JLXC History:Alum Rock Short Course

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The Team with several Alumni after last years addition of the Alumni Race

 

 

With the Alumni Race just days away, now is a good time to examine the history of JLXC at Alum Rock Park.

Alum Rock Park has long been the training grounds of the James Lick Comets. Being located only 2 miles away from the park, it is only natural that the team has trained there for decades, and the races held there are a sort of home field advantage for the Comets and other Eastside teams.

The long tradition of racing in Alum Rock Park stretches back to even before the MHAL (the league which is now a division of the BVAL) was formed with James Lick as one of it’s founding members. With the MHAL Finals beginning in 1965, Alum Rock Park’s 2.25 mile course took on new significance, playing host to the MHAL finals every year on record form 1966-1989. In the 1990s, the MHAL altered their race course to it’s current 2.85 mile format. The popularity of the park as a race course declined as Alum Rock suffered road damage, and the league began to turn to alternative race courses. By the early 2000s, Alum Rock was not being used at all for races anymore. In 2008 however, races were brought back to the 2.85 mile race course, and it has been used for BVAL league meets off and on ever since.

The 2.25 mile course, beginning in the deepest parking lot of Alum Rock, took runners through a fast first mile on the slight downhill stretch of the Penitencia Creek trail leading to the North Rim trail. Runners then scaled the famous North Rim hill, before continuing on the undulating North rim trail, eventually making their way to a speedy downhill descent to the finish line in the starting parking lot. The North Rim Hill at 485 meters, is the single longest hill any Comet will encounter in a race this season.

The course we now use for the Alumni race is slightly different, beginning and ending near the youth science institute. Despite the slightly altered course beginning and ending points, the Alumni Course is essentially the same as the traditional North Rim “short course.” I estimate that runners of today would run about 5-10 seconds faster for the old race course which was used for so many years, than they do on our alumni course. This small potential time difference aside, the Alumni race is a great way for the runners of today to compare themselves to the runners of the past, as we continue working to build the program back to its glory days and beyond.

A few considerations should be taken into account before we go over times:

  1. The runners of the 60s, 70s, and 80s used the course for the annual Alum Rock Invitational, as well as the MHAL finals and occasionally for the CCS Regional meet as well. As such, runners of the past had the opportunity to run the course in late October and mid November, the point in the year where a typical HS XC athlete needs to be at peak racing fitness. By comparison, the runners of the past decade or so, since the short course was brought back (in slightly altered format) for the alumni race, do the course only once, in early September, before races have even begun. As a result the team’s current athletes do not run their best times on the Alum Rock short course, usually running faster paces for the longer course because of its status as an actual league meet course.
  2.  The Alumni Race is more of a time trial than an actual race, due to the fact that the team is not competing against any other schools. Without a high level of competition (occasional outstanding alumni not withstanding) the athletes of today are not pushed as thoroughly as the athletes of the past were at the AR invitational  and at MHAL finals.

Even so however, the times of the James Lick Comets on the Alum Rock short course over the years are extremely impressive, and continue to serve as a reminder to our current athletes that there is work to be done to restore the team to the level of past seasons.

The sheer number of JL runners to race the course at big meets from 66-89, combined with the high caliber of the program during those years, makes the JLXC All time boys list for the Alum Rock short course the schools 3rd most impressive list in my opinion, (Behind only Crystal Springs and Half Moon Bay HS).  The girls list is not as strong however, since JL only began fielding girls XC in the late 70s, and the best ever era for JL girls XC is currently in full force.

Some of the fast early times on the AR short course, were run in the earliest days of the MHAL. In 1966, Junior Mick Coyle took home the win in the Alum Rock invitational, running a strong time of 12:32. Coyle’s time currently stands as the 20th best time in school history for the course (on record).

