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Jannet Valencia's loss felt by broken-hearted athletes
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Members of the Ceres High varsity, JV and freshman boys and girls basketball teams practiced with broken hearts on Monday.

One of their classmates died and another was seriously injured in a car crash just before 11 a.m. on Highway 99 in south Modesto on Saturday.

The accident claimed the life of sophomore Jannet Valencia.

Freshman Kasandra Dixon was seriously injured.

"We didn't have much of a practice," said Ceres athletic director/varsity girls assistant basketball coach Phil de la Porte. "A lot of the girls knew her (Jannet)."

Students, teachers and staff are grieving. They set up a memorial near the entrance of the school's parking lot on Third Street.

"I went to the hospital twice," said Randy Cerny. "I was at the high school for a while and I visited Rafael (Jannet's brother) at coach Bret Durossette's house."

Cerny is a criminal justice teacher. He also coaches the varsity girls soccer team.

Jannet, 16, was going to tryout for Cerny's team on Feb. 1. She started running with Randy's daughter, Caitlin, and son, Ryan, two weeks ago. Ryan is an assistant coach and campus supervisor.

"She was one of the most popular girls in the school," Randy said. "She was beautiful."

Jannet always had a smile on her face.

"Her personality was what drew her to me," said Angela Durossette, junior-class advisor and teacher. "She was a free spirit. She was happy. She was very loving. She treated my kids very well."

Jannet baby-sat for the Durossette family.

Jannet was a loyal fan. She enjoyed supporting the Ceres High football, basketball and baseball teams. Her brother, Rafael, 17, helped lead the varsity football team to a league championship in November. He also plays basketball.

"She loved watching her brother," Angela said.

Dixon, a standout on the JV girls basketball team, is recuperating at Doctors Medical Center. She sustained major injuries, including a collapsed lung, broken shoulder and torn calf muscle.

"We took our team down there today," said Ceres coach Kassi Baker. "She's pretty banged up."

Jannet is survived by her parents, Martha Lopez and Rafael Valencia, both of Ceres; brothers, Audel Valencia of Santa Clara and Rafael Jr. of Ceres; and grandparents, Cruz and Jose Lopez. Remembrances may be made to Modesto's First Federal Credit Union, 430 12th Street, Modesto, CA 95354. Checks must be made out to the Jannet Valencia Memorial Fund. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier