Comets Show Steady Improvement at 2nd League Race

The Comets had their 2nd league meet of the 2019 season on Thursday September 26th at Montgomery Hill. It was a long 3 weeks in between league meets, and many members of the team ran dramatically faster than at ST Division (‘B’) division race #1. Overall the team showed improvement, but we are still not where we want to be at this point in the year.

The first race of the day was the frosh/soph boys. The team fell to a very strong Branham team (currently the 3rd best boys team in the BVAL by my reckoning) but every boy in the race managed a big improvement. None was bigger than Justin Nguyen. At ST #1, Justin ran 24:22 as the #2 frosh/soph boy for the team. At this meet, Justin PR’d by over 4 minutes, stopping the clock at 20:21, a very solid time for a freshmen boy.

Jay Austria was the next Comet across in 21:51, better than the 23:03 he managed at the first league meet. Omar Sanchez had a massive PR as well, running 22:23 compared to his 25:58 clocking from the first league meet. Josue Gomez had his first race of the season, running 23:36, shattering his previous PR of 25:14. Navbir Kahlon was close behind in 22:44, nearly a 2 minute PR as well. Carlos Nava ran 24:20 for a minute PR and Jason Garcia ran 25:15 for his first time on the course.

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Freshmen Justin Nguyen during the first Mile with Sophomore Navbir Kahlon not far behind 

The varsity girls race was next and it would be one of the stronger races for the Comets on the day. Jessica Cervantes lead the group, running a PR of 21:49, but she finished behind all of Branham’s top 3. Mya Hammond narrowly missed breaking 24 for the first time at ST race #1, running 24:02. She didn’t leave that barrier to chance this time, netting a massive PR of 22:50, placing in the top 20 in just her 2nd ever varsity meet. Emely Lopez also managed a massive PR, running 23:10, her first time under 24 minutes as well. Those 3 girls managed to come in before Branham’s 4th girl, giving the team some hope. The Branham 4-5 ran high 23s to seal their victory however. Daisy Flores ran 23:48, and Mariana Perez and Ashley Preciado ran 24:03 and 24:05 to round out the team, both were big season bests. This performance was obviously a massive improvement on race 1 where only 1 lady comet ran under 24, and it was without team #3 Lizbeth Espana as well.  The varsity girls sit at 2-1 and look ahead at a very good chance at a winning record this year.

For the 2nd race in a row however, it was a very rough performance from the varsity boys. At race 1, Mark Orpia and Jerricho Habon lead the team. Neither boy was able to race at this meet due to injury. Brandon Cruz lead the team with a strong time of 17:29, a PR by 1 second.

While Brandon finished in the top 15, no other varsity boy from the team finished in the top 40. The last time we had a race with only 1 boy in the top 40 was in 2013, also the last time a varsity team from James Lick finished 0-7. The team will hope to see speedy recoveries from Mark and Jerricho, but the entire squad will need to pick up the slack to avoid a winless season.

After a 7-0 season last year, the JV girls team on paper looked ready to take things even further, aiming for a top 4 finish at BVAL finals. While the team kept their undefeated season alive against Branham (moving to 3-0) it was an uneven performance for the JV girls. The race also proved that Leigh and Pioneer will be tough opponents.

Ruth Rodriguez had a great race, running under 24 minutes for the first time, stopping the clock at 23:50. Estefani Herrera took 8th overall in 25:01 a small improvement on ST race 1, but not near her PR. Keyla Sifuentes ran 25:32 for her first league meet and is likely to be a key contributor by seasons end. Yesenia Martinez and Melanny Sanchez came in close together at 26:34 and 26:44 respectively. The time was a PR for Melanny. Kaylena Gil ran 27:29 for her first league meet to round out the team.

Erika Camacho had a rough day, running 28:28. Marisol and Deisy Carlos ran big PRs, lowering their marks from the 32 minute range to the 30 minute range. Marisol just missed the big barrier, running 30:04, while Deisy ran 30:34.

Rodolf Ocampo lead the reserve boys, running a PR of 20:25 which was better than our 7th varsity boy on the day. Josh Merin took over 40 seconds off his PR as well, running 20:53. Hugo Marquez also netted a seasons best of 21:16 as the 3rd reserve boy. Luis Escamilla PR’d by over a minute, running 21:51. Abraham Benitez ran 24:14, a PR by over a minute, but he is clearly ready to run way faster than that based on his other races. Expect more than a 2 minute PR the next time out.

When all was said and done, the team came away with 17 PRS on the day, and a few big steps forward, particularly in the frosh/soph boys, varsity girls, and reserve boys races.

