Comets Tune up at Riverside Invitational

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The 13 attendees of this years Los Angeles Team Trip 

The James Lick cross country team continued their recent (now 15 years in a row) tradition of taking a yearly trip down to Los Angeles to reward the most dedicated upper class men on the team.  With the Mt. Sac course under construction, the team became the first CCS school ever to attend the Riverside Invitational. The Riverside course is going to be the home of the SS (Southern Section) finals. The SS is the strongest of the 10 California sections, with over 500 schools, it provides huge competition for a CCS school. Nonetheless, the Comets acquitted themselves well at the invite.

The Varsity boys race went first. The course was very flat, and we went in hoping for some big times. The weather had different ideas however, with sweltering heat by race time. Azael Zamora lead the team, running 16:25 for the 3 mile course. The 5:29 pace was the best of his career for a 3 mile course. He placed 10th overall in the “medium schools” division. Inteus Castro-Lopez had one of the best meets of his career, running 17:19 (5:46 pace). Jose Limon had undoubtedly the best race of his career. He ran 18:33, 6:11 pace, the best of his career by over 10 seconds. Cody Huoch and Jesus Deloya rounded out the scoring team running 21:00 and 21:01, not strong races by their standards. Austin Swank ran 21:32 to end the team’s day.

In the varsity girls race, Arlet Miranda continued her recent resurgence. Arlet ran 21:10 for 7:03 pace, her best pace of the season so far. Belen Sanchez ran 23:33, the 7:51 pace being the best of her career for a 3 mile race. Jenny Villagomez Analilia Regla and Ashley Preciado rounded out the team in 25:13, 25:40 and 25:41. It was the best career pace for a 3 mile course for both Ashley and Analilia.

Aliana Santos and Elizabeth Perez ran for the team in the JV race. Both girls earned medals against a small field, a nice reward for their years of dedication.

All 13 of our athletes were chosen because of their consistent dedication at practice, and their good example. I’m proud that we provide a trip for our athletes that no BVAL school can rival.

The team will run a mile time trial early next week before gearing up for BVAL Finals on 10/30. League finals is just a week away.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

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Comets look ready for BVAL Finals at Crystal Springs Center Meet

The James Lick Cross Country team took to the Crystal Springs Center Meet (hosted by Aragon) on October 18th for a preview of the BVAL finals course. Crystal Springs is among the most historic courses in the entire State. James Lick runners have been running the rolling 2.95 mile course since 1973. This makes for great comparisons with runners of the past, and the Crystal Springs all time list for James Lick is the most difficult to get onto of all of our all time lists.

The meet was consolidated into only 4 races, the first of which was the Frosh/Soph Girls. The team placed 3rd and was only one point away from 2nd, with many of the girls having the best race of their career. Ashley Preciado lead the team in 25:59, continuing her breakout sophomore season. Her previous best was 29:06. Jana Kikhia and Mya Hammond came in together at 27:11 and 27:13. I estimate that a runner should run about a minute slower at Crystal Springs than they would at a STAL race, as the STAL race courses are considerably shorter than Crystal Springs. Despite that fact, Mya actually ran faster than her STAL best of 27:23. Emely Lopez (27:55) and Erika Camacho (28:36) both ran under 10 minute pace for the first time on a 3 mile course. Mariana Perez and Francine Estranero both broke the 30 minute barrier for the course as well. Kirste Yutuc (29:57) Araceli Mejia (30:22) and Estefani Herrera (30:50) rounded out the team. It was the best performance of their career to this point for both Araceli and Estefani.

The Frosh/Soph Boys were next, with a preview of the team we will run at BVAL finals as we attempt to win the STAL frosh/soph title. The team was lead by a strong Sophomore trio running big PRs. Melvin Estrada ran 19:07 (previous PR 21:03) Nien Tran ran 19:09 (previous PR 20:18) and Hugo Marquez ran 19:38 (previous PR 21:16). These sophomores have improved dramatically in their sophomore season and have each contributed to varsity teams this season. They will be a handful for other teams at BVAL finals. The team’s top 2 freshmen came in next. Jonathan Cortez ran 19:50 while Jonathan Bradley ran 20:00, both very solid times. Daniel Portillo ran a nearly 3 minute PR of 20:20, Jerricho Habon ran a 30 second PR of 20:26. Omar Fimbres gave the team one more strong freshmen boy, he ran a time of 20:52, 7:04 pace for a runner who had never run that fast for one mile before the season.

