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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After a 2 week hiatus from any racing, the James Lick Comets began their busiest stretch of the season by competing at Newhall Park in Concord, in the hyper competitive De La Salle Invitational. This was the 9th time in school history that James Lick competed at this invitational, the first time being 2005. With less than 10 years on the course, every year the team improves the school’s all-time list on the course, an exciting prospect for many of our runners. The varsity runners contested the 3 mile course, while the JV and frosh/soph runners ran the 2 mile course.
The meet began with the varsity girls race. Jessica Cervantes lead the Comets with a strong time of 22:39, the 6th best time in school history. The Comets were without #2 runner Mya Hammond, but the other girls picked up the slack by running as a pack. Lizbeth Espana and Emely Lopez came in together at 24:37. Mariana Perez ran 24:51 and Ashley Preciado 24:54. Yesenia Martinez ran 26:49 to round out the team. The times from Lizbeth- Ashley are actually quite encouraging. Over the years I have several examples of lady Comets who ran over 25 minutes at De La Salle, who would go on to run under 23 minutes at Crystal Springs for BVAL finals, a solid middle of the pack time. Despite Mya’s absence, the team ran the 2nd best team time on the course in school history, missing the mark of the 2014 squad by only 20 seconds.
The varsity boys race was next. Top runner Mark Orpia is still battling injury and did not run. Nien Tran lead the Comets with a solid time of 18:33, the fastest time Nien has ever run for a 3 mile race by over 40 seconds. The last time we ran at De La Salle, Nien was a freshmen, who ran 7:12 pace for the 2 mile version of the course. The 6:11 pace for 3 miles he was able to produce as a senior is the result of 4 years of hard work.
The same can be said about Jerricho Habon who finished in 18:54. He ran only 7:06 pace for the 2 mile as a freshmen and just produced his first sub-19 3 mile clocking at De La Salle. Brandon Cruz was next in 18:55, giving the Comets 3 boys under 19 at De La Salle for just the 2nd time in the 9 years we’ve race the course.
Without Melvin Estrada or Mark present, Omar Fimbres was the 4th boy in 19:51. Hugo Marquez stepped up to give the team a 5th varsity boy, running 22:27. The varsity boys beat 7 teams despite missing some key players, a solid performance as they look ahead to more races to come.
The next race saw the JV and frosh soph girls competing on the 2 mile course. Daisy Flores spearheaded the group with a time of 15:52, just the 3rd girl in school history to run under 16 minutes for the course. This was the single race with the most additions to the all time list for James Lick, since our JV girls have never been stronger than they are right now. Ruth Rodriguez was next in 16:26, the 6th best time in school history. Estefani Herrera claimed the 8 spot in 17:17. Junior Keyla Sifuentes, in her first race for the team impressed by running 17:20, good for #10 on the all time list. Melanny Sanchez and Erika Camacho ran 18:02 and 18:10 for spots 16 and 17, and Kaylena Gil ran 18:32 for the 19th spot on the list. Adriana Marcelino ran 23:18 to round out the girls day with her best performance of the season so far.
This squad managed a new team course record by over 5 minutes, stopping the clock at 84:59.
The next race up was the frosh/soph boys. Justin Nguyen and Ronaldo Castillo came in together at 14:44 and 14:45, solid performances for the duo who will look to crack the 7 minute pace barrier by the end of the season. Omar Sanchez squeezed under 15 minutes with a time of 14:59. Omar continues to be one of our most rapidly improving athletes. A month ago at our north rim trial he ran 9:56 pace for the difficult 3 mile course. The De La Salle Course may be shorter and less challenging but 7:29 pace is a dramatic improvement anyway you slice it. Navbir Kahlon was next in 15:12, the 7:36 pace being the best of his career so far. Carlos Nava (16:17) Huu Thai (16:45) and Jason Garcia (17:02) rounded out the group.
The final race of the day was the JV boys over the 2 mile course. Josh Merin lead the group in 14:40, his best performance of the season so far. Abraham Benitez was the next boy across in 15:00 even. Rodolf Ocamp and Luis Escamilla came in at 15:35 and 15:52. This was the 2nd straight race under 8 minute pace for Luis.
The Comets have their 2nd league meet of the season on Thursday September 26th against Branham. Branham has been by far the toughest boys team in the division over the last 2 seasons, and the Comets will be mostly focused on achieving PRS after a rough showing at our first league meet this season.
Then the team will take to the Scott Bauhs Invitational in Pleasanton for the first time in school history on Saturday September 28th.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
This blog is in two parts. The first part is a summary of the 2019 track team. The 2nd part is located at the end of that post, and is a summary of the Ryan/Oyama Awards ceremony.
