Comets Compete Well at BVAL Finals: Both Varsity Teams Qualify for CCS for 2nd consecutive season

The James Lick cross country team  competed at the 2019 edition of BVAL Finals on Monday November 4th at the historic Crystal Springs cross country course. BVAL finals is significant as the final race of the year for most runners, and the final determinant of team standings for the league season. It is also the CCS qualifying meet, with the top half of teams (24 total teams in the league so top 12 as long as full teams are run) qualify for CCS. Each of the CIF divisions are also guaranteed 1 representative team. With only 3 division schools in the BVAL, that meant the Comets just needed to beat San Jose and Gunderson to clinch a CCS berth, a feat the team managed to achieve.

Conditions were warm and many runners across the league struggled as a result, though we as a team competed quite well despite the heat.

The meet began with the varsity boys race. The varsity boys team has struggled this season with the loss of 1-2 runners Mark Orpia and Jerricho Habon since early in the season. The top trio of Nien Tran (18:20) Brandon Cruz (18:35) and Omar Fimbres (18:40) competed quite well with Nien and Brandon both breaking the 19 minute barrier for the first time. After that, the team’s lack of depth really stung with Geo Campos (20:30) and Jo-Jo Bradley (21:25) coming in next. Melvin Estrada rounded out the group. This was good enough for a 16th place finish out of the 24 BVAL teams. The team also defeated Sobrato, meaning that although the squad went 0-7, we will not be in last in the final standings.

The team did handily beat Gunderson and San Jose to clinch a CCS berth but in many ways it was a disappointing season. For reference, if Mark and Jerricho simply had been healthy enough to MATCH their finals times from last year (not ambitious as the top 3 boys all ran at least 30 seconds better than last year) the team would have finished in 9th place. This is the nature of sports, staying healthy is a big part of success and we were simply unable to do that this year.

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The varsity boys prior to the race

The next race was the varsity girls, a far greater source of strength for the team this season. The team placed 12th of the 24 BVAL schools. Though not every school had a full team, this was a solid middle of the pack performance and the team clinched a CCS spot by being the top D4 school.

Jessica Cervantes lead the team in a PR of 22:57. Keyla Sifuentes (23:49) Emely Lopez (23:55) and Daisy Flores (23:56) all broke the 24 minute barrier for the first time. Yeimili Adame ran 24:26 for her final high school race and Ahsley Preciado rounded out the team in 25:12. This was all without team #2 runner Mya Hammond who is recovering from injury, and Lizbeth Espana, the usual #5 who dropped out during the race due to ankle pain. The girls clinched a middle of the pack finish in the division and even defeated 2 ‘A’ division schools in Piedmont Hills and Andrew Hill. Perhaps the most exciting feature of the team is that the top 6 runners this year are non seniors, and they will look to get valuable experience at CCS finals in 2 weeks.

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The varsity girls before the race

The JV girls were next, and for the 2nd year in a row, they achieved the Comets top finish on the day. The team came in 6th in the entire BVAL and saw a few strong performances. The best performance was by Ruth Rodriguez who lead the team in 24:15, a PR by over 2 minutes and the 5th best JL time on the day. Mariana Perez (24:59) and Estefani Herrera (25:44) were next in as a solid 2-3. Melanny Sanchez ran a PR of 26:16. Kaylena Gil had a rough day but was the 5th girl in 29:20. Deisy Flores rounded out the team in 30:50.

The frosh/soph boys race was next on the docket. Justin Nguyen and Omar Sanchez lead the team, both running huge PRS of 21:22 and 21:26 respectively. Their previous bests were 22:46 and 23:07 respectively. Navbir Kahlon narrowly missed his PR running 23:08, fighting through leg pain to be the #3 boy. Josue Gomez took 30 seconds off of his PR to run 23:35 and Carlos Nava was the 5th boy in 24:03. Jason Garcia ended the frosh/soph day in 26:06, a 30 second PR.

The final race of the day was the reserve race, and it was combined between boys and girls. Abraham Benitez lead the Comets in 21:35 a very solid performance. Josh Merin was next in 22:10. Luis Escamilla took 48 seconds off of his PR to stop the clock at 23:05. Luis Gonzales and Yesenia Martinez ended the Comets day by squeezing under the 30 minute barrier.

Looking around the league, many teams struggled mightily, suggesting that our team had a great day in terms of improvement. For example, the 29 competing Comets achieved 14 PRS to end the season. Compared to Santa Teresa, a top level ‘A’ division team that achieved only 4 PRS from 25 athletes. I for one am proud of the fact that our team competed hard despite not ideal conditions and can say that every member of the team went out with an effort to be proud of.

The team will compete in a final team event, the Watermelon Race this week, before the top runners on the team prepare for CCS finals on Saturday November 16th back at Crystal Springs.

James Lick Varsity girls 4-1 after 3rd league meet: Big Improvements all around.

The Comets had their 3rd league meet of the season on Thursday October 17th 2019. After the first two league meets of the year were fairly poor performances by the team, the Comets really surged ahead at this meet, having by far the best all around league performance of the season so far despite still dealing with several injuries.