Brandon Cruz and Rudolf Ocampo both ran strong, coming in close together at 21:25 and 21:37. Kevin Bach, Jose Ruiz and Luis Escamilla rounded out the team. The team is poiseed to have every boy on the team run under 8 minute pace at BVAL finals. The Frosh/Soph boys team ran a combined team time of 1:37:45. This is the best Frosh/Soph team time for James Lick in the BVAL era (since 1996) by over 2 minutes. The team will look for an even bigger performance at BVAL finals.

The team’s most improved group was up next: The Varsity Girls. Arlet Miranda had a brilliant sophomore year that saw her miss qualifying for the State meet by only 7 seconds. Her junior year has been plagued by iron deficiency, resulting in her running minutes off of her PR. Over the past month, Arlet has really focused on getting back to full health, and fueling her body properly. The center meet was a turning point for her, as she ran by far her best race of the season. Arlet’s time of 21:09 not only lead the team, but is her fastest time of the season on any course longer than 2.33 miles. Only 2 weeks earlier she could only muster 23:19 at the shorter Montgomery hill course. Arlet is truning the corner at the right time for the team. Yeimili Adame also ran very well, runing 22:31. The 7:38 pace is the best of her young career. Belen Sanchez ran 23:30, a big PR from her 25:06 performance at BVAL finals as a sophomore. Freshmen Xochitl Godinez ran 23:54, the 8:07 pace being the best of her career so far. Jennifer Villagomez rounded out the top 5 in 24:19 the 8:15 pace was also the best of her career to this point. Justine Austria, Analilia Regla, Aliana Santos and Susie Peterson also ran for the team.

The varsity girls ran a team time of 1:55:25. This is remarkable considering the very first league meet of the year, on a significantly shorter course, resulted in a 2:06 clocking. The team began the season as the 12th best James Lick team of the BVAL era. Their Crystal Springs time however, puts them as the 5th best team of the BVAL era and 7th best in school history. The team will aim to run even faster at BVALs, and move up in the STAL standings.

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The Varsity Girls Team before the race

Last but certainly not least on the day was the varsity boys. Azael Zamora has been having a  strong season by the standards of any James Lick team, and that continued on the historic Crystal Springs course. Azael placed 4th on the day in 16:17, putting him 20th on the school’s all time list (knocking off teammate Erik Olsvold at 16:22). He is 1 second behind Jim Saldivar at 16:16. With one last race on the course left in his HS career, Azael will aim to move higher on the list, and will try to attack the 16 minute barrier at BVAL finals.

Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a small PR of 17:30, and Mark Orpia ran a big PR of 17:52 to give the team a strong 2-3. Erik Olsvold had his first race of the season, and ran a helpful 18:35. Jesus Deloya ran a 20 second PR to be the 5th guy in 19:17. Jose Limon and Cody Huoch came in at 20:08 and 20:11. Austin Swank, Isaac Veronica and Isaak Herrera ended the teams day, Austin ran a 10 second PR of 20:40 in the process.

The varsity boys ran a team time of 1:29:30. This gives the team 3 season in a row under the 90 minute barrier at Crystal Springs, a streak they will aim to continue. The team looks poised to run well at BVAL finals, and a big finish is ahead at CCS with several runners essentially locks to make it on.

A few dedicated members of the team will compete at the Riverside Invitational and then the whole team will take to BVAL Finals on 10/30. The season is nearing it’s grand finale.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Comet news!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

Comets Compete at the historic Artichoke Invitational

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Inteus Castro-Lopez on his way to an 11 second PR

The Artichoke Invitational is one of the highlights of the bay area High School season. James Lick has been running at the Artichoke Invitational since the 1970s, making the course a good indication of athlete fitness and a good measure of how current Comets stack up against the great athletes of the past. The course was 2.25 miles from its foundation up until 2007. The course has been 2.33 miles since.

