James Lick Cross Country Season Preview 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

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The team after the time trial. 

 

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Comets To Be Represented at CCS Finals For 3rd Consecutive Year

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.

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Valeria Cortez taking a warmup throw before the meet

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.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

Both Boys Relays Teams, 3 More Individuals Advance to CCS Trials

Counting the relay athletes, the Comets had 9 CCS qualifiers from the BVAL Finals meet on Thursday May 2nd at Westmont High School. This is the most athletes the team has seen qualify for CCS in the entire BVAL era (since 1996). That being said, the team only produced 3 individual qualifiers, compared to 4 the year before.

The meet features the top 7 athletes from the ‘A’ division finals, the top 5 athletes from the ‘B’ division finals and the top 4 from the ‘C’ division finals. In some events, additional athletes competed in the case that the “At-large” mark was reached. For example if the 5th place time in the ‘C’ division final was high quality enough, they would also advance to BVAL finals.

For the most part, every event has 16 entries and the top 8 in each event advance to CCS Trials.

The meet began with the pole vault. Last year at BVAL finals, both Mark Orpia and Rodolf Ocampo competed, representing the Comets at the meet in Pole Vault for the first time in school history. They went 9-0 and 8-6 respectively, both PRs at the time. The duo has come a long way, with the pair achieving PRS of 10-8 and 10-2 respectively at this years addition. They placed 10th and 12th.

Next up was the girls discus. Valeria Cortez took 2nd overall with a toss of 111-1, sealing her 4th consecutive CCS appearance in the girls discus. Joe Amendt and Ruth Lebeau are the only other Comets (on record) to make CCS four times in a single event. Marquise Nelson managed a PR in the event though she came in 10th, ending her career with a best of 94- 4.5, the 5th best mark in school history in the discus.

The running events began at 5:00 PM with the 4×100. This years squad has established themselves as the best 4×100 team from James Lick in many years and they backed it up, becoming the first 4×100 team from James Lick to make CCS trials in the BVAL era. The squad of Raven Alcantara, Rodolf Ocampo, Salvador Lopez and Geovanny Campos combined to run a seasons best 45.06 to place 7th, clinching their spot at CCS.

The next event with Comet competitors was the hurdles. Valeria ended her career in the event with a 17.28, finishing 10th place. Valeria’s PR of 16.75 in the event is currently the #3 all-time mark in school history (on record).It was an off race for her, where many times were hampered by a headwind. Yesenia Martinez was racing well until she clipped a hurdle and stumbled, losing her balance. She recovered but it was a poor time by her standards.

The performance of the day in my opinion, and perhaps the performance of my entire coaching tenure was Rodolf in the 110 hurdles. Last year, Rodolf began hurdling late in the season and ended the year with a PR of 19.01, not advancing to BVAL finals. This year, he improved dramatically, lowering his PR all the way down to 16.85 at ‘B’ division finals to place 3rd and qualify for BVALS. He went into BVAL finals ranked 11th, meaning he would need a big day to make CCS. Rodolf had more than a big day, he had an absolute breakthrough. He placed 5th in a massive PR of 15.97, making CCS by a wide margin. After “four-stepping” all year, it was Rodolf’s first time “Three-stepping” a race and it lead to the huge PR. Rodolf is the first boy to make CCS in the 110 hurdles in the BVAL era.

The Comets did not have any more competitors in the meet until the boys 100. Raven ran 11.63, the 2nd best time of his career in the event, placing 14th. Next up was the girls 800. After years of ups and downs, Arlet Miranda went out with the best time of her career, 2:28.08. This PR was not enough to get her to CCS however, as she finished 9th, one spot out of qualification. Arlet nonetheless ends her career #2 in school history in all 3 distance events.

Jerricho Habon competed in the boys 800 but had a poor race, gaining experience for next years addition. The final field events were going on at this time. Marquise Nelson threw 32-4.5 for 7th place in the girls Shot Put, punching her ticket to CCS trials. In the long jump, Sal barely missed his PR, going 20-3.5 but sadly finishing in 9th place. Even so, Sal had a great season as last year his best long jump was 17-10. Yeimili Adame contested the girls 3200 for the Comets, running 13:27, a PR by more than 30 seconds, moving her to #7 on the schools all time list in the event.

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Arlet Miranda in the final (and fastest) 800m of her HS career

The final event of the day was the boys 4×400. The Comets went in ranked 11th, needing a great performance and some good luck to make it through to CCS. The team of Sal, Erik Olsvold, Jerricho and Misael Herrera combined to run 3:36.78, the best time by any JL 4×400 team since the 3:35 clocking of 2002. Initially, it looked like the Comets were 10th, but disqualifications to Willow Glen and Pioneer moved the Comets up to 8th place.

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Left to right: Salvador Lopez, Jerricho Habon, Misael Herrera and Erik Olsvold after the 4×400 

The Comets who advanced to CCS trials will be competing on Saturday May 11th at Westmont High School with the chance to end the season with some good marks, and to potentially make CCS finals. The 9 total qualifiers is the highest number the Comets have ever produced at BVAL finals.

CCS Trials begins at 10 AM at Gilroy High School.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

James Lick Goes 2-4 in first Quad Meet since 2007

For the first time since 2007 when they were a member of the West Valley Division (‘C’ division) James Lick contested a quad meet in their league season. The Santa Teresa Division (‘B’ division) quad meet was hosted at Lincoln High School on Thursday April 4th. Besides Lincoln, James Lick also competed against the Sobrato Bulldogs and the Piedmont Hills Pirates.