It would be several years before a Comet broke the elusive 12 minute barrier for the course. The 1970 team saw Luis Sanchez and Jim Sena run 11:42 and 11:46 respectively. This 1-2 punch helped lead the team to the only XC CCS championship in school history, with James Lick winning the small schools division at CCS Finals. The team of 1970 was exceptional, Nathan Bernardo and Hector Ramirez ran 13:25 and 13:27 to lead our team at the Alumni race last season. The 6th boy on the 1970 team ran 13:23. Even if one grants Nathan 10 seconds for the slightly altered course, he wouldn’t nip the team’s 5th boy (Bob Amaro) at 13:07.  Amaro went on to have an outstanding running career at James Lick. As a senior in 1972, Amaro broke 12 for the course himself, with a  time of 11:49. He would also go on to run 1:55 for the 880 run, which converted still stands as the 3rd best 800m in school history.

The two top times in school history were run in 1975, when Joe Salazar set the long standing school record of 11:20 for the course, more than 20 seconds better than the 11:41 of teammate Sierras. Salazar also holds the school 2 mile record (also the 3200m record converted) and all things considered, is probably the best XC runner ins school history. The one man with a good argument against Salazar is Joe Amendt, who in 1987 would become the 10th and final Comet (according to my records) to break 12 for the AR short course, running 11:47. The two Joe’s share the school record of 15:21 at Crystal Springs. While I’d give Salazar the slight edge as JL’s best ever XC runner, Amendt’s supreme track pedigree makes him James Lick’s greatest ever distance runner all around.

Any very strong list of JL times could not be complete without the teams of the 1980s. The decade saw Frank Munoz, 11:42 in81, Ben Trujillo, 11:48in 80, and Greg Machado, 11:53 in 84 break the barrier. Randy Pangelina also narrowly missed, running 12:01 in 1981. Of all of the school’s all time lists, this one poses the greatest challenge to alter for the runners of today, not only because of it’s strength, but because of the timing of the run.

The only records of the Alumni course since 1990 are from former coaches, David Porter and Alex Ponik, and from my soon to be 4 years of experience. With roughly 11 years on record (2006-present) No Comet boy has run sub 13 for the Course yet, though the times of Nathan and Hector were by far the best of the past decade.

The team will need to have extremely strong early season form to take another step towards the times laid down by the great Comet runners who came before them.

JLXC Boys ALL TIME LIST:

Alum Rock Short Course 2.25 Miles

Place Name Time Pace Date Race Place Grade
1 Joe Salazar 11:20 5:02 1975 MHAL Finals 1st 12
2 Sierras 11:41 5:11 1975 MHAL Finals 6th 11
3 Luis Sanchez 11:42 5:12 1970 MHAl Finals 4th 11
4 Frank Munoz 11:42 5:12 1980 MHAL Finals 2nd 12
5 Jim Sena 11:46 5:13 1970 MHAL Finals 6th 12
6 Joe Amendt 11:47 5:14 1987 MHAL Finals 1st 12
7 Ben Trujillo 11:48 5:14 1980 MHAL Finals 3rd 12
8 Bob Amaro 11:49 5:15 1972 MHAL Finals 10th 12
9 Greg Machado 11:53 5:16 1984 Alum Rock Invitational 5th 12
10 Adolfo Alvarado 11:54 5:17 1973 MHAl Finals 4th 12
11 Randy Pangelina 12:01 5:20 09/26/1981 Alum Rock Invitational 8th 11
12 Diaz 12:06 5:22 1981 MHAL Finals 7th
13 Alvarez 12:07 5:23 1987 MHAL Finals 3rd
14 Gil Zaragosa 12:16 5:27 1980 Alum Rock Invitational 20th
15 Tim Mezzapelle 12:16 5:27 11/08/1973 MHAL Finals 14th 12
16 Luis Borunda 12:21 5:29 11/08/1973 MHAL Finals 18th 10
17 John Acosta 12:28 5:32 1987 MHAL Finals 8th 12
18 Jose Gonzales 12:29 5:32 11/08/1973 MHAL Finals 20th 12
19 Esparza 12:30 5:33 1969 MHAL Finals 1st 10
20 Mick Coyle 12:32 5:34 1966 Alum Rock Invitational 1st 11

 

A theme of our current JLXCTF program is that the boys are trying to restore a winning tradition, while the girls are building one, and raising its strength year by year. While not a single addition has been made to the boys list since the courses removal from official racing (Those boys teams were tough man) the girls list only has 4 times that weren’t set in the past 10 years.