The team was facing off against the Sobrato Bulldogs and the Oak Grove Eagles, and the meet began with the frosh/soph boys grabbing their first wins of the season.

The team was lead by Justin Nguyen in 20:31, just missing his PR by 10 seconds. Omar Sanchez had a big breakthrough running 20:52, a PR by a minute and 30 seconds. Navbir Kahlon ran 21:14, a PR by a minute 30 as well. Carlos Nava and Josue Gome came in together at 21:30 and 21:44. Both were big PRS, especially for Carlos whose previous PR was 24:20. Jason Garcia rounded out the frosh/soph team in 23:20 a PR by almost 2 minutes.  The boys defeated both Oak Grove and SObrato to move to a 2-3 record on the season.

The biggest breakthrough on the day was the varsity girls team. The team now has 5 girls faster than our number 1 girl at league race 1. We are the only team in the division that can come close to saying that. Jessica Cervantes and Mya Hammond lead the team in 21:32 and 21:38, both PRS, Mya’s being a PR by over a minute. Daisy Flores, Emely Lopez and Lizbeth Espana packed together and all broke the 23 minute barrier for the first time. Daisy finished in 22:22 (PR by 1:26) Emely at 22:27 (PR by 0:43) and Lizbeth at 22:35 (PR by 1:55).  For reference no Comet ran under 23 minutes at our first league meet this year. In her first varsity race, Keyla Sifuentes ran a strong PR of 23:28, loping over 2 minutes off her previous best. Ashley Preciado rounded out the team in 24:32.

The team spread (difference between 1st and 5th girl) was also by far the lowest in the division at 1:03. The team’s top 6 runners were 5 juniors and 1 freshmen, indicating great hopes for next year. With the two victories over Sobrato and Oak Grove, the varsity girls are 4-1 on the season, clinching their 2nd consecutive winning season and only the 3rd winning season for the girls in the ‘B’ division in school history.

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Jessica Cervantes during the 1st mile of the race

The varsity boys race was next, and the team was still dealing with significant injuries. Mark Orpia and Jerricho Habon, the team’s 1-2 from race 1 are still out with injury, a big part of why the team is winless this season. The team nonetheless had its best race of the year by far.

Nien Tran spearheaded the team in 16:50, a PR by 40 seconds to crack the high quality 17 minute barrier. Brandon Cruz just missed doing the same thing, running 17:06 for a 25 second PR. Both boys beat all the runners from Sobrato and Nien beat Oak grove’s top boy. It would not however prove enough to earn a win. Omar Fimbres managed a small PR of 18:01. He just missed beating two Sobrato boys at 17:57, this would help seal the Comets 27-28 loss to the Bulldogs. Next in was Melvin Estrada in a seasons best 18:33. Melvin just lost to Oak Grove runners who also ran 18:33. Had Melvin beaten them the team would have won that dual, instead the Comets lost 27-30 to the Eagles. Geo Campos was the 5th boy in 19:01, a seasons best. The team came very close to a pair of wins, but the narrow losses drop the team to 0-5 and make an 0-7 season likely. Even so, this race was a big improvement on previous meets this year.

The reserve boys race was next. With the boys team dealing with so many injuries, only 3 Comet boys ran. Josh Merin lead the team in a 20 second PR of 20:31. Abraham Benitez managed a huge PR of 20:50, taking over 3 minutes off his previous best. Luis Escamilla missed his PR by a bit, stopping the clock at 22:13.

The JV/reserve girls race was the final race of the day. Mariana Perez lead the JV girls ina varsit caliber time of 23:14, a 20 second PR. Ruth Rodriguez and Estefani Herrera were next in 23:42 and 23:54, both small PRs. Yesenia Martinez had by far her best race of the season, clocking in at 24:16. Kaylena Gil and Marisol Carlos came in close together at 26:07 and 26:33. For Kaylena this was a PR by over 1 minute and for Marisol it took nearly 4 minutes off of her previous best. Marisol has been radically improving, going from 33 minutes at race 1, to 30:04 at race 2, to now 26:33. Her sister, Deisy Carlos, also broke the 30 minute barrier for the first time, running through at 28:32, a PR by 2 full minutes to end the team’s day.

The JV girls moved to 5-0 on the season and will face the other undefeated JV team, Leigh HS, next week.

The team netted a total of 22 PRS on the day, the most in any race this season and a very high number considering only 30 athletes competed.

The team will compete in their final league meet of the year next Thursday October 24th against Leigh and Pioneer. The team will then send a small contingent down to southern California for the Mt. Sac Invitational that weekend.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

Comets Look Strong at Crystal Springs Center Meet

The Comets competed in the Aragon Center Meet on Wednesday October 9th 2019, with 11 other High Schools. The race was a preview of the league finals course for the team, the nearly 50 year old Crystal Springs cross country course. Since league finals is the most important race of the season for most of the team, getting an early race on the course is important.

