James Lick Track 2010-2019: All Decade Team

This blog will be an attempt to name the James Lick all Decade Team. The main criteria for this list will simply be the best marks achieved in this decade, under the hypothetical of a championship meet where the team can only enter 3 athletes in each event. The main complication to this simple procedure is in the case of athletes who excelled in a variety of events when athletes are limited to a 4 event maximum.

I will explain my logic in who I’d pick and why, and I will include 2 alternates in each event in the case of extenuating circumstances, these athletes would step in.

For the sake of context, I’ll go through each event and explain how well the Comets would do in each event by using the 2019 BVAL Finals meet for comparison, where the best athletes from all 3 divisions compete together.

4×100: 

4×100
Place Boy Girl 
1. 2019: 45.06 2018: 53.85
2. 2018: 45.50  2016: 54.14
3.  2017: 46.88  2015: 55.04 

As you can see, the best 4×100 teams of the decade for the Comets were the 2019 boys squad and the 2018 girls squad. The 2019 boys team had the following competitors along with their best 100m times.
1. Raven Alcantara: 11.47   2. Salvador Lopez: 11.84  3. Geovanny Campos 11.87 Rodolf Ocampo: 12.06.   They are the #2, #4, #5 and #7 Comet sprinters of the decade. For the purpose of the all decade team, I’d substitute Sal and Rodolf Out as both boys excel in other events, and substitute in Davion Thomas (11.42) and Ace Medina (11.68). Assuming similar handoffs, this team would run approximately 44.2. which would have been good for 4th at BVAL finals last year.

The 2018 girls squad consisted of: 1. Natalie Rem: (13.49), 2. Lisbeth Galdamez (13.90) 3. Yeimili Adame (14.44) and Justine Austria (14.54). Despite the 53.85 time of the team being tops in the decade, On paper this team could be improved alot. Natalie and Lis are the top 2 Comet sprinters of the decade, but the addition of Maria Mendoza (13.94) and Andrea Ortiz (14.04) would likely bring this team down to a high 52, maybe 52.9. This would only be 9th at BVAL finals last year, as girls sprints have been a weak spot this decade.

 

4×100 all decade teams: 

 

  1. Raven Alcantara: 11.47                                          1. Maria Mendoza: 13.94
  2. Ace Medina 11.68                                                    2. Andra Ortiz: 14.04
  3. Goevanny Campos 11.87                                        3. Lisbeth Galdamez 13.90
  4. Davion Thomas: 11.42                                            4. Natalie Rem: 13.49

(Alternates):  Jose Limon 11.97                                          Karen Montes (14.19)

 

1600 All Decade Team 

1600
Place Boy Girl 
1. Azael Zamora: 4:33.64  

Class of 2018

Daniela Camacho: 5:27.54

Class of 2015

2. Erik Olsvold: 4:37.19 

Class of 2019

Arlet Miranda: 5:31.27

Class of 2019

3.  Karan Singh: 4:39.91

Class of 2015

Belen Sanchez: 6:01.67

Class of 2019

This team is pretty straight forward. Azael, Erik and Karan are the 3 fastest milers of the decade, and all have great experience in running it. On the girls side, Belen is actually the 5th fastest lady Comet of the decade in the 1600. That being said, there is a big gap from Daniela and Arlet down to #3 (Maria Mendoza at 5:52). Even more so to Paloma Contreras (6:01.00). Both Maria and Paloma are more useful to the team in other events however, yielding the 3rd spot on the all-decade team to Belen.

Both dual meet squads will be dominant in the ‘C’ division, Strong in the ‘B’ division and decent in the ‘A’ division.

Boys Alternates: Ricardo Flores: 4:42.18   Nathan Bernardo: 4:47.52

Girls Alternates: Ashley Preciado: 6:09.84  Daisy Nava: 6:11.20

100/ 110 Hurdles All Decade Team 

 

110/110H
Place Boy Girl 
1. Rodolf Ocampo: 15.97

Class of 2020

Valeria Cortez: 16.75

Class of 2019

2. Cody Huoch: 16.59 

Class of 2018

Andrea Ortiz: 17.10

Class of 2016

3.  Hadji Yono-Cruz: 17.83

Class of 2018

Kirsten Yutuc: 18.22

Class of 2020

This list is again quite straight forward, these are the top 3 hurdlers of the decade for the Comets. This would be quite a formidable team as all 6 of these hurdlers made BVALS in this event at least once in their careers and Rodolf and Valeria both made CCS. Valeria was a 2 time ‘B’ division champ in this event, and this squad would score points in a dual against every BVAL team.

Boys Alternates: Josh Merin: 18.07  Mark Orpia: 18.47

Girls Alternates: Yesenia Martinez: 18.43  Susie Peterson: 18.85

400m All Decade Team 

 

400
Place Boy Girl 
1. Misael Herrera: 54.51

Class of 2019

Paloma Contreras: 1:02.54

Class of 2015

2. Gustavo Aguilera: 54.70

Class of 2017

Yeimili Adame: 1:05.65 

Class of 2020

3.  Salvador Lopez: 54.97

Class of 2020

Cierra Gutierrez: 1:07.59

Class of 2018

3 Comets managed to break 55 for the 400 this season, so unsurprisingly they make the cut here. Gustavo Aguilera won a ‘C’ divsion 400m title as did Paloma Contreras, the #4 girl in school history the event and also a CCS qualifier. Yeimili is a clear #2 before a list of 5 comets between 1:06 and 1:07. From Andrea Ortiz, Maria Mendoza and Arlet Miranda, the team has 3 girls at 1:06 who are better at other events. This continues with Daniela Camacho at 1:07.54. This leads us to a freshmen who had a lot of ability who did not stick with the sort in Cierra Gutierrez. Cierra was not the most reliable runner, but her talent make her a high risk high reward option in the 3rd slot.

The boys 400 squad would only be moderately strong in the ‘B’ division. The 1-2 punch of Paloma and Yeimili would be solid even in the ‘A’ division (mainly because of Paloma) though this is not one of the team’s stronger events this decade.

