."

"It's great knowing academics are held to a high standard in the WAC," Moore added. "Academics come first. Sports come second. If you slip up in class, you're not going to play. I always made sure my grades were my first priority."

Selection was based on both athletic and academic achievement.

Moore will continue his education and wrestling career at Simpson College in Iowa.

"I couldn't have reached the level I did without my parents," said Aiden, who posted a cumulative grade-point average of 4.13 during his time at Ceres High. "My mom always compared me to her. In high school, she was a brainiac. My dad pushed me more in the athletic setting. They pushed me enough so I was not broken. But I could compete at my highest level."

Moore's main sport at Ceres High was wrestling.

A four-year starter, Aiden improved each season.

Aiden placed first in the 160-pound division at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Championships and claimed his second straight Western Athletic Conference title this past winter.

The two-time Masters qualifier had an overall record of 31-9.

"There's no stress that compares to a one-on-one match," Moore said.

Aiden filled a major role as Ceres High also enjoyed a breakthrough season as a team by winning the blue Division-IV championship banner. The Bulldogs also dominated WAC competition by winning overall, tournament and dual-meet titles. Ceres High annexed its first conference title since 1995.

"Added pressure was there for all the seniors," Moore said. "We wanted to leave our mark. We helped each other climb the mountain. We reached our goal. It's a great feeling."

Nunes will be moving to Irvine to study and play softball at Concordia University.

She had a cumulative GPA of 4.0 in high school.

"From a young age, I had to learn how to organize my time," Callie said. "I couldn't go anywhere, or watch TV or read a book unless my homework was done. Academics came first."

Nunes was voted WAC Pitcher of the Year her senior and junior years.

"All of the awards have been equally important," she said.

She had a combined record of 40-6 with 530 strikeouts, three no-hitters, 21 shutouts and just 60 walks the past two seasons.

The Bulldogs went 43-14, won one section championship and claimed back-to-back conference titles.

"I really didn't feel any pressure," Nunes said. "I expected us to take league (again). It wasn't a big surprise. We did what I expected us to do. I always tried my best to help the team. I enjoyed being a leader. That was fun."

A 3.9 student at Central Valley, Fregoso will move to Los Angeles and play football at Occidental College.

Oso was named the WAC's Outstanding Defensive Player for his dominance on the gridiron this past fall.

He garnered first-team all-league recognition as well.

Fregoso racked up 72 tackles, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles, two pass deflections and one fumble recovery at defensive end.

Central Valley (9-2) reached new heights in 2016 by winning its first-ever conference title, setting a program record for victories in a season and participating in the playoffs for the second time in three years.

"I'm pretty proud of what I accomplished," he said. "I put a lot of hard work and dedication into everything I did. Every day I went to school ready to learn. Balancing sports and academics was a challenging effort. I exceeded my expectations. I didn't think I'd accomplish this much. I'm really excited for the next chapter."

A multi-sport standout with the Hawks, Espinoza excelled in the classroom as well by earning a cumulative GPA of 3.3.

She'll focus on academics at Fresno State where she'll major in animal science.

"It's a priority for me to do well in school," said Espinoza, who wants to become a veterinarian. "I always try to keep a 3.0 GPA or above. My parents want to see me succeed. It does get stressful because you have to manage your time. You come home late and have to work on homework. I've gotten used to it."

Espinoza was named WAC Defensive Player of the Year in volleyball her senior year.

She led the Hawks with 366 digs.

She also collected 60 kills and 35 aces.

Central Valley compiled a 7-8 record en route to a third-place finish in the conference standings.

The Hawks participate in the playoffs for the third year in a row.

A standout point guard in basketball, Blanca earned first-team all-league honors during her final season with Central Valley.

She led the Hawks in scoring (11.9 ppg), assists (2.2 apg) and steals (2.0 spg).

Espinoza also drained 15 3-pointers.

The Hawks placed second in the WAC (7-3) and secured their third straight postseason berth.

"I'm very competitive," Espinoza said. "Nobody likes losing."