Even though 4 teams competed, each event was scored as a dual meet, similar to in cross country. For example, the 4×100 featured four teams competing at once, but would be scored James Lick Vs Lincoln, James Lick vs Sobrato and James Lick vs Piedmont.

With the wins/losses being determined on the single day, this was the most consequential league track meet (in terms of season record) for James Lick in my coaching career.

The meet began with the varsity girls 4×100. The Comet team of Lisbeth Galdamez, Jessica Cervantes, Mya Hammond and Natalie Rem ran 56.02, a seasons best time. The girls team managed to beat Sobrato in the event, though they fell to Piedmont and Lincoln respectively. The boys team of Raven Alcantara, Salvador Lopez, Rodolf Ocampo and Geo Campos also took 3rd in 46.16, beating Sobrato.

Next up on the track was the 1600. In the girls event, Arlet Miranda took 5th overall, losing to two Sobrato athletes and two Lincoln athletes as she continues to work back towards full health. Arlet managed to lead a sweep of Piedmont Hills however, with Ashley Preciado and Lizbeth Espana completing the sweep in season best times of 6:37 and 6:38. Melannie Sanchez ran a big PR of 7:42, breaking the 8 minute barrier for the first time. Jose Ruiz ran a seasons best 6:14 in the frosh/soph boys 1600.

Standout Lincoln athlete Omar Pina (who has run 4:27 for 1600 and 9:39 for 3200 this year) won all 3 distance events handily, but each time a Comet followed. In the 1600, Erik Olsvold was 2nd in a seasons best 4:51. Brandon Cruz ran 5:07 to complete a 1-2 punch against Piedmont.

The next event was the 100 hurdles. Valeria Cortez won overall with a seasons best 17.02. Yesenia Martinez had a very off race by her standards however, clipping a hurdle badly, resulting in a disqualification when she used her hand to clear the next hurdle. She was in 2nd place in the race before this moment.

Dekota Castro-Lopez won the frosh/soph boys 110 hurdles in a PR of 21.88. Rodolf Ocampo took 2nd overall in the varsity 110, running 17.18, the 2nd best time of his career. He only lost to Lincoln’s best athlete. Mark Orpia took 4th in a PR of 18.47, beating every athlete from Piedmont and Sobrato.

The team was without top 400 runner Yeimili Adame who was home sick. Without Yeimili there, the Comets had no in the event, however Yeimili’s season best would have been 2nd overall. This missed opportunity would loom large for the team. In the boys 400, Misael Herrera and scored points for the team, though neither had a particularly good race.

Sprint times across the board were not great on the day for the Comets. Natalie Rem lead the Comets in 8th overall (out of 42 athletes). She scored 3 points for the team against Sobrato and 1 against Lincoln with a time of 14.20, not near her PR or seasons best. Lisbeth Galdamez scored a point against Sobrato, running 14.36. Azalea Galinato ran 14.59, lowering her PR from 14.80. Many other Comets competed in the event. Standout performers include Krystal Tran who ran a PR of 16.23 and Emily De Dios who lowered her PR to 16.52.

Jordan Laguna ran 12.36 to win the boys frosh/soph 100 in a new PR. Jordan is really busting out as a potential star in future years, as arguably the most impressive freshmen boy we’ve seen in years. In the boys varsity 100, Raven Alcantara took 2nd overall in 11.77, the 2nd best time of his career. Geo Campos took 9th overall in 12.10, scoring a point against Sobrato in the process. Adrian DeLaRosa ran a seasons best 12.77 and Erik ran a PR of 13.16.

In the girls 800, Arlet had a strong racing, taking 2nd in 2:34 and defeating star runners such as Emily Minjares of Lincoln and Emily Harris of Sobrato. Mya ran a PR of 2:57 to score a point against Piedmont and Sobrato as well. Mariana Perez ran a seasons best 3:19.  In the varsity 800, Erik and Jerricho Habon managed a 2-3 overall finish, only losing to Omar of Lincoln. For Jerricho, the 2:10.75 clocking was a PR. Adrian ran 2:58 for the 800, as he pursues the unusual feet of achieving a mark in every single track event.

Meanwhile, the field events were well under way. In the girls Shot Put, Marquise Nelson took the win in a new PR of 32-0. Valeria was 3rd overall with a toss of 31-3, with a Sobrato athlete just 1 inch ahead of her for 2nd. Adriana Marcelino threw a PR of 22-3, as did Lizbet Alonzo who threw 20-1, breaking the 20 foot barrier for the first time.

In the boys Shot Put, Rodolf threw 34-2 to take 4th overall despite his small frame. Josh Merin managed a point in the boys discus against Sobrato, though it was not a good day by his standards. The girls version of the event was the best performance of the meet for the team. After an off day at the firebird relays, the gilrs throwers stepped up big. Valeria threw 109-9 to win the meet. Marquise threw 80-0 for 2nd and Adriana had a massive PR, throwing 74-7.50 for 3rd place.

