For the first time since 2007, James Lick had scoring varsity teams on both the boys and girls sides at CCS Finals.
This year’s CCS finals was held later than usual due to the devastating wildfires that have raged in Northern California over the past few weeks. While San Jose was fortunate enough to be many miles from the fires, the smoke from the fire has caused unhealthy conditions throughout the Bay area, and the team was not allowed to practice due to safety concerns for over a week.
The meet was postponed 3 times and finally moved to Toro Park in Salinas where the air quality was better. The lack of practice hurt the team, as the varsity boys had a very poor performance by their standards. The team of Nien Tran, Erik Olsvold, Jerricho Habon, Mark Orpia and Melvin Estrada made up the team. Despite a disappointing showing at CCS, the boys were able to represent the team well in what was a solid season for the team.
The girls team was able to perform fairly well despite the unusual buildup to CCS. Arlet Miranda ended her HS cross country career with a PR of 20:42, a strong end to a great James Lick career. Arlet ends her career firmly entrenched as James Lick’s 2nd greatest female cross country runner ever.
She ends her career as: The school record holder on two courses: (Golden Gate Park and Half Moon Bay).
The 2nd fastest runner in school history on 6 courses: (Stanford, Mt. Sac, Montgomery Hill, Newhall Park, Crystal Springs and Alum Rock Park BVAL version).
The 3rd fastest runner in school history on 3 courses: (Toro Park and Alum Rock Park MHAL version).
Arlet was not able to approach the times of Kayla Matsuda, but was an absolute rock for our team over the past few years, despite often battling injury issues. Coming off of her first healthy XC season since her sophomore year, Arlet will attack the school record in all 3 distance events in track this season. She currently sits at #2 in all 3 to Daniela Camacho (Kayla Matsuda did not run track).
Yeimili Adame ran 23:04 for her first time on the course. Belen Sanchez, Jessica Cervantes and Ashley Preciado combined to form the 3-4-5 as they have all season. Yesenia Martinez rounded out the team. The Comets placed 11th as a team, beating Mercy-Burlingame and Seaside.
That’s a wrap on the 2018 season!
I will do a season recap this week if I have time.
The James Lick Comets competed in BVAL Finals on Monday October 29th. The race was held, as it always is, at the 2.95 miles long Crystal Springs course. The team went in to the race with several of their key runners missing, but nonetheless managed to qualify two full teams to CCS Finals for the first time 2008. There were other highlights as well, particularly on the JV girls side.
The meet is always exciting as the final meet for most of the team. I love the fact that all 3 divisions race together, which provides extra incentive to show your best form. The top half of teams (top 12 if all 24 teams compete) advance their varsity squads to CCS finals.
The first race of the day was the reserve girls race, and it saw the first PR of the day for the Comets. Araceli Mejia ran a massive PR of 29:05, smashing her previous best of 30:22 set last year. Francine Estranero also competed in the race for the team.
The JV girls race was next, and the JV girls have been a strength for the team all season. The girls headed into the race 7-0, with aspirations of placing highly within the BVAL. With two varsity girls being absent, Mariana Perez, the team’s top JV girl was called up to varsity. Even without her, the JV girls managed to impress. Mya Hammond spearheaded the group with a time of 25:04, a PR by more than one minute. Estefani Herrera was close behind, running 25:16 to lop 40 seconds of of her PR as well. Erika Camacho and Ruth Rodriguez were next in 26:09 and 26:16. Emely Lope was the all important 5th girl in with a PR of 26:41. Jhesselyn Santos ran a big PR of 27:51 to round out the team. The JV girls ended up being the 5th fastest JV girls team in the entire BVAL, beating half of the teams in the ‘A’ division.
The next race up was the frosh/soph boys. Omar Fimbres lead the group wth a time of 19:15, a PR by over 40 seconds. Jay Austria and Jo-Jo Bradley were the 2nd and 3rd boys in. Alberto Trejo ran 22:34, a 43 second PR. Jordan Laguna ran 23:55 to round out the group. The frosh/soph boys placed 13th as a team, a solid end to the season for a team that struggled all season.
Next up was the varsity girls race. The team was without team # 2 Yeimili Adame, and the normal team #6 in Jenny Villagomez. The team was limited without these two, but still managed their highest team placing since 2014. Arlet Miranda lead the team with a 20:25 clocking, her best time on the course since 2014. Belen Sanchez and Jessica Cervantes were the 2nd and 3rd runners in 22:54 and 22:58. Both girls broke the 23 minute barrier for the first time. Ashley Preciado was next in a PR of 23:35. Yesenia Martinez was the 5th girl in 24:58. Mariana Perez finished in 26:26 to round out the team. The team ran a team time of 1:54:20, a time good for 12th place in the BVAL. If the team had Yeimili Adame, and she ran her PR from the center meet of 22:12 (not a stretch since every other girl ran faster than they did at the center meet) the team would have placed 8th. The team advances to CCS for the first time since 2014 and will compete in the division 4 race. The girls hope to rebound with all of their team members at full strength.
The varsity boys race followed. Mark Orpia lead the team in a PR of 17:35. Erik Olsvold was not far behind in 17:54. Jerricho Habon, Melvin Estrada and Jared Resendiz made up a closely packed 3-4-5, running PRs of 18:26, 18:27 and 18:35 respectively. Brandon Cruz ran a PR of 18:53 as the 6th boy, and Nien Tran rounded out the team in 19:16. The varsity boys team managed 10th place on the day, just their 2nd top 10 BVAL finals performance in the past decade. The team will advance to CCS alongside the girls.
The final race on the day was the reserve boys. Geo Campos lead the reserve team in a time of 19:55. Gustavo Madrigal went out on by far the best race of his career, running 20:17 for the course. The 6:53 pace was the 2nd best race pace of his career. Daniel Portillo, Rodolf Ocampo and Hugo Marquez formed the team’s 3-4-5. Adrian DeLaRosa and Alexis Sarellano both achieved PRs, as did Rafael Yanez and Kevin Santacruz. Josue Gomez, Huu Thai, and Vincent Giglio also competed for the team. The reserve boys were the 7th fastest team in the BVAL.
