Comets Scrimmage With Season Hanging In the Balance

We often don’t fully appreciate the bliss and relief from everyday life that sports can bring. They can provide a distraction from our problems during hard times, a way for young people to learn life lessons and skills, and a positive outlet. The past 6 years of coaching track have been exceptionally fun for me as well as my athletes. I’ve enjoyed every bit of the challenge of trying to help the athletes of James Lick compete against larger and more affluent schools. Several former Comets are competing athletically in college right now, and we have several seniors on the team looking to reach the next level as well. As of right now, our entire season is up in the air.

Given the current state of the country following the outbreak of Covid-19 Santa Clara County has given the order to suspend all school related activities till April 13th at the earliest. There is a very real chance that our track season may be over just as it was beginning. Obviously the public health is far more important than any athletic event, but our entire team is hoping the situation will be under control a month ago, and that we can hopefully return to finish our track season.

We were informed around noon on Friday March 13th that our school, along with every school in the county would be closing beginning next week. As a result, we shifted from a normal practice to an inter-squad scrimmage, a chance for our athletes to compete, knowing that it’s possible they would not get another meet this season.

It was uplifting end to the day for an upset track team, and we had a lot of good results and improvements on the day. We began the meet with the 4×100 relay. For the first time this season we ran the ‘A’ team of Jamie Vong, Geovanny Campos, Rodolf Ocamp and Raven Alcantara. They coasted to a time of 46.73. This time puts the Comets ranked #4 in the entire BVAL through 1 week of season, without any competition. Our girls team of Jenny Gomez, Minhy Pham, Emily DeLaRosa and Yeimili Adame ran a 57.1, a seasons best on the girls side as well.

We went straight to the hurdles after that. Emily D had the 1st of several strong performances on the day, running 21.19 for her first try at the full event, a very solid debut. Jenny Gomez also made her debut in the event running 21.93. Neither time may sound remarkable currently, but to me both are strong debuts.

The 4 fastest girls I’ve coached in the 100 hurdles are Valeria Cortez (16.75) Andrea Ortiz (17.10) Kirsten Nguyen (18.22) and Yesenia Martinez (18.43). All 4 girls share two traits with Jenny, Emily and Cecelia Usui who ran 21.59 for us last week at the Willow Glen Invite. They all began hurdling as a freshmen or sophomore, and they all ran slower than 21 seconds in their first try at the 100 hurdles. In short, I think that our 3 frosh/soph hurdlers, Jenny, Emily and Cecelia all have the potential to be BVAL level hurdlers like Kirsten and Yesenia, given the time to work on the event properly.

On the boys side, we had a very strong tail wind blowing, a 4.4 m/s wind, well over the allowable limit so the marks could not stand as official records. That being said, Rodolf lead the group with the best 110 clocking of his life under any conditions, a time of 15.75. This puts him as the #1 ranked BVAL hurdler 1 week into the season and the #2 ranked 110 hurdler in the entire CCS. Jamie Vong and Mark Orpia came in at 18.39 and 18.93, with Luis Escamilla streaming in at 20.55. If the season picks up, the Comets are likely to be one of the best hurdling teams in the BVAL.

IMG_2205
Rodolf Ocampo and Jamie Vong clearing the first hurdle together. Mark Orpia and Luis Escamilla approaching. 

The 100 meter dash was next, and it saw several strong performances as well. Raven lead the team in 11.91 in a heat with a 0.0 wind reading. Rodolf ran his fastest ever wind legal time of 12.12, just a tick off his PR under any circumstances of 12.06, which was run with a strong tailwind. Jamie got a PR of 12.14, putting both boys in striking distance of the sub 12 barrier. The next fastest Comet on the day was Eric Dang in 12.29 and then Jordan Lagura in 12.38, a PR. Both sophomores figure to be a huge part of the teams future plans. Angel Guerrero took .16 off his PR to run 12.54. Justin Nguyen (13.27) Mark ( 13.43) and Soreya Thach (13.55) all ran PRS on the boys side.

On the girls side, Emily made another very strong debut, clocking in at 14.35 in her first try at the event, finishing in nearly a dead heat with Yeimili (a PR by .10 for Yeimili) and their heat was wind legal. Azalea Galinato ran a seasons best 14.76 and Cecelia clocked in at 15.01 for her 100m debut. Several other Comets made their 100m debuts as well.