It was overall a rough day in the horizontal jumps for every school, though the team did have a few standout performers. The first of which was Natalie, who triple jumped a PR of 33-4.25, missing winning the meet by only a half inch. She only lost to one athlete from Piedmont Hills. Even more impressive was Jordan in the frosh/soph triple jump. His previous PR was 34 feet, and he went off for a 37-9.50 jump. He easily won the frosh/soph event, and would have been 2nd in varsity on the day! Bryan Rodriguez also jumped a PR, going 30-5 for 2nd place. The varsity triple jump was an off day for the Comets, but Sal, Raven and Jamie Vong did go 2-3-4 overall.

In the long jump it was a similarly rough day. Jamie and Geo went 3-4 in the event overall, though neither was near their best marks. The girls scored only 1 point in long jump, against Sobrato.

Back to the running events, Valeria took 3rd overall in the 300 hurdles, with Arlet 4th. On the boys side, it was a 1-2 finish for the Comets between Rodolf and Mark.

The girls 200 continues to be a weakness for the team overall. Natalie lead the team with a time of 30.48. Mya Hammond was next with a big PR of 30.52. Azalea ran a second big PR on the day, stopping the clock at 30.80. The team was swept by Lincoln and Piedmont though they went 1-2 against Sobrato. Jordan took 3rd in the frosh/soph 200 with a new Pr of 25.94.

It was a similar result in the boys 200, with the Comets being swept by Lincoln and Piedmont but Josh and Geo forming a 1-2 against Sobrato. Jamie  ran a huge PR of 26.50 in the event as well.

In the girls 3200, Sobrato swept but the Comets and Lincoln had a 1st place. The team of Lizbeth Espana and Ruth Rodriguez managed a 1-2 against Piedmont however, with both girls running PRs of 14:14.08 and 14:48.21 respectively. On the boys side, Mark and Brandon managed a 2-3 overall finish, Brandon also ran a small PR of 11:23.

The final field event of the day was the high jump. Marquise and Yesenia went 4-4 ( a PR for Marquise) with both girls scoring against Lincoln and Sobrato. Sal won the boys high jump, matching his PR of 5-8. Josh went 5-0 to score as well.

The meet ended with the 4×400, though the Comets didn’t run their best team on either side. Lincoln did not have the pole vault set up, and we are the only school with vaulters. As a result we will contest the pole vault at our newly resurfaced track.

 

With Pole Vault Pending, 5/6 varsity matchups are decided. The scores are as follows:

Varsity Boys: 

        Lincoln   84.00     43.00 James Lick                    
                    James Lick   71.50     54.50 Piedmont Hills                
                    James Lick   90.50     36.50 Sobrato                       

 

Varsity Girls: 

     Lincoln   82.00     44.00 James Lick                    
                Piedmont Hills   71.00     55.00 James Lick                    
                       Sobrato   64.00     62.00 James Lick                    
                                          

 

If a James Lick girl clears height in pole vault, the Sobrato result would switch from a loss to a win.

The teams combined record with one dual meet left is 5-7. The varsity boys are 4-2 and the varsity girls (pending) are 1-5.

The team will head to the Quicksilver Classic on Saturday April 5th and then will host Oak Grove in their final dual meet of the season on April 11th.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

Comets Split Dual Meet with Prospect, Girls Dual decided by 4×400

The James Lick Comets had their 3rd dual meet of the season at Prospect High School on Thursday March 28th. It was a windy day at Prospect, with a strong headwind on the home straightaway, resulting in poorer marks for the sprinters than normal.

In any case, the Comets competed hard, winning the boys side to move to a record of 2-1, while the girls lost a very close dual (66-61) to fall to 1-2.

The meet began with the 4×100, and sprint depth is currently the team’s biggest weakness. Prospect won the 4×100 against the squad of Lisbeth Galdamez, Azalea Galinato, Jenny Fimbres and Yeimili Adame. On the boys side, the Comets nailed their first relay win of the season. Misael Herrera, Josh Merin, Raven Alcantara and Geo Campos ran 46.40 to take the victory.

The girls 1600 was next. Arlet Miranda is still battling illness and had to drop out of the girls 1600. Belen Sanchez took 2nd for the team in a seasons best of 6:24. In the same race, Estefani Herrera ran 7:01, a 14 second PR. Melanie Sanchez ran 8:18 for her debut in the event.

The boys side was a great battle for the win between Erik Olsvold and Jonathan Yuen of Prospect. The lead changed hands multiple times with Jonathan taking the win in 4:52.48 to Erik’s 4:52.52. This was a big seasons best for Erik and is the fastest time of his career since his sophomore season. Erik is rebounding strongly from injuries that hampered him junior year. Jerricho Habon was 4th in a PR of 5:01.8. In the frosh/soph version of the event, Dekota Castro-Lopez won the 1600 with a PR of 5:55, breaking 6:00 for the first time.

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Jonathan of Prospect and Erik Olsvold battling on the last lap of the 1600

The girls 100 hurdles was the 3rd straight dual meet victory of the season for Valeria Cortez in the event. Yesenia Martinez was 2nd and Natalie Rem 3rd completing a Comet sweep. On the boys side, Rodolf Ocampo won the boys 110 hurdles. Dekota won the frosh/soph version of the event.  With the strong headwind, the times were not particularly fast in this event.

In the girls 400, Yeimili Adame ran 1:07.54 to win the event, a very strong showing considering the conditions. Chantrea Thach made her debut in the event, clocking 1:20. Misael Herrera won the boys 400 in a seasons best 56.78. Prospect took 2nd and 3rd in both 400s.