Despite being the 2nd smallest school in the 24 team BVAL, James Lick’s lowest team placing on the day was 13th in the frosh/soph boys race. A strong end to the season in terms of competition.
The team will compete again on Saturday November 10th at CCS Finals, once again at Crystal Springs.
The Comets took to the historic Artichoke Invitational in Half Moon Bay High School on Saturday October 6th. This marked the 32nd time on record that the Comets participated in the Artichoke Invite. These days it is the favorite yearly invite for the majority of the team, and the short course (2.33 miles) yielded some great PRs and fast paces for the team.
The Comets day began with the frosh/soph girls race. Many of the Comet sophomores ran huge PRs, with some managing the best race pace of their XC careers. Mya Hammond was the first girl in with a PR of 19:13. Last year, Mya ran 20:30. The 8:15 mile pace was by far the best of Mya’s cross country career. Mariana Perez and Estefani Herrera would come in together at 19:40 and 19:43, both massive PRs. Mariana ran a PR by over 2 minutes, and Estefani ran a PR by nearly 5 minutes. Both girls ran under 8:30 pace for the first time. Erika Camacho was 4th in 20:19, with Emely Lopez close behind in a PR of 20:22. Francine Estranero ran a time of 21:27, shattering her previous PR of 23:06, and Araceli Mejia ran 22:44, breaking 10 minute pace for the first time in her career.
The frosh/soph boys were next. Omar Fimbres lead the group with a 26 second PR of 14:58. Jonathan Cortez ran 16:07 for his first time on the course. Alberto Trejo ran 17:27, for a race pace of 7:27, the best of his career so far. Josue Gomez and Kevin Santacruz ran 19:33 and 22:12 respectively. Both absolutely shattered their career best mile paces,
The Comets had only a handful of athletes in the JV races. Giulissa Correa ran 20:17 and Adriana Marcelino ran 24:55. This was an especially good race for Adriana who’s official mile PR is 11:02, yet she ran under 11 minute pace for the course. On the boys side, Rodolf Ocampo lead the team in 16:27, a PR by 1:10. Josh Merin ran 17:38, and Rafael Yanez ran 20:57. It was the best mile pace of both boys careers to this point.
The varsity races followed. The varsity girls team was spearheaded by Arlet Miranda. Arlet set the school record on the course in 2016 by running 15:37. She ran exactly the same time at the 2018 edition, running 15:37 for 8th place, the highest pacing Comet on the day. Ashley Preciado ran a huge PR 17:38, a PR by over 2 minutes which put her 12th on the school’s all time list for the course. Belen Sanchez ran a 10 second PR of 18:01. Jessica Cervantes made her debut on the course running 18:15 and Jenny Villagomez was the 5th girl in with a PR of 19:07. Yesenia Martinez ran 20:28 for her first time on the course.
The girls team combined for a team time of 88:38, the 2nd best team time in school history only to the team of 2014. Many teams were away at the Crystal Springs invite, but the girls team managed to place 4th as a team in the varsity race.
The varsity boys were lead by Mark Orpia in 13:40. A pack of Comets finished in the 14 minute range. Jerricho Habon ran 14:15 ( A PR by 2 minutes) and Jared Resendiz ran 14:19 for his first time on the course. Melvin Estrada and Brandon Cruz ran 14:38 and 14:40, both PRs, Brandon’s by over 2 minutes. Nien Tran rounded out the team’s day with a PR of 14:49.
It was a great day for the Comets who competed at the Artichoke Invitational. The team will turn their attention back to Montgomery Hill where they will face Sobrato and Oakgrove on October 11th in ST division race #3.
The James Lick Comets had their 2nd league meet of the 2018 season on Thursday September 27th. The team was facing off against the Branham Bruins. The Bruins were a difficult opponent as they appear to the be the class of the ‘B’ division through the first month of the season. Although both varsity squads fell to the Bruins, the Comets had a huge number of athletes run PRs, achieving one of the highest PR totals for a single meet on record in school history.
The meet began with the frosh/soph boys. The Branham team is by far the best squad in the division, so the frosh/soph boys fell to 0-3. The Comet boys ran much better than they did last week however. Omar Fimbres placed 4th overall in 18:32 a PR by over 2 minutes. Jo-Jo Bradley ran 19:50, missing his PR. Jonathan Cortez and Jay Austria ran 20:15 and 20:58 respectively, both were PRs by over a minute. Alberto Trejo was the 5th boy in 23:51, a PR by over 40 seconds.
The Varsity girls were the next race up. It was a big matchup, with both teams at 2-0 and the Bruins one again defeated the Comets, though not without a big fight. Every member of the squad who had run Montgomery Hill before ran a big PR, and produced a thrilling race overall. Arlet Miranda took it out fast from the gun, leading the race through the first mile. Last week, she finished 3rd behind Emily Harris of Sobrato and Skyler Miller of Branham. Both girls are seniors like Arlet, so she has been running against them for 4 years, with Emily and Skyler trading race wins the majority of those years. Arlet took 2nd behind Emily today, and beat Skyler for the first time in her entire career in a league meet. This was a really clutch performance on behalf of Arlet, and it resulted in a PR of 19:10. This was a PR two years in the making (Arlet’s previous best was 19:13 as a sophomore) and was 46 seconds better than last week.
Yeimili Adame was the next Comet in, finishing in 10th place at 21:14. This was a PR by nearly a minute for Yeimili, as well as the first top 10 finish of her career. Belen Sanchez ran a PR of 22:18, beating her previous best of 23:30 by over a minute. Ashley Preciado and Jessica Cervantes ran 22:57 and 22:59, both girls had never run under 23 minutes at Montgomery Hill before. Jenny Villagomez ran a 12 second PR of 23:31 and Yesenia Martinez completed the course for the first time, running 25:15. The team ran a combined team time of 1:48:18, the 2nd best team in school history only to the team of 2014. The team has two more cracks at the record (1:45:57) this season.
