Comet Alumni At The Next Level

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James Lick Alumni Left to right: Daisy Nava (Class of 2017) Hector Ramirez (Class of 2016) and Daniela Camacho (2015) at the San Francisco State Invitational in Golden Gate Park 

As a school, one of James Lick’s primary goals is to increase the number of Comets who graduate from James Lick and attend college. I’m proud of the fact that every senior member of the cross country/track team in the 4 years I’ve been coaching has either gone on to college or taken a career pat immediately. This past year for example, 3 different Comets graduated and joined the military.

One of the greatest sources of pride for our program however, is seeing XC/track athletes graduate from Lick, and then move on to compete as runners in college. We allow anyone who wants to join the team to join, and we do not make cuts. It goes without saying that this policy is not present in college programs. Only the top cut of HS runners will compete in college at any level, and a far smaller percentage will do so at a university.

This is the first year since I’ve been coaching that we have James Lick alumni actively competing in cross country at the university level. Two years ago, Daniela Camacho and Karan Singh both joined the De Anza team, and were key members of the squad with both sides making the community college State championships. Karan was my first runner to go run the mile under 5 minutes, ending senior year with a solid time of 4:39. Daniela I’ve discussed in blog posts at length. She still holds school records in all 3 distance events,running a 5:27 1600 in her heyday and was a 3 time CCS qualafier in cross country.

Daniela helped De Anza win the 2016 Coast Conference championship in track and field. Last year she was joined on the track team by Andrea Ortiz. Andrea set the James Lick school record in the 300 hurdles, running 50.19. Andrea and Daniela both scored points to help De Anza win the 2017 coast conference track title as well.

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De Anza 2017 Coast Conference Track Championship Team. JL Alumni Andrea Ortiz (bottom left) and Daniela Camacho (3rd from left, top row). 

Hector Ramirez is currently training with San Francisco State University though he is not racing yet. Hector was a quality member of the James Lick team, captaining the 6-1 2016 team. His most impressive PR in High School was his 17:36 5k at the Stanford Invitational.

Finally, we have Daisy Nava from our most recent graduating class. Daisy was more successful in track than in cross country. She was a BVAL qualifier in the 800m and a key member of the cross country squad for her 2 years in the sport. She is now running for UC Merced.

She had her first ever college meet in Golden Gate Park and got off to a great start by running 7:46 pace for 6k. This matches her best HS pace ever for a longer distance than she;s ever raced. Daniela was in the same race. After her two years at De Anza, Daniela transferred to Notre Dame De Namur and is a member of their scoring team.

These Comet alumni were great members of the team for us, and they continue to make us proud in college.

The Comet team of 2017 will run the Watermelon Run/ Alumni Race on Friday September 9th in preparation for STAL 3 at Montgomery Hill on October 4th.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

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Comets compete at Toro Park in Earlybird Invitational

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Coach Raul Lopez, Inteus Castro-Lopez, Azael Zamora and myself after the Earlybird Invitational.

The Comets took to Toro Park in Salinas for the Earlybird invitational on Saturday September 16th. This is typically one of the most competitive invitationals, especially with all races in Toro Park in 2016 being cancelled due to fire damage. Toro Park and Crystal Springs are now the alternating hosts of the CCS finals XC meet. This year CCS will be held at Toro Park, making a run over the course a kind of CCS preview meet, and very important to CCS caliber runners.

The meet began with the freshmen girls race. Xochitl Godinez lead the team in a solid time of 24:58. Matching her 8:19 mile pace from Alum Rock a few days ago, despite Toro Park being a slower course (in terms of pace and total time). Jana Kikhia likewise had a very impressive race by her standards. Jana ran 26:16, not only a better pace than her league race time, but a better time as well! Jana’s pace of 8:45 nearly equals her performance of 8:43 pace on the 2.13 mile Golden Gate Park course. We have a long layover till our next league race course on October 4th. We have high hopes for these two freshmen girls. My personal hope is that they will both run under 8 minute pace for Crystal Springs come league finals.

Mariana Perez ran 29:10, going under 10 minute pace for the first time in her career. Francine Estranero rounded out the freshmen girls in 32:04, a better pace than she managed at the league race as well.

Jonathan Cortez once again lead the freshmen boys with the best race of his young career. He ran 20:22 for his first full 3 mile course. Again, I think a runner of Jonathan;s caliber should be able to run about 1:20 faster for a STAL league race than they can run at Toro Park. This indicates to me Jonathan can aim for under 19 minutes at Montgomery Hill in a  few weeks, compared to the 19:50 he ran at Alum Rock this week. Jose Ruiz had a solid race as well, running 23:27 for his first 3 mile. Jose is making a case to be moved up to Frosh/Soph for STAL 3.

