Simon Jimenez (middle), a 1984 Gonzales High graduate who went to many wrestling championships, is among the 2023 Spartans Hall of Fame inductees. (Michael Ramirez)

GONZALES — Greatness on the playing fields, the courts and the mats were brought up by those that attended the 2023 Gonzales Spartans Hall of Fame Banquet on April 29 at the Amaral Ranch in Salinas.

A few hundred guests spent the evening reminiscing about the past glories on the athletic venues at Gonzales High School and beyond.

“The Spartan 300 Club hosted the 2023 Gonzales High School Hall of Fame Banquet,” said Hall of Fame Chairman Fidencio Cuevas. “The banquet was an opportunity to honor and induct coaches, athletes and teams and recognize them for their rich athletic contributions to Spartan athletics.”

Kate (Almond) Accetta, a 2004 Gonzales High graduate, became the youngest person to be enshrined into the Hall of Fame at 36 years old. Accetta was a two-time All-MTAL pole-vaulter in track, former league and county record holder and won two State titles at Cuesta College. 

Kate Almond Accetta (left) of Gonzales was introduced to the Gonzales Hall of Fame crowd by her high school track and field coach Michael Ramirez. (Michael Ramirez)

The late Roger Fernando (Class of 1966) would have been the eldest to enter the Hall of Fame this year and was chosen as a wrestler and outstanding wrestling coach.

Along with Fernando, joining the Hall of Fame as coaches were: Homero Cantu, who guided the Spartans to six MTAL championships titles in soccer, and Simon Jimenez, a 1984 graduate who assisted Fernando to the many Gonzales wrestling championships. Jimenez then traveled to Salinas to coach the Palma Chieftains, where he had 52 CCS medalists, 32 State qualifiers and two State placers.

Jennifer (Barrett) Wesley, Class of 1994, enters the Hall of Fame as a discus and shot put thrower with an outstanding career at Gonzales, Hartnell College and Sonoma State. Wesley began competing in the Paralympics in 1996 and set a World Record in the discus and U.S. record in the shot put. Wesley continued throwing in the Paralympics until 2000.

Class of 1999 graduate Iran (Serrano) Borgman was a record setter as a pole-vaulter, earning Gonzales High, Central Coast Section and Monterey County records. Borgman is the only Spartan athlete (male or female) to qualify for four straight CIF State Meets. She earned a scholarship to Cal State Sacramento and competed on the Hornet track and field team for four years.

Mario Martinez, Class of 1975, died in 2018 and entered the Hall of Fame for his weightlifting prowess as he won a silver medal in the heavyweight division of the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles. At Gonzales, he was a member of the Spartan wrestling team and was undefeated in the 1975 season at 175 pounds.

Class of 1971’s Mike Breschini played football, basketball and baseball at Gonzales and excelled in football and baseball for Hartnell College. Breschini earned All-MTAL honors as a quarterback his junior and senior years and made All-MTAL in baseball, as well as guided the Hartnell football teams with 9-2-1 and 7-3 records as the Panther signal caller. Breschini died in 2014.

Doug Arneson, Class of 1975, was another three-sport athlete starring in football, basketball and baseball. Arneson was a two-time All-MTAL player in football, played on the 1975 champion basketball team and pitched on the Spartan co-championship baseball of 1975.

Class of 1978 graduate Ben Jimenez was a three-sport athlete (football, basketball and baseball) and was the second baseman on the 1977 MTAL championship team, leading the league in batting with a .459 batting average. Jimenez had a great senior season in football, winning the Tony Caleb Award as the top senior athlete. 

Ben Jimenez of Soledad is inducted into the Gonzales Spartans Hall of Fame as a former three-sport athlete. (Michael Ramirez)

Jimenez was joined on the Hall of Fame by baseball teammate Jesse Palacios. The hard-hitting Palacios made the All-MTAL baseball team in 1977 and 1978 and hit the home runs in a season for Gonzales his senior year. Palacios hit .477 in 1977 and made the All-CCS team his junior and senior years.

Sebastian Guillen became the first boys’ soccer player to earn Hall of Fame designation. The 1991 Gonzales grad led the Spartans to MTAL championships in 1990 and 1991 and was chosen league MVP those two seasons, in addition to being an All-County player. Guillen was also a member of the 1990 MTAL champion cross country team, helping the Spartans earn a top three ranking in the tri-county area and finish ninth as a team in CCS, and was an All-MTAL runner.

Teams that were presented at the Hall of Fame included the 1971 and 1974 football teams, the 1975 basketball team and the 1977 baseball team. Coach Glenn Cooper, who coached many of the football players in the frosh level and was the head coach for the baseball champions, attended the event.

“The Spartan 300 Club would like to thank all who joined the celebration, the organizations who donated, and the Hall of Fame committee for their hard work putting on another successful event,” Cuevas said. “Proceeds will provide scholarships, the Child in Need Program, to supplement athletic needs.”

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