The Varsity Boys had a very good race as well, going 7 for 7 on PRs, despite another loss to Branham. Mark Orpia lead the group again in 17:09, 15 seconds faster than last week. He was the only Comet to break the 18 minute barrier last week, while 5 boys accomplished the feet this week. Jerriho Habon and Melvin Estrada came in together at 17:30 and 17:31 (Previous PRs of 18:19 and 18:03 respectively). Brandon Cruz stoped the clock in 17:44, a PR by 52 seconds. Jared Resendiz finished in 17:59, shattering his PR of 19:03. Nien Tran managed a 40 second PR of 18:11 as the 6th boy and Geo Campos ran 19:10 to PR by 13 seconds.
The reserve boys were next, and they would match the 7 PRs of the varsity boys. Daniel Portillo lead the group in 19:29, a PR by 21 seconds. Gustavo Madrigal ran a PR of 20:21, shaving 36 seconds off of his previous best. Rodolf Ocampo did the same, running 21:35. Hu Thai ran a massive PR in just his 2nd race for the team. Hu finished in 24:19, a PR by 3 and a half minutes, yet he would not even lay claim to the biggest Comet improvement of the day. Josue Gomez finished in 25:34 after running over 31 minutes last week. Alexis Sarellano made his debut for the team in 25:41, not far behind. Rafael Yanez ran 27:12, after failing to break 30 minutes a week ago, and Kevin Santacruz rounded out the team by running 29:23. Kevin’s time from a week ago was 34:56.
The PRs continued with the final race of the day, the JV/varsity girls. Last week, Jessica won the race in 23:30 without another girl from any team running under 25 minutes. That earned her a spot on varsity this week. With Jessica moving up, Ruth Rodriguez won the race in a huge PR of 24:20, last week she ran over 26 minutes. Giulissa Correa and Estefani Herrera came in together at 25:35 and 25:39 respectively. Neither girl had run under 27 minutes before. Erika Camacho had an off race finishing in 26:20. Emely Lopez was the 5th girl in for the team in a 1 minute PR of 26:29. Francine Estranero ad Jhesselyn Santos both ran strong PRs of 28:18 and 28:28 respectively. Jhesselyn had not run under 30 minutes for Montgomery Hill before. Araceli Mejia finished in 31:11, missing her PR by mere seconds to end the Comets day. The JV girls came away with the win, moving to 3-0.
The day yielded more PRs than the Comets have ever achieved at the 2nd league meet of the season since I’ve been coaching. Things look very god for the team going forward, if they can continue to improve at such a high rate.
The varsity team will compete at the Stanford Invitational on Saturday September 29th before the entire team will head up to Crystal Springs for the Aragon hosted Center Meet on Wednesday October 3rd.
After a one year hiatus due to extreme weather conditions, the James Lick alumni race was back with a vengeance for the 2018 edition. The race is always a great experience for our current runners. It serves as both a test of their fitness before official races begin, and a chance to meet some of the great runners of James Lick’s history.
This year’s event had a great cast of characters from Glenn Reeves and Luis Garza classes of 1969 and 1977 respectively, to Randy Pangelina and Gilbert Zaragosa, both members of the greatest ever James Lick teams (the teams of the early 80s). Also in attendance were Don Mora, Jeremy Peterson, and the seemingly always in great shape Joe Amendt, members of the late 80s Comets crowd. Of course, there were also members of James Lick’s latest success’ present, such as Paloma Contreras and Azael Zamora.
The race over the historic 2.25 mile course was new to much of the team since we weren’t able to contest it last year. Many of the returners managed huge PRs from their last try at the course two years ago.
I managed to just hold on for the win in 13:49 with Erik Olsvold the first Comet across in 13:50. This is an encouraging start for Erik who spent all of last cross country season dealing with injury. Jerricho Habon was the 2nd Comet in at 14:06. Jerricho has come a long way since freshmen year when he ran 16:25. Joe Amendt was right behind Jerricho as the 4th place finisher and 2nd alumni in at 14:10.
Melvin Estrada and Brandon Cruz came in at 14:34 and 14:42 respectively. Melvin’s previous best was 17:29. Jared Resendiz added was the 5th boy in at 14:52, a strong quintet for a team missing Mark Orpia, the team’s top runner from the time trial two weeks ago. Geo Campos and Nien Tran came in close together at 15:11 and 15:15. This was over a 2 minute PR for Nien, and a very impressive time for Geo who continues to show great potential in his first ever cross country season.
Daniel Portillo was next in 16:10, more than a 2 minute PR. Gustavo Madrigal and Arlet Miranda came in close together in 16:35 and 16:40, with sophomore Jonathan Bradley close behind in 16:44. It was a close race as Alberto Trejo (17:57) alumni Paloma Contreras (17:58) Rodolf Ocampo (17:59) and alumni Don Mora (18:01) streamed in close together. Josh Merin ran 18:18 and alumni Daisy Nava came in at 18:34, beating her high school PR by over 20 seconds despite not running all out since she practiced with her team at UC Merced in the morning.
Belen Sanchez and Yeimili Adame came in together at 18:56 as the 2nd and 3rd lady Comets. Ashley Preciado and Yesenia Martinez came in at 19:27 and 19:42. In my 6 years of coaching, this was the fastest girls team at the alumni race. For only the 2nd time, 5 girls ran under 20 minutes, and for the first time, 3 ran under 19. Erika Camacho just missed breaking 20, running 20:06.
