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Smith, Wood win events at WAC championships
Verlis Smith runs
Ceres High junior Verlis Smith, middle, placed first in a pair of events at the Western Athletic Conference Boys Track & Field Championships on May 15 in Patterson. Smith set personal records while sweeping the 100 and 200. - photo by

Ceres High’s Verlis Smith and Mercedez Wood claimed gold medals while competing at the Western Athletic Conference Track & Field Championships on May 15 at Patterson Community Stadium.

A newcomer to the sport, Smith set personal records while sweeping the 100 (11.25) and 200 (23.00) during the boys’ finals.

The junior also teamed up with Gonzalo Rivera, Samar Singh and Luis Yepez to finish in third place in the 4x400 relay (3:41.15).

Smith was seeded second in the 100 and fifth in the 200.

“I’m proud of what I did,” he said. “Going into it, I was nervous. It was my first big meet. I did surprise myself with the times I put up. The competition pushed me to do my best.”

“We haven’t had anyone do that in quite a while,” Bulldogs’ head coach Brett Johnson said. “It’s pretty special. He had a great day.”

Wood, a senior, took first in the shot put (30-8) and discus (83-8) during the girls’ finals.

“She didn’t PR but did enough to win,” Johnson said. “She finished on a really strong note. I’m really proud of her. She’s come a long way since her early years. When her confidence started to build more, she grew as a person and that carried over to her growing as a thrower. She believed in her abilities.”

Smith and Wood weren’t the only members of Ceres High’s track and field program to turn in standout performances at the WAC Championships.

Bianca De Los Reyes placed second in the triple jump (31-9) and eighth in the 300 hurdles (1:00.22).

Catryna Marquez set a personal record while placing third in the long jump (14-51/4).

She placed fifth in the triple jump (31-3).

Allison Stiles set a personal record while placing third in the high jump (4-4).

She placed fourth in the 100 (13.83) and sixth in the 200 (29.30).

Gabby Soto placed third in the 100 hurdles (19.08).

Luis Yepez set a personal record while taking second in the 400 (53.03).

Samar Singh placed second in the discus (117-6). 

He set a personal record while placing third in the 300 hurdles (43.32).

Jillian Mande, Maryn Curry, Alyssa Aeytia, Keira Johnson, Elizabeth Mercado, Sandra Espinoza, Jelaine Esguerra, Fermin Esparza, Tavion Travis, Miguel Rivera, Imanol Lobato, Reymundo Soto, Joshua Adams, Eduardo Ortiz, Cesar Bolanos, David Rivera and Nathan Martin also represented the Bulldogs at the conference finals.

Mande placed fifth in the shot put (25-10) and discus (74-11).

Curry placed fifth in the high jump (4-4), sixth in the triple jump (28-3) and seventh in the long jump (13-7).

Aveytia placed sixth in the discus (71-8) and eighth in the shot put (23-53/4).

Johnson placed eighth in the 800 (3:10.93) and 12th in the 400 (1:15.54).

Mercado placed ninth in the 800 (3:11.98) and 14th in the 1,600 (7:24.29).

Espinoza placed 12th in the 200 (32.12) and 15th in the 100 (15.68).

Esguerra placed 13th in the 200 (32.16).

Esparza placed fourth in the pole vault (9-6) and eighth in the 100 (11.69).

Travis placed sixth in the shot put (35-7).

Miguel Rivera placed seventh in the discus (100-2) and ninth in the shot put (32-8).

Lobato placed eighth in the 800 (2:17.21) and ninth in the 400 (59.60).

Soto placed 12th in the 3,200 (12:10.59) and 17th in the 1,600 (5:13.14).

Adams placed 13th in the triple jump (29-5) and 18th in the long jump (14-11/4).

Ortiz placed 13th in the 3,200 (12:13.97) and 24th in the 1,600 (5:28.76).

Bolanos placed 14th in the 3,200 (12:13.98) and 18th in the 800 (2:22.46).

David Rivera placed 18th in the 1,600 (5:14.74).

Martin placed 30th in the 800 (2:48.58).

“Almost every kid PR’d,” Brett Johnson said. 

Ceres High had its 2020 season cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was a perfect day to end the season,” coach Johnson stated.  “It was so much fun to see the joy back on their faces after so much craziness. They’re amazing kids. They’re so fun to coach and be around.”

Mercedez Wood puts
Ceres High senior Mercedez Wood placed first in both the shot put and discus while competing at the WAC Girls Track & Field Championships.