Boys Alterantes: Jose Limon (55.28)  Cesar Azevedo (55.28)

Girls Alternates: Gabriela Aguilar: 1:09.39  Justine Austria: 1:10.11

100m All Decade Team 

 

100m
Place Boy Girl 
1. Raven Alcantara: 11.47

Class of 2020

Natalie Rem: 13.49

Class of 2021

2. Davion Thomas: 11.43 (W)

Class of 2016

Lisbeth Galdamez: 13.90

Class of 2020

3.  Ace Medina: 11.68 

Class of 2018

Maria Mendoza: 13.94 

Class of 2017

The boys list is very clear here as only 3 boys in this decade ran under 11.8, let alone 11.7. Raven and Davion as a 1-2 punch would do well in even the ‘A’ division as both are near CCS caliber runners. Ace would be a strong 3rd. On the girls side, this is one of our weaker events. Natalie is the only lady Comet in the entire decade to score points at division finals for the team, but the 3 girls on this list are the only sub 14 second girls of the decade.

Boys Alternates: Geo Campos: 11.87      Jose Limon: 11.97

Girls Alternates:  Karen Montes: 14.19   Marquise Nelson: 14.19

800m All Decade team 

800
Place Boy Girl 
1. Erik Olsvold: 2:05.90

Class of 2019

Daniela Camacho: 2:27.64

Class of 2015

2. Jerricho Habon: 2:06.52

Class of 2020

Arlet Miranda: 2:28.08

Class of 2019

3.  Nathan Bernardo: 2:07.85

Class of 2017

Daisy Nava: 2:41.58

Class of 2017

 

The 800 is the strongest running event of the decade for the girls, the only running event with two different CCS qualifiers. Those two would do well in any division. The 3rd spot in terms of time would be Paloma at 2:37, but it’s difficult to come back after the 400 wit a fast 800 so I would sub her out for Daisy Nava at 2:41.58. Maria went a tick faster at 2:40, but could do more in the 300 hurdles which would be the event next up, which makes Daisy the best option in the 3rd spot. That trio could sweep half of the teams in the BVAL.

On the boys side, the top 2 are clear, though this has been the weakest distance event for the boys this decade. The team has produced 5 BVAL qualifiers but no one close to CCS level. Azael and Karan are the 3rd and 4th fastest boys of the decade, but both are better at the 3200. It makes more sense to go with Nathan as a result, considering he was only marginally slower than Azy and Karan. This boys squad would not be competitive in the ‘A’ division but would do well against many BVAL teams.

Boys Alternates: Ricardo Flores: 2:08.xx  Hector Ramirez: 2:12.57

Girls Alternates: Ana Tapia: 2:46.00  Brianna Flores: 2:46.56

300 Hurdles All Decade Team 

300h 
Place Boy Girl 
1. Cody Huoch: 42.62

Class of 2018

Andrea Ortiz: 50.19 

Class of 2016

2. Gustavo Aguilera: 44.67

Class of 2017

Maria Mendoza: 51.28

Class of 2017

3.  Rodolf Ocampo: 45.46

Class of 2020

Kirsten Yutuc: 51.80 

Class of 2020

 

 

The girls list is very straightforward, the top of the decade. Andrea was a CCS qualafier in the event and near ‘C’ division champ. Even in the ‘A’ division this squad would do fairly well. In the ‘B’ division the trio would be dominant.

On the boys side, Cody was a CCS qualifier in the event, Gustavo and Rodolf both BVAL level qualifiers. Sal was a bit faster than Rodolf in the 3rd spot but his versatility makes him more useful in other events.

Boys Alternates: Mark Orpia: 45.50  Jonathan Rodriguez: 46.87

Girls Alternates: Valeria Cortez: 52.12  Yesenia Martinez: 54.72

200m All Decade Team 

200m 
Place Boy Girl 
1. Davion Thomas 23.19 

Class of 2016

Paloma Contreras: 28.81

Class of 2015

2. Raven Alcantara: 23.97 

Class of 2020

Mya Hammond: 29.89

Class of 2021

3.  Ace Medina: 24.17 

Class of 2018

Justine Austria: 29.91 

Class of 2020

The boys list would stay within the top 3. Davion made CCS in the 200 making him formidable in even the ‘A’ division and that trio would do very well in the ‘B’ division as well. The girls 200 is arguably the team’s weakest event of the decade on the girls side. The team’s top 3 is Maria, Paloma and Andrea, and both Maria and Andrea were better at the 300 hurdles which is right before the 200, basically eliminating both from the squad.

Knowing that this event isn’t one of the team’s best, I’d skip the 300 hurdlers to let them focus on their main events, which brings us to Mya and Justine as the 2-3. This team would scrape some ‘B’ division points but not do too much more than that.

Boys Alternates: Jose Limon: 24.22 Misael Herrera: 24.56

Girls Alternates: Karen Montes 30.09 Yeimili Adame: 30.10

3200 All Decade Team 

 

3200
Place Boy Girl 
1. Azael Zamora: 9:55.14

Class of 2018

Daniela Camacho:12:18.13

Class of 2015

2. Erik Olsvold: 10:20.72

Class of 2019

Arlet Miranda: 12:28.59

Class of 2019

3.  Karan Singh: 10:23.00 

Class of 2015

Belen Sanchez: 13:15.40 

Class of 2019

I wouldn’t change this list from the natural top 3.  Both squads would be successful ‘A’ division squads, and very strong ‘B’ division squads. I’d skip Nathan as an alternate to let him focus on other events.

Boys Alternates: Hector Ramirez: 10:42.15  Inteus Castro-Lopez: 10:51.01

Girls Alternates: Elizabeth Guevara: 13:23.07 Ashley Preciado: 13:41.31

4×400 All Decade Team 

 

4×400
Place Boy Girl 
1. 2019: 3:36.78 2015: 4:31.12
2. 2018: 3:39.83 2016: 4:33.15
3.  2015: 3:40.13 2018: 4:34.35 

The 2019 4×400 team was tops in the decade with the #1, #3, #4 and #7 boys of the decades. Misael at #1, Sal at #3 and Jerricho at #4 can all stay. We would sub out Erik (55.4) for Gustavo at 54.7 to get a little faster. 3:36 is a CCS level time.

On the girls, the squad of 2015 had Paloma at #1, Daniela at #6 and then Daisy and Gabby (#11 and #8 of the decade). The addition of Maria Mendoza at 1:06 along with Andrea at 1:06 could help this team run as fast as 4:22 which would be a school record and borderline CCS level time. Subbing out Daniela for Yeimili would make it a borderline 4:20 team.

    1. Misael Herrera (54.51)                                   1. Paloma Contreras (1:02.54)
    2. Gustavo Aguilera (54.70)                                2. Yeimili Adame (1:05.65)
    3. Salvador Lopez (54.97)                                   3. Andrea Ortiz (1:06.35)
    4. Jerricho Habon (55.28)                                   4. Maria Mendoza (1:06.50)

Boys Alternates:  Jose Limon: 55.28,  Cesar Azevedo: 55.36

Girls Alternates: Arlet Miranda: 1:06.80  Daniela Camacho: 1:07.54

Shot Put All Decade Team 

 

Shot Put
Place Boy Girl 
1. Robert Rios: 43-2

Class of 2015

Alejandra Ceron: 35-8.50

Class of 2018

2. Josh Garcia: 42-9

Class of 2018

Marquise Nelson: 33-8

Class of 2019

3.  Kevin Baltazar 39-5

Class of 2014

Valeria Cortez: 33-7 

Class of 2019

Both Shot Put Squads would do very well throughout the BVAL and even in the ‘A’ division. Of the 6 Comets on this team, 5 made CCS in the event Alejandra is the school record holder in the event and even finished top 8 at the CCS top 8 meet in 2017. Robert Rios was a 2 time ‘C’ division champ and Alejandra even won a ‘B’ division title in the event.

Boys Alternates: Daniel Medina: 38-6.5   Alejandro Alonzo: 36-3

Girls Alternates: Charli Chircop: 32-10  Leysmi Saldana: 24-7

Discus All Decade Team 

 

Discus 
Place Boy Girl 
1. Alex Alonzo: 111-8

Class of 2017

Charlie Chircop: 118-2

Class of 2018

2. Daniel Medina: 108-6

Class of 2018

Valeria Cortez: 116-10 

Class of 2019

3.  Josh Garcia: 107-6 

Class of 2018

Alejandra Ceron: 106-8

Class of 2018

Girls discus was the EVENT of the decade for the Comets. A streak of 5 straight individual division champs in the event to end the decade, with 6 total CCS qualifications and two different school record holders, the team would dominate most leagues in the event. The boys squad would be competitive in the ‘B’ division as well.

Boys Alternates: Pablo Segovia: 105-5   Brando Meclhor: 105-3

Girls Alternates: Marquise Nelson: 94-5   Mariah Santos: 86-3

Long Jump All Decade Team

 

Long Jump
Place Boy Girl 
1. Salvador Lopez: 20-2 

Class of 2020

Lyndel Ventura: 16-7

Class of 2018

2. Davion Thomas: 19-10

Class of 2016

Natalie Rem: 15-1

Class of 2021

3.  Geo Campos: 19-2 

Class of 2020

Elyse Elder: 15-0 

Class of 2018

This is another straight forward team. 3 Girls broke 15 feet in the decade. On the boys side 4 boys cracked 19 feet, and the top 3 are our jumpers. Both teams would be competitive in the ‘A’ division but do very well in the lower ones.

Boys Alternates: Nathan Bernardo: 19-1.5  Raven Alcantara: 18-7.5

Girls Alternates: Kirsten Yutuc: 14-9        Marquie Nelson: 14-9

Triple Jump All Decade Team 

Triple Jump
Place Boy Girl 
1. Cody Huoch: 40-3

Class of 2018

Natalie Rem: 33-4.25

Class of 2021

2. Nathan Bernardo: 39-5

Class of 2017

Lyndel Ventura: 31-0

Class of 2018

3.  Hadji Yono-Cruz: 38-10.5

Class of 2017

Kirtsen Yutuc: 30-10 

Class of 2020

Natalie’s triple jump puts her at a CCS level, and the girls trio in general would be a solid ‘A’ division group. The boys squad would struggle in ‘A’ but do very well in the ‘B’division.

Boys Alternates: Salvador Lopez: 38-2.5 , Jordan Lagura: 37-9.5

Girls Alternates: La-Ree Tea: 30-0        Yesenia Martinez: 28-8

 

High Jump
Place Boy Girl 
1. Karan Singh: 5-8

Class of 2015

Elyse Elder: 4-8

Class of 2018

2. Ace Medina: 5-8

Class of 2018

Yesenia Martinez: 4-6

Class of 2020

3.  Salvador Lopez: 5-8 

class of 2020

Lisbeth Galdamez: 4-4

Class of 2020

Elyse is the clear top jumper of the decade at 4-8 and was a near CCS level high jumper. Paloma and Lis both went 4-4 but Paloma already has a heavy load on this list so Lis at 3rd spot makes more sense. That team is a solid ‘B’ division level team. On the boys side, 3 different Comets went 5-8 this decade, making the squad a solid ‘A’ level team and a strong ‘B’ division squad.

Boys Alternates: Jonathan Rodriguez: 5-6  Erik Olsvold: 5-5

Girls Alternates: Marquise Nelson: 4-4  Brecia Dagio: 4-3

Pole Vault All Decade Team 

 

Pole Vault 
Place Boy Girl 
1. Mark Orpia: 10-8 Yesenia Martinez: 6-0
2. Rodolf Ocampo: 10-2 
3.  Adrian DeLaRosa: 8-6

We only just brought back pole vault in 2018 and the boys squad is quickly coming up with Mark in particular nearing a CCS caliber level. Since many teams do not even have vaulters, we would do quite well in this event overall.

Decade Summation:

This will hopefully go down as a historic decade of turnaround. The decade began with 4 straight winless seasons. 0-14 Records from 2010-2013 got team off to a 0-56 start to the decade.

In 2014 we got a win on each side for a combined record of 2-12, and then 2015 was our big jump, going 10-4 with a 6-1 record on the girls side.

We won two league championships in girls track, the first 2 in school history in 2016 and 2017 before moving into the ‘B’ division. Even in the ‘B’ division we’ve fought hard going 6-8 and then 7-7 last year. From 0-48 in ‘C’ to 13-15 in ‘B’ to end the decade is quite a significant turnaround, especially considering the back to back titles and 25-3 record of the 16-17 teams along the way.