Alumni Austin Swank, Jeramy Peterson and Andy Giang came in next in 20:21, 20:22 and 20:35 respectively. Mariana Perez, Ruth Perez and Emely Lopez ran 21:11, 21:26 and 21:49 to show some strong JV girl potential. Alumni Luis Garza finished in 22:11.
Jhesselyn Santos finished in 22:38. Alumni Phuc Pham finished in 22:39 and a number of Comets just managed to crack 23 minutes behind him. Jessica Cervantes, Giulissa Correa and Francine Estranero came in at 22:50, 22:55 and 22:58. Eddie Tinajero was alumni on the men’s side in 23:15. Angelina Guevara and Mia Hammond came in together at 23:20. Jesse Chircop ended the alumni men’s day with a time of 23:21, and Rafael Yanez ended the boys day with a time of 23:24.
Kirsten Yutuc came across in 23:35. Alumni Aliana Santos and Susie Peterson finished in 24:37 and 25:39 respectively. Adriana Marcelino ended the Comets day with a time of 27:45.
It was a fun day for the team, and there is a lot to look forward to as races begin soon.
The team will take roughly 20 athletes to the Lowell Invitational in Golden Gate Park on Saturday September 8th. They will then head to the Early Bird Invitational in Toro Park Salinas the following Saturday. Our first league meet is not until the 20th.
Thank you to all the alumni who came to our event!
The 2018-2019 school year has begun and with it, the team completed their annual North Rim trail time trial. This has been a team tradition since 2009, with the team starting at the Alum Rock Park entrance, running the north rim trail and finishing at the entrance once again. The course is 3.03 miles, and it is a great indicator of where the team stands, because every course the team will race on should yield a faster time.
With this being the 10th year of our “North Rim Time Trial” to start the school year, we have a solid amount of data to make projections with. We run the course again, later in the season to track progress. Our main goal is for each athlete to start the season faster than they started the previous year, putting them on track for PRs (personal records) as the season goes on.
Mark Orpia was the fastest Comet on the day, running 20:10. This is the first time since 2014 that no Comet ran under 20 minutes for the course at the beginning time trial. Despite this fact, there is a lot of reason for optimism. Last season, Mark began the season by running 22:06, nearly 2 minutes slower than his time this year. He was followed by Jerricho Habon in 20:25. Jerricho put a hard summer of work in, and the results show. Jerricho’s PR was 21:38, a mark he demolished despite it being the infancy of the season.
Erik Olsvold in 20:35 and Brandon Cruz in 20:59 rounded out the team’s top 4. While last year, Azael Zamora spearheaded the team by running 17:54 at this time trial, only one other boy (Inteus Lopez) ran under 21 minutes for the trial, compared to 4 this season. Inteus would go on to run 16:37 at Montgomery Hill and 17:30 at Crystal Springs, both high quality ‘B’ division times. If the team’s top 4 from today run anywhere near that, the team will be a force to be reckoned with.
The next boy in was Jared Resendiz in a 4 minute PR of 21:54. Geovanny Campos and Melvin Estrada were next in 22:15 and 22:27. While it was a bad day for Melvin, it was a very strong showing for Geo, one of the team’s top sprinters in track, who only joined cross country in late July. Daniel Portillo and Nien Tran were the next boys in 22:32 and 22:34, with Arlet Miranda finishing as the first girl just ahead of them. Nien and Daniel are both well ahead of last season, where both boys ran over 23 minutes for the course. Arlet’s time of 22:32 is the best girls time to start the season of any Comet girl for the North Rim Course. The Previous best was 23:06 by Arlet last season. In her senior year, Arlet looks ready to lead the girls team to big accomplishments.
Gustavo Madrigal and Omar Fimbres came in together at 23:43 and 23:45 respectively, adding depth to the team. Jonathan Cortez came in at 24:41, not far ahead of the #2 girl on the team, Yeimili Adame who ran a 1 minute PR of 24:57. Alberto Trejo, Rodolf Ocampo and Adrian DeLaRosa finished in the 27 minute range, just ahead of a pack of lady Comets.
Ashley Preciado (28:10) Belen Sanchez (28:13) Yesenia Martinez (28:16) and Erika Camacho (28:26) ran the time trial as a pack. Last season, the girls team managed to run the 6th fastest James Lick team time ever at Crystal Springs, on their way to a middle of the pack finish at BVAL Finals (16th out of the 24 teams). That years team saw Arlet run 23:06 at the time trial, followed by Belen in 33:41 and Ashley in 34:12 as the 2nd and 4th girls respectively. With all that the team of 2017 was able to manage, it’s clear that the team of 2018 has very high hopes indeed.
Jenny Villagomez was next in 30:18, with top freshmen Ruth Rodriguez not far behind in 30:27. a solid time to start the season. Mya Hammond and Emely Lopez both finished at 32:57, and Estefani Herrera ran 34:18. This trio has improved leaps and bounds since a year ago. To start last season, Emely ran 39:05, Mya ran 41:04 and Estefani ran 44:06.
Kirsten Yutuc ran 34:37 for a 3 minute PR, and Giulissa Correa came in at 35:14 as the next girl across. Josh Merin ran 31:21 for his first time on the course. Angel, Sebastian and Idan, 3 newcomers from the soccer team ran 32:10, 34:27 and 35:18 for their very first practice to round out the boys day.
Krystal Tran, Ellie Castro and Francine Estranero came in together at 37:50. Jessalyn Santos, sister of top thrower Mariah Santos, came across in 38:16 for her first time on the course. Fellow freshmen Mia Hammond and Angelina Guevara came through in 39:42. Adriana Marcelino and Araceli Mejia also cracked the 40 minute barrier, running 39:46 and 39:50 respectively. Morayma ended the Comets day by clocking 51:59 for the course.
When all was said and done, 43 Comets contested the time trial, a new high for the team to start the season. Many showed dramatic improvement, and the team can be very optimistic about what is to come.
