The struggles of the James Lick Track team throughout the early 2000s are seeming more and more distant by the meet. While the team remains in the West Valley League, (C League) of the BVAL, they are among its most competitive teams, compared to just 3 years ago when James Lick was unquestionably the weakest. The team is not only a combined 6-0 between girls and boys, (with the girls team looking particularly strong) they are proving to be a factor at Invitationals, competing well and scoring points in meets with more than 40 teams, and beating out teams in far more competitive leagues.
The Firebird Relays are a unique invitational hosted by Fremont High School in Sunnyvale. Several distance relays are available, as are combination relays in the field events and 300 hurdles. The combo relays require 3 athletes in a division. For example, by entering 3 Frosh/Soph Boys long jumpers, you qualify for the relay. The best jump from each athlete will then be added up and compiled as a team total. If three boys jump 15 feet, the team total would be 45 feet, and that 45 foot total would be scored against every other team with 3 athletes. The team took many of its members with this in mind, seeking to compete well in various relays.
Hadji Yono-Cruz kicked off the meet for the team, though he had a poor race by his standards running 19.76 for the 100 hurdles. Gustavo Aguilera ran 11.85 for a PR in the 65m hurdles next.
The Comets then began contesting the Frosh/Soph Girls Discus. This event was a huge oppurtunity for the team, with a very strong group of young girl throwers. Alejandra Ceron lead the group throwing 74-11 for a Seasons best, less than a foot off of her PR. Valeria Cortez, 73-2 and Charli Chircop 66-9, did not enjoy their best days but did enough to lock up 3rd place in the discus relay with a total of 214-10. Lesymi Saldana also got a PR throwing 54-3.
Next up on the Track was the rarely contested, Distance Medley Relay. The relay consists of a 1200m leg, a 400m leg, an 800m leg, and an anchor leg over 1600m, for a total of 4000 meters. The school record of 11:30 was set at the 1985 Stanford Invitational, in the height of James Lick’s Cross Country distance running dominance. This team likely featured top runners like Joe Amendt, Carlos Alterez and Greg Machado, all three of whom were sub 2 800m runners. The 2015 team ran 12:09 at The firebird relays, and the 2016 team took a huge step towards ushering in a new era of distance dominance, running 11:45. Hector Ramirez started the team off strong running 3:32 for 1200 meters. Gustavo Parra ran a 58 second 400 leg for an unofficial seasons best, and Gustavo Aguilera ran an unofficial 2:17 split for the 800 which would be a PR. Nathan Bernardo brought the team home with a 4:57 1600 leg.
The Frosh/Soph team narrowly missed beating last years Varsity time. Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a 3:45 1200, Misael Herrera ran a very strong 58 second 400 leg, Vincent Giglio fresh from return from injury ran a 2:26 800 split, and Azael Zamora finished the team’s run with a 5:04 1600 to stop the clock in 12:14. The only girls DMR in school history was last year at the end of TKA distance carnival, after many runners had already run multiple events. That team featured Brianna Flores, Daisy Nava, Andrea Ortiz and the best distance runner in lady comets track history, Daniela Camacho, who combined for a 15:18 time.
This years team showed dramatic improvement. Elizabeth Guevara started the team off strong with a 4:28 1200. Andrea Ortiz ran well faster than her official 400 PR, splitting a 66 second lap, while Daisy Nava ran a 2:45 800 split, unofficially beating her PR. Last year Daisy and Andrea combined to run the middle legs of the DMR in 4:19, this year however they accomplished the feat in 3:52. Maria Mendoza ran a weak 1600 by her standards, bringing the team home in 6:07 for a 14:26 clocking, a new school record. The Frosh/Soph girls also beat last years time, running 15:16. The team of Raquel Rodriguez, 4:45, Belen Sanchez, 1:16, Analilai Regla 3:24 and Arlet Miranda, 5:51 rounded out the group.
In the 400m run, every Comet who ran achieved a PR. Isaak Herrera ran a 1:05.40, 2 seconds better than his PR which was set last year at the same invite. Karen Montes took a full 8 seconds off of her PR, running 1:11.62. Denise Calixto took 2 seconds off of her PR, running 1:15.77. On the boys side, Jesse Chircop broke 60 seconds for the first time running 58.96.