The team has another 3 week layoff before the next league meet, (This is the weirdest league race schedule we’ve had since I’ve been coaching) but the team will compete at 3 invitationals in the meantime.

This Saturday, the Comets will take to Shadow Cliffs Regional Park in Pleasanton for the Scott Bauhs Invitational. This is the first time the team has ever been to this meet, so the fastest Comets of the day will come home as school record holders for the 2.95 mile course. The distance is the same as Crystal Springs, (our league finals course) but past results suggest this is a faster course, making it a good confidence builder.

Next week, the Comets will head to Half Moon Bay for the always fun Artichoke Invitational.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comets Shake Off Rust at De La Salle Invitational

After a 2 week hiatus from any racing, the James Lick Comets began their busiest stretch of the season by competing at Newhall Park in Concord, in the hyper competitive De La Salle Invitational. This was the 9th time in school history that James Lick competed at this invitational, the first time being 2005. With less than 10 years on the course, every year the team improves the school’s all-time list on the course, an exciting prospect for many of our runners. The varsity runners contested the 3 mile course, while the JV and frosh/soph runners ran the 2 mile course.

The meet began with the varsity girls race. Jessica Cervantes lead the Comets with a strong time of 22:39, the 6th best time in school history. The Comets were without #2 runner Mya Hammond, but the other girls picked up the slack by running as a pack. Lizbeth Espana and Emely Lopez came in together at 24:37. Mariana Perez ran 24:51 and Ashley Preciado 24:54. Yesenia Martinez ran 26:49 to round out the team. The times from Lizbeth- Ashley are actually quite encouraging. Over the years I have several examples of lady Comets who ran over 25 minutes at De La Salle, who would go on to run under 23 minutes at Crystal Springs for BVAL finals, a solid middle of the pack time. Despite Mya’s absence, the team ran the 2nd best team time on the course in school history, missing the mark of the 2014 squad by only 20 seconds.

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Left to Right: Emely Lopez, Ashley Preciado, Yesenia Martinez, Mariana Perez, Lizbeth Espana and Jessica Cervantes

 

The varsity boys race was next. Top runner Mark Orpia is still battling injury and did not run.  Nien Tran lead the Comets with a solid time of 18:33, the fastest time Nien has ever run for a 3 mile race by over 40 seconds. The last time we ran at De La Salle, Nien was a freshmen, who ran 7:12 pace for the 2 mile version of the course. The 6:11 pace for 3 miles he was able to produce as a senior is the result of 4 years of hard work.

The same can be said about Jerricho Habon who finished in 18:54. He ran only 7:06 pace for the 2 mile as a freshmen and just produced his first sub-19 3 mile clocking at De La Salle. Brandon Cruz was next in 18:55, giving the Comets 3 boys under 19 at De La Salle for just the 2nd time in the 9 years we’ve race the course.

Without Melvin Estrada or Mark present, Omar Fimbres was the 4th boy in 19:51. Hugo Marquez stepped up to give the team a 5th varsity boy, running 22:27. The varsity boys beat 7 teams despite missing some key players, a solid performance as they look ahead to more races to come.

The next race saw the JV and frosh soph girls competing on the 2 mile course. Daisy Flores spearheaded the group with a time of 15:52, just the 3rd girl in school history to run under 16 minutes for the course. This was the single race with the most additions to the all time list for James Lick, since our JV girls have never been stronger than they are right now. Ruth Rodriguez was next in 16:26, the 6th best time in school history. Estefani Herrera claimed the 8 spot in 17:17. Junior Keyla Sifuentes, in her first race for the team impressed by running 17:20, good for #10 on the all time list. Melanny Sanchez and Erika Camacho ran 18:02 and 18:10 for spots 16 and 17, and Kaylena Gil ran 18:32 for the 19th spot on the list. Adriana Marcelino ran 23:18 to round out the girls day with her best performance of the season so far.

This squad managed a new team course record by over 5 minutes, stopping the clock at 84:59.

The next race up was the frosh/soph boys. Justin Nguyen and Ronaldo Castillo came in together at 14:44 and 14:45, solid performances for the duo who will look to crack the 7 minute pace barrier by the end of the season. Omar Sanchez squeezed under 15 minutes with a time of 14:59. Omar continues to be one of our most rapidly improving athletes. A month ago at our north rim trial he ran 9:56 pace for the difficult 3 mile course. The De La Salle Course may be shorter and less challenging but 7:29 pace is a dramatic improvement anyway you slice it.  Navbir Kahlon was next in 15:12, the 7:36 pace being the best of his career so far. Carlos Nava (16:17) Huu Thai (16:45) and Jason Garcia (17:02) rounded out the group.