By this time, several field events were already completed. It was a very high quality dual meet in girls throws. Valeria took 2nd despite a throw of 33-3, a mark that would have easily won the team’s previous duals. Marquise Nelson managed a massive PR of 31-1.5. This was only good for 4th however in a very competitive dual. Adriana Marcelino managed a huge seasons best of 21-10.5, only a half inch off of her PR. Kiely Leal threw a seasons best of 20-4. Lizbet Alonzo threw a PR of 19-10, as did Sandra Naranjo with a new personal best of 16-10.

In girls discuss, Valeria won the meet with a toss of 106-3. Marquise took 2nd in a new PR of 89-3. Sandra managed a 2nd PR on the day, throwing over 50 feet for the first time. Lizbet and Kiely both netted seasons bests as well. On the boys side, Rodolf threw a new PR of 34-0 to take 2nd for the team, the first Shot Put points of the season for the boy Comets. In boys discus, Josh took 2nd in 84-0. Alexis managed big PRs in both throws, throwing 26-0 for Shot Put and 60-1 for discus.

Mark Orpia and Rodolf took 2nd and 3rd in pole vault on the boys side, with leaps of 9-0 and 8-6 respectively. Josh Merin was the only boy to clear a height in high jump, taking the win with a 5 foot clearance. On the girls side, Yesenia took 2nd in 4-4 with Lisbeth taking 3rd in 4-2. Marquise also managed a new PR of 4-2.

Back to the running events, the strong Prospect sprinters went 1-2, with Natalie taking 3rd. Again, times were not great due to the wind. Natalie for example ran 14.49 compared to a 13.90 clocking a week ago. The winner from Prospect only ran 13.8 compared to a season best 13.2. Jordan won the frosh/soph 100 in 12.7 and Isaac Ortega made his debut with a 14.79.

The comet boys swept the 100, with Raven, Geo, and Josh combining to accomplish the feet. Raven and Geo ran 12.12 and 12.48 respectively, but it was a PR for Josh who ran 12.57, despite the windy conditions. This shows that Josh is ready to run much faster with good conditions.

The girls 800 was a prospect victory with Erika Camacho and Ashley Preciado taking 2nd 3rd. It was a seasons best 2:58 for Ashley. Mya Hammond ran a PR of 2:58.49 just behind her. Melanie ran 3:48 for her first try at the event.

The boys version was another good battle. Jerricho had the lead with 100 to go, but lost to Jonathan before the line, Jerricho stopped the clock in 2nd with a time of 2:13.71. Brandon Cruz ran a PR of 2:19.01 in the race as well.

Valeria and Arlet took 2nd and 3rd in the girls 300 hurdles. On the boys side, Rodolf and Mark took 1st and 3rd in PRs of 45.59 and 48.54. It was a strong return meet for Mark, who after being held out a week with a minor foot injury will return to training next week.

In the girls 200, Yeimili ran a PR for 3rd place, stopping the clock at 30.10. The boys managed another sweep in the 200. Salvador Lopez lead the team in 25.13. Misael and Geo completed the sweep. Jordan won the frosh/soph 200, running 26.21 for his first try at the event.

Lizbeth Espana, Ruth Rodriguez and Mariana Perez combined to sweep the girls 3200. Emely Lopez broke the 16 minute barrier for the first time, clocking in at 15:55. On the boys side, none of the top Comets ran the 3200, though Adrian DeLaRosa and Alexis Sarellano did run it for fun. Adrian ran 14:55 and Alexis ran 15:59.

The horizontal jumps took a long time to get going. When they did, Prospect took the win in the long jump. Jamie Vong took 2nd in a PR of 18-6 and Sal was 3rd in 18-5. Bryan Rodriguez managed a big PR of 15-4 in the frosh/soph long jump, while Jordan took 2nd in 16-4. On the girls side, Prospect took 1st and 2nd, and 3rd went to Lis who had an impressive 14-0 debut in the event.

The Comet boys swept the triple jump. Raven matched his PR of 37-9. Jamie was 2nd in a seasons best 36-9 and Sal was 3rd in 36-8. Angel Guerrero managed a PR of 34-4. Jordan tripled jumped for the first time, going 32-10. Bryan also triple jumped for the first time, going 28-8 in the event.

The team was down by 9 points on the girls side with triple jump underway. Natalie took the win with a 30 foot jump. Yesenia took 2nd in 27-6. With a point up for grabs due to the lack of  3rd girl, Arlet tried her hand at triple jump and managed to score a point with a jump of 26-0.

With this sweep, the girls were tied at 61 points with the 4×400 relay remaining. On the boys side, the Comets had already clinched victory. The Comet boys still took the win with a time of 3:56. Misael, Jamie, Jerricho and Erik accomplished the victory. On the girls side however, Prospect took the win, sealing a narrow victory that came down to one event.

Final scores:

Varsity Girls: 

Prospect: 66

James Lick: 61

Varsity Boys: 

James Lick: 78

Prospect: 54

Frosh/Soph Boys: 

Prospect: 76

James Lick: 37

The Comets will head to on of our favorite invitationals of the year, the Firebird Relays, on Saturday March 30th.

