Comets End Season Strong at CCS Finals. Varsity Girls finish 4 places better than rank

The 2019 cross country season officially came to a close for the James Lick cross country team at CCS finals. The finals were hosted at the historic Crystal Springs course, the same 2.95 mile course that the team ran at BVAL Finals. In what has been a down year in large part due to injury, the team went in hoping to end on a strong note and start healing up for track. The team resoundingly achieved  this goal.

The varsity girls squad went into CCS ranked 13th out of the 14 complete division IV teams that qualified for the CCS meet, only ahead of Kipp High School. Besides this, the team was still without team #2 runner Mya Hammond whose breakthrough season ended early for medical reasons. To further add to the team’s woes, Jessica Cervantes, consistently the team’s #1 runner had to drop out of the race due to knee injury. The team’s depth was on display however, as the team beat expectations despite missing their 1-2 punch to finish in 9th place. This is only the 3rd top 10 finish (on record) at CCS for the girls in school history. The team also had the 2nd lowest spread in the race (time distance between 1st and 5th runner) with a spread of 1:16. Only CCS champion Menlo, with an impressive 6 second spread did a better job of finishing close together.

The team was lead by breakout star Keyla Sifuentes. In her first cross country season, Keyla has improved by leaps and bounds all year. At her first race, Keyla managed to run 8:40 pace for the 2 mile course at DeLaSalle High school. A few weeks later, she was our #6 girl running 24:06 at the Crystal Springs Center Meet (8:06) pace. Here at CCS, she was our #1 girl with a  time of 22:47. This was a PR by 1:02, and the 7:43 pace she ran is the best of her career by far.

Daisy Flores was next in 23:03, a PR by 53 seconds as well. As only a freshmen, Daisy’s time is very impressive, the 6th fastest James Lick freshmen time in the entire BVAL era (since 1996). Lizbeth Espana loped 50 seconds off of her PR too to stop the clock at 23:26. Emely Lopez finished at 23:48 for a small PR and Ruth Rodriguez picked up the slack to run 24:03, and 11 second PR as the 5th girl. Ashley Preciado ended her HS career as the 6th girl in the race.

Again, heading into the race the girls were ranked 9th, ahead of just Kipp High School. The team defeated Kipp, Carmel, LCPA and King City to finish 9th, narrowly losing to Seaside High School who took 8th. The fact that team’s top 5 are all non seniors, (as well as a 1-2 punch that didn’t race at CCS who are also juniors) gives the team great optimism as we look ahead at what could be a very strong year in 2020.

IMG_1021
The varsity girls before the race 

The boys team only ran 3 runners. Junior Omar Fimbres ran great, taking nearly 30 seconds off of his PR to stop the clock at 18:13. Nien Tran (18:30) and Brandon Cruz (18:39) competed hard but did not PR in their final HS race.

With the season coming to an end, everyone will take a well earned break and our focus as we look ahead to track is very clear: Stay Healthy. Injuries are a part of any season, but losing the team’s top 2 boys in the early part of the season is a recipe for disaster. Likewise Jessica, Mya, and Lizbeth, 3 of the team’s top 5 on the girls side missed/ didn’t finish a race in a combined 9 races due to injury this year. This team has a lot of potential if we can stay healthy, and that will be at the center of our attention as we work towards a 2020 track season in which the varsity boys are coming off their first winning season in the ‘B’ division with over 90% of the team returning.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Comets Show Season Long Improvements at Watermelon Run

The watermelon run has been a tradition on our team for the past decade or so, and it continued with the 2019 addition on Wednesday November 6th of 2019. The team runs the north rim time trial (3.03 mile) course, the same course we time the athletes on to start every season to see how much they’ve improved over the course of the season. It’s always a fun day to see just how radically some of the team’s athletes have improved.

The first big improvement was from junior Omar Fimbres who ran the course in 20:58 compared to a previous best of 23:17. It should be noted that this course should take longer to complete than any other course the team competed due to it being longer and hillier than every other course we run.

Abraham Benitez was the next boy in. He ran 22:58, a nearly 5 minute PR from his 27:40 clocking back in August. Luis Escamilla took 1:43 off of his PR to run 23:07 not far behind. A trio of freshmen were next. Justin Nguyen was the fastest of the freshmen throughout the year, and he began the season at 29:10 for the course. Fellow freshmen Carlos Nava and Omar Sanchez ran 30:06 to start the season. The boys finished with Justin leading at 23:33, Omar next at 23:41 and Carlos following at 23:43, huge improvements by the 3 boys who we’ll be counting on to be varsity boys sooner than later.

Another two frosh/soph runners, Ronaldo Castillo and Navbir Kahlon were next in 24:18 and 24:19. Both boys ran high 28s to start the season. Jessica Cervantes ran a 30 second PR to be the first girl in at 24:20. Mariana Perez and Josue Gomez came in next at 24:30, big PRS for both runners, with Mariana especially loping over 7 minutes off her time to start the season. Her time also indicates she’s ready for a huge PR at CCS.

Daisy Flores was next in 24:52, giving the team a 3rd girl under the 25 minute barrier. Ruth Rodriguez and Jason Madrigal came in close together at 25:27 and 25:35 respectively. Keyla Sifuentes and Estefani Herrera came in together at 26:20 and 26:24, Estefani taking nearly a full minute off of her PR. Melanny Sanchez took over 3 minutes off of her PR to run 27:34. Luis Gonzales and Kaylena Gil came in at 28:00 and 28:03. For Luis it was the best pace of his career, and for Kaylena it was a 3 minute PR. Deisy Carlos in 32:15, a 10 minute PR, and Huu Thai rounded out the Comets day. The team notched 15 PRS out of only 19 possible, a very solid way for most of the team to end their season.