The final race of the day was the JV boys over the 2 mile course. Josh Merin lead the group in 14:40, his best performance of the season so far. Abraham Benitez was the next boy across in 15:00 even. Rodolf Ocamp and Luis Escamilla came in at 15:35 and 15:52. This was the 2nd straight race under 8 minute pace for Luis.

The Comets have their 2nd league meet of the season on Thursday September 26th against Branham. Branham has been by far the toughest boys team in the division over the last 2 seasons, and the Comets  will be mostly focused on achieving PRS after a rough showing at our first league meet this season.

Then the team will take to the Scott Bauhs Invitational in Pleasanton for the first time in school history on Saturday September 28th.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

James Lick Team Records Fall at 2019 Lowell Invitational

On Saturday September 9th, the James Lick Comets took to Golden Gate Park to participate in the Lowell Invitational for the 5th time in school history. Due to very muddy conditions the courses were slightly altered making the traditional Frosh/soph course 2.07 miles instead of 2.13, and the traditional long course 2.8 miles instead of 2.93.

This might not seem like a big deal to many but it is unfortunate in my opinion since we cannot directly compare the performances to past years and use the comparisons to project ahead. For example, at the end of the meet, we were under the impression we had established a new varsity girls team record, only to learn later that the course had been altered.

In any case, the invitational was a good bounce back race for many of the Comet runners after what was a tough day for the team on Wednesday at their first league meet. The meet began with the freshmen boys race.

Despite the mud, the flat nature of the course and cool weather makes it a course where many runners run a fast pace and build confidence going forward.

Justin Nguyen lead the Comets with a strong time of 15:09, good for a 7:21 mile pace. This was a huge breakthrough for Justin, who just 3 weeks ago ran a 7:31 for our 1 mile time trial to start the season. Omar Sanchez was next in 16:10, also running under 8 minute pace for the first time in his career. Carlos Nava came across in 16:28, just under the 8 minute mile pace barrier as well. Jason Garcia rounded out the group in 17:40, a strong showing for him as well.

The frosh/soph girls race was next, and the first lady Comet across was Ruth Rodriguez in 16:45. The 8:05 pace is by far the best pace of her career to this point. Marisol Carlos also ran in the race as a substitute for a runner who couldn’t make it, and she ran 19:21. The 9:21 pace was a strong improvement for her as well.

In the soph boys race, Jay Austria ran a strong time of 14:45, a 7:08 pace, the 2nd best pace of his career so far. Navbir Kahlon finished in 15:56, a 7:42 pace as well.

With the JV races, the day turned to the 2.8 mile course, more comparable to our league races on the 2.74 mile Montgomery hill course. Even though it is a slightly longer course than Montgomery Hill, the conditions make it much faster. A good goal for any athlete is to try to run faster at Montgomery than you were able to manage at Lowell. This is even more challenging with the course being shortened this year.

Mariana Perez lead the JV girls with a time of 23:18. Estefani Herrera was close behind in 23:27. The 8:23 pace for Estefani is the best of her career to this point. Erika Camacho ran 24:06, a big step forward from a 27 minute clocking at Montgomery on Wednesday. Melanny Sanchez ran 24:21, the best race of her young career so far.

Hugo Marquez lead the JV boys with a time of 19:57, a big step forward from a 23 minute run on Wednesday. Abraham Benitez had by far the best race of his young career. He stopped the clock at 20:13, running 7:13 pace. Josh Merin was close behind in 20:24. Rodolf Ocampo ran 20:56 to and Luis Escamilla ran 21:23, breaking the 8 minute pace barrier for the first time.

The varsity girls race some some big breakthroughs as well. Namely Mya Hammond running 21:08 for the 2.8 mile course. Mya had never run under 8 minute pace for a cross country race before. She went way under that mark, managing a 7:33 mile pace for the race. Lizbeth Espana and Emely Lopez ran 22:16 and 22:18, both dipping just under 8 minute pace for the race as well. Ashley Preciado and Yesenia Martinez both took solid steps forward running 23:19 and 23:33 respectively to round out the groups.

The final race of the day was varsity boys. Mark Orpia lead the group in 16:10, the 5:47 pace being the fastest of his career so far. Jerricho Habon was next in 17:00. Brandon Cruz and Nien Tran made up the 3rd and 4th in 17:26 and 17:39. Omar Fimbres was the 5th boy in 18:09

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The varsity boys after the race

After a very rough first league meet, the team bounced back soundly at the Lowell Invite.

The team will work towards matching their Lowell Invite times at Montgomery Hill, which would make the team a force to be reckoned with at meet #2.