The day began with a bang in the freshen boys race. Jonathan Bradley and Omar Fimbres came in close together at 15:18 and 15:24 respectively. Both boys ran by far the fastest pace of their careers to this point, running 6:34 pace and 6:38 pace respectively. These times were notably faster than Mark Orpia’s time from last year (15:41) as Mark is now a high quality STAL varsity runner. Jonathan’s time was even faster than Nathan Bernardo’s freshmen time of 15:22. Nathan would of course go on to lead the team to a STAL championship as a senior and win the school’s Ryan award. Jose Ruiz also had a strong race running 16:37.

The Frosh/Soph girls race was next and the Comets sent a huge group of athletes forward. The leading Comet in the race was Ashley Preciado, who is a great example to her teammates. Ashley ran 19:45 for 8:28 pace, the best of her career. This was a huge PR for Ashley who ran 23:46 as a freshmen last year. Ashley has turned herself into a borderline varsity level runner and should inspire others to do the same. For example, Mya Hammond ran 20:30, Emma Veronica ran 20:55 and Emely Lopez ran 21:06. All 3 girls ran the best races of their careers to this point, and show the potential to be strong varsity runners next year. Mariana Perez (21:46) Francine Estranero (23:06) and Estefanie Herrera (24:34) all had the best races of their career as well. Denise Marquez, Maria Sanchez and Anahi Santos rounded out the race for the Comets.

The Frosh/Soph boys was another huge group for the Comets. The team was lead by a stupendous performance by Sophomore Mark Orpia. After running 15:41 as a freshmen, Mark ran 13:43. This is Mark’s first time under 6 minute pace for an XC race, with a 5:53 pace. This is the 2nd best Sophomore time by a James Lick Comet in the past decade, narrowly missing Nathan Bernardo’s 13:38. Mark placed 5th overall.

Melvin Estrada was the next Comet in, also running the best race of his career. Melvin ran 6:20 pace even, going under 6:30 pace for the first time in his career. He lead a stream of big sophomore PRs. Melvin ran 14:47 compared to a 16:31 clocking a year ago. Nien Tran and Hugo Marquez ran 15:13 and 15:21 compared to times of 17:25 and 17:03 respectively as freshmen. Daniel Portillo went from 18:05 as a freshmen to 15:56 as a sophomore. Jerricho Habon battled a tight hamstring and did not PR. Rudolf Ocampo (17:37) Brandon Cruz (17:44) Luis Escamilla (18:51) and Alvaro Fabian (19:37) completed the team.

Only two athletes ran in the JV race for the team, Elizabeth Perez and Aliana Santos. Aliana ran a big PR of 20:58, while last year she ran over 22 minutes.

The varsity races were last on the ledger. Arlet Miranda ran 17:40 to lead the team. Belen Sanchez ran 18:12, a full minute PR from her 19:10 performance last year. Jennifer Villagomez and Justine Austria ran 19:18 and 19:24 as they continue to build towards solidifying the team. Both girls ran under 8:20 pace for the first time in their careers. Analilia Regla has battled injury this week, but ran a decent time of 21:14 to complete the team.

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Azael Zamora on his way to a 7th place finish in the varsity boys race

In the varsity boys race, Azael Zamora became the first Comet to run under 13 minutes on the 2.33 mile course. After running 13:04 as a junior, Azael managed a 20 second PR of 12:44. This moves Azy up from 17th to 8th on the school’s all time list. Inteus Castro-Lopez had a strong race as well, running 13:38 for an 11 second PR. Cody Huoch had the best XC race of his career to run 15:07. Jose Limon ran 15:33. Isaac Veronica and Austin Swank came across the line together in 16:30 and 16:33 respectively.