Then the team will gear up for their quad meet again Lincoln, Piedmont and Sobrato on April 4th.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

Comparing Eras of James Lick Cross Country

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.

  1. 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.

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2014 BVAL Champions -WV

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.

 

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2016 BVAL Champions – ST

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.

Conclusion 

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!

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

James Lick Track Season Comes to a Close: A Reflection on 5 Years of Coaching

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.

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2014 Team at CCS Left to Right: Mila Perez, Maria Mendoza, Paloma Contreras, Julia Cruz, Evalilia Garcia, Daniela Camacho, Brianna Flores

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.

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2016 Championship team Left to right: Me, Gustavo Aguilera, Erik Olsvold, Nathan Bernardo, Inteus Castro-Lopez, Gustavo Parra, Azael Zamora

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.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan/Oyama Awards 2018: A Banner Year For James Lick Sports

The 2017/2018 School year is just days from ending. This school year was a standout year for James Lick sports. I’ve written in the past about the struggles James Lick has experienced over recent years, both academically and athletically.

Rise and Fall of JL Track

What The Comets Overcome When They Make CCS

Our teachers, coaching staff, and administration have been working hard for a long time to try to help James Lick through these struggles and I think that we are starting to see the fruits of that labor.

For the 2017/2018 school year, James Lick Sports had a combined record of:

101-85-4 

I have totaled up James Lick’s records the past 5 years, and this is the first time in that span that James Lick Sports have had a combined winning record (And by quite a margin as well).  While I haven’t added up the years before 2012, I think there’s a good chance this is the first winning season for James Lick sports combined in well over a decade.

A Few sports contributed to this success in particular. The girls volleyball team claimed the first ever title for James Lick in the sport. The team worked hard for a 13-1 record, a dramatic turn-around for a team that was 3-11 the year before. Girls Basketball won their first division title since 1997 as well. They went undefeated in league play to the tune of a 10-0 record, and they also won their 1st round CCS game.

Over the past 5 years, James Lick has a total of  8 division championships. James Lick had 12 championships in the previous 18 years combined. The hard work of school AD Ray Iniguez has been a huge factor. Mr. Iniguez had worked hard to change the fortunes of James Lick sports, and many of the athletes responsible for the schools success were honored at the Ryan/Oyama awards on Tuesday May 15th.

 

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Members of the Track team After the Ryan/Oyama Awards

The Ryan/Oyama Awards is the biggest athletics event of the year for James Lick. The Ryan Award is given to the senior who most exemplified the qualities of a James Lick student/athlete over their 4 year career. The Oyama award is the female equivalent. Class awards and more are also distributed at the awards ceremony.

Every sport gets to give two awards per team. The Cross Country Awards were as follows:

Varsity Boys: 

Most Valuable Runner: Azael Zamora

Award for Leadership: Inteus Castro-Lopez

Varsity Girls: 

Most Valuable Runner: Arlet Miranda

Award for Leadership: Analilia Regla

Frosh/Soph Boys: 

Most dedicated runner: Daniel Portillo

Most improved runner: Hugo Marquez

Frosh/Soph Girls: 

Most improved runner: Ashley preciado

Most dedicated runner: Emely Lopez

 

For Track and Field the awards were as follows

Varsity Boys: 

Most dedicated athlete: Austin Swank

Most Valuable Athlete: Cody Huoch

Varsity Girls: 

Most valuable athlete: Valeria cortez

most dedicated athlete: Aliana Santos

Frosh/Soph Boys:

Most improved athlete: Melvin Estrada

Most valuable athlete: Salvador Lopez

Frosh/Soph Girls: 

Most valuable athlete: Kirsten Yutuc

Most improved Athlete: Yesenia Martinez

Several XC/ Track athletes also featured in the class awards.

Emely Lopez took home the Freshmen of year honors for the girls, and Omar Fimbres claimed the title on the boys side. Omar played baseball in addition to running cross country.

Nien Tran won sophomore of the year on the boys side. In addition to making CCS in Cross Country, Nien was also a CCS qualifier in wrestling.

Valera took home junior of the year on the strength of her entire year. She helped the volleyball team to a division title, placed 4th at CCS in wrestling, and was a division champion in 2 events in track. She beat out Marquise Nelson, a girl who was the MVP of both the champion basketball team, and champion volleyball teams.  Marquise and Valeria have traded off their class awards every year since they were freshmen, and both girls have GPAs over 3.5. The competition for the Oyama award figures to be tight next year.

Misael Herrera took home junior of the year, he had previously been named sophomore of the year and freshmen of the year. In addition to track, Misael also played football and wrestled.

Finally the stage was set for the senior class awards. Alejandra Ceron was named senior of the year, and the runner up for the Oyama Award. The Award went to Miranda Sanchez. Miranda played volleyball, basketball and softball for multiple seasons. She was the starting point guard on this years championship team.

On the boys side, Josh Garcia was the 2nd runner up for the Ryan Award. Josh played football, Basketball and Track for the past few seasons. Inteus took home the Senior of the year award and was the 1st runner up for the Ryan Award. Azael Zamora took home the Ryan Award, the 2nd year in a row that the Ryan Award has gone to an athlete who participated in both XC and Track and Field. Azael’s 3.8 GPA was a decisive factor in him winning the award. Azy was also a 2 time CCS qualifier in Cross Country and placed 12th at CCS this past season. He is also a 3 time BVAL qualifier in track, he ended his career 10th on the schools all time list in the 1600 and 7th in the 3200.