The team will take most of the next 2 weeks to focus on training. The Comets won’t race again until September 21st at the DeLaSalle Invitational.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

Varsity Girls Scrape Pair of Wins at ST Division Race 1

The 2019 James Lick cross country team had their first league meet of the season on Wednesday September 5th at Montgomery Hill. For the 5th consecutive year, JLXC is competing in the Santa Teresa (‘B’) division of the BVAL.

While every ST team was present, the Comets were specifically competing against Independence and Prospect. The first league meet being this early is unusual, and I think this contributed to the meet being a very rough performance for much of the team.

The frosh/soph boys fell to both Independence and Prospect to start the meet. Almost every member of the team was competing on the course for the first time however. Jay Austria lead the team in 23:03, but this is a far cry from his PR of 19:12. Freshmen Justin Nguyen and Navbir Kahlon had solid debuts of 24:22 and 24:28. Ronaldo Castillo and Huu Thai came in together as the 4-5 in 25:23 and 25:36. Carlos Nava was just behind Huu in 25:37. Omar Sanchez rounded out the group in 25:58.

While these times were not exceptional, our young Comets have some good examples to look up to, for example Brandon Cruz. When Brandon first ran the course as a sophomore, he stopped the clock in 23:41. Now a senior, Brandon finished in the top half of the varsity race despite not being within a minute of his PR as well. This is the example we will be trying to follow for our young runners.

The varsity girls team managed to defeat Independence and Prospect despite a very rough showing across the board. Mya Hammond ran a PR 24:02, finishing in the top 20 in her first varsity race. Lizbeth Espana had a strong first XC race, running 24:30 as the 3rd girl. Emely Lopez ran a PR of 24:43 as well. Ashley Preciado was 5th in 25:13, a very off race by her standards. Ashley’s PR is 22:09, and while it’s early in the season, last year she was able to start off at 23:31. It was a similar day for Yesenia Martinez, the 7th girl who ran 26:34 compared to a PR roughly 3 minutes faster. Alexa Rodriguez made her debut in between these two seniors, running 25:34.

Despite it being a very off day for the girls overall (like most of the team) they still managed a narrow win over Prospect due to the team’s depth. The team managed a 28-29 victory, and it was only possible because all 7 Comets finished before the Panthers 5th girl.  A decisive win against Independence made it a 2-0 start for the varsity girls team.

Mark Orpia spearheaded the varsity boys with a strong time of 16:44, placing 7th overall in the varsity race. This was the highest placing of Mark’s career and was a very strong start to the season, 30 seconds better than the 17:16 clocking he managed a year ago at ST #1. Jerricho Habon had  a decent race running 18:06. Brandon Cruz was next in 18:30. Both boys were about a minute off of their best times. Melvin Estrada and Nien Tran came across in 19:31 and 19:32, both over 2 minutes slower than their PRS. Omar Fimbres in 20:11 and Geovanny Campos in 20:17 rounded out the group. The varsity boys lost to both Independence and Prospect, starting the season 0-2.

The reserve boys race had a few bright spots. Rodolf Ocampo and Josh Merin lead the team 21:12 and 21:37. Josh’s time was a PR whereas Rodolf’s was well ahead of his early season times from a  year ago. Both boys should make a serious run at the 20 minute barrier, always a good benchmark. The same can be said of Hugo Marquez who ran 21:59. Luis Escamilla and Abraham Benitez ran 25:44 and 25:46 to finish together as well.

A year ago, the team’s strongest group was the JV girls. The team went 7-0 and placed 5th at BVAL finals, defeating half of the teams in the ‘A’ division. This year’s team figures to be even stronger.

Ruth Rodriguez lead the team in 24:39, close to her PR to start the season. Estefani Herrera was not far behind, running 25:05. Both girls are way ahead of last year’s first ST meet times, despite the very early start. Mariana Perez is likewise a minute up on her counterpart from last year, giving the team 3 JV girls under 26 minutes to start the season. Melanie Sanchez and Erika Camacho rounded out the scoring 5 with times in the 27 minute range.

Sisters Deisy and Marisol Carlos came in together in 32:56 and 33:12 in their first race for the team. Adriana Marcelino ended the Comets day at 37:04.

What made many of the performances so disappointing to myself and coach Raul, was the fact that so many members of the team performed great at the alumni race. Our team showed then that they were physically capable, and we will be greatly emphasizing consistency in mental preparation over the next few weeks with the aim of performing far better at ST division #2.

In the meanwhile, the team will look for a bounce back race at the Lowell Invitational on Saturday September 7th. Then team will get two weeks of pure training in before they race again at the De La Salle Invitational on Saturday September 21st.

Thanks for reading!