I’d like to thank every member of the team who participated and helped make this turn around possible, as well as the fantastic coaches of James Lick over the past decade. From the birth of a throws dynasty under coach Jon Vela, to the revival of Pole Vault under coach Raul Lopez, this has been a decade of great growth for James Lick Track, and the members of the 2020 squad will look to keep the momentum going in the next decade.

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

JLXC All Decade Team 2010-2019

As we wind down the year of 2019, I thought we could take a look back at the decade and determine the James Lick Cross Country All Decade Team. Ultimately this a subjective list, based on the times of the runners of this decade with particular emphasis on Crystal Springs (our league finals course) and our league race course of Montgomery Hill and Alum Rock Park.

I was a senior on the 2010 XC team, and have been a coach on the team since 2013. As a result, I was either a teammate or coach of every member of this all decade list. This list will be my best attempt to give James Lick it’s best top 7 boys and girls of the decade with a few honorable mentions.

Boys Honorable Mention:

  1. Ricardo Flores Class of 2011

Ricardo really emerged as a senior running 16:22 at Montgomery Hill, the 6th fastest league race time of the decade. His struggles at Crystal Springs  (18:08) PR keep him off the list. Every other member of the all decade team managed a sub 18 3 mile, a feet Ricardo never quite managed.

2. Gustavo Aguilera Class of 2017

Gustavo really built himself into being a great runner through hardwork. As late as his sophomore year his PRS were 17:50 at Montgomery Hill and 18:47 at Crystal Springs. Over the next two years he took these decent but unspectacular times down to 16:53 at Montgomery and 17:39 at Crystal Springs. He was the 5th boy on the 2016 league championship team, the best team of the decade by far, but his PRS fall just short of some other members of the list.

The Boys list

7. Benny Reeves Class of 2011 

It’s always a weird thing to include yourself on a list like this but frankly I think it would be dishonest not to. At my best league meet at Alum Rock, I ran 16:28, the 7th best league race time of the decade for a James Lick boy. My Crystal Springs mark of 17:30 ties Inteus Castro-Lopez for 5th of the decade. The next few boys on the list I put above myself despite the fact that I was faster than them at Half Moon Bay HS, Newhall Park and Mt. Sac, all courses we had in common.

6. Karan Singh Class of 2015

Karan only makes this list because of his final month as a senior. He was a quality runner as a senior but really went off at the end of the season. With one month left in his career, he just barely managed to crack 17 minutes for a league meet, running 16:50 at Montgomery Hill, only the 12th best league race time of the decade for a Comet. At BVAL finals however, he ran 17:17 at Crystal Springs, the 4th fastest Comet of the decade at our most important course. He did even better at Toro Park, running 17:27 at CCS.

His lack of early performances keep him low on the list, but if this list was based on single most impressive performance he’d be #4 on this list.

5. Mark Orpia Class of 2020 

Mark may have gotten higher on this list if not for an injury plagued Senior year. He ran 16:19 at Montgomery Hill (the 5th best league race time of the decade by a Comet) and he did it as a junior. He also ran 17:34 at Crystal Springs, 7th best of the decade. Across the board he had quality invitational times as well. The fact that he didn’t get to run a single league meet hurts his case but the fact of the matter is he was our team’s #1 runner for two seasons in a row.

4. Inteus Castro-Lopez Class of 2018

Inteus was a runner who surpassed all expectations we had of him. He ran with a limp as a result of a metal plate in his leg, but still managed to run 16:17 at Montgomery Hill, the 4th best Comet league meet time of the decade. His 17:30 at Crystal Springs ties him for 5th best their as well. He didn’t have the high ceiling of the rest of the boys on this list but he was a reliable runner, exactly the kind of runner you want for a 4th or 5th boy. He was the #4 boy on the 2016 league championship team.

3. Erik Olsvold Class of 2019 

There is a very good case to be made that Erik should be #1 on this list. In an ideal world he definitely would be. As a sophomore he was the #1 boy on the 2016 league championship team. He was the individual champion for the ‘B’ division with a time of 16:22. He was also the only Comet to win a league meet with an outstanding 15:27 time at Montgomery Hill. That race is the #2 Montgomery time in school history, the best time of the decade and arguably the single most impressive performance of the decade by any Comet.

What hurts Erik’s case were injuries his junior and senior year that never allowed him to come close to this form again. This coupled with the fact that he was never able to compete in invitationals meant he was never as reliable as the next to boys on the list. In a single race where you needed any of these boys at their peak to try to win a race, Erik would be the best choice, but the reliability and consistency of the next two boys place him 3rd in my humble estimation.

2. Nathan Bernardo class of 2017 

Nathan’s leadership was essential to the championship of 2016. He had very strong times at every course he ran. 15:52 at Montgomery Hill, 16:45 at Crystal Springs and the best Mt. Sac time of the decade. He is #2 in the decade at De La Salle, Lowell, and Half Moon Bay all because of the #1 boy on this list, but Nathan was as consistent  a competitor as a coach could ask for.

1. Azael Zamora class of 2018 

Azy as a senior was the most impressive male James Lick runner of the last 15 years. His 16:37 clocking at Toro Park was perhaps the most impressive Comet performance of the decade. His 16:17 at Crystal Springs was not only the best of the decade, but it put him on the top 20 list in school history at our area’s most historic course.

His best league race time was 15:41 at Alum Rock Park, and he is the only boy on the list to crack the 13 minute barrier at half Moon Bay, as well as the only boy this decade to run under 17 at Crystal Springs for 2 seasons in a row.  He also came the closest to making the State meet of any boy in the decade. For all of these reasons I feel confident in stating that Azael Zamora is the cross country runner of the decade.

 

Girls 

 

Honorable mention: 

1. Jessica Cervantes 

Jessica is only a junior now so she has one more season ahead of her. This year she established herself as a strong varsity girl, running 21:32 at Montgomery Hill  (7th best of the decade) although injuries stopped her from running at Crystal Springs, she is close to making this list for her reliability over the past two years, including being the #4 girl on the school record Montgomery team of 2018.