The team continues to rapidly approach as the season progresses. The team will take on Leigh and Pioneer at Montgomery Hill for STAL 4. The team will then begin preparations for BVAL finals on October 30th.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

Comets Enjoy Rapid Improvement at STAL 3

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The Frosh/Soph Boys team before STAL 3

The James Lick cross country team took to Montgomery Hill on Wednesday October 4th for their 3rd league meet of the season. Montgomery Hill is 2.74 miles, shorter than the 2.85 mile course at Alum Rock Course. Do to the hilly nature of the course however, times between the two courses are quite comparable in terms of time. The first two meets saw the teams of record as follows.

Frosh/Soph Boys: 2-1  Varsity Boys: 1-2

JV Girls: 0-3     Varsity Girls: 0-3

The team took on Oak Grove and Sobrato for STAL 3.

The day began with the Frosh/Soph boys. The boys team was missing their top 2 runners from STAL 2. Nien Tran moved up to varsity for the meet and Jonthan Cortez sat out the meet with minor injury. Nonetheless, the frosh/soph boys competed well.

Jerricho Habon had the best race of his career. Jerricho came by the first mile in around 20th place. He moved his way up from there to finish 2nd place with a PR of 18:57. He became the first frosh/soph Comet of the year to go under 19 minutes for a STAL race. Freshmen Jonathan Bradley was close behind. Jonathan ran 19:10 for a huge STAL best after running 20:52 at Alum Rock Park. He placed 6th overall. No Frosh/Soph Comets had cracked the top 10 at STAL 1 or STAL 2 (and again, our 1-2 punch from those races did not run frosh/soph this time). Daniel Portillo ran a huge PR of 20:01 and Omar Fimbres ran 20:36 after running 20:59 at Alum Rock. The team’s 5th boy was Rudolf Ocampo, a newcomer to the team who ran 22:23. The Comets got wins over both Oak Grove and Sobrato to move to 4-1 on the Frosh/Soph side.

The next race up was varsity girls. After standing out in her one week of track, Yeimili Adame got to experience the first cross country race of her career. She acquitted herself well, placing 16th and running 22:07. Arlet Miranda and Belen Sanchez came in close togetehr at 23:21 and 23:29. Xochitl Godinez ran 23:54 for her first montgomery hill race. Jennifer Villagomez ran 24:06 and Justine Austria ran 24:26. Neither girl had run under 25 minutes for a STAL race before, (Jenny hadn’t run under 26 minutes before). The varsity girls have shown great improvement. After a team best time of 2:04:38 at STAL 2, the team ran under 1:58:00 at STAL 3. This lead the team to their first win of the season over Oak Grove, though they fell to an undefeated Sobrato team.

Azael Zamora continued to spearheaded the varsity boys just as Montgomery Hill continued to be the bane of his running career. He ran a PR of 16:01 to place 4th, a solid but underwhelming performance given some of the times he’s achieved this season. Inteus Castro-Lopez had his best STAL race of the season, placing 7th in 16:37. Mark Orpia had a PR by a full minute running 17:16 to be the 3rd man in. Jose Limon and Hugo Marquez rounded out the scoring team in 18:26 and 18:37. Melvin Estrada and Nien Tran came across with PRS of 19:04 and 19:08. The varsity boys picked up a pair of wins to move to 3-2 on the season.

The reserve boys was next and the team saw a number of strong performances. Cody Huoch and Isaac Veronica formed a strong 1-2 punch running 20:18 and 20:59. Austin Swank and Jose Ruiz were next in 21:24 and 21:56 (very strong race for Jose). Isaak Herrera (22:37) Jonathan Ergino (24:52) and Alvaro Fabian (27:46) finished off the boys day.