There is also a direct relationship between Crystal Springs and our normal league course, Montgomery Hill. Montgomery is a more challenging course, but because it is significantly shorter, most people run 1 minute faster at Montgomery Hill than at Crystal Springs. This is helpful to keep in mind to track the progress of our runners who haven’t run at Montgomery in several weeks now, and to help myself and coach Raul Lopez determine who runs on what team at our next league meet.

The meet began with the frosh/soph boys. Justin Nguyen lead the team witha  time of 22:46, in line with his 21:25 clocking at Montgomery Hill. Navbir Kahlon and OMar Sanchez came in together at 23:06 and 23:07 which shows they are both ready to challenge the 22 minute barrier at Montgomery Hill themselves. Carlos Nava clocked in at 23:27, the best race of his career so far all things considered. Carlos actually ran nearly a minute faster at crystal springs than he has run at Montgomery, showing that he is ready for a big breakthrough at our next league meet. Josue Gomez was the only boy in the race who had run Crystal Springs before, and he ran a full 4 minute PR of 24:12. Jason Madrigal was the last frosh/soph Comet across in 26:43 for his first time on the course.

The next race saw all of the team’s girls competing in one race, a helpful race for helping us determine who should run on which teams next week. Mya Hammond lead the team with a time of 23:04, a PR by over 2 minutes, placing 14th overall. Jessica Cervantes was next, returning from 2 weeks spent in Mexico to run a time of 23:48, not a PR but 50 seconds faster than she ran at this same meet last year. Keyla Sifuentes continued her recent breakthrough to run 24:06 as the #3 girl on the team. Lizbeth Espana and Emely Lopez rounded out the top 5 with times of 24:15 and 24:22 to help the team place 3rd overall on the day. For Emely this was a PR by over 2 minutes. Daisy Flores ran 24:41 for her first time on the course. Mariana Perez managed a 45 second PR of 24:57, giving the team a full 7 girls under the 25 minute barrier.

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Emely Lopez, Keyla Sifuentes and Lizbeth Espana pass the first mile mark in a pack with Daisy Flores close behind

Estefani Herrera beat her center meet time from last year with a time of 25:31. Melanny Sanchez and Yesenia Martinez finished close together in 26:43 and 26:44. Kaylena Gil ran 28:54 and Marisol Carlos 29:52 for their first times on the course. It was overall a strong performance for a girls team missing two of its top 10 runners in the forms of Ashley Preciado and Ruth Rodriguez. We’re hoping for some big PRs on Thursday.

The boys varsity/JV race was the final race of the day and took place after some delay. Nien Tran lead the group with a strong performance and 40 second PR, stopping the clock at 18:05. Brandon Cruz paced Omar Fimbres throughout the race and still beat his time from last year’s center meet, running 19:06. Omar ran a PR of 19:09 in large part thanks to Brandon. Melvin Estrada ran 19:31, a far stronger run than his 20 minute plus clocking at Montgomery Hill at last league race. Geo Campos was the 5th boy on the day in a time of 20:22, only 20 seconds off his performance from league finals last year.

Jonathan Bradely (20:58) and Rodolf Ocampo ( 21:02) came in close together on the back end. Neither boy managed to run this fast last year. Josh Merin managed a huge PR of 2:40, running 21:33, the 7:18 pace being the best of his career for a 3 mile (or near 3 mile) course in his career. Luis Escamilla (24:35) and Luis Gonzales (29:48) ended the Comets day.

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The varsity/JV boys team before the race

Both boys teams are currently 0-3 and next meet (10/17)  figures to be the teams best chance at some wins so far as the team takes on Sobrato and Oak Grove. The team will be competing at league meets in back to back weeks and taking a break from invitationals to focus on Montgomery Hill.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

Fun Day for the Comets at the 2019 Artichoke Invitational

On Saturday October 5th, the James Lick Cross country team ran at the Artichoke Invitational in Half Moon Bay. It was the 33rd time that the team has competed in the always fun invitational over the 2.33 mile course. Since James Lick has run the course for so long, many of the greatest Comet runners in history have official times on the course, making the Half Moon Bay HS course one of the most difficult “all time-lists” to get onto for a James Lick runner.

The meet began with the freshmen boys race. Justin Nguyen once again lead the freshmen boys, running 16:53, keeping his string of low 7 pace clocking in tact. Omar Sanchez was next in 17:33, followed by Carlos Nava who narrowly missed the 18 minute barrier, running 18:01. Jason Garcia rounded out the group in 19:22.

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Freshmen boys left to right: Omar Sanchez, Justin Nguyen, Jason Garcia, Carlos Nava 

The frosh/soph girls race was next. Daisy Flores spearheaded the group with a varsity caliber time of 18:27. She ended up being the 2nd fastest lady Comet on the day. Ruth Rodriguez ran 19:03. Kaylena Gil stopped the clock at 21:17. Deisy Carlos rounded out teh group in 23:24, achieving the best pace of her career so far.

The JV girls race had one of the biggest breakthroughs of the day. Keyla Sifuentes