 

The Girls list

 

7. Milka Perez Class of 2018 :Milka was maybe the most talented girl runner I’ve ever coached, but she didn’t stick with it. As a freshmen she practiced only 1-2 days a week and still ran 21:12 at Montgomery Hill (7th best time of the decade and #1 freshmen time) and 21:38 at Crystal Springs ( 4th best time of the decade and #1 freshmen time). At Toro Park for CCS she ran 21:30 far more impressive as the #3 time of the decade. She didn’t run sophomore or senior year, and her junior year (after suffering an ACL tear in soccer) she was a quality runner but simply not at this level. So again, while her times indicate she is higher than 7th, the fact that she only competed for 2 years keeps her off this list in my opinion.

6. Yeimili Adame Class of 2020: Similar problems hold Yeimili down on this list. Her Montgomery Hill time of 20:13 is 4th best of the decade, and it was as a junior. She only ran a bit as a senior, and her Crystal Springs time of 22:12 is strong, (7th best of the decade) but she was capable of more, as she didn’t run league finals during her best season. This keeps Yeimili in the #6 spot.

5. Paloma Contreras Class of 2015: On the other side of the spectrum we have Paloma. She didn’t have a performance as impressive as Yeimili’s Montgomery or Milka’s Toro Park but she was very consistent and reliable, the #3 girl on the 2014 league title team. Her 21:02 at Montgomery is still the 6th best league meet time of the decade as is her 21:43 at Cyrstal Springs. Paloma’s reliability is exactly what you want out of a #5 runner.

4. Maria Mendoza Class of 2017: Maria, like Yeimili and Milka were not as strong as senior as they were earlier in their career. Maria was the 4th girl on the 2014 title team and was a strong runner but as a junior she blossomed. She ran 20:31 at Montgomery Hill, (5th best of the decade) but her Crystal Springs time of 20:35 is what really stands out. It’s the 3rd best of the decade and only 2 seconds from #2. It also puts her 6th in school history on our most historic course. Her struggles as a seniro hold her back from moving up even higher on this list.

3. Ana Tapia Class of 2010: Ana was always very strong at our league meets, winning several race in the ‘C’ division in 2009. As a senior, her best time of 20:03 was very strong, the 3rd best time of the decade behind only the two girls ahead of her on the list. Her best Crystal Springs time was only 21:52, 6th best of the decade, but her reliability and great league meet time make her deserving of the #3 spot on the list.

2. Daniela Camacho class of 2015: These top 2 spots were very easy to decide on. Daniela ran the 2nd best time of the decade at Montgomery Hill, Alum Rock Park, Half Moon Bay, Stanford, De La Salle, Mt. Sac, and Toro Park. Her highlights include a 19:33 clocking at Montgomery Hill in leading the team to a league title. She also held the Artichoke invite school record for 2 years at 15:38 until it was beaten.  She is undoubtedly the #2 James Lick girl of the decade behind the one girl who beat her on every one of those courses ^.

1. Arlet Miranda class of 2019: This was not a difficult call. Arlet was a varsity runner from her freshmen year on, and while she had an injury plagued career, she STILL managed to be very reliable. She was the fastest lady Comet of the decade on every course she ran and even set a school record at the Artichoke Invitational. On other courses she is #2 all time behind Kayla Matsuda. No James Lick girl has ever made the State Meet in cross country but Arlet came the closest, she ran 20:02 at CCS as a sophomore to miss making State by 1 place and 7 seconds (it still kinda haunts me).

 

As stated in the beginning, this list does involve a lot of subjectivity. One could debate several other runners as being on these lists, but this was my personal take on who should be considered the top 7 cross country runners of the decade.

I hope you enjoyed this breakdown, I’ll try to do an “All-Decade track Team” before the year ends as well.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

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.

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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 Look Strong at Crystal Springs Center Meet

The Comets competed in the Aragon Center Meet on Wednesday October 9th 2019, with 11 other High Schools. The race was a preview of the league finals course for the team, the nearly 50 year old Crystal Springs cross country course. Since league finals is the most important race of the season for most of the team, getting an early race on the course is important.

There is also a direct relationship between Crystal Springs and our normal league course, Montgomery Hill. Montgomery is a more challenging course, but because it is significantly shorter, most people run 1 minute faster at Montgomery Hill than at Crystal Springs. This is helpful to keep in mind to track the progress of our runners who haven’t run at Montgomery in several weeks now, and to help myself and coach Raul Lopez determine who runs on what team at our next league meet.

The meet began with the frosh/soph boys. Justin Nguyen lead the team witha  time of 22:46, in line with his 21:25 clocking at Montgomery Hill. Navbir Kahlon and OMar Sanchez came in together at 23:06 and 23:07 which shows they are both ready to challenge the 22 minute barrier at Montgomery Hill themselves. Carlos Nava clocked in at 23:27, the best race of his career so far all things considered. Carlos actually ran nearly a minute faster at crystal springs than he has run at Montgomery, showing that he is ready for a big breakthrough at our next league meet. Josue Gomez was the only boy in the race who had run Crystal Springs before, and he ran a full 4 minute PR of 24:12. Jason Madrigal was the last frosh/soph Comet across in 26:43 for his first time on the course.

The next race saw all of the team’s girls competing in one race, a helpful race for helping us determine who should run on which teams next week. Mya Hammond lead the team with a time of 23:04, a PR by over 2 minutes, placing 14th overall. Jessica Cervantes was next, returning from 2 weeks spent in Mexico to run a time of 23:48, not a PR but 50 seconds faster than she ran at this same meet last year. Keyla Sifuentes continued her recent breakthrough to run 24:06 as the #3 girl on the team. Lizbeth Espana and Emely Lopez rounded out the top 5 with times of 24:15 and 24:22 to help the team place 3rd overall on the day. For Emely this was a PR by over 2 minutes. Daisy Flores ran 24:41 for her first time on the course. Mariana Perez managed a 45 second PR of 24:57, giving the team a full 7 girls under the 25 minute barrier.