The team will not race again until the Alumni Race on Friday August 31st. It will be in Alum Rock Park at 6 P.M. All former Comets are invited to come, whether they want to race or not.
This is a long post where I essentially try to divide up James Lick’s XC history into eras. If you’re into that sort of thing, read on at your own peril.
It is never easy to compare across eras in sports. Many American sports have radically changed over time. Pitchers used to pitch 16 inning complete games, football teams hardly employed the passing game, Steph Curry could not have dominated in the days before the 3-point line.
One of the beauties of Cross Country and track is the relative lack of change over the years. Dirt and cinder tracks have evolved into rubber/synthetic tracks. Shoes have gotten better. Beliefs around training have changed and participation in the sport has only grown. Some events and courses have changed, but there is a lot of history around the Bay Area when it comes to Cross Country.
The ultimate example is the Crystal Springs 2.95 miles long cross country course. James Lick first raced there in 1973, and then every year since 1975 for a grand total of 44 years of history. This is enhanced by the fact that Crystal Springs has always hosted significant races. It is the site of BVAL Finals every year nowadays, and it has been the host site of CCS Finals more years than any other course (and it will be host again this year).
Remarkably, James Lick is approaching it’s 70th year of existence, the school has plenty of years to compare. This will be my attempt to compare James Lick’s various eras of XC. It is of course subjective, and damaged the difficulty finding complete information on James Lick’s older teams.
The Early Years/ NCS Era Years: 1950-1965 League Championships: 3 Highest Section Finish: 4th- 1956 Team Section qualifications: 3 (16 possible)
James Lick was founded in 1950, the school predates the CCS. It was the first public school in East Side San Jose, and the first member of the East Side Union High School District. San Jose was a different city at by many measures. Today, San Jose ranks as the 10th biggest city in the country by population, with over 1 million residents. I can’t find data from 1950, but by 1960, San Jose was only the 57th biggest city in the country, with 200,000 people.
James Lick had a bigger school enrollment in the early years, seeing as it was the only school on the Eastside, there was no other school to compete with for students. Despite James Lick being a new school, it found success in cross country quickly.
James Lick was initially placed in the SCVAL (Santa Clara Valley Athletic League) and by 1954 they were the league championships on the 1.95 miles long, Stanford Golf Course. The Comets defeated runner up Santa Clara by almost 5 minutes. Keith Antes is listed as the winner of the race. Before the CCS was formed, Antes would become James Lick’s cross country coach.
The team managed to repeat as champs in 1955 and 1956, one of two different “three-peats” in James Lick’s cross country history. The fastest Comet in 1955 at SCVAL finals was Carlos Saldivar, who would go on to coach with Keith Antes for many years and then head the team himself when Antes retired.
After their 3-league championships, James Lick experienced a down-period where they did not qualify for NCS (North Coast Section) finals for several years. The end of their time in the NCS was fairly unremarkable. The 50s and early 60s saw the foundation of several other East Side Schools, including Overfelt, Mt. Pleasant, and Andrew Hill.
The Mt. Hamilton League and the CCS (Central Coast Section) were formed within a few years of one another, and by the time they were formed, the Comets had 3 titles to their name.
The level of competition in the bay area would see a big spike in the 60s and 70s.
2. The Early CCS Era Years: 1965-1976 League Championships: 0 Highest Section Finish: 1 (1 championship) Team Section qualification: 4 Var 3FS (12 possible)
The MHAL formed in the mid 1960s and became competitive very quickly. James Lick was consistently competitive from the get go. The Comets were first represented at CCS finals by Mick Coyle in 1966. He ran on a shorter version of the current Crystal Springs course. By 1970 the Comets had their first team qualify for CCS.
In the mid 1960s, the MHAL began using Alum Rock Park as it’s primary course. The 2.25 mile course was only slightly different than the course we use for our alumni race.
1970 was significant for a few reasons. It marked the first time that the CCS added divisions to CCS finals. They created a small schools division and a large schools division. The James Lick team of 1970 won the small schools division, claiming the only CCS championship in school history in any sport. Jim Sena claimed the individual CCS title in 12:39 for a 2.5 mile course (at least that’s what it’s listed at) in Golden Gate Park. Teammate Luis Sanchez was 2nd in 12:49.
Everything lined up for the team of 1970. A year later, the team failed to qualify for CCS. The teams of the early 80s ran more impressive times, but the team of 1970 achieved what no other James Lick team ever has.
In the mid 70s, James Lick began making regular trips to Crystal Springs for Center meets, invitationals, and eventually CCS. While James Lick was a bigger school in the 70s, the Crystal Springs course is exactly the same as it was then, making comparisons easy. The team of 1973 team ran a combined team time of 82:25, which still stands as the 3rd best Crystal Springs time in school history. Both the team of 1973 and the team of 1970 ran 61 minutes as a team at MHAL finals for an impressive average of 12:12 per runner at Alum Rock Park. This makes it a tough call to name the best James Lick team to this point.
In 1975 at CCS finals, Joe Salazar ran 15:21 at Crystal Springs, a time which no Comet has beaten to this day. To this point, we’ve only discussed boys teams because girls competition did not start until the mid 1970s.
3. The Golden Era Years: 1976-1989 League Championships: 7
Highest CCS Finish: 4 1981 CCS Team Qualifications: 6
In 1978 James Lick won it’s 4th league title, and the first one in the MHAL. By this time, the Comets also had girls competing. The greatest teams in James Lick history are the teams of 1980 and 1981 in my opinion. The Comet boys won the MHAL in both seasons, and the girls won the MHAL title in 1981 as well. This is the only time that both the boys and girls teams have been champions in the same year. The 3 titles in a 2 year span is also a James Lick best.