The Sophomore races displayed more of the team’s young runners. Ashley Preciado lead the group running 27:02. Justine Austria was not far behind in 27:21 and Kirsten Yutuc came across in 28:48. The Varsity girls started this season at STAL 1 with 2 girls under 25 minutes and only 3 girls under 27 minutes. I’m hopeful that by the next league race, the Comets will have 3 girls under 23 minutes and another 2 under 25 minutes. Our young girls may not be the most talented group, but they are determined to outwork other teams in the pursuit of success.

Mark Orpia ran a very strong 18:38 to lead the sophomore boys. This shows Mark should have a good chance at running under 17 minutes at STAL 3. Hugo Marquez ran 20:14 and Nien Tran and Jerricho Habon ran 21:19 and 21:22, adding depth to the team. Brandon Cruz came across the line in 24:19, and Luis Ecamilla ran a very well paced race running 24:54. Luis only a few weeks ago was struggling to run 9 minute mile pace and he is now rapidly approaching the 8 minute pace barrier.

The junior girls race had the team’s top 2 runners. Arlet Miranda’s season so far has been a struggle but we are hopeful that she will be able to turn it around with hard work over the next few weeks. She ran 23:46 for the course. Belen Sanchez ran 24:47 a solid time, especially after missing Thursday with knee pain.

Jose Limon ran 19:50 to be the fastest Comet on the day to that point. Despite Lemon’s background as a sprinter, he has quickly grasped the nuance of pacing in cross country.

The senior girls race saw Analilia Regla lead the team in 27:39, a solid performance as she works her way back to full health. Aliana Santos also had a solid performance, running 28:29.

The most anticipated race on the day for the team was the senior boys race. Azael Zamora has his mind set on qualifying for the State meet and he produced a performance which shows him to be threat to do just that. Azael ran the best race of his career, running 16:37 for a massive 2:20 second PR from his Sophomore year. Azael placed in the top 40 overall out of more than 1,000 runners on the day, and his time narrowly missed the school record of 16:33 set by Jose Gutierrez in 2002. Evan Franco of Branham (1st place at STAL 1 and STAL 2) and Dylan Ellis of Prospect (2nd place at STAL 1 and STAL 2) ran 16:55 and 17:02 respectively. This should give Azael newfound confidence to compete for the win next league race. Inteus Castro-Lopez had a strong day as well running 17:59 for a nearly 40 second PR. Cody Huoch ended the team’s day with the best performance of his career running 21:31 for the course.

Overall it was a very strong day for the team. The team will now look ahead to the rescheduled Alumni Race/Watermelon Run on September 29th. This will decide who will run on what team for STAL 3 on October 4th.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

Comets Take Big Step Forward at STAL 2

The James Lick Comets had their second league meet of the 2017 season on September 14th in Alum Rock Park . A week after opening their season on the very same 2.85 mile course, the team took a big step forward, with numerous PRs and their first Varsity win of the season.

 

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Varsity Boys Left to right: Jose (Lemon) Limon, Hugo Marquez, Jesus Deloya, Azael Zamora, Inteus Castro-Lopez, Mark Orpia, Melvin Estrada

The meet began with the Frosh/Soph boys race. Nien Tran and Jonathan Cortez came in at 19:48 and 19:50, both running under 20 minutes for the very first time. Jerricho Habon was the 3rd boy in at 20:03, a PR by over a minute. Daniel Portillo ran a small PR of 20:18, and Omar Fimbres ran under 21 minutes for the first time, running 20:59. The team got the win over Branham to move to 2-1 on the season, despite the decision to move Melvin Estrada (last week’s top F/S boy) to Varsity.

The Varsity girls also saw a number of strong performances, and competed much better despite the absence of number 2 runner Belen Sanchez. Arlet Miranda lead the team in 22:28, still nowhere near her best. The next runner across for the Comets was Xochitl Godinez in 23:43, a massive improvement after running 25:32 only a week earlier. Justine Austria was 3rd in at 25:39, a huge PR as well after she ran 28:08 last week. Jana Kikhia and Ashley Preciado rounded out the top 5 with both girls running 26:24. Neither girl ran under 27 minutes last week. The girls are 0-3, but are improving rapidly. The team will work hard over the next few weeks to try to score their first win against Oak Grove in October.