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Emely Lopez, Keyla Sifuentes and Lizbeth Espana pass the first mile mark in a pack with Daisy Flores close behind

Estefani Herrera beat her center meet time from last year with a time of 25:31. Melanny Sanchez and Yesenia Martinez finished close together in 26:43 and 26:44. Kaylena Gil ran 28:54 and Marisol Carlos 29:52 for their first times on the course. It was overall a strong performance for a girls team missing two of its top 10 runners in the forms of Ashley Preciado and Ruth Rodriguez. We’re hoping for some big PRs on Thursday.

The boys varsity/JV race was the final race of the day and took place after some delay. Nien Tran lead the group with a strong performance and 40 second PR, stopping the clock at 18:05. Brandon Cruz paced Omar Fimbres throughout the race and still beat his time from last year’s center meet, running 19:06. Omar ran a PR of 19:09 in large part thanks to Brandon. Melvin Estrada ran 19:31, a far stronger run than his 20 minute plus clocking at Montgomery Hill at last league race. Geo Campos was the 5th boy on the day in a time of 20:22, only 20 seconds off his performance from league finals last year.

Jonathan Bradely (20:58) and Rodolf Ocampo ( 21:02) came in close together on the back end. Neither boy managed to run this fast last year. Josh Merin managed a huge PR of 2:40, running 21:33, the 7:18 pace being the best of his career for a 3 mile (or near 3 mile) course in his career. Luis Escamilla (24:35) and Luis Gonzales (29:48) ended the Comets day.

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The varsity/JV boys team before the race

Both boys teams are currently 0-3 and next meet (10/17)  figures to be the teams best chance at some wins so far as the team takes on Sobrato and Oak Grove. The team will be competing at league meets in back to back weeks and taking a break from invitationals to focus on Montgomery Hill.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

Fun Day for the Comets at the 2019 Artichoke Invitational

On Saturday October 5th, the James Lick Cross country team ran at the Artichoke Invitational in Half Moon Bay. It was the 33rd time that the team has competed in the always fun invitational over the 2.33 mile course. Since James Lick has run the course for so long, many of the greatest Comet runners in history have official times on the course, making the Half Moon Bay HS course one of the most difficult “all time-lists” to get onto for a James Lick runner.

The meet began with the freshmen boys race. Justin Nguyen once again lead the freshmen boys, running 16:53, keeping his string of low 7 pace clocking in tact. Omar Sanchez was next in 17:33, followed by Carlos Nava who narrowly missed the 18 minute barrier, running 18:01. Jason Garcia rounded out the group in 19:22.

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Freshmen boys left to right: Omar Sanchez, Justin Nguyen, Jason Garcia, Carlos Nava 

The frosh/soph girls race was next. Daisy Flores spearheaded the group with a varsity caliber time of 18:27. She ended up being the 2nd fastest lady Comet on the day. Ruth Rodriguez ran 19:03. Kaylena Gil stopped the clock at 21:17. Deisy Carlos rounded out teh group in 23:24, achieving the best pace of her career so far.

The JV girls race had one of the biggest breakthroughs of the day. Keyla Sifuentes lead the group in 18:44, 8:02 pace, by far the best of her career to this point. Keyla did not join the team until September but she is looking like a varsity caliber runner more and more as the season progresses. Estefani Herrera narrowly missed her PR, running 19:54. Yesenia Martinez took 20 seconds off of her PR running 20:03. Melanny Sanchez ran 20:58. Marisol Carlos clocked in at 23:29 and Adriana Marcelino rounded out the team’s day in 27:03.

The JV boys had one of the best spreads of the day, with only a little over a minute sperating the 1st and 5th runners. Abraham Benitez, Joshua Merin and Navbir Kahlon ran 17:05, 17:10 and 17:30 respectively. Hugo Marquez came across in 17:50 and Josue Gomez was the 5th boy in a big PR of 18:28. Luis Escamilla took 15 seconds off of his PR as well running 18:37. Luis Gonzalez made his debut for the team as well running 23:00 to finish the day for the JV boys.

All that remained were the varsity races at this point. Mya Hammond continued her breakout season, running 17:46, getting herself the #14 spot on the school’s all time list with a PR by over a minute. Lizbeth Espana and Emely Lopez both broke 8 minute pace for the first time, running 18:27 and 18:33 respectively.  This was a massive PR for Emely after a previous best of 20:22, as she continues her own breakthrough season. Mariana Perez took 23 seconds off of her PR, running 19:17. Ashley preciado rounded out the varsity girls day in 19:59.

The varsity boys race was next and this is the group that as a team has really struggled all year. Brandon Cruz ran a strong 34 second PR of 14:06 to lead the group. Nien Tran was caught behind a falling runner and boxed in to start the race, and never got in rhythm, running 15:00 as the #2 boy. Omar Fimbres, Jonathan Bradley and Rodolf Ocampo rounded out the varsity group, though none of the boys ran a PR.

The team has yet another week without a league race and will take to Crystal Springs on Wednesday October 9th as a preview of the league finals and CCS course.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Comets Tune up for League Meets with Alumni Race

The 2019 edition of the James Lick Alumni Race took place on Friday August 30th in Alum Rock Park.  With the team’s first league meet of the just days away, the Alumni Race was critical for coach Raul and myself to determine who would run on which squad for the team.

We were fortunate to have a myriad of esteemed alumni in attendance, and several made a big impression on the race itself. The 2.25 mile course is shorter than the Comets league races, but it provides a good indicator of a runners potential nonetheless.

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Just before the race began 

 

The first Comet to cross the line was Mark Orpia in a strong time of 13:22. Over the past 15 years of alumni races, only 2 Comets have run faster on the alumni course, Azael Zamora, and Nathan Bernardo, two of the spearheads of the 2016 league championship team.  Mark’s time was a 1:10 second PR and puts him in a very strong place to start the season. He should already be able to attack his PR at Montgomery Hill despite the earliness of the season.

The next finisher was Joe Amendt, the legendary Comet from the class of 88. Joe finished in 13:43, nearly 30 seconds better than his 14:10 clocking from a year ago. He passed Nien Tran on the downhills, where Nien typically struggles. Nien nonetheless finished in a PR of 13:55, a PR by 1:20. Branon Cruz was next in 14:01, a 40 second PR for him as well, giving the Comets a much stronger 1-2-3 punch where the top runners were Erik Olsvold at 13:50, Jerricho Habon at 14:06, and Melvin Estrada at 14:34.

