We often don’t fully appreciate the bliss and relief from everyday life that sports can bring. They can provide a distraction from our problems during hard times, a way for young people to learn life lessons and skills, and a positive outlet. The past 6 years of coaching track have been exceptionally fun for me as well as my athletes. I’ve enjoyed every bit of the challenge of trying to help the athletes of James Lick compete against larger and more affluent schools. Several former Comets are competing athletically in college right now, and we have several seniors on the team looking to reach the next level as well. As of right now, our entire season is up in the air.
Given the current state of the country following the outbreak of Covid-19 Santa Clara County has given the order to suspend all school related activities till April 13th at the earliest. There is a very real chance that our track season may be over just as it was beginning. Obviously the public health is far more important than any athletic event, but our entire team is hoping the situation will be under control a month ago, and that we can hopefully return to finish our track season.
We were informed around noon on Friday March 13th that our school, along with every school in the county would be closing beginning next week. As a result, we shifted from a normal practice to an inter-squad scrimmage, a chance for our athletes to compete, knowing that it’s possible they would not get another meet this season.
It was uplifting end to the day for an upset track team, and we had a lot of good results and improvements on the day. We began the meet with the 4×100 relay. For the first time this season we ran the ‘A’ team of Jamie Vong, Geovanny Campos, Rodolf Ocamp and Raven Alcantara. They coasted to a time of 46.73. This time puts the Comets ranked #4 in the entire BVAL through 1 week of season, without any competition. Our girls team of Jenny Gomez, Minhy Pham, Emily DeLaRosa and Yeimili Adame ran a 57.1, a seasons best on the girls side as well.
We went straight to the hurdles after that. Emily D had the 1st of several strong performances on the day, running 21.19 for her first try at the full event, a very solid debut. Jenny Gomez also made her debut in the event running 21.93. Neither time may sound remarkable currently, but to me both are strong debuts.
The 4 fastest girls I’ve coached in the 100 hurdles are Valeria Cortez (16.75) Andrea Ortiz (17.10) Kirsten Nguyen (18.22) and Yesenia Martinez (18.43). All 4 girls share two traits with Jenny, Emily and Cecelia Usui who ran 21.59 for us last week at the Willow Glen Invite. They all began hurdling as a freshmen or sophomore, and they all ran slower than 21 seconds in their first try at the 100 hurdles. In short, I think that our 3 frosh/soph hurdlers, Jenny, Emily and Cecelia all have the potential to be BVAL level hurdlers like Kirsten and Yesenia, given the time to work on the event properly.
On the boys side, we had a very strong tail wind blowing, a 4.4 m/s wind, well over the allowable limit so the marks could not stand as official records. That being said, Rodolf lead the group with the best 110 clocking of his life under any conditions, a time of 15.75. This puts him as the #1 ranked BVAL hurdler 1 week into the season and the #2 ranked 110 hurdler in the entire CCS. Jamie Vong and Mark Orpia came in at 18.39 and 18.93, with Luis Escamilla streaming in at 20.55. If the season picks up, the Comets are likely to be one of the best hurdling teams in the BVAL.
The 100 meter dash was next, and it saw several strong performances as well. Raven lead the team in 11.91 in a heat with a 0.0 wind reading. Rodolf ran his fastest ever wind legal time of 12.12, just a tick off his PR under any circumstances of 12.06, which was run with a strong tailwind. Jamie got a PR of 12.14, putting both boys in striking distance of the sub 12 barrier. The next fastest Comet on the day was Eric Dang in 12.29 and then Jordan Lagura in 12.38, a PR. Both sophomores figure to be a huge part of the teams future plans. Angel Guerrero took .16 off his PR to run 12.54. Justin Nguyen (13.27) Mark ( 13.43) and Soreya Thach (13.55) all ran PRS on the boys side.
On the girls side, Emily made another very strong debut, clocking in at 14.35 in her first try at the event, finishing in nearly a dead heat with Yeimili (a PR by .10 for Yeimili) and their heat was wind legal. Azalea Galinato ran a seasons best 14.76 and Cecelia clocked in at 15.01 for her 100m debut. Several other Comets made their 100m debuts as well.
We did not run the 1600 or 800, but put the 3200 in the middle of the meet to give our distance crew the chance to contest it. Melvin Estrada lead the team in a solid season opener of 11:39. Omar Sanchez and Justin Nguyen ran 12:45 and 12:50 for their first try at the event. On the girls side, we went 4 for 4 on PRS. Lizbeth Espana (13:56) Jessica Cervantes (13:59) and Keyla Sifuentes (13:59) all cracked the 14 minute barrier for the first time, and for Keyla it was her first time running the event at all. Ruth Rodriguez also managed a PR of 14:29. The 14 minuter barrier is significant in our league, a girl who can run under 14 can score points in the vast majority of dual meets.
Back on the track, Rodolf and Luis both ran the 300 hurdles. Rodolf managed a PR of 44.56, nearly a full second PR in his first try this season. Luis also cracked 50 to start the year with a time of 49.91.
We skipped the 200 at the Willow Glen Invite so it was the fist time contesting it for many athletes this year. Geo lead the Comets in a time of 25.38. Eric managed a big PR of 25.49 breaking 26 for the first time. Angel also got a big PR of 25.50 just behind Eric, and at this point they were running into a headwind. On the girls side, Yeimili lead the team, cracking the 30 second barrier for the first time in 29.96. Emily continued her strong debut in 30.78, a strong debut. Azalea and Minhy came in close to her in 30.80 and 30.85. It was a strong headwind at this point, and the Comets look poised to have several girls under the 30 second barrier in the same season.
Meanwhile, the team had several strong performances in the field events. Adriana Marcelino lead the in 77-10 within a foot of her PR. Sara Hawkes and Jimmie Chircop both ha big PRS of 71-2 and 69-0. Emma Demblewski threw over 60 feet for the first time as well, chucking the discus 61 feet. Sandra Naranjo (58-0) and Kiely Leal (57-2) both managed PRS as well as Yesenia Martinez throwing 48-10. Clarissa Morales made hr discus debut with a solid throw of 56-0.
In Shot Put, Sara lead the team in 24-7 , with Clarissa close behind in a PR of 24-2.5. Kiely threw a PR of 21-8 as did Sandra (18-8) to end days for the lady throwers. Jose Uribe made his debut for the boys, throwing 47 feet in discus and 19 feet in Shot Put.
With all the wind, most of the jumpers had a rough day though Yesenia did clear 4-4, a seasons best in high jump. Rodolf also triple jumped for the first time since his sophomore year and went 36-3, a big PR. Eric in 15-6, and Soreya in 15-1 both managed PRs.
The final event for the team was the pole vault, where many of the vaulters working with coach Raul vaulted beginning at a lower height than usual. As such, Cecelia and Ruth both cleared the bar at 5-0 and Yesenia cleared it at 5-6. Omar cleared 7-0 for the first time, the starting height for a frosh/soph boy, showing good long term promise. Hector Hidalgo and Miguel Saldivar both cleared the varsity starting height of 8-0 and Jordan showeed great potential going 8-6 in his debut in the event. Mark and Rodolf both cleared 11-0 for the first time, strong PRS for both boys and an excellent way to end the scrimmage meet.
A total of 31 PRS make the scrimmage meet a very positive one, but a bittersweet one for many members of the team who now can only hope their season will resume. In any case, best wishes to all during this trying time. With some vigilance and luck, hopefully we as a society can get past the coronavirus and resume life as usual.
Thanks for reading and be safe,