The girls team ran a record of 1:46:41, at Crystal Springs. This is still the only James Lick girls team to combine to finish the course under 1 hour and 50 minutes (something we’re trying to change this year). The boys team of 1981 also ran what stands as our school team record time. Headed by Frank Munoz and Randy Pangelina, the team clocked in at 80:46, an average of 16:09 per boy. In some years this is good enough to win CCS, bad luck and tough competition stopped the Comets from claiming that prize. The teams of 80 and 81 also won the Artichoke Invitational two years in a row.
While the girls achieved great success early in the decade, they would struggle to consistently field competitive teams, an issue that would continue well into the 2000s.
The success I’ve already described is a enough to explain why I call this the golden era of James Lick Cross Country. The fact that the Comets would achieve their 2nd ever “three-peat” from 1985-1987 further proves the case. James Lick has achieved 15 league/league-division championships in it’s long history. Nearly half come from this 14 year span.
As I’ve said, Crystal Springs is the course with the most complete history (44 years) for the Comets. The team of 1981 was the fastest Comet team ever on the course. The team of 1977 was 2nd, the team of 1987 was 4th, the team of 86 was 5th. In fact over the last 44 years, 8 of the fastest 10 James Lick teams at Crystal Springs ran in this golden era of James Lick cross country.
4. Transition Era/ Early BVAL Era Years: 1990-2001 League/ Division Championships: 2
CCS Team Qualifications: 11 Highest CCS Finish: 5th – 1992
This era marks the transition into the BVAL era, where the MHAL becomes a division of the larger BVAL. There were several changes during this time period. The CCS arrived at its modern format, a 5 division final with only varsity races. Qualification became easier as a result. At this point, James Lick’s academic reputation had fallen considerably, and its athletics suffered from a general decline of enrollment. The 3 division format of the BVAL ( that we still use today). Montgomery Hill and Toro Park were introduced as major courses, and finally, Coach Saldivar would retire shortly after this era ended.
While James Lick was in decline during this period by many measures, it still achieved considerable XC success. With the changes to CCS qualifications (with League finals taking the place of the CCS regional meets) the Comet boys made CCS as a team every single year from 1992 to 2001. In 1993, the lady Comets qualified for CCS as a team for the first time and they did so again in 2001.
The team captured two division titles, one in 1996 and another in 1999. Both times the Comets won the ST division (‘B’) division title. An impressive feet considering most James Lick sports had been relegated to the ‘C’ division by this time. The team also had 5 of their 7 State Meet qualifiers during this period. This is largely because of the fact that the State meet wasn’t held until 1987, when Joe Amendt became the team’s first ever qualifier.
5. BVAL/Modern Era Years: 2002- Present League/Division Championships: 3
CCS Team Qualifications: 13 Highest CCS Finish: 6th- 2014
Finally we arrive at the modern era. The beginning of this era saw James Lick finish it’s decline. In 2003, though the school was struggling, the varsity boys were the 3rd best team in the entire BVAL. By 2007, the team time at Crystal Springs was 97:40. This is the slowest varsity boys team time on record for any James Lick team that ran at Crystal Springs. While the girls team was pretty strong, mainly because of the presence of Kayla Matsuda, they were not strong enough to win the WV division (‘C’ division). This was the low point in James Lick’s XC trajectory.
In 2009, the team rebounded to win the WV division on the boys side, the 12th title in school history. In 2014, the team won just their 2nd ever girls championship, and in 2016, the boys won the ST division, just the 1st ‘B’ division title for the school in any sport since 2004.
In years to come, I may create a new dividing line around these past few years, because of a new notable changes. First and foremost, this is the greatest era of success the James Lick girls have ever achieved. While the #1 girls team time in school history is still the team of 1981, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th are the past 5 seasons. The 2014 team placed 6th at CCS, the highest finish for a Comet girls team at CCS in school history.
This era could easily be called the Montgomery Hill era, as Montgomery Hill became the primary race course of the BVAL in 2001. We still had races at Alum Rock Park over the 2.85 mile course most seasons, but as of 2018, sadly there will be no more races at Alum Rock Park.
We will continue to run the alumni race on the old 2.25 mile course, but unfortunately, there might never be an official race in Alum Rock Park again. This might make 2018 and on the “post Alum Rock Park era.” Time will tell if there’s enough to distinguish it from past years.
It’s difficult to know what we as a school could do now if we didn’t have to fight so many schools for student enrollment. It’s tough to say what runners of the past might have done with modern technology. In any case, James Lick cross country has achieved some level of success in every era, and the Comets of today are dedicated to making sure that continues.
A season preview and/or Time trial recap will come soon. The first day of school is only 9 days away!
When Charli Chircop hurled the discus 100-10 at CCS Finals, she signaled the end of not only her career, but of the 2018 track season (as far as James Lick is concerned). The 2018 season ending was very significant for me personally. It signified the end of my 5th year coaching, and also the end of my first year as a teacher. This blog will be a reflection on my first 5 years as a coach, and the growth of the cross country and track programs over the past 5 seasons.
The team has improved a lot over the past 5 seasons, that is especially demonstrated in track. If this years team faced the team of 2014 in a dual meet, assuming everyone matched their seasons bests, this would be the result:
Boys 2018: 116 Girls 2018: 102
Boys 2014: 19 Girls 2014: 25
I began coaching in fall of 2013. Alex Ponik, one of my coaches at James Lick, was stepping down as head coach. He offered me a position as an assistant coach, a job I was happy to accept. The day before school began for James Lick however, I was informed that our intended head coach would be unable to coach after all. As a result, I was forced to take the helm along with John Quasarano at the last moment.
That first year was tough. As a 20-year old, I lacked confidence in my own authority as a coach. Our top runner and team captain was Armando Aguilar. Armando and I were teammates just a few years before when I myself was team captain. We were also a very inexperienced team on the boys side. 5 of our 7 varsity boys had never run cross country before 2013. Only Armando had been a member of the varsity team before. This combined with our placement in the ‘B’ division, saw us finish with a 1-6 record on the varsity boys side. Honestly, we were lucky to even win 1 meet.