Azael Zamora and Erik Olsvold ran together, finishing in 15:04, and Omar Fimbres impressed running 15:10. Jerricho had a very rough race, but is normally close to Brandon and Nien. As Such, the real question mark on the boys squad is around the 5th boy, and Omar’s performance helped to ease some of those concerns. Geovanny Campos ran 15:39, and Melvin Estrada ran 16:08 to round out the varsity group.

Alumni Don Mora was the next runner in, stopping the clock at 16:44, a big improvement over his 18:01 from last year. Josh Merin and Rodolf Ocampo came in together at 17:04 and 17:08, both big PRS. Hugo Marquez followed close behind in a 30 second PR of 17:22 to give the reserve team a solid trio.

Jessica Cervantes ran a strong time of 17:36, demonstrating hwo rapidly she has become the team’s heir apparent to recent graduate Arlet Miranda. Jessica isn’t quite at the elite ‘B’ division level of Arlet and her preceder, Daniela Camacho (they both ran in the low 16s at Alumni) but her mid 17 clocking makes her just the 4th girl this decade to break 18 for the course. The girls team has a a lot to feel good about, more on that later.

Ronaldo Castillo was the top freshmen of the day, running 17:48, a promising time on the course. For reference, Nien is working towards his 3rd consecutive CCS appearance in XC, and as a freshmen, he ran 17:34 at the alumni race, very comparable to the time Ronaldo managed.

Luis Escamilla as another reserve boy finished in a solid 18:26, followed by #2 Lady Comet Mya Hammond. The fact that Mya ran faster than Belen Sanchez and Yeimili Adame did in 2018 is very encouraging. It was a massive PR as a year ago Mya only managed a time of 21:11. She would not be the last lady Comet to really stand out.

Abraham Benitez, and Navbir Kahlon, newcomers to the team came in together at 18:49 and 18:50. Freshmen Daisy Flores and Justin Nguyen came in together at 18:55 as well. Daisy looks to be the next in a strong line of a good Comet family. Daisy’ brother, Ricardo Flores, was a friend and teammate of mine on the 2009 WV  (‘C’) division championship. Ricardo and I battled for status as the #1 runner on the team senior year, and he ended his HS career with a strong PR of 4:41 in the 1600. Daisy looks to have the genes for running, along with the work ethic, and she’s established herself as a runner to watch going forward. Her cousin, Brianna Flores, was a member of the 2014 WV division championship team. We’ll have to make sure that Daisy isn’t the only runner in her family without a league title.

Not far back was Omar Sanchez in 19:04. Omar has improved dramatically over the course of the summer and along with Carlos Nava in 19:20, (brother of Daisy Nava, scoring member of the 2016 and 2017 WV division championship track teams) gives the team 4 dedicated freshmen to work with going forward.

This insurgency of youth was badly needed. Of our top 10 boys at the alumni race, only 1 was not a senior (Omar Fimbres, junior). Our goal is to try to have these boys ready to be quality ‘B’ division varsity boys by next season.

Just before Carlos finished, Emely Lopez came across as girl #4 in a great performance, running 19:18. This is faster than key runner Ashley Preciado managed last year when she ran 19:27. Alumni John Acosta came in right with Carlos Nava in 19:20, with freshmen Alexa Rodriguez, and Senior Yesenia Martinez finishing in 19:34, and 19:40 respectively. Ashley had an off day but still ran 19:52, and Lizbeth Espana, a standout in track now trying XC for the first time, ran 19:53. Estefani Herrera just missed the barrier running 20:01.

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The team after the race

 

 

The 20 minute barrier is significant as it has always signified a standard for the varsity girls. In my 6 years of coaching, we have never been worse than the 16th best team at BVAL finals, we’ve always been at least middle of the pack. Last year we managed 12th, a top half finish and in 2014 we were 8th. In all those years, the highest total of girls we’ve had who could run under 20 minutes at the alumni race was 5. That was last year, when Arlet, Yeimili, Belen, Ashley and Yesenia did so. That group went on to place 12th at BVAL’s WITHOUT Yeimili, our then #2 runner.

Despite Yeimili’s absence today, the team had 8 girls under 20, and Estefani missed by less than 1 second. Our JV girls team has been a BVAL powerhouse the past few years, but this year is going to be special in that regard because of the sheer depth on the team. We will be aiming for a top 5 finish at BVALS on the JV girls side.

Huu Thai was the next Comet in at 20:02, just beating out alumni Andres Rosas. Ruth Rodriguez and Mariana Perez ran PRS of 20:14 and 20:18. Erika Camacho took a step forward from her time trial result, running 21:12. Melanny Sanchez and Kaylena Gil finished in 21:59 and 22:46 respectively, adding even more depth to the JV girls. Jason Garcia finished in 23:06. Deisy Carlos ran 24:43. Emily DeLaRosa and Francia Castro ran 30:22 and 30:25 and alumni Nancy Reed finished the race with a clocking of 33:07.

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The Alumni in attendance, including long time James Lick coach Keith Antes (3rd from right)

 

The Comets have a lot to feel good about, and the season is here! The team will take on Prospect and Independence in their first league meet of the season on Wednesday September 4th at Montgomery Hill. Then, they will head to Golden Gate Park for the Lowell Invitational on Saturday September 7th.

The season is here and exciting times are ahead!

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

James Lick Cross Country Season Preview 2019

The 2019 school year is under way and with it, another cross country season for the James Lick Comets. This marks a significant milestone, as the 2019 iteration of the team will mark the 70th year of James Lick’s existence.

In the nearly 70 years of James Lick cross country, the school has managed 15 league/ division championships, (13 boys, 2 girls) more than any other James Lick sport. It is also the only James Lick sport I know of that has achieved a CIF section title, winning a CCS boys title in 1970.

As we head into the school year, James Lick stands as the smallest school in the entire 24 team BVAL. Despite this fact, in 2018 the team managed a combined 9-5 record in the ‘B’ division, placing 10th of the 24 teams at league finals on the boys side, and 12th on the girls.