A I write this there are only 6 school days left at James Lick High School. Graduation for the class of 2019 is a week away, and all of the sports teams have finished their competition. It is a good time to look back on the track season briefly, and to recap the school year in terms of sports.
We went into the 2019 track season with the goal of achieving a winning record in the ‘B’ division in what was only our 2nd year in the division in the entire BVAL era (since 1996). The boys managed to achieve this goal, going 5-2. The girls had a myriad of issues and only went 2-5. Nonetheless, the combined 7-7 record was an improvement on the 6-8 record the year before.
The team looked very strong at our first meet against Live Oak. The Comets took dominant wins against a quality Acorn team. At that moment, hopes were very high that both teams could be a force in the division.
As the season went on, the boys team showed more depth than any James Lick track team in nearly 20 years. For example, this season the Comets had 11 different boys run under 13 seconds for the 100 (they were all under 12.8 in fact). Since the year 2000, the most Comet boys to break that barrier in a single season had been the 8 boys who managed it last year. Of the 11 who managed it this year, only two were seniors.
Only one Comet in the last years had run under 55 seconds for the 400, Gustavo Aguilera in 2017. This year two Comets accomplished the feet, with Misael Herrera leading the way at 54.51, the best time since I’ve been coaching. We had 9 different boys run under 60 seconds in the 400, also a best of the last decade.
In my first 3 years of coaching, we had only 3 different boys who managed to long jump farther than 18 feet. This year alone we had 6 (None of them had done it before this year) and none of them are seniors. We also had our first 20 foot long jumper in over a decade in Salvador Lopez, who missed making CCS by only one place this year.
Perhaps the biggest leap forward for the boys was in pole vault however. Coach Raul Lopez worked hard last year to produce two vaulters for the first time in decades. Mark Orpia went 9-0 and Rodolf Ocampo 8-6. The two are the top returning vaulters in the division for next year, with PRS of 10-8 and 10-2. Rodolf also became the first Comet in 11 years to run under 16 seconds in the 110 hurdles. The 4×100 team ran 45.06, the best time by a James Lick team since 2002. The 4×400 achieved the same distinction running 3:36.78.
The team’s most valuable athletes based on league meet points scored were as follows:
1. Rodolf Ocampo: 106.75
2.Mark Orpia: 83
3. Salvador Lopez: 77.50
4. Raven Alcantara: 53.50
5. Erik Olsvold: 39.50
The top 4 point scorers on the boys side were all juniors, as were the 6th and 7th (Jerricho Habon with 38 and Geovanny Campos with 34). For reference, Rodolf is only the 2nd Comet boy to score over 100 points in a season since I’ve been coaching, and the first to do so in the ‘B’ division.
The team’s only real weakness was the throwing events, as demonstrated by the chart below.
Average Points Per Dual Meet
Points Available Per Meet
Average Points as percentage of Available
League Finals Points
The large amount of juniors on the team puts us in a great place for next year on the boys side, especially if we can find some strong throwers.
What started off as a season full of hope on the girls side, became a season of struggle unfortunately. We had a number of injuries, and some issues with academic ineligibility that really held the girls team back.
While the team had some standout athletes, team depth was simply not there. Valeria Cortez won league titles in the discus and the 100 hurdles to cement her already impressive legacy. Marquise Nelson finished 2nd in the girls shot put and discus at division finals, along with a 2nd place finish for Arlet Miranda in the girls 800.
Average Points Per Dual Meet
Points Available Per Meet
Average Points as percentage of Available
League Finals Points
As you can see from the girls event scoring breakdown, the girls sprint team due to injuries and grade issues, was not where it needed to be for the team to be competitive. This lead to a deficiency in jumps as well, by division finals the team was not able to score a point in jumps.
This will be an area of emphasis for next season. With the team’s top 3 point scorers all graduating on the girls side, the team will need to re-load quickly.
The girls top point scorers were as follows:
Valeria Cotez: 155
Arlet Miranda: 71.25
Marquise Nelson: 61
Natalie Rem: 53.25
Yesenia Martinez: 49
Valeria’s point total is an unofficial team record (I only have records of points since I’ve been coaching) but it is a mark I do not see falling anytime soon.
Below are the top 3 marks in each events by the Comets this season:
# 2 Comet
# 3 Comet
Alcantara, Ocampo, Lopez, Campos
Alcantara, Merin, Lopez, Campos
Alcantara, Merin, Herrera, Campos
Lopez, Olsvold, Habon, Herrera
Herrera, Campos, Habon, Lopez
Herrera, Lopez, Merin, Habon
# 2 Comet
# 3 Comet
Galdamez, Cervantes, Hammond, Rem
Galdamez, Nelson, Adame, Gonzalez
Thach, Nelson, Hammond, Adame
Espana, Sanchez, Adame, Miranda
Hammond, Sanchez, Adame, Miranda
Hammond, Cervantes, Nelson, Adame
The track season is over and the team is now finishing up their schoolwork. The distance- underclassmen will begin training for cross country in June, and a few of the Comets will be competing in summer track meets as members of a few clubs, such as the Eastside Running club.