The Early 80s was one of the few bright spots in the competitive JLXC girls history. Kim Willoughby’s time of 15:25 in 1980 stood as the school record for over 20 years. Michelle Ruiz in 1983 with a time of 17:38, and Chaves in 1980 with a time of 18:05 add respectable but not particularly impressive times to the list.

At the 2008 Alumni Race, Kayla Matsuda ran 15:24 to establish the current school record for the course. As it stands now, Kayla is undoubtedly the best XC runner in school history, holding the course record on every course she competed on. In 2014, Daniela Camacho ran 16:03, the team’s #3 all time clocking. 2014 also saw Paloma Contreras run 17:29. Those two would help the team to the WVAL championship, the second XC championship in JLXC girls history.

The remainder of the girls list is mostly solid athletes of the past few years filling in the spots, and it is exciting for the current team to be able to alter and strengthen this all time list every year. Arlet Miranda will look to improve on her 17:35 run as a freshmen.

JLXC Girls ALL TIME LIST:

Alum Rock Short Course: 2.25 Miles

Place Name Time Pace Date Race Place Grade
1 Kayla Matsuda 15:24 6:51 2008 JL Alumni Race 1st 12
2 Kim Willoughby 15:25 6:51 1980 MHAL Finals 6th 11
3 Daniela Camacho 16:03 7:08 9/5/14 JL Alumni Race 1st 12
4 Paloma Contreras 17:29 7:46 09/05/2014 JL Alumni Race 2nd 12
5 Arlet Miranda 17:35 7:49 09/04/2015 JL Alumni Race 1st 9
6 Michelle Ruiz 17:38 7:50 1983 MHAL Finals 11
7 Chaves 18:05 8:02 1980 Alum Rock Invite 12
8 Elsie Carrillo 18:12 8:05 2008 JL Alumni Race 2nd 12
9 Maria Mendoza 18:26 8:11 09/04/2015 JL Alumni Race 2nd 11
10 Ana Tapia 18:48 8:21 09/11/2009 JL Alumni Race 3rd 12
11 Genny Poet 19:03 8:28 1980 Alum Rock Invite 12
12 Raquel Rodriguez 19:08 8:30 09/04/2015 JL Alumni Race 3rd 9
13 Elizabeth Guevara 19:12 8:31 09/04/2015 JL Alumni Race 4th 12
14 Gabriela Aguilar 19:30 8:40 09/06/2013 JL Alumni Race 3rd 10
15 Daisy Nava 19:43 8:45 09/04/2015 JL Alumni Race 5th 11
16 Andrea Ortiz 19:43 8:45 09/04/2015 JL Alumni Race 7th 12
17 Brianna Flores 20:17 9:01 09/05/2014 JL Alumni Race 12
18 Karen Ruiz 20:34 9:08 09/06/2013 JL Alumni Race 12
19 Destiny Lopez 20:37 9:09 09/06/2013 JL Alumni Race 12
20 Jocelyn Aguirre 20:55 9:17 09/04/2015 JL Alumni Race 8th 10

It’s only a few days until the Alumni Race and the team will use the Alumni in attendance as inspiration. Taking place only 6 days before the official first race of the season (STAL #1 9/8 at Alum Rock Park), the Alumni Race will be the team’s final barometer of readiness for the 2016 XC season!

The team will be actively chasing goals of a STAL championship on the boys side, a winning record on the girls side, and more importantly, the maintenance of a team culture which has drawn plaudits from around the league for its welcoming and sportsman-like nature.

As always, full JL All time lists, as well as All Time team lists, and the best times since I’ve been coaching can be found here:  https://coachbennyreeves.wordpress.com/cross-country-history/

Alumni race recap coming soon.

Thanks for reading as always,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

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Comets Test Their Form With Time Trial

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Over a dozen members of the team atop the Todd Quick trail in Alum Rock park.