The big improvements across the board give the team optimism as it looks ahead towards next year, and gives confidence to our athletes competing at CCS next week.

The top 3 varsity boys as well as the varsity girls team will compete at Crystal Springs on Saturday November 16th at CCS finals.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

Comets Compete Well at BVAL Finals: Both Varsity Teams Qualify for CCS for 2nd consecutive season

The James Lick cross country team  competed at the 2019 edition of BVAL Finals on Monday November 4th at the historic Crystal Springs cross country course. BVAL finals is significant as the final race of the year for most runners, and the final determinant of team standings for the league season. It is also the CCS qualifying meet, with the top half of teams (24 total teams in the league so top 12 as long as full teams are run) qualify for CCS. Each of the CIF divisions are also guaranteed 1 representative team. With only 3 division schools in the BVAL, that meant the Comets just needed to beat San Jose and Gunderson to clinch a CCS berth, a feat the team managed to achieve.

Conditions were warm and many runners across the league struggled as a result, though we as a team competed quite well despite the heat.

The meet began with the varsity boys race. The varsity boys team has struggled this season with the loss of 1-2 runners Mark Orpia and Jerricho Habon since early in the season. The top trio of Nien Tran (18:20) Brandon Cruz (18:35) and Omar Fimbres (18:40) competed quite well with Nien and Brandon both breaking the 19 minute barrier for the first time. After that, the team’s lack of depth really stung with Geo Campos (20:30) and Jo-Jo Bradley (21:25) coming in next. Melvin Estrada rounded out the group. This was good enough for a 16th place finish out of the 24 BVAL teams. The team also defeated Sobrato, meaning that although the squad went 0-7, we will not be in last in the final standings.

The team did handily beat Gunderson and San Jose to clinch a CCS berth but in many ways it was a disappointing season. For reference, if Mark and Jerricho simply had been healthy enough to MATCH their finals times from last year (not ambitious as the top 3 boys all ran at least 30 seconds better than last year) the team would have finished in 9th place. This is the nature of sports, staying healthy is a big part of success and we were simply unable to do that this year.

IMG_0861
The varsity boys prior to the race

The next race was the varsity girls, a far greater source of strength for the team this season. The team placed 12th of the 24 BVAL schools. Though not every school had a full team, this was a solid middle of the pack performance and the team clinched a CCS spot by being the top D4 school.

Jessica Cervantes lead the team in a PR of 22:57. Keyla Sifuentes (23:49) Emely Lopez (23:55) and Daisy Flores (23:56) all broke the 24 minute barrier for the first time. Yeimili Adame ran 24:26 for her final high school race and Ahsley Preciado rounded out the team in 25:12. This was all without team #2 runner Mya Hammond who is recovering from injury, and Lizbeth Espana, the usual #5 who dropped out during the race due to ankle pain. The girls clinched a middle of the pack finish in the division and even defeated 2 ‘A’ division schools in Piedmont Hills and Andrew Hill. Perhaps the most exciting feature of the team is that the top 6 runners this year are non seniors, and they will look to get valuable experience at CCS finals in 2 weeks.

IMG_0863
The varsity girls before the race

The JV girls were next, and for the 2nd year in a row, they achieved the Comets top finish on the day. The team came in 6th in the entire BVAL and saw a few strong performances. The best performance was by Ruth Rodriguez who lead the team in 24:15, a PR by over 2 minutes and the 5th best JL time on the day. Mariana Perez (24:59) and Estefani Herrera (25:44) were next in as a solid 2-3. Melanny Sanchez ran a PR of 26:16. Kaylena Gil had a rough day but was the 5th girl in 29:20. Deisy Flores rounded out the team in 30:50.

The frosh/soph boys race was next on the docket. Justin Nguyen and Omar Sanchez lead the team, both running huge PRS of 21:22 and 21:26 respectively. Their previous bests were 22:46 and 23:07 respectively. Navbir Kahlon narrowly missed his PR running 23:08, fighting through leg pain to be the #3 boy. Josue Gomez took 30 seconds off of his PR to run 23:35 and Carlos Nava was the 5th boy in 24:03. Jason Garcia ended the frosh/soph day in 26:06, a 30 second PR.

The final race of the day was the reserve race, and it was combined between boys and girls. Abraham Benitez lead the Comets in 21:35 a very solid performance. Josh Merin was next in 22:10. Luis Escamilla took 48 seconds off of his PR to stop the clock at 23:05. Luis Gonzales and Yesenia Martinez ended the Comets day by squeezing under the 30 minute barrier.

Looking around the league, many teams struggled mightily, suggesting that our team had a great day in terms of improvement. For example, the 29 competing Comets achieved 14 PRS to end the season. Compared to Santa Teresa, a top level ‘A’ division team that achieved only 4 PRS from 25 athletes. I for one am proud of the fact that our team competed hard despite not ideal conditions and can say that every member of the team went out with an effort to be proud of.

The team will compete in a final team event, the Watermelon Race this week, before the top runners on the team prepare for CCS finals on Saturday November 16th back at Crystal Springs.