The varsity boys team was spearheaded by Azael Zamora once again. He ran 15:44 for 3rd place. Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a 20 second PR of 17:08. Mark Orpia succeeded in going under 18 for the first time, running 17:42. Jose Limon ran 18:35, compared to his 19:46 clocking from a week ago. Lemon flashed his track speed over the last 100 meters, passing two runners from Branham (and several other runners) with his outstanding finishing kick. Had he not passed those runners, the Comets would have fallen to 0-3. Thanks to his finish however, the team scored a narrow victory over the Bruins. Hugo Marquez and Melvin Estrada came across the line together in 18:50, both breaking 19 for the first time.

The JV girls race also saw some huge PRS with Jennifer Villagomez taking her PR from 28:20 to 26:01 in one fell swoop. Mya Hammond cracked the 28 minute barrier and Kirsten Yutuc did the same to the 29 minute barrier.

The boys reserve race also saw a huge PR from Luis Escamilla. Luis took his best time down from 27 minutes a week ago, to 24 minutes this week.

Overall, STAL 2 was a huge steo in the right direction for the team.

Earlybird Invitational recap coming soon.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

Comets open season with STAL 1 and Lowell Invitational

The first race of the season for the Comets got underway on Thursday October 7th in Alum Rock Park. The team entered the season as reigning STAL (‘B’) division champions on the Varsity Boys side. 2016 Was a tremendous year for the team, with the team setting school records for combined team time at Montgomery Hill and at BVAL finals where the Comets placed 2nd overall, beating out every BVAL team except for the ‘A’ division champs, Willow Glen.

This years team looks to be headed for a much different season in what looks to be a rebuilding year for the team. 46 Athletes ran at STAL 1, the most athletes to run in a single race for James Lick since 2011. Of those 46 athletes, 30 were either freshmen or sophomores. Our team is very young this year, but very dedicated as well, which points to some strong seasons down the road for the team.

The Frosh/Soph boys got the meet started for the team on a day where all JL teams were facing Prospect and Independence. The Frosh/Soph boys came away 1-1 defeating Prospect but losing to Indy. Melvin Estrada lead the team in 19:28, a 2 minute PR. Last season the Comets best FS boy only managed to ru  20:46 at the first race. Nien Tran and Daniel Portillo both ran sizable PRS of 20:16 (21:17 last year) and 20:22 (24:03 last year), and talented freshmen Jonathan Cortez was close behind in 20:26. Jerricho Habon sealed off the top 5 with a time of 21:03. Freshmen Omar Fimbres ran 21:27 for a solid opening race, and Kevin Bach rounded out the team in 22:48.

Arlet Miranda has been dealing with the flu, but pushed through it to lead the Varsity Girls in 21:52. Nowhere near her best but good enough to be a competitive time. Belen Sanchez was the next Comet in at 23:59,  a 40 second PR. Freshmen Xochitl Godinez was the 3rd girl in at 25:32, a solid debut. Next was freshmen Jana Kikhia in 27:12, followed by Analilia Regla in 27:31. Sophomore Jennifer Villagomez and freshmen Mya Hammond rounded out the team in 28:17 and 28:47. More than half of the varsity girls team were running their first ever cross country race.

The Varsity boys team was unable to score a victory a year after going undefeated. They did see the best time by a Comet on the Alum Rock course in over a decade however. Azael Zamora placed 4th in 15:41, (the winner ran 15:34). This places him 5th on the school’s all time list for the course. Sophomore Mark Orpia ran 18:16, smashing his PR of 20:45 from last season,though we feel he could have done even better. Inteus Castro-Lopez has a very rough race by his standards, running 18:28. Jesus Deloya was the 4th boy in 19:24 and Jose Limon rounded out the team’s scoring in 19:46 for his first ever XC meet. Hugo Marquez ran 19:51 to take apart his previous PR of 21:44 as well.

The JV and reserve girls teams showed great signs of future success as well. The first JV girl across the line was Ashley Preciado in 27:32. Every other girl in the race for the team was running her first XC race. Justine Austria and Emma Veronica came across the line together in 28:07 and 28:08. Kirsten Yutuc and Mariana Perez finished in 29:14 and 29:36, with Emely Lopez and Erika Camacho rounding out the group in 29:46 and 30:15. Aliana Santos, Francien Estranero, Susie Peterson, Anahi Santos and Maria Sanchez competed for the team on the reserve side as well.

The Reserve boys was the largest group for the team and had some of the best performances as well. Freshmen Jonathan Bradley ran 20:52 to earn a spot on the Frosh/Soph team for next week. The majority of the boys in the race were running their first ever XC race, and overall the team competed well.