Coach Oliphant, the schools volleyball coach, took home the Keith Antes Coach of The Year Award for the dramatic turnaround achieved by the girls volleyball team.

The Ryan/Oyama awards are always a great day to be a Comet.

5 Comets will take to CCS Trials at Gilroy High School on Saturday May 19th.

Thanks for reading!

 

ST Division Finals Day 1 Recap: Lady Comets In 2nd Through 4 Events

Day 1 of the Santa Teresa division finals are in the books and the Comets are well on their way to finishing the season strong. As always, there were some good performances and some bad performances, but overall the Comets vastly over performed at day 1 of finals.

Most events were prelims, to qualify for the finals on Friday. The top 8 athletes in every event score points for their team. The top 5 athletes in every final qualify for BVAL championships.

The first event that was contested was the pole vault. This actually took place on Tuesday May 1st at Prospect High School. Mark Orpia and Rodolf Ocampo both cleared 8 feet to place 4t and respectively. The top 5 placings mean that both boys will head to BVAL Finals next week. They will be the first Comets to compete at BVAL finals in pole vault in school history.

The rest of “day 1” took place on Wednesday May 2nd at Evergreen High School. The day saw two early finals. In boys discus, Daniel Medina, Josh Garcia and Joshua Merin competed for the team. Daniel and Josh threw 98-1 and 94-5 in what will be their final HS competition. Josh Merin threw 79-8 in his debut in the event, a solid performance on a big first stage.

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Daniel Medina releasing the discus 

The girls 1600 was the first running event of the meet. Arlet Miranda ran a very competitive race, in 7th place with 400m left, she stormed to 5th place over the last lap. Belen Sanchez ran 6:01.67, a 3 second PR to end her season, and Ashley Preciado ran 6:09.84 to lop 6 seconds off of her PR as well. This is the first time (on record) in school history that the Comets have had 3 Lady comets under 6:10 for the mile in the same race.

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Ashley Preciado, Belen Sanchez and Arlet Miranda before the mile. Valeria Cortez leaps into the picture behind them. 

Next up was the girls 100 hurdles. Valeria Cortez went into the race ranked #1 at 17.39. She won her heat and improved her seasons best time down to 17.29. No other Comets were expected to make the final based on ranking, but Yesenia and Martinez and Susie Peterson ran PRs of 18.79 and 18.85 to squeeze into Friday’s final as the 7th and 8th seeds.

Luis Escamilla ran aPR of 20.34 in the boys 110 hurdles. After a great start to the race for Cody Huoch, Cody clipped a hurdle badly and nearly fell. The bad stumble cost Cody his balance for the next few hurdles, and put him out of position to make the final for Friday, ending his season in the 110. Rodlf narrowly missed his PR, running 19.02.

 

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Valeria Cortez on her way to a heat win and seasons best in the 100 hurdles. Teammate Yesenia Martinez is not far behind. 

Yeimili Adame lead the Comets in the girls 400m, running a PR of 1:06.96. This put her in 10th on the day, less than a second off of the final. Justine Austria and Aliana Santos were the other Comets in the race. On the boys side, Misael Herrera ran a PR by almost a full second. Misael clocked in at 55.61, and teammate Salvador Lopez ran a PR of 56.02. Neither boy was able to advance to the final on Friday however.

Susie, Lisbeth Galdamez, and Natalie Rem competed in the girls 100. All 3 girls ran the 2nd best time of their career, and Natalie’s time of 13.57 saw was good enough to send her to the final on Friday. Raven Alcantara lead the Comets on the boys side, running 11.89, the 2nd best time of his career. Raven had a great season, taking his PR from 12.60 to 11.79 and he narrowly missed making the final for Friday. Geovanny Campos and Chris Okoro also competed for the team.

Arlet punched her ticket to the 800m final for Friday, cruising to a 6th place finish. Mya Hammond ran a big PR of 2:59.03, beating her previous best of 3:05. Mariana Perez ran 3:13 for a small PR to end her season. Erik Olsvold showed that he is quickly rounding back to form in the 800. After his spectacular sophomore season, Erik was derailed by a knee injury in cross country and through most of track. Erik managed to run 2:10.43 in the 800 to advance to the final on Friday, ranked 8th. Jerricho Habon is on to the final as well, he was the final qualifier, snagging 12th place in 2:16. Hugo Marquez competed, but missed his PR.

Several field event results had come in by this point. Cody took 6th in the boys triple jump in 39-10. Raven managed a big PR of 37-9. Sal went 36-8 to end his season. The most remarkable PR on the day came in the girls long jump. Lyndel Ventura, in her 4th and final season, managed a PR that made her 4 years of hard work worthwhile. Lyndel ended freshmen year at 14-11 in long jump. She had gradually improved over the years to 15-3.5, her PR entering the meet Wednesday, putting her at 8th place in terms of rankings. Lyndel shattered her PR, leaping 16-7.25 to take 3rd place and book a trip to BVALS to boot. Lyndel moves to 4th on the schools all time list with this big jump. Teammate Natalie managed a PR of 15-1 as well, just missing out on a point in 9th place.