 

With the Alumni race only a week away, and official league meets beginning in 12 days, the James Lick cross country team took to Alum Rock park to test their readiness with a time trial over the 3.03 mile version of the North Rim trail. The time trial begins and ends at the park entrance and has been run by the team as a way to evaluate fitness every year since 2009. The course is extremely hilly, and an effective test race for the team as no course they will race this year should yield a slower time than this one. The annual pre-season time trial is a great indicator for athletes to look back on and track their progress throughout the season, and over the course of several seasons.

With the varsity boys team looking to attack the ‘B’ division title this season, the team was eager to demonstrate early season form. Prior to this year, several varsity boys have been able to break the 19 minute barrier for the course at some point in the season. Last year was the first time that any runners ran under 20 at the first time trial of the season however, when Nathan Bernardo and Hector Ramirez ran 19:12 and 19:19 respectively. This year, the team is clearly much stronger, with 3 Comets running under the 19 minute barrier to open the season. Nathan opened his senior year strong, running 18:13 (despite missing the team trial and having to run by himself due to a prior obligation). Azael Zamora ran a very strong 18:28, and Inteus Castro-Lopez ran 18:57. Again, no Comet boy in 7 years of using this time trial course had broken 19 to open the season before, and this years team saw 3 boys accomplish just that. In my experience, a varsity boy should run roughy 1 minute faster at crystal springs (the league finals course) and 2 minutes faster at Montgomery hill or the current league race version of north rim, than they do for the North Rim time trial version. This indicates that despite the early stage of the season, the team’s top 3 boys are all either in the best shape of their career, or very close to it. Their league race Prs are: Nathan: 16:10 Azael: 17:19 and Inteus: 17:00.

Erik Olsvold was the 4th Comet in at 19:44, minutes better than the 24:20 that Erik opened the season with as a freshmen. Gustavo Parra continues to look ready for a huge senior year breakthrough, opening his season with a time of 20:11, a 20 second PR as well. At this point in the season, the goal is simply to be ahead of your times from the beginning of the last season, the fact that so many Comets are already running lifetime bests is outstanding. Jesus Deloya continues to successfully rebound from an injury plagued track season with a solid run of 21:53, missing his PR by only 10 seconds despite treating the run as a threshold effort.

Next was freshmen and rising star, Jericho Habon. Jericho is one of a number of freshmen who worked hard all summer and are shaping into a very promising frosh/soph team. Jericho began summer training incapable of running under 8 minutes for the mile. At the time trial however, he ran a time of 22:48, an average of 7:31 per mile for a highly difficult 3 mile course. For reference, Nathan and Erik, two athletes who have mile times comfortably under 5 ran in the 24s their first time doing the North Rim time trial as freshmen, showing that Jericho’s time is an terrific start. He was aided by the pacing efforts of Gustavo Aguilera, who was feeling under the weather and elected to pace his young teammate as he was not fit to time trial. Vincent Giglio had an off race, running 22:56, but has been working hard at practice.

Arlet Miranda was the first girl in, running a time of 23:46. This is the fastest season opening time for a girl since James Lick began contesting the time trial course by almost a full minute.David Bejines, the likely leading runner of the reserve team was next across the line in 24:27. A promising string of freshmen were next, Melvin Estrada, 25:58, Nien Tran, 27:09, Kevin Bach, 27:13, Daniel Portilo, 27:19 and Hugo Marquez, 27:58. These young runners can look to runners like Gustavo A and Jesus, who failed to break 30 mins on their first try as freshmen and are now varsity caliber runners. Isaak Herrera was tucked into the group running 27:50 as well.

Mila Perez and Daisy Nava were the next girls across in 27:51 and 28:11 respectively. Milka looks on track to approach (and I believe exceed) the times she ran in her outstanding freshmen campaign. A knee injury sustained in soccer season left her on the sidelines all of her sophomore year. Daisy’s 28:11 was far better than her 30:03 to open last season, despite the fact that she ran her trial this year while dehydrated. Senior Alfonso Farias finished next in 29:38, and was followed by two more lady comets, Analilia Regla and Denisse Calixto in 29:58 and 30:04. Several girls over the past few seasons have begun the year in the high 20s/low 30s and gone on to solid varsity campaigns, indicating strong promise for Analilia and Denisse.