We did not run the 1600 or 800, but put the 3200 in the middle of the meet to give our distance crew the chance to contest it. Melvin Estrada lead the team in a solid season opener of 11:39. Omar Sanchez and Justin Nguyen ran 12:45 and 12:50 for their first try at the event. On the girls side, we went 4 for 4 on PRS. Lizbeth Espana (13:56) Jessica Cervantes (13:59) and Keyla Sifuentes (13:59) all cracked the 14 minute barrier for the first time,  and for Keyla it was her first time running the event at all. Ruth Rodriguez also managed a PR of 14:29. The 14 minuter barrier is significant in our league, a girl who can run under 14 can score points in the vast majority of dual meets.

Back on the track, Rodolf and Luis both ran the 300 hurdles. Rodolf managed a PR of 44.56, nearly a full second PR in his first try this season. Luis also cracked 50 to start the year with a time of 49.91.

We skipped the 200 at the Willow Glen Invite so it was the fist time contesting it for many athletes this year. Geo lead the Comets in a time of 25.38. Eric managed a big PR of 25.49 breaking 26 for the first time. Angel also got a big PR of 25.50 just behind Eric, and at this point they were running into a headwind. On the girls side, Yeimili lead the team, cracking the 30 second barrier for the first time in 29.96. Emily continued her strong debut in 30.78, a strong debut. Azalea and Minhy came in close to her in 30.80 and 30.85. It was a strong headwind at this point, and the Comets look poised to have several  girls under the 30 second barrier in the same season.

Meanwhile, the team had several strong performances in the field events. Adriana Marcelino lead the in 77-10 within a foot of her PR. Sara Hawkes and Jimmie Chircop both ha big PRS of 71-2 and 69-0. Emma Demblewski threw over 60 feet for the first time as well, chucking the discus 61 feet. Sandra Naranjo (58-0) and Kiely Leal (57-2) both managed PRS as well as Yesenia Martinez throwing 48-10. Clarissa Morales made hr discus debut with a solid throw of 56-0.

In Shot Put, Sara lead the team in 24-7 , with Clarissa close behind in a PR of 24-2.5. Kiely threw a PR of 21-8 as did Sandra (18-8) to end days for the lady throwers. Jose Uribe made his debut for the boys, throwing 47 feet in discus and 19 feet in Shot Put.

With all the wind, most of the jumpers had a rough day though Yesenia did clear 4-4, a seasons best in high jump. Rodolf also triple jumped for the first time since his sophomore year and went 36-3, a big PR. Eric in 15-6, and Soreya in 15-1 both managed PRs.

The final event for the team was the pole vault, where many of the vaulters working with coach Raul vaulted beginning at a lower height than usual. As such, Cecelia and Ruth both cleared the bar at 5-0 and Yesenia cleared it at 5-6. Omar cleared 7-0 for the first time, the starting height for a frosh/soph boy, showing good long term promise. Hector Hidalgo and Miguel Saldivar both cleared the varsity starting height of 8-0 and Jordan showeed great potential going 8-6 in his debut in the event. Mark and Rodolf both cleared 11-0 for the first time, strong PRS for both boys and an excellent way to end the scrimmage meet.

A total of 31 PRS make the scrimmage meet a very positive one, but a bittersweet one for many members of the team who now can only hope their season will resume. In any case, best wishes to all during this trying time. With some vigilance and luck, hopefully we as a society can get past the coronavirus and resume life as usual.

Thanks for reading and be safe,

-Benny Reeves

James Lick Track Team Opens 2020 Season Strong at Willow Glen Invitational

The 2020 Track season is oficially underway with the James Lick Comets joining 35 other track teams at the Willow Glen Invitational on Saturday March 7th. As has seemingly become a yearly tradition, the meet dealt with somewhat chilly conditions and bouts of rain throughout, at times making conditions very unsuitable to strong track performances. Nonetheless, the team had some very strong early performances, with a grand total of 27 PRS in the meet, more that at any invitational from the 2019 season.