The Comets got their first ever division title in the ‘B’ division in the girls Shot Put. Alejandra Ceron threw 34-7.50 to take home the victory, a year after winning the ‘C’ division title in the same event. Charli Chircop took 3rd in 32-10 and Valeria took 4th in 32-7.

Kirsten Yutuc lead a trio of PRS in the girls 300 hurdles. Kirsten ran 52.30 and is ranked 3rd for the final on Friday. Yesenia ran a huge PR, stopping the clock at 54.72, compared to a previous best of 58.85. Susie ran a PR in the final 300 hurdles of her career, clocking 57.07. Cody qualified comfortably for the final on Friday with, running 43 seconds for the event. Jo-Jo Bradley and Luis both lowered their PRs, running 49.11 and 49.18 respectively.

Justine, Lisbeth and Aliana all contested the 200. Lisbeth came away with a PR by .30, ending her season with a PR of 30.32. On the boys side, Misael lead the Comets in a seasons best 24.79.

The final event on the day was also a final: The Boys 3200. Azael Zamora took the race out fast from the beginning, storming into the lead by the time two laps were completed. Azael kept cranking in a bid to run away from division leader Omar Pina. Azy took the 1st mile fast, going through in 4:49 just as he did when he ran his PR of 10:05. Omar went through in 4:59 and and then ran a 4:50 2nd mile to take the win 9:50. An Evergreen boy stormed past Azy as well in the home stretch, with Azy taking 3rd in a 10 second PR of 9:55.14. This makes Azy the fastest Comet 2 miler of this century so far, the first Comet to run under 10 minutes for the event since 2003. Inteus Castro-Lopez and Melvin Estrada ran 10:55 and 10:58, both only narrowly missed their PRS.

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Dylan Ellis of Prospect (10:00.84)  Azael Zamora (9:55.14) and Omar Pina of Lincoln (9:50.89) After the 3200

While most events are still yet to be scored, but the Comets are in a good place so far.

The girls are in 2nd place through the first 4 events and the boys are in 4th through the first 5 events. it will be difficult for the Comets to hang on to these positions, but the team has already clinched 5 different BVAL qualifiers.

The Comets will finish up division finals on Friday May 4th at Evergreen. If the team performs as they did today, big things are still to come!

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

James Lick Defeats Oak Grove, Comets End Season Combined 6-8

The James Lick comets had their 7th and final dual meet of the 2018 season on Thursday April 26th at Oak Grove High School. The Comets ended the season on a winning streak, earning victories in all three divisions against the Eagles, a week after they did the same thing against the Sobrato Bulldogs.. Both the varsity boys and varsity girls end the season 3-4, for a combined 6-8 record for the Comets first ever season in the ‘B’ division. The frosh/soph boys end the season with a strong 5-2 record.

The meet began with the 4×100. Although the Eagles won both races, the Comets achieved huge season bests in both relays. The girls ran 54.28, better than our previous seasons best of 55.60. The boys ran 46.47, breaking 47 for the first time this season. The team of Salvador Lopez, Raven Alcantara, Jose Limon and Geovanny Campos achieved the feet. This is actually the fastest 4×100 time for the Comets this decade, and with the team being composed of 3 sophomores and a junior, big times are ahead down the road.

Azael Zamora and Erik Olsvold combined to go 1-2 in the 1600, with Erik running a seasons best 5:11. Brandon Cruz and Jerricho Habon went 1-2 in the frosh/soph version of the event. We did not run any of our best girls in the 1600, though Erika Camacho ran a sizable PR (Personal Record) of 7:31 to end her season.

Valeria Cortez took the win in the girls 100 hurdles in 17.62. With this victory, Valeria made it through the season 7-0 in the girls 100 hurdles. She is therfore the first James Lick Comet in history to go undefeated in an event for an entire season in the ‘B’ division.  She did the same thing last year in the ‘C’ division, but the step up in competition makes the feet all the more impressive.

She lead a sweep, with Kirsten Yutuc and Yesenia Martinez taking 2nd and 3rd. Kirsten did so in a huge PR of 18.22. Susie Peterson ran a seasons best 19.44 in 4th place. A good battle was seen in the boys 110 hurdles, between Cody Huoch and Oak Grove’s Julius Jacroux. Julius won the battle in 16.51, with Cody 2nd in a PR of 16.59. Rodolf Ocampo took 3rd in a PR of 19.01. Jo-Jo Bradley, Luis Escamilla and Dakota Castro-Lopez swept the frosh/soph event with PRs of 20.47, 20.70 and 22.06 respectively.

Yeimili Adame and Justine Austria combined for a 1-2 finish in the girls 400. Aliana Santos ran a huge PR of 1:14.12 in 4th place. Misael Herrera and Salvador Lopez went 2-3 in the boys 400, both boys clocking in at 56 seconds for the lap. Melvin Estrada ran a PR of 1:00.27 in 5th.

The 100m saw some huge breakthroughs for the team, and the times were not srongly wind aided this time around. Natalie Rem took 3rd for the team in 13.67. Lisbeth Galdamez broke 14 for the first time, running a massive PR of 13.95. This is the first time in over a decade that two lady Comets on the same team have been under 14 seconds in the 100. Susie Peterson ran 14.99 for a PR as well. A whole host of PRs followed. Chantrea Thach ran 15.45 (15.99 previous best) Emily Jiminez ran 15.85 (16.65 previous best) Mariah Santos ran 16.29 (previous best 17.19). Regine Valecruz and Maria Sanchez ran PRs of 16.84 and 16.86.