Susie Peterson finished in 34:31 her best season opener for the course by over 2 minutes. Valerie Flores, Aliana Santos and Elizabeth Perez came in next in 34:50, 35:41 and 35:43. This was Elizabeths best season opening time trial by almost 3 minutes. Senior Brittany Salazar finished in 47:25.A group of freshmen, Joseph Allen, Ally Floreza, Jocelyn Rios and Tyler, finished out the day for the Comets. A total of 31 Comets battling their way through the course, many for the first time.

Overall the team looks to be in a great place with the Alumni race only a week away. Feel free to join us in Alum Rock Park on Friday September 2nd for the event. The race will start at 6:00, any alumni or fans of the team are welcome to come and race or watch.

A history of the Alumni course coming soon.

 

 

JLXC History: Montgomery Hill / Time Trial recap

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Montgomery Hill as seen from a spectator’s view.

This post will contain two blogs for the price of one. 

Blog 1: JLXC at Montgomery Hill

Today, James Lick is a member of the BVAL, a 24 team “power league” which formed in 1996. James Lick was a member of the MHAL (Mount Hamilton Athletic League) from 1965- the early 90s. With the formation of the BVAL in 96′ MHAL took the place of the ‘A’ division of the BVAL,the STAL (Santa Teresa League) took on the role of the ‘B’ division, and the WVAL (West Valley League) took on the role of the ‘C’ division.

Following its foundation, the BVAL searched for an accessible area to use for its league meets. Alum Rock park, long used by the MHAL, was used for some races, as was Helyer Park and Santa Teresa park. In the year 2000 however, the BVAL created a race course at Montgomery Hill Park, right next to Evergreen Valley college. The park, as its name indicates, is extremely hilly for a cross country course and has no shade to offer. These factors combined with its loose dirt in places, makes it the slowest race course (in terms of mile pace) in the CCS central conference. The original course was 2.95 miles, and was used for several races in 2000. In 2001 and 2002, the course became almost exclusively the BVAL’s course of choice for league meets. In 2003, the course was modified to its current 2.74 mile format, and has been run by the BVAL every year since.

With the 2016 season approaching, Montgomery’s entering its 17th year of use. James Lick has 15 years of history on the course (In 2012 all of JL’s league meets were at Alum Rock). With a limited history compared to historic courses like Crystal Springs, and one which has taken place after most of JL’s greatest seasons, the Montgomery hill school all time lists are not amongst the school’s best performances. The teams of recent years however are heading solidly in the right direction.

The JL teams of the early 2000s were some of the best teams in the entire BVAL on the boys side. The 2001 team ran some of the first fast times on the course. The boy’s team’s 2nd best combined team time (calculated by adding the times of the top 5 runners together) on the course was run in 2001. The team ran a time of 82:47 (converted for the 2.74 mile course). Ivan Navarro ran a converted 15:52, one of only 2 sub 16 minute clockings at Montgomery in school history.

In 2003 the course was altered to its current format, and with it came the current school records on the course, both individually and as a team. Jose Gutierrez ran 15:05,  an outstanding time and a school record for the course. This time helped the team to a combined time of 81:48, an average of 16:22 a runner. In the mid 2000s, (the weakest era of JLXC) the team consistently ran times in the high 80s or low 90s, with a few standout performances such as Erick Herrera’s 16:01 in 2005.

The team gradually fell from the top of the ‘A’ division in 2003, to the middle of the ‘C’ division a mere 4 years later. The team of 2009 however, began to spark some life into the program by winning the WVAL and moving up to the STAL. Even then however, the boys team only managed a team time of 90:02, a far cry from the mid 80 minute clockings of the early 2000s.