Thanks for reading!
It was a down year for the school overall. The 2017/2018 school year saw James Lick finish with a combined record of 101-85-4, the first combined winning record for the school in many years. This year the school went 67-85-4. It should be acknowledged however that the James Lick girls basketball team moved up to the ‘B’ division, which made it more difficult to obtain a great win/loss record.
We had the 2019 addition of the Ryan/ Oyama Awards on Tuesday May 21st in the James Lick gym. This ceremony is our signature end of the year award ceremony for all sports, and the Ryan award is the award for our best senior student-athlete as determined by their four years of athletics for the school. The Oyama award is the female equivalent.
The award ceremony begins with the coaches awards. Every team is allowed to give out two awards for each group on their team. For example, in cross country we are able to give two varsity and two JV awards for both boys and girls.
The JV girls awards went to Jessica Cervantes as the JV girls MVP and Estefani Herrera for the girls most improved runner. On the boys side, Gustavo Madrigal was our most improved JV runner and Omar Fimbres was our team MVP.
Arlet Miranda was our varsity girls MVP and Belen Sanchez was our most improved athlete. On the boys side, MVP went to Mark Orpia and Most Improved went to jared Resendiz.
In track, we gave our JV awards to Lizbeth Espana and Mya Hammond on the girls side, and Jordan Laguna and Dekota Castro-Lopez on the boys side. Valeria won the team MVP for girls and Adriana Marcelino was most improved. On the boys side, Adrian DeLaRosa won an award for leadership, and Rodolf Ocampo was our MVP.
Next up were the class awards. Jhesselyn Santos won freshmen girl of the year. She participated in cross country, wrestling, and track. She was a strong young athlete in the sports I coach, and she won the most improved award for JV wrestling.
Jordan Laguna won the boys freshmen of the year. He excelled as a jumper in track and besides our award, he won an award for wrestling as well. Sophomore of the year went to a couple more XC runners. Omar Fimbres won the boys award, he played basketball and baseball in addition to being a strong cross country runner. Esetfani Herrera won the girls award, she played soccer besides running cross country and track.
Dulce Jacobo, one of the stars of the school’s championship volleyball team, and the school’s ‘B’ division basketball team, won junior of the year. I’ve been trying to get Dulce to join track for several years now to no avail. Rodolf won the boys junior of the year in something of an upset victory considering there were several 3 sport junior athletes of comparable caliber, whereas Rodolf only ran cross country and track.
Finally the moment everyone was waiting for, the Ryan/Oyama Awards themselves. The Ryan Award went to Misael Herrera, the 3rd straight track athlete to win it following Nathan Bernardo and Azael Zamora. Misael competed in football and track all four years of his HS career, and also competed in wrestling his junior and senior year. He is a dedicated and very hard working teammate. His victory was not shocking considering he had won freshmen of the year, sophomore of the year, and junior of the year throughout his career.
The girls competition however was very tight. It’s difficult to compare across eras, but I think there is a legitimate case to be made that the 2019 girls class is the best athletic class in James Lick history.
The girls class of 2019 produced 6 division titles for the school. Of those 6, 4 came in sports that James Lick had never won a championship in. During Arlet and Valeria’s freshmen year, they both scored a ton of points towards helping us win our first ever championship in girls track. This duo were the 1-2 punch that helped us repeat this feat in 2017, and saw us move up to the ‘B’ division for the first time.
In the fall of 2017, Valeria was the setter for the school’s first ever championship in girls volleyball. The star of the team was the middle hitter, Marquise. Marquise used her height to excel at spiking, and this duo was the driving force behind their back-back titles in girls volleyball.
In winter of 2018, the girls basketball team won their first title since 1997, lead by the efforts of Marquise, and other key contributors from the class of 2019 like Corina Gutierrez and Serena Salas (both also played for the championship volleyball team). The girls softball team was lead by star pitcher Corina, and twice finished with a record of 17-4 during this four year span, missing a title by one game twice.
In addition to her prowess in volleyball and track, Valeria made it to the State meet in wrestling with a 3rd place finish at CCS finals. This to say nothing of the accomplishments of 3 sport athletes like Belen Sanchez, who was also a key to several team records in cross country this season, a team captain on the soccer team and a member of both track championship teams.