The JV girls also got their first win of the season, defeating Oak grove. They were lead by Ashley Preciado who ran a more than 5  minute PR, going under 30 minutes for the first time, running 25:25. Emely Lopez came across next with the best race of her career, running 27:22. Reserve girl Aliana Santos was right behind in 27:23. Mya Hammond and Emma Veronica came in together at 27:35 and 27:36. Kirsten Yutuc (28:24) and Mariana Perez (28:40) rounded out the JV girls team. Susie Peterson came in at 28:59.Francine Estranero ran a big STAL best of 29:07, running under 30 minutes for the first time, Erika Camacho narrowly missed doing the same thing running 30:01. Araceli Mejia, (31:08) Estefanie Herrera (31:44) and Maria Sanchez (35:43) finished up the day for the Comets.

It was a big step forward for the whole team. The Varsity teams improved their combined record from 1-5 to 4-6.

Many members of the team will head to the Artichoke Invitational on Saturday October 7th. The Comets will then run STAL 4 at Montgomery Hill on Thursday October 12th.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

Comets Show Great Improvement at Watermelon Run: Midseason Recap

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The Comets team awaits the start of the Watermelon Run Headed by several James Lick Alumni

After two weeks of hard work without a race, the James Lick Cross Country team assessed their fitness with the 2017 edition of the Watermelon Run. Due to the cancelation of the Alumni Race earlier in the month, the Watermelon Run doubled as the alumni race with several recent James Lick graduates in attendance.

The team ran the 3.03 mile north rim time trial course. The team ran the same course on August 14th to check their fitness heading into the new season. The Watermelon run showed just how far some of the Comets have come.

Azael Zamora battled sickness to run 17:58 a few seconds off of his personal best. Inteus Castro-Lopez was the 2nd boy across in 18:55, a 2 second PR. The big improvements started piling in soon after. Mark Orpia ran 19:37, far better than his 22:06 PR on August 14th. Erik Olsvold was next in 20:57. Erik has yet to race this season after his outstanding 2016 cross country season. His knee is nearly 100% and he looks to ready to finally begin racing again soon. Jesus Deloya ran a massive PR of 21:06, far better than the 25:17 clocking he managed at the original North Rim time trial of the season.

Nien Tran ran 21:09 for a new PR (25:57 on August 14th). Freshmen Jonathan Cortez ran 21:27 and continues to show his long term potential as a distance runner. This is the best freshmen time at the Watermelon run in the past 4 seasons at least. A stream of Sophomores were next, further illustrating the team’s youth.  A group of Sophomores, Melvin Estrada (21:29) Jerricho Habon (21:38) and Hugo Marquez (21:42) and Daniel Portillo (21:59) all ran under 22 minutes for the first time.

Cody Huoch came across the line next in 23:01. Isaac Veronica ran 23:12 for his first time on the course. Austin Swank was not far behind him in 23:18, a lifetime best in his final run on the course to give the team a strong reserve trio. Freshmen Omar Fimbres ran 23:51 just before Brandon Cruz and Rudolph Ocampo came across together in 23:55. Brandon managed to run faster for North Rim Timed than he did for Toro Park, indicating a big breakthrough is coming. Rudolph made a big impression in his first race for the team. The two sophomores were joined by freshmen Jose Ruiz (23:58) and Jonathan Bradley (24:10). We have some big decisions ahead on who should run on the Frosh/Soph team after these strong performances. Luis Escamilla and Kevin Bach also ran well with times of 24:50 and 25:15 to add two more solid sophomore times.

The girls team as a whole took a huge step forward in the watermelon run. At the North Rim time trial in August, only one girl on the team, (Arlet Miranda) managed to run the course under 33 minutes. Arlet ran 23:07 that day but has been battling iron deficiency since. With Arlet focusing on getting back to full health, it is more important than ever that the team steps up. They certainly did that at the Watermelon run.

Yeimili Adame who made a big impression during track joined the cross country team one week ago. Helped by Arlet’s pacing, Yeimili and Belen Sanchez came across the line together in 25:58. They are only the 6th and 7th JL girls to run under 26 minutes for the North Rim course. Belen ran 33:41 to be the #2 girl on August 14th. Arlet was right behind in 26:03. Xochitl Godinez and Justine Austria came across together in 27:42. Justine ran 37:12 for her first try on the course in August. This gave the girls 5 girls under 28 for the slow North Rim Timed course, something they were unable to muster at STAL 1 this season. Jennifer Villagomez, Jana Kikia and Analilia Regla came in at 28:45, 28:46 and 28:49, giving the team 8 girls under 29 minutes for North Rim Timed. Again, when we did the time trial on August 14th, we had only one girl under 33 minutes.