The rebirth of JLXC that the current program is striving to create has been a joy to witness. The team of 2013 (my first year as coach), ran a team time of 94:56, the slowest Montgomery Hill team time for James Lick on record. A year later however, then sophomore and current senior and team captain, Nathan Bernardo, helped the team take a huge step back towards respectability with a team time of 87:05.

In the now 16 years of course History,24 Comet boys have run under 17 minutes at Montgomery Hill (A common  varsity boy time even in the ‘A’ division), but only 9 Comets have managed the feet since 2006. In 2014, Nathan added his name to the list along with teammate Karan Singh, making it the first season where two Comets simultaneously broke the barrier since 2010, when Ricardo Flores and myself combined to do so.

2015 witnessed yet another leap forward, as the team combined for a time of 84:40, despite not running their normal 4th runner at their best league race. This was the 4th best team time for JL (out of 15 total years) in history, and only 20 seconds off  of the team of 2004. Nathan ran 16:10 to put himself #4 on the school’s all time list for the course, and the team also saw Hector Ramirez run under 17 minutes, with Inteus Castro-Lopez and Gustavo Aguilera at 17:00 and 17:09 respectively.

The team of 2016 is actively going after the school record of the 2001 team, and their first time trial of the season was a great indicator of their capability. More on that Below.

Even in the 2000s where the boys team was struggling compared to decades and even years past, the girls team was struggling mightily to be competitive, like throughout much of its history. JL was unable to field a full team in some of the early BVAL years, and 2003 was the first time the team managed to break 2 hours for the course, with a combined team time of 1:58:39 or 118:39.

In a few years however, the team was bolstered by the arrival of Kayla Matsuda, who currently stands as James Lick’s greatest ever girl Cross Country runner. Kayla’s PR and school record of 18:12 run in 2006, still stands as one of the top 20 Montgomery times for any school. It also lead the team to a big school record team time of 1:54:53. This time was bettered a year later by the team of 2007, running 1:49:51 to narrowly miss out on winning the ‘C’ division championship. That team also saw freshmen Aurora Lepe run 21:14, a 21 minute time is a decent varsity time in the ‘A’ division. After Kayla’ graduation in 2009, the girls team struggled to be competitive again, especially with the teams move into the ‘B’ division in 2010. From 2010-2012 the Varsity girls team went a combined 0-21, strong individual times such as the 20:03 clocking in 2010 by Ana Tapia (3rd best JL time ever) and the 21:25 of freshmen Daniela Camacho in 2011 not withstanding.

The team of 2013 however saw a surge in there group capability. Despite the boys struggles in 2013, the girls team ran 1:50:06, the then #2 team time in school history, and managed a winning record in the ‘B’ division as a result. Record keeping and political issues lead to the team of 2014 being placed in the ‘C’ divison for the 2014 season, and the 2014 team worked hard to correct that mistake. Daniela Camacho ran the #2 time in school history, with a 19:32 clocking, giving the Comets two girls (all time) under 20 at Montgomery to go with  their 2 boys under 16. Thanks to strong runs from athletes like Paloma Contreras, Milka Perez, and Maria Mendoza, 2014 was the first season in school history where 4 girls ran under 22:00 in the same race. This resulted in a huge team record of 1:45:57, and arguably the greatest girls XC season in JL history.

Despite the loss of of 6/7 of the team’s varsity girls from the 2014 season, the 2015 season ran a solid team time of 1:49:58, breaking the 1:50:00 barrier at Montgomery for the 3rd time in the school’s 15 seasons on the course, despite a very inexperienced girls team. Maria lowered her PR to 20:31, giving her the #4 JL time in history for the course.

Montgomery hill is now the team’s most raced upon course. Generally the team has somewhere between 2-4 races their every season, and the all time lists for the course will continue to grow each season. With the team striving every day to rebuild a once tremendous XC program. Montgomery hill times will be an important barometer of success going forward.

More information on JLXC’s rich history can be found here:

https://coachbennyreeves.wordpress.com/cross-country-history/

Note: All historical data is based on actual archival data/ newspaper results. This is simply the all time lists I have been able to compile, if you have any information that I am missing please do not hesitate to send it my way!