The boys 100 was just as successful, Raven won the meet for the Comets in 11.79, a massive PR, just the 4th Comet this decade to run under 12 seconds in the 100. Geo became the 5th just a split second later, taking 3rd place in 11.97. This is also the first time in this decade that the team has had two Comets under 12 in the same season, and the fact that they’re both sophomores is very exciting. Coach Turner’s hard work with the teams sprinters is paying huge dividends. Chris Okoro ran a small PR of 12.71. Joshua Merin ran 12.81 to take 2nd in the frosh/soph boys 100 and Dakota ran a PR of 13.46 for 3rd.

Ashley Preciado and Belen Sanchez ran PRs of 2:48 and 2:49 in the 800 to seal a 1-2 finish for the team. Krystal Tran ran 3:13 for a full 9 second PR to end her season. Azael and Mark Orpia went 1-2 in the boys 800. Mark ran a 4 second PR of 2:17 for 2nd place. Jerricho and Brandon went 1-2 in the frosh/soph boys 800.

Kirsten took the win in the girls 300 hurdles, running 53.28, her best ever dual meet time. Susie ran a PR of 58.81 in 5th place. Cody won the boys 300 hurdles in 43.77, his best ever time in a dual meet. Rodolf took 3rd for the team. The frosh/soph boys swept the event. Jo-Jo and Luis both ran under 50 seconds for the first time, running 49.17 and 49.68 respectively. Dakota took 3rd for the team.

Natalie won the girls 200 in 29.36, the best time by a Comet this season. Lisbeth took 3rd for the team. Chantrea, Regine and Maria all ran PRs in the event as well. Misael took 2nd for the Comet boys in the 200. Isaak Herrera went out with a PR of 28.58. Azael ran a PR of 27.50. Jerricho took 2nd in the frosh/soph 200 in 26.97.

Belen and Ashley once again combined for a 1-2 finish with PRs to boot. They both ran under 14 minutes for the first time, clocking 13:46 and 13:49 respectively. Francine Estranero and Emely Lopez ran PRs of 16:05 and 16:17 to end their seasons. Melvin, Azy and Inteus Castro-Lopez combined to sweep the 3200, Melvin only narrowly missed his PR, running 10:56. Hugo Marquez ran a PR of 11:47 to win the frosh/soph 3200. Jerricho took 2nd for the team.

Oak Grove won the boys 4×400, but the Comets won the girls 4×400 to round out the running events.

For the first time all season, the Comets did not win the girls shot put. Oak Grove’s Talalelei Tuipala threw the Shot 36-9, a very strong mark. Alejandra Ceron and Valeria took 2nd and 3rd behind her. Lizbet Alonzo managed a small PR of 19-4. Josh Garcia won the boys Shot Put for the Comets in a tick over 40 feet. Josh Merin took 2nd in the frosh/soph shot put. Josh and Daniel combined for a 1-2 finish in the boys discus, while Oak Grove swept the frosh/soph discus. Valeria backed up her PR of 112-1 from a week ago, with her 2nd best throw ever, 110-8. Alejandra took 3rd place. The girls discus is the 2nd event that the lady Comets went undefeated in for the season. Charli Chircop and Valeria alternated victories all season in the event.

Kirsten and Lyndel Ventura took 2nd and 3rd for the Comets in the girls long jump. Natalie took 2nd for the Comets in the girls triple jump. Raven and Rodolph went 1-2 in the boys long jump. Cody and Sal went 1-2 in the boys triple jump. Sal netted a PR of 37-8.25. Raven also grabbed a PR, jumping 36-2.25 in 4th place.

Lisbeth and Yesenia tied for 2nd place at 4-4 for the lady Comets. Sal got a final PR in the high jump, clearing the bar at 5-2 to take 2nd place. Jo-Jo and Josh took 1st and 3rd in the frosh/soph high jump, matching their PRs of 5-0 and 4-10 respectively. Mark and Rodolf both cleared 8-0 in the boys pole vault to place 1st and 2nd as well.

When all was said and done, the meets final scores were as follows:

Varsity Girls: 

JL: 71    OG: 56

Varsity Boys: 

JL: 86    OG: 47

Frosh/Soph Boys: 

JL: 63   OG: 60

With the regular season over, the Comets look ahead at ST division finals. I am proud to say that we have achieved what we set out to do this season. After two consecutive ‘C’ division girls titles, this year was about proving that we belonged in the ‘B’ division. While a combined 6-8 record is not spectacular, it puts us solidly in the middle of the pack despite the fact that we are by far the smallest school in the division.

Division Finals will take place on Wednesday May 2nd and Friday May 4th at Evergreen High School. The Comets will send 3 athletes in each event to try to achieve some final PRs and earn points for the team. Wednesday will mostly be Prelims, with the top 8 athletes in sprints/hurdles advancing to finals on Friday.

Wednesday will also see finals in the girls 1600, boys 3200, girls long jump, boys triple jump, girls shot put, boys discus, and boys high jump. The pole vault will be held at Prospect HS the day before.

The top 8 athletes in each final will score points for their team, and the top 5 in each final (including relay teams) will advance to BVAL championships on May 10th.

I will do a division finals preview detailing where the Comets are ranked highly if I have time.

Thanks for reading!