Alvaro Fabian and Jonathan Ergino were the last boys in at 28:43 and 29:19. Ashley Preciado ran 30:07 for a 4 minute PR. She was joined under 31 minutes by freshmen Mya Hammond (30:53) Emely Lopez (30:55) and senior Aliana Santos 30:53. All 3 girls achieved big PRs. Mya and Emely ran 41 minutes and 39 minutes respectively when they ran the course on August 14th.

Mariana Perez (32:11 for a 6 minute PR) Erika Camacho (32:44, 5 minute PR) and Francine Estranero (32:58) provided 3 more freshmen girls under 33 minutes for the team. Emma Veronica ran 32:56 for her first time on the course. Susie Peterson also ran 32:58, narrowly missing her PR but running 5 minutes faster than she managed in August. The final big PR of the day belonged to Estefani Herrera, 35:12 compared to a 44 minute clocking in August. Kirsten Yutuc ran 37:26 and Maria Sanchez ended the team’s day running 52:26.

Overall it was a big step forward for the team and a welcome performance with STAL 3 just days away. Some interesting notes from the Watermelon run:

46 Current Comets attended the Watermelon Run, the most in my 5 years of coaching. 2 runners, (Jose Limon and Adrian DeLaRosa) were sat out as they are dealing with minor injuries.

Of the 44 Comets who competed in the run, the team breaks down like this:

  1. Freshmen: 14 Total 9 girls 5 boys
  2. Sophomores: 17 Total 6 girls 11 boys
  3. Juniors: 4 Total 2 girls 2 boys
  4. Seniors: 8 Total 3 girls 5 boys

The team is very young this year, with nearly 70% of the team being underclassmen. This bodes very well for the future. This year in some ways might seem like a letdown after the 2016 STAL championship of the varsity boys, but the team is building towards future success.

Cross country and track are the only sports at James Lick reprinting the school in the ‘B’ division this year, and competing against larger schools is never easy. I am confident however, that the team will finish strong and improve on their current records.

Here is a breakdown of the teams records and how their team times changed from STAL 1 to STAL 2 (Team Times are the team’s top 5 runners times added up): 

Varsity Girls: 0-3   STAL 1: 126:06 STAL 2: 124:38

Varsity Boys: 1-2  STAL 1: 91:35  STAL 2: 87:59

Frosh/Soph Boys: 2-1 STAL 1: 101:35  STAL 2:  100:59

JV Girls: 0-3  STAL 1: 142:37   STAL2: 143:47

Reserve Boys: STAL 1: 110:59          STAL 2: 111:47

Reserve Girls: STAL 1: 164:03   STAL 2: INC

The team’s varsity record so far is 1-5 for a .200 winning percentage. I’d be willing to bet that this will improve over STAL 3 and STAL 4.

Both varsity teams improved from STAL 1 to STAL 2 by a considerable amount and the girls did it without Belen.

Frosh/Soph and JV tend to be inconsistent with runners moving up and down as needed for varsity. At STAL 2, the top runner from Frosh/Soph (Melvin Estrada) moved up to run varsity. The Frosh/Soph boys still managed to run faster as a team.

We are hoping that the Varsity Boys will run under 85 minutes as a team at STAL 3,  with the girls ideally running under well under 2 hours as a team for the first time this season.

The team will face Oak Grove and Sobrato at STAL 3 on Wednesday October 4th. It will be the 1st meet of the year at Montgomery Hill for the team. The team will look for many STAL season bests and the first wins of the year on the girls side.

The team will then trek to Half Moon Bay for the Artichoke Invitational on Saturday October 7th.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for STAL 3 recap!

-Benny Reeves