It is my intention to write on a piece on the history of every course we will race this year, if coaching/ graduate studies/ student teaching allow me enough time.

In any case thank you for reading this summary, Blog 2 Below. 

 

Blog 2: Time Trial Recap

The 2016 team showered their desire to take yet another step forward this season with a very strong time trial showing. Azael Zamora lead the group in a huge PR of 16:42, despite only giving an estimated 85% effort. Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a 1 second PR of 16:59, despite the earliness of the season and the fact that he was also treating the run as ,ore of a threshold run than a true time trial. Erik Olsvold did go all out, and ran a full minute PR of 17:18, showing the benefits of his strong track season. Nathan Bernardo did not even bring his racing shoes, but ran a time of 17:33, 17 second abetter than his time at the same time trial a year ago.

Gustavo Aguilera and Gustavo Parra ran 18:36 and 18:49 respectively, way ahead of their 19:04 and 21:37 clockings from last years Montgomery time trial. Jesus Deloya and Vincent Giglio also broke 20, running 19:36 and 19:53, putting both runners on track to break 18 minutes this season for the course.

The next Comet in was sophomore Arlet Miranda, fresh off of her breakout track season, looking to push away the memories of her injury plagued freshmen XC season. Her time of 20:47 puts her #5 on the all time list, and bodes well for her chances to move onto #2 on the school’s list by seasons end. Recent transfer, David Bejines finished with a time of 22:12, an experienced runner as a junior, David will look to factor into the teams plans as he rounds into shape. Freshmen Jericho Habon was next in a time of 22:19. Jericho is one of a number of extremely dedicated freshmen who have worked hard to turn themselves from runners who couldn’t run under 8 minutes for a mile, to strong ‘B’ division frosh-sops athletes. This is their goal with a few weeks before races begin. fellow dedicated freshmen, Kevin Bach came across the line in 24:48 in his first official James Lick clocking. Julia Cruz was the only girl besides Arlet to take part, and she ran a solid 25:05 after her first week back at practice. This is faster than Julia’s time from early October of last season, and she went on to run a solid 23:07 that season.

The Comets are hard at work, and have big time aspirations this season. Despite the fact that the top group of boys treated this run as only a hard practice run, they ran 1:27:07/87:07 , faster than 7 of the 15 seasons where James Lick has run at Montgomery Hill. The team record of 1:21:48/ 81:48 is on their mind, as is a ‘B’ division title.

The girls team spearheaded by Arlet has the aim of breaking 1:50:00 at Crystal Springs, which would be the best league finals time in school history for the girls. Despite the 2 girl showing on Saturday, the girls team is very much rounding together with athletes like Daisy Nava, Maria Mendoza, and Milka Perez hard at work.

The North Rim trail has been closed, but the Comets will look to run a time trial on it as soon as it opens if their schedule permits. In any case the Alumni Race will take place on Friday September 2nd beginning at 6:00 P.M. I recommend any alumni runners arrive at 5:30 if possible to allow time for warmups. The event is less than two weeks away, and the whole Comet team is gaining steam.

Stay tuned for more Comet news.

 

JLXC 2016 Season Fast Approaching

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Team captains: Maria Mendoza, Daisy Nava and Nathan Bernardo leading the team warmup.

 

The 2016 Cross Country season is fast approaching and the Comets have big goals for this season! The school year is underway, and more and more athletes are joining every day. The team is gradually taking form, with North Rim time trials and a Montgomery hill scrimmage meet to come soon. As I look ahead at my 4th year as head coach, I’m exceptionally proud of the fact that the team has maintained a culture of support for one another, and inclusion of all athletes regardless of ability level. This positive, team first mentality has drawn praise and attention from other teams and coaches, and has helped the team maintain a high attendance rate, despite the fact that varsity XC teams only require 5 athletes. The team has done a fantastic job of being inclusive and supportive of every individual athlete, while also striving for competitive success.