The meet began with the frosh/soph girls 4×100. The team of Jenny Fimbres, Cecelia Usui, Daniela Huitron and Jenny Gomez combined to run 1:01.60 with some very rough exchanges in what was the first ever track meet for 3 of the 4 members of the team.

IMG_2099
Jenny Fimbres handing the baton to Cecelia Usui 

Field events were already ongoing at this time as well and saw a number of solid performances for the Comets. In the frosh/soph girls discus, Sara Hawkes lead the Comets with a PR of 65-8.5, a PR by over 5 feet. Jimmie Chircop cracked the 60 foot barrier for the first time as well throwing 60-5 for a 4 foot PR. Francia Castro PR’d by almost 10 feet, throwing 59-10 and Emma Demblewski got a small PR of 57-10.

At the same time, Frosh/Soph boys high jump was going on. Jordan Lagura, the team’s top frosh/soph athlete, cleared 4-10 in his first try at the event and clearly has a much higher ceiling. Chris Escobar, the starting center on the frosh/soph basketball team went 5-0 in his first ever track meet, and only 3 days of practice so far, showing great potential as well. Lastly in boys Triple Jump, Jamie Vong went 37-4, opening the season just 4 inches off his PR. Geo Campos went a solid 35-10 in the event as well.

Back on the track, Ruth Rodriguez was the only frosh/soph girl for the Comets, and she opened her season with a PR of 6:37. The frosh/soph boys 1600 saw all 3 Comets PR. Omar Sanchez and Justin Nguyen both ran 5:44, 13 second PRS for both boys who broke the 6 minute barrier for the first time at our end of XC time trial. Carlos Nava took 6 seconds off his PR to run 6:22, and he’s only been out at practice for a few weeks since he was wrestling in the winter.

IMG_2119
Justin Nguyen (Lane 2) and Omar Sanchez (Lane 1) Storming to PRS in the 1600 

Omar and Justin are following the path of great improvement to varsity levels laid down by Brandon Cruz, Jerricho Habon and others on the team. Both Comets ran with us all summer, yet by late August, Omar could only run 7:03 for the 1600 and Justin only 7:31. The fact that they lowered their PRS to under 6 by the end of XC, and now open track season with big PRS gives us great cause for hope for both boys futures.

The varsity girls 1600 saw multiple PRS as well. Jessica Cervantes lead the team with a 2 second PR of 6:22. Next was Lizbeth Espana in 6:29, ripping 9 seconds off her PR. Keyla Sifuentes, a newcomer to track after an excellent first XC season took 13 seconds off her PR to run 6:33. Ashley Preciado and Emely Lopez came in together at 6:41. This was an 11 second PR for Emely, and while it wasn’t a PR for Ashley, she is more than 20 seconds ahead of her start from last year.

The boys 1600 saw Brandon Cruz lead the group in 5:06. Melvin Estrada also had a solid season opener of 5:14. Nien Tran ran 5:29, a long way from his 5:01, but we’ve learned that Nien takes a longer time than most to get in shape. Jerricho was off to a good start in his 1600 but took a fall and suffered minor injury, only running 5:32 despite going through 800 meters under 5:10 pace.

The hurdle races were next. Cecelia Usui made her debut in 21.58 despite a -1.8 m/s headwind. I’ve been fortunate enough to have coached 2 CCS Qualafiers in girls hurdles and 3 division champions between Andrea Ortiz and Valeria Cortez, and neither of them ran as fast as Cecelia did her first try at the event. Yesenia Martinez ran the varsity girls event in 20.25 into a -2.5m/s headwind. A wind this strong makes a big difference, as the wind conversion formula indicates that time would be a 19.53 under neutral conditions, a strong start to the season.

In the boys 110 hurdles, Rodolf Ocampo made his debut as the team’s highest ranked returning athlete within the CCS in the past decade. After some very strong 60 hurdles performances in early February, Rodolf had spent the last 3 weeks in the Philippines with family, only arriving the night before the Willow Glen Invite, hardly ideal for great performance. Even so, he ran 16.60 into a headwind to place 5th in the meet, narrowly losing to fellow CCS qualifiers. Jamie Vong made his debut in the event in 18.31, a very strong time for his first try. Dekota Castro-Lopez ran a big PR of 19.61, a PR by over 2 seconds despite the headwind. I feel very strong about our hurdles group heading into this season.