The team is young which makes the 0-2 start of the varsity teams a little bit easier to take. If you’ve read this blog regularly, you’ll know I’ve been saying for months that I felt we just needed a group of young dedicated girls (similar to the young group of boys we have) to really turn the team around. The group of freshmen/sophomore girls we have now are not otherworldly talents (most of the freshmen ran over 9 minutes at our August time trial) but their dedication is leading to rapid improvement. Our hope is that we can build this group into high quality varsity runners with a few seasons of work. Both STAL 1, and the Lowell invite showed the potential is there.

Lowell Invitational

The Lowell invitational in Golden Gate Park is a great experience for the team. The flat/fast courses are a great confidence builder for the team going forward. With this being the team’s 3rd time attending the meet, a number of team records fell.

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Freshmen Omar Fimbres (Left) and Jonathan Cortez (right) warmup at the Lowell Invitational 

Starting with the freshmen boys race, Jonathan Cortez had a great performance, running 14:09 to shatter the team record of the 2.13 mile course. Last year Jerricho Habon ran 14:28 for the course. Jonathan ran 6:39 mile pace for the course, a very encouraging fact. Omar also had a great race running 14:56 for 7:01 pace. His August time trial saw him run barely faster than that for one mile at 6:55.

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Left to right: Freshmen Francine Estranero, Jana Kikhia and Mya Hammond before the Frosh/Soph girls race. 

Jana Kikiha was one of the team’s top freshmen at the mile time trial when she ran 9:14. At the Lowell invite however, she ran 18:35 which comes out to 8:43 mile race, a stellar improvement. Mya Hammond had a similariliy impressive performance. After running 9:39 for the mile time trial a month ago, she ran 9:11 pace for the 2.13 mile Lowell Invite course.  Francine Estranero ran 10:13 pace for the course, approaching her PR of 9:59 for a single mile as well.

The Sophomore race saw the record of Jonathan Cortez fall just hours after it was set. Melvin Estrada ran 14:05 for a 29 second PR. Hugo Marquez was next in 14:24, a nearly 2 minute PR. Nien Tran ran 14:52 for a 25 second PR. and Daniel Portillo ran 15:23 for a 90 second PR as well. Brandon Cruz rounded out the team in 16:43. Despite the PRs across the board by the Sophomore boys, we actually feel this was an underperformance by the team, and one we hope they will bounce back from next week.

The non-Varsity race had only 2 Comet boys, Gustavo Madrigal and Adrian DeLaRosa. Both ran very impressive races. Gustavo ran 21:58 for the 2.93 mile course and Adrian ran 22:26. They ran 7:30 pace and 7:40 pace respectively, after both ran well over 8:00 pace on Thursday for STAL 1.

The Varsity girls team as a whole took a big step forward as well. On Thursday only two girls managed to run under 9:00 pace, Belen and Arlet. At the Lowell invite, 5 girls managed the feat, with two others close behind. Arlet lead the team in 21:23, still awaiting her breakout race. Belen had one of the best races of her career, running 23:09 for 7:54 pace, her first time under 8:00 pace. Ashley Preciado was the next girl in at 25:26. Ashley’s improvement has been remarkable. Last year she managed only one race under 10:00 pace, and with the Lowell invite she ran a new lifetime best XC pace of 8:41. Right behind Ashley was Justine Austria in 25:28 and not far behind her was Analilia Regla in 25:42. Kirsten Yutuc ran 26:46 and Aliana Santos ran a PR of 26:57 to finish the girl’s day. While the 2.93 course at Lowell is easier than Alum Rock’s it is also over 100 meters longer. The fact that many of our varsity girls ran 2 minutes faster at the Lowell invite shows we are ready for a much better showing next Thursday.

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The Varsity Girls After the race

 

The final race of the day was the Varsity Boys. The team was looking to bounce back from Thursday’s disappointing performance. Azael lead the team in 15:50, beating his own course record (set last year) by 33 seconds. After a poor race Thursday, Inteus bounced back in a big way running 16:47 for a 30 second PR. This equates to 5:43 pace, by far the best of his career to this point. He wasn’t the only one either. Mark Orpia ran 17:42 for 6:02 pace, a huge performance for him as well. Jose Limon ran 18:40 for 6:22 pace. These 4 boys now look poised to go get their first win next Thursday when the team takes on Branham.

 

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Sophomore Mark Orpia in the final 100 meters of his race

The first week of racing is done and the team is headed in the right direction. The youth of the team makes for a very exciting season in terms of progression. Next Thursday the team will take on Branham in Alum Rock Park before heading to Toro Park in Salinas next Saturday for the Earlybird Invitational.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Comet news!

-Benny Reeves