The history of JLXC is a powerful history of high quality competitive teams. Much like track, ( a more detailed explanation here  https://coachbennyreeves.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/a-brief-history-of-james-lick-track/)  James Lick’s XC success experienced a gradual decline in the late 80s and 90s, and a steep decline in the early 2000s. The team now however, is very committed to restoring JLXC to it’s status as an East Side powerhouse of distance running.

Last year’s season saw the team move up to the STAL (Santa Teresa) or B’ division of the BVAL. According to the latest data, James Lick is currently the 5th smallest school out of the BVALs 24 teams, so being placed above the C’ division is a small victory on it’s own. The team worked hard to beat many bigger schools, placing 13th on the boys side and 14th on the girls side at BVAL finals where all 24 teams race. The boys were a heartbreaking 5 points away from making it to CCS Finals, making this years team even more dead set on a top 12 placing (the top 50% of teams from the BVAL go to CCS finals). The boys team ran a combined team time (the times of your top 5 runners added up) of 89:07, or 1:29:07. This was the first time since 2003 that any JL team ran under the 90 minute barrier at the historic Crystal Springs course. This was a huge step forward for the team, and the boys are aiming to go several minutes faster as a team this year.

The core group of boys, senior Nathan,  juniors Azael Zamora, Inteus Castro-Lopez and Sophomore Erik Olsvold spearhead a varsity boys team that looks ready to take the leap. These boys in particular have acquitted themselves with immense dedication over the past few months, both during Track season and during summer training.  Following a 2nd place finish in last year’s Santa Teresa division, this season the boys are actively pursuing a championship. Gustavo Aguilera, Gustavo Parra, Jesus Deloya and Vincent Giglio will likely compete to sort out the rest of the varsity team, and add the depth required to be a truly strong cross country team.

The girls team is working hard towards emulating the current strength of the boys team. The boys team has put a strong program in place, with young runners joining constantly, ready to replace their former teammates each season. 4 freshmen boys have already logged 100 miles in training this season, and 5 more freshmen are well on their way. The girls team is trying to recruit a similar number of freshmen girls out to run, to secure the future sucsess of the girls XC team. Last year’s team ran 1:50:27, the 3rd fastest time in school history at Crystal Springs last year at league finals. This was despite the fact that only 2/7 varsity girls had experience running high school Cross Country before. Last year the top 3 teams in the BVAL all resided in the STAL, as such, the girls will be aiming for a sub 1:50:00 performance at league finals, a winning season in the B division, and a CCS berth if they can pull enough strong girls together.

Following her breakout track season, Sophomore Arlet Miranda will likely lead the team, and put her name all over the school’s “all time” lists. Seniors Maria Mendoza, and Daisy Nava (Daisy coming off of a very big track season) give the team a solid 2-3 punch. Junior Milka Perez, a star runner as a freshmen, has worked her way back from an ACL injury suffered in soccer season and is motivated to help add depth to the team. The team will look to find other varsity members from the likes of Julia Cruz, Evalilia Garcia and others.

Cross Country is all about progress. Each runner is training with the goal of improving themselves as much as they possibly can. One way we’ll be looking to measure team success is by comparing the times and placings of this years team, against the past teams of the modern (BVAL) era. Since 1996, James Lick has been a member of the BVAL, a 24 team power league with three 8-team divisions operating as A, B, and C, divisions based on strength of program. Cross country has been one of the few James Lick sports to have spent a majority of the past 20 years out of the C division, despite being one of the smallest and poorest schools in the BVAL. James Lick’s glory days in XC for the boys side were before the BVAL era, and the boys team of today will need to exceed the performances of the BVAL era to restore the program to it’s peak.

Last year’s team managed to become the first team since 2003 to break the90 minute barrier at Crystal Springs, despite having only one boy on the team who could run under 5 minutes for the mile. This year’s team boasts 5 athletes who have run under 5 minutes for the mile, and these athletes are setting an example for the large number of freshmen and sophomore athletes on the team.

The Alumni race is only 2 weeks away, and following that, the team will begin competing in official meets. The Comets are hard at work, exciting races and fast times lie ahead!

Stay tuned for more JLXC news.