In most years, I think Arlet would have been a shoe in for the Oyama award. She is a 4 time CCS qualifier (3 in cross, one in track) who has won individual league championships and lead a team to two league titles, all while maintaining a 4.0. The high number of string 3 sport athletes made it so that she was not even in the top 3 candidates considered.
In the end, Valeria won the Oyama award against a very deserving runner up in Marquise. To me, this was the toughest call between any Oyama or Ryan award duo that I’ve ever seen. I think either lady could have taken home the honors.
That puts a wrap on another year of James Lick sports. James Lick graduation is on Wednesday May 29th at the football field beginning at 7 PM. The final day of school is on May 30th.
The Comets took to Gilroy High School on Saturday May 11th 2019 for CCS trials. A total of 6 Comets competed in the meet, the most for James Lick in over a decade. The meet saw a few strong results for the team, and for the 3rd consecutive season, James Lick will have an athlete competing at CCS Finals in the girls discus.
The meet began with the boys 4×100. Geovanny Campos, Raven Alcantara, Rodolf Ocampo and Salvador Lopez combined to run 46.04, an off race due to a poor first exchange. This saw them place 28th in the meet. They are nonetheless the first 4×100 team for James Lick to compete at CCS since 2002. With an all junior quartet, the Comets will hope to be back at the event next season.
Marquise Nelson ended her track career with a PR in the Shot Put. She threw 33-8, a PR by 8 inches and moved up to #3 on the schools all-time list in the event. Marquise didn’t join track until this, her senior season. She showed great talent to finish 16th at CCS trials, despite her inexperience in the event.
Rodolf became the first Comet to contest the 110 hurdles at CCS in over a decade as well. Rodolf had alot go wrong with his race. He took 9 steps to the first hudle (All season we’ve used an 8 step takeoff) and this forced him to hurdle on his right leg for the race instead of his left. Rodolf can use both legs effectively because he spent most of the season “four-stepping” (alternating legs) but his left leg is his stronger lead led. He lost momentum and almost crashed into the final hurdle narrowly avoiding it. Despite all this, he ran 16.57, the 2nd best time of his career. He placed 19th and I am very excited about his chances to produce even greater results next season.
The final Comet to compete on the day has been our ringer for the past four seasons, Valeria Cortez. As detailed in past posts, Valeria has been our MVP for 3 straight seasons, and has represented James Lick to a very high caliber both on and off the track. Because she has been such a strong athlete for such a long time, PRS have not been easy to come by for Valeria.
She entered the meet with a PR of 112-8, 2nd in school history, a mark that had not been improved upon since April of 2018. Both she, and throws coach Raul Lopez have worked hard all season with the goal of making CCS Finals, and finally achieving a PR in the girls discus. This involved weeks of fine-tuning and minor tweaks to her form, all with the hope of squeezing a last few inches out of Valeria’s arm before the end of her High School career.
Only the top 12 athletes advance to CCS Finals in field events, and Valeria was ranked to do so. That being said, the field was very strong.
Valeria’s first throw was a 95 foot mark. Well off her best. Her 2nd was a 108 foot toss with a very high release. The mark put her safely into the top 12, but it looked as if she had more in her on the day. Throw number three looked to be very strong, but Valeria was not able to maintain controlling, she stepped outside the ring for a foul.
On her final throw, Valeria had the same strong rotation, but the release still seemed a little too high. The discus wobbled in the air due to this, but the momentum was there. The throw measured at 116-10, a PR by over 2 feet to send her to CCS Finals as the #6 seed. This is the highest ranking for any James Lick athlete at CCS finals since Ruth Lebeau in 2007.
Valeria will represent the Comets next Friday at the Gilroy venue. Charli Chircop made CCS finals two years in a row in this event, and now Valeria will take her turn at representing the team at the CCS’ most hallowed event. According to my records, she will be the 26th Comet to compete at CCS Finals.
She and the other 11 ladies in the event will receive 3 throws. The top 8 at that point will be re-seeded and receive an additional 3 throws. The top 8 athletes will score points for their teams. The top 6 athletes make the CCS podium (and I think they get medals) and the top 3 athletes will advance to the State Meet.
Based on the standings, 3rd place is a difficult proposition (124-1 is the 3rd seed). That being said, Valeria is ranked to make the CCS podium. For an athlete who has racked up more medals than any other Comet in recent years, it would be a great one to end on. The competition will be fierce. the #4 seed is less than a foot ahead of Valeria. The #7 seed has a PR over 120′.
It is sure to be an exciting day on Friday May 17th, when Valeria Cortez will represent James Lick for what is likely the final time in a marvelous career that has defined what I affectionately think of as our attempt at a James Lick Track renaissance.