The huge bright side of that season was the varsity girls team. We pulled off a 4-3 season, the first winning season for the Lady Comet since 2009. Of the 24 BVAL teams, we finished in 15th place on the girls side at BVAL Finals. Our Combined team time was 117:28 (or 1:57:28). It was the first time the team had run under 2 hours at Crystal Springs in several years, giving us good hope for the future.
The boys however finished 20th. Our team was 97:09 (1:37:09). This was partly due to the fact that Armando was unable to finish the race, but in any case, a 20th place finish was not where we wanted to be. Seeing our BVAL places, and our inexperienced coaching staff, the BVAL moved us down to the ‘C’ division for the 2014 season.
That was my lowest moment as a coach so far, largely because I believed that we did not belong in the ‘C’ division. We were a young coaching staff and a young team, but I was very confident we could turn things around.
Track was a different season. I joined the track coaching staff along with Ricardo Flores, Juan Trejo and Ray Iniguez. At the time, James Lick track had not won a single dual meet in over 5 years. The Comets had not had a winning season since 2000, and the girls had not had one on record in school history (definitely not since 1996 when the BVAL began keeping records).
The setup that first year saw me in charge of the girls track team, while the other 3 coaches handled the boys team. We managed to eek out our first wins in years, which gave us cause to dream bigger for the future.
On a personal level, 2014 was my most important year as a coach. My goal has always been to help my athletes improve by as much as possible, and hope that wins and success will follow from great improvement. 2014 was when I first gained confidence in my ability to foster improvement in my athletes, thanks to the hard work of a few key athletes.
Daniela Camacho had run 5:49 for the 1600 as a freshmen, though she slowed down to 6:02 as a sophomore, (not an uncommon phenomenon among girl distance runners). That year as a junior, we managed to reverse that trend and Daniela ended the season at 5:43 for the 1600. She lowered her PR to 5:27 the next season, a mark which currently stands as our school record (though Arlet Miranda ran 5:31 this season so here’s hoping she will beat it next year).
Destiny Lopez was maybe the most important athlete towards helping me believe in my own training methods. Destiny had run track since freshmen year, and her PRs were 6:51 in the 1600 and 15:47 in the 3200. 2014 was her senior year, my only year coaching her. It was a trough process, but at division finals, she ran massive PRs, 6:31 for the 1600 and 14:11 for the 3200.
Our track team had 23 athletes in 2014 and we had our first wins in years. Most important to me personally, I felt that just like the James Lick teams of old, we could work hard and improve substantially in pursuit of bigger victories. Our goal for XC 2014 was simple, prove that it was a mistake to send us down to the ‘C’ division.
Our girls thrived in that goal. The team went 7-0 and won the division handily. At BVAL Finals, after placing 15th in 1:57:28 the year before, we finished in 8th place in 1:50:00. The 1:50:00 mark is the 2nd best team time in school history. The team of 1981 is the only team to have run faster, incidentally the only other girls championship team in school history. The boys team improved significantly as well, moving up from 20th place to 15th place, and running 6 minutes faster as a team.
The 2014 team will always be special to me because it was my first division championship as a coach. The more rapid improvement was in track and field. In 2015, we had our first winning season in over a decade. By 2016, a girls division title. In 2017 a 2nd girls title, followed by our move up the ‘B’ division. The success in track and field is in no small part thanks to the excellent coaches I’ve had the chance to work with. From Coach Vela who was by my side in track from the beginning, to coach Nichols, and Turner, and recently coach Raul Lopez. Every coach we’ve had in track has played a pivotal role in improving the team.
The most impressive team of my coaching career however was the 2016 XC team, my only boys title to date, and my only ‘B’ division championship team so far.
That team showed what the culmination of years of hard work could lead to. Team captain Nathan Bernardo did an exceptional job leading that team. Truth to be told, I had to miss many practices throughout the season but Nathan never let the team waver. He lead practice when I could not. All of the teams hard work paid off with the boys going 7-0 and placing 2nd at BVAL finals, only losing to the ‘A’ division champions Willow Glen.
Our team time of 1:25:19 was a respectable mark for James Lick in any era. While it is nowhere near the school record of 1:20:46, it was the 12th best team time in school history, and the best ever JL time at BVAL Finals.
After 5 years, I feel pretty good about where the program is at. We are solidly in the ‘B’ division in both cross country and track, and we have a very young team on both sides. Long term, coach Raul Lopez and myself will be looking to help take the program to the next level, eventually being a member of the ‘A’ division.
I’m proud that we’ve been able to outperform many schools that are larger than us, and better funded. We are currently the 2nd smallest school in the BVAL with a tick over 1100 students. The schools that are still consistently better than us have a few things in common. Some are outside of our control, such as larger enrollment and greater funds to draw from.
The most difficult discrepancy to overcome for us in my opinion is the lack of experience many of our athletes have. Our primary feeder schools are Joseph George and Shepard Middle School . Neither school had a track team this year. They often do not have cross country and when they do, it is not a substantial program. Willow Glen is consistently the best cross country team in the BVAL. This is in large part due to the amazing work of Coach Victor Santamaria, but every year, Willow Glen Middle School churns out multiple boys in the low 5 minute range in the 1600 and sometimes even some sub 5 minute boys.
The same is true of many of the schools we struggle to beat. Many of the top athletes in the area have been training for a long time. Our athletes have a lot of catching up to do. Azael Zamora just graduated with HS personal bests of 4:33 in the 1600 and 9:55 in the 3200. He did not join cross country until his sophomore year, and to that point he had never broken 6 minutes for the mile.
Long term, we are aiming to help ensure that some of our alumni will take on coaching positions at some our local middle schools to help athletics not just at James Lick, but throughout the east side as a whole.
I also hope to have more alumni join my coaching staff. Coach turnover has been an issue for us, and having a more consistent solidified coaching staff will help us improve.