By any measure we were a middle of the pack team, despite being at a huge disadvantage in terms of sheer enrollment to draft talent from. The 2019 team is aiming to build on this status, and take steps towards an even better year this season.

With these goals in mind, we completed our annual time trial of the 3.03 mile north rim course from the park entrance. We’ve used this course to track our athletes fitness since 2009, and I am personally a big fan of the course for the sheer fact that it is a slower course than any the team will run this year. Typically, a varsity boy will run 2 minutes faster at our league races at Montgomery hill, and 1 minute faster at Crystal Springs (our league finals and CCS course) than they can run for our north rim time trial course.

Obviously our team is not in their peak shape with 11 weeks until league finals, but we go in with the hope that our returning runners will be ahead of where they were a year ago at this time of year.

Our top boy runner immediately achieved more than this. Last year, Mark Orpia ran 20:10 to lead the team at our pre-season time trial. He would go on to run 16:19 at Montgomery Hill (8th all time in the 18 year school-history of the course) and spearhead a top 10 BVAL team at Crystal Springs with a time of 17:36.

Mark opened the season with a time of 18:14, the 3rd best time any Comet has recorded on the course, and the 2nd fastest early season time next to only the 17:53 clocking of Azael Zamora in 2017, a year that would see Azael get on the school’s all time-list at Crystal springs with a time of 16:17. This goes to show that Mark is in phenomenal shape, and he should be one of the best James Lick runners of the BVAL era if he can continue to improve on his current form.

As stated, Mark had a very strong 2018 after starting off at 20:10 for this time trial.This makes us very pleased with the 19:31 time by Nien Tran and the 19:43 time of Brandon Cruz as the 2nd and 3rd boys. Both boys are more than a minute ahead of their times from last year. It was even a 5 second PR for Brandon. Jerricho Habon had an off race but was still near his time from last year, stopping the clock at 20:45. The 5th boy on the team was a close race between Omar Fimbres, 23:17 Melvin Estrada, 23:25, and Hugo Marquez 23:31.  Hugo is working his way back to health after an injury plagued 2018, while Omar and Melvin are coming in off of a summer where they were not training with the team. These boys will need to narrow the gap between themselves and the top 4 to help the team reach it’s potential, which I see as a top 8 BVAL team.

The first girl across was Jessica Cervantes who has looked like a breakout runner all summer long. Jessica finished in 24:51, 3 seconds off of her PR but way ahead of where she was at to start last season. With the graduation of Arlet Miranda (2nd best female  XC runner in school history) just months ago, the team will need athletes like Jessica to step up.

Josh Merin ran 25:42 compared to a 31 minute clocking a year ago, and Rodolf Ocampo was more than a minute up on last year’s time as well. The next boys in were Luis Escamilla in 27:14, Jay Austria 27:16, Abraham Benitez in 27:40 and Josue Gomez in 27:43. These boys were sandwiched between a stream of rapidly improving lady Comets.

Mya Hammond ran 27:07, Ashley Preciado ran 27:32. Ruth Rodriguez (27:45) Emely Lopez (27:48) Estefani Herrera (27:50) and Alexa Rodriguez (28:14) came in close together, displaying the team’s formidable depth on the girls side. Depth will absolutely be the strength of a team full of girls who have transformed themselves into varsity caliber runners through sheer hard work and dedication.

When they began their careers, Mya, Emely and Estefani ran North Rim in 39:05, 41:04 and 44:06 respectively. I can’t say enough about these 3 who helped form the core of an undefeated JV girls team last year. None of them broke the 30 minute barrier to start least season’s trial, nor did Ruth. The addition of Ruth’s sister Alexa only makes this group stronger. The same goes for the knowledge that Yeimili Adame, Mariana Perez, and Erika Camacho all had very rough days by their standards. Even with those girls struggling, (The #1, #4 and #5 returning girls on the team based on last year’s times) the team has never produced more girls under the 30 minute barrier to start the year than the 9 the team managed this year. Yesenia Martinez (28:54) and Lizbeth Espana (29:10) both accomplished the feet as well.

Some of the younger boys on the team came across the line around this time as well. Navbir Kahlon, Ronaldo, and Justin Nguyen came across in 28:41, 28:52 and 29:00 as the 2nd 3rd and 4th  frosh/soph boys. Huu Thai ran 29: 14 not far behind. Two more freshmen, Carlos Nava and Omar Sanchez finished in 30:06 to give the team 6 frosh/soph boys at or under 30 minutes.

These times might not be particularly fast yet, but we have a great recent track record of rapidly improving frosh/soph boys around those times. Gustavo Aguilera for example, ran 31:50 in his first try on the course as freshmen. As a senior, he would run 19:10 and was the 5th boy on the school’s 2016 ‘B’ division championship team.

The team can look at similar examples like Nien Tran and Omar Fimbres. Both boys failed to run under 27 minutes at their first time as freshmen, but both boys were CCS caliber runners by the end of their sophomore years. In short, if these boys are dedicated, we have great confidence that they will improve by leaps and bounds.

Melanny Sanchez and Caylena Gil finished in 30:51 and 31:00 adding yet more depth to the girls team. It’s crazy to think that just 2 years ago only 1 girl on the entire team ran under 33 minutes at this time trial to start the season.

Emily De Dios and Jayson Garcia finished in 36:47 and 37:45. Alex Rios and Marisol Carlos rounded out the group in the 47 minute range.

As the team looks ahead at the season, the depth of the girls team should give the team a good shot at a 2nd consecutive winning season in the ‘B’ division. It should also produce an absolutely lethal JV girls team. Last year at the final division race our JV girls achieved a perfect score against every team except Sobrato, as our girls finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th overall. This year’s JV girls team should be even better as no girl on the JV squad has aged out of it.

On the boys side, the focus will be on having a strong top 5, and on developing the freshmen boys to be ready to replace our senior heavy group next season. Especially if Melvin Estrada can find his form, the boys team will be a force to be reckoned with.

The team will contest the Alumni Race on August 30th  in Alum Rock Park at 6:00 P.M. Any alumni, fans of James Lick, or runners in the area are welcome.

After that the team will have it’s first league meet of the season on the early date of September 4th at Montgomery Hill.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

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The team after the time trial.