Meanwhile the Frosh/Soph Boys began throwing Discus. While the team was not ranked very highly, all three boys achieved PRS. Josh Garcia threw 91-10 to place 7th overall. Daniel Medina threw 86-6, and most critically, Bryan Cuevas threw 71-1 for a 21 foot PR. If Bryan had only PRd by a few feet, the team would not have been able to secure three 3rd place finish with a total team distance of 249-5.
The Varsity Boys threw Shot Put next with Alex Alonzo throwing a PR of 32-4.75. Pablo Segovia also threw a PR of 31-6. Nathan Bernardo competed in place of Osman Lopez, throwing an impressive mark for a distance runner of 29-3.
Much of the distance crew finished their day with a fun run over the 4×800 relay. The Varsity girls team of Daisy, Andrea, Eli, and Arlet ran 10:58 as a team to finish 3rd place. They averaged 2:44.5 a girl. While the boys have a proud distance tradition they are trying to revive, the girls are writing a stronger history meet by meet. Of the 16 girls in school history to run under 3 minutes for 800, 10 of them have broken the barrier in the last 3 years. Eli’s 2:53 leg is much better than her official PR of 3:00, as is Andreas 2:45 leg compared to her 2:59 PR. Arlet brought the team home in a very strong 2:36 leg, showing that all 4 girls are ready for 800m PRS.
The boys team was exactly the same as the DMR on the varsity side. Gustavo Parra ran an unofficial seasons best of 2:17, while Hector Ramirez ran an unofficial PR of 2:16. Gustavo A ran a decent 2:21 leg and Nathan anchored the team in 2:15 to give the team a time of 9:08, far better than the 9:28 from last year and good enough for 3rd place. The Frosh/Soph team was very lacking in speed, but Inteus, Isaak, Vicent and Azael competed and ran 10:10 for the sake of adding more 4x800s to JL school history.
Misael ran a strong 100m of 12.84, narrowly missing his PR despite running the 400 on the DMR earlier. Jesse did similar, running 12.57 for his first post-400 100m race of the season. Hadji ran a solid 12.68 for a big official PR, he long jumped 17-5 soon afterwards. On the girls side, Karen ran 14.71, a strong time after running the 400.
The team’s best showing of the day was in the Frosh/Soph girls Shot Put. Alejandra lead the group again at 28-2.50 for 4th place. Valeria took 5th in 27-9.25 and Charli took 6th in 27-8.25. The team combined for 83-8 to win the Frosh/Soph Girls Shot Put relay! They edged out the 2nd place Santa Teresa team by 8 inches, an impressive victory considering Santa Teresa is the reigning A league champion of the BVAL and has an impressive girls team all around.
The Frosh/Soph Boys Shot Put team acquitted themselves nearly as well. Josh threw a huge PR of 37-0.50 with the 10 pound ball. Daniel threw 34-8 and Bryan threw 29-5. This gave the team a total of 101-.50 good for 2nd place in the FS boys Shot Put relay.
The 300 hurdles has been one of the teams best events on the girls side over the last few seasons, and it is continuing to grow stronger. Belen Sanchez lead the FS girls 300 hurdles team with a 2 second PR for a time of 56.10. Arlet was not far behind her at 56.99 and Valeria ended her day with a PR of 57.67. They combined for a time of 2:50.76 for 3rd place.
The Varsity girls also took 3rd place in their 300h relay. Andrea ran 51.37 for a seasons best, as did Maria at 53.12 Daisy did not have a great race, running 1:02.99 but it was enough to lock up a team time of 2:47 to clinch 3rd place. On the boys side Jesse broke 50 seconds for the first time, running 49.40 despite his already busy day. Gustavo Parra also PRd running 53.96.
The team ended their day with a few runs over 200m. Jesse and Hector managed PRS of 26.24 and 28.32 respectively. Arlet ran a solid 31.34 for her first ever 200, and Denisse ran a PR of 34.39 to end her day. Maria ran a strong 29.44 to end her long day.
All in all, the Firebird Relays held great result for the team. Now the Comets will look ahead to a week off from racing, where the teams most dedicated members will buckle down to get ready for a tough matchup with local rival Independence on April 7th. Feel free to come support the team at 3:30 on that day at the James Lick Track.