We are not at the same level of James Lick’s greatest teams, but restoring the greatness of James Lick in XC and track has been my goal since I started coaching. We are not nearly there, but we are a lot closer than we were 5 years ago. I want to thank every Comet that has been apart of it, and everyone who actually reads my rambling with interest/support.
Best marks/times under me can all be found under the history section of the blog ^
The 2018 XC team will begin conditioning on June 18th at 9:30 A.M.
5 Comets competed at CCS Trials on Saturday May 19th at Gilroy High School. CCS Trials sees the 32 best athletes from the CCS, competing for spots at CCS Finals. Only 8 athletes advance to finals in lane events, and 12 advance to finals in field events.
For the 2nd year in a row, Charli Chircop advanced to CCS Finals in the girls discus. Her best throw was 107-6, which earned her entrance into CCS Finals as the 12th and final qualifier in the event. Valeria Cortez competed in the girls discus as well, placing 19th with a throw of 103-2.
In the girls Shot Put, Alejandra Ceron placed 20th with a throw of 33-3. With that final competition completed, Alejandra’s career at James Lick is over. She leaves the school with much to be proud of, namely the school record in the Shot Put, a mark of 35-8.75.
Natalie Rem placed 25th in the girls triple jump with a best of 32-10. Natalie was the 3rd best freshmen girl at CCS Trials and in fact, of the 24 girls to beat her, 12 were seniors. Natalie is poised to do big things for the Comets for years to come.
The career of Cody Huoch ended with a 20th place finish at CCS in the 300 hurdles. Cody ran 42.84. Cody had an exceptional career for James Lick especially considering he did not join track until his junior year. Cody ends his career as the #3 300 hurdler in school history and the only one on record to compete at CCS.
Alejandra will be competing for De Anza college in track and field next season while Cody will compete at San Jose City College.
Charli gets one final competition at CCS Finals on May 25th.
The Comets competed at BVAl Finals at Westmont High School on Thursday May 10th. The BVAL Finals is the BVALs CCS qualifying meet. The top 7 athletes of the MH (A’) division, top 5 from the ST (‘B’) division and top 4 from the WV (‘C’) division meet to compete for spots at CCS Trials. Athletes who achieve the BVAL Automatic qualifying mark also advance from division finals, but for the most part, 16 athletes compete in each event. The top 8 athletes at BVAL Finals advance to CCS Trials.
The very first event contested was the varsity boys pole vault. Mark Orpia and Rodolf Ocampo placed 12th and 13th, not bad for their first year Pole Vaulting. Mark managed a PR of 9-0, while Rodolf matched his PR of 8-6. This was a good end to the season for the Comet pole vaulters, the first in several decades for James Lick.
Several other field events kicked off soon after. Alejandra Ceron booked her ticket to CCS trials for the 2nd year in row in the girls Shot Put. Her throw of 33-2.5 took 7th place in a very competitive field. Valeria Cortez just missed out on making CCS in the event, taking 10th in 32-5.5. Charli Chircop threw 30-11.5 for the final Shot Put competition of her career.
Lyndel Ventura competed in girls long jump for the final time. Her best jump was 15-7.5, the 2nd best jump of her career, a solid final competition for Lyndel. In the girls triple jump, Natalie Rem placed 9th with the 2nd best jump of her career, 33-0.5. A post meet scratch moved Natlie into the 8th place spot, meaning that she will compete at CCS trials as a freshmen, the first Comet to do so since Valeria in discus as a freshmen.
In the boys Shot Put, Josh Garcia ended his career with a toss of 40-6.5. The Girls discus was the best event for the Comets on the day. Charli threw 116-3.5 the 2nd best throw of her career for 2nd place overall, the highest placing at BVAL Finals by any Comet this decade. Valeria took 3rd with a throw of 109-1. Alejandra threw 100-3 for 9th place.
In the girls 4×100, the Comets ran their 2nd best time of the season, clocking 54.04 despite a very poor final handoff. Valeria, Kirsten Yutuc, Yeimili Adame and Natalie Rem accomplished the mark. On the boys side, the team improced upon their “best mark of the decade” status. Cody Huoch, Jose Limon, Geovanny Campos and Raven Alcantara combined to run 45.50. The team placed 11th, and with 3/4ths of the team returning, the Comets have their minds set on trying to make CCS next year.
Arlet Miranda competed in the girls 1600, running 5:46. Arlet has always battled injury issues, and despite barely running over the past few weeks, she competed well.
The one running events with two athletes competing was the girls 100 hurdles. Valeria ran 17.22 and Yesenia Martinez ran 18.53. It was the 2nd best time of the season for both ladies. Valeria narrowly missed making CCS, placing 9th, only .05 off of 7th place.
Kirsten competed in the 300 hurdles, running the 2nd best time of her career, 52.30. Cody became the Comets 5th CCS qualifier on the day, running 42.62, a small PR in the boys version of the event. Azael Zamora competed for the Comets in the 3200. Like many other Comets, he ran the 2nd best time of his career, 9:59.49, he missed out on making CCS by less than 1 second.
The final event on the day was the 4×400. The girls team of Yesenia, Kirsten, Yeimili and Arlet competed hard, but did not run particularly fast. The boys team managed to break the 3:40 barrier for the first time in over a decade. Salvador Lopez, Erik Olsvold, Cody Huoch and Misael Herrera combined to run 3:39.
5 Athletes are left competing for the Comets.
Charli and Valeria in Girls Discus, Alejandra in Girls Shot Put, Natalie in Girls Triple Jump, and Cody in the boys 300 hurdles. These 5 will compete at CCS Trials on Saturday May 19th at Gilroy High School.
The Ryan/Oyama Awards will be held on Tuesday May 15th in the school gym. A number of XC/Track athletes should be honored. Also, brand new banners representing James Lick’s most recent championships will be unveiled. (This includes boys cross country 2016, and girls track 2016 and 2017.)