Ruth managed a small PR in the 400, running 1:22.01 and proving that she is truly a long distance runner. Hektor Olivera and Navbir Kahlon ran 1:04 and 1:05 in their first attempts at the event. Yeimili Adame managed a very strong season opener of 1:05.52 a PR by .13 to start the season. This is an excellent start, even faster than the season opener of Paloma Contreras when she won the WV title for the team in 2015 and qualified for CCS. In the boys varsity 400, Hector Hidalgo ran a 1:01 in his first attempt at the event and Angel Guerrero lowered his PR a full second from 59.40 to 58.28.

Rain began just in time for the 100s but the team still managed some solid early performances. Newcomer Jenny Gomez was the fastest lady Comet of the day, running 15.17, a very strong early performance. Jenny Fimbres was not far behind in 15.32, just .02 off her PR already. The flying Jenny’s will look to spearhead the frosh/soph girls 4×100 all season. The young lady COmet throwers also showed up strong in the 100, Jimmie Chircop ran 16.04 and Sara Hawkes 16.13. This pair looks to help form a formidable throwers 4×100. Franica Castro (17.67) and Daniela Huitron (17.80) rounded out the FS girls 100.

Jordan lead the team in the F/S boys 100 running 12.42, just .06 off of his PR. Justin took .3 off of his PR to run 13.41. Soreya Thach made his debut in 13.58. Jose Garcia took a big chunk off of his PR lowering his 100m best from 14.41 to 13.68 (and on his birthday no less).

Miny Pham and Azalea Galinato ran very similar times of 15.20 and 15.23 as the only varsity girls competing, solid early season times. Despite the bad weather, and the fact that he’s still dealing with a hamstring injury, Raven Alcantara ran 11.69 to open his season. In similar conditions in 2019, Raven ran 12.02 at Willow Glen, and managed to end the season with a best 11.47, so this 11.69 clocking is a very strong performance in my mind. Geo was the next Comet in at 12.09. Rodolf and Jamie ran 12.21 and 12.22, PRS for both boys though Rodolf has run faster with a big tailwind. These 4 figure to be the ‘A’ team for the 4×100 this season, and we’ll be aiming to soon have all 4 under the 12 second barrier.

More field events were being contested at this point. Jordan had a strong day in the frosh/soph long jump, going 18-5 to place 3rd overall. Soreya and Jose also competed with Jose managing a 6 inch PR. Yesenia went 27-2 in triple jump, and 4-2 in high jump to start her season. Minhy and Cecelia also long jumped, though both were short of their PRS.

In the varsity girls discus, Adriana Marcelino threw her 2nd best toss ever, 75-6 to place 13th out of 33 throwers. In the boys Shot Put, Hugo Marquez threw 23-6.5. Sara narrowly missed medaling for the team, placing 5th in the frosh/soph girls shot put with a toss of 24-4, 4 inches shy of 4th place. Clarrisa Morales also had a strong debut of 23-00.50.

Back on the track it was time for the 800. Justin and Omar both netted PRS with Justin running 2:32 and Omar running 2:36 in just their 2nd try at the event. On the varsity girls side, Mya Hammond lead the group with a seasons best 2:54. Emely managed a 2nd big PR on the day, running 3:05 for the event. Brandon barely missed his PR running a high 2:19 in the event. The final event of the day for the Comets was the 300 hurdles. Both Yeimili and Dekota achieved PRS despite some rain. Yeimili ran 55.53, and Dekota 51.32.

Considering the weather, it was a very strong meet for the Comets. The team will continue gearing up for their season with the K-Bell Invitational on Saturday March 14th. The team will have it’s first dual meet of the season at home on Thursday March 19th against the Prospect Panthers.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

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!

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 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.

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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.

Comets Have Best Meet of 2019 So Far at Scott Bauhs Invitational

For the first time in school history, the Comets took to the Scott Bauhs Invitational in Pleasanton on Saturday September 28th of 2019. The 2.95 Mile course at Shadow Cliffs Regional Park was mostly flat, and we chose this meet hoping for some fast times and personal breakthroughs for the Comets. We came out feeling emboldened by strong performances in what has been an uneven season so far for James Lick.

Since it was the team’s first time on the course, the fastest Comets would leave as school record holders. Justin Nguyen became the first Comet to hold the title, as the first James Lick runner in the freshmen boys race, coming across with a time of 21:18. The 7:13 pace is the best of his career so far and Justin continues to improve rapidly this season. For reference, when we first timed him in the mile in August, he could only run a 7:31.

The enxt boy in was Omar Sanchez, also with the best race pace of his career so far, 7:25 pace for a time of 21:52. Carlos Nava managed to run under 8 minute mile pace for the first time in his career: 22:49 and Jason Garcia did the same running 24:20. All 4 boys are improving quickly, and they set the tone for what would continue to be a day of breakthroughs.

Daisy Flores lead the frosh/soph girls in 23:21, the fastest race pace of her career so far and she continues to look like the team’s star of the future. Ruth Rodriguez was not far behind in 23:39 (8:01 pace, the best of her career) and Kaylena Gil rounded out the group in 26:27.

This course is exactly the same distance as our historic league finals course, Crystal Springs. If Daisy and Ruth manage to simply match their Scott Bauhs times at league finals, they would both be strong varsity runners.  Last year our varsity girls finished 12th of the 24 teams, exactly middle of the pack, and our 4th girl ran 23:36. A girl who can run under 24 minutes at Crystal Springs is very helpful to a ‘B’ division, and even some ‘A’ division teams.

The varsity races were next and Nien Tran ran a very strong 17:47, with Brandon Cruz not far behind in 17:58. Both boys broke the 18 minute barrier for the first time on a course 2.9 or longer, and both boys managed the fastest pace of their career to this point. Omar Fimbres performance was a big step up as he ran 19:10, well faster than his Montgomery Hill time on Thursday, and Jerricho Habon had a rehab race, running a decent time of 19:27. Nien and Brandon will be critical to the team’s success with some of the injuries the team has dealt with this year.

The girls varsity races saw the best performance of the day. Junior Mya Hammond ran 21:14, 7:12 pace, by far the best of her career so far. This has been a very strong season for Mya already. As a freshmen, Mya averaged 10:03 pace for her XC races. Last year she averaged 9:18 pace. So far this year, she is averaging 8:10 pace and is trending faster and faster. If she manages to run within 16 seconds of this time at Crystal Springs, she will make CCS automatically based on the “at-large” time standard. Mya has transformed herself rom a girl who could only run a 9:44 mile when we first timed her, to a borderline CCS caliber cross country runner with her hard work over these past few seasons.

IMG_0387
The team taking in the lake before the race

Jessica Cervantes has been the team #1 all season, and she had a strong race as well. She ran 21:31, 7:18 pace, also the best of her career. Her strengths as a hill runner give her one of the better odds on the team of matching this time at Crystal Springs. Lizbeth Espana (23:17) and Mariana Perez ( 23:38) were next, both achieving the best paces of their careers so far. Ashley Preciado ran 25:13, and Yesenia Martinez ran 25:54 to round out the group.

IMG_0396
Mya Hammond approaching the 1 mile mark in the race

The JV boys ran very strong as well. Rodolf Ocampo broke the 7 minute pace barrier for teh first time, running 20:26 for a 6:56 pace. Abraham Benitez was next in 21:20. Luis Escamilla, 21:37 and Josh Merin, 21:45 came in close behind him. For Luis, this was by far the fastest pace of his career, 7:20 pace whereas only a month ago he had never broken 8 minute pace. Navbir Kahlon (22:29) and Josue Gomez (23:25) rounded out the group.

The final race of the day for James Lick was the JV girls. Keyla Sifuentes lead the team in a near varsity level time of 24:28. 8:18 pace is a great place to be for the newcomer Keyla. Estefani Herrera was next across in 25:08. Melanny Sanchez in 26:38 and Adriana Marcelino in 33:53 rounded out the team.

The team will hope to build on the momentum from this race as they head to Half Moon Bay on Saturday October 5th for the always fun Artichoke Invitational.

Thanks for reading!

 

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

 

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!

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

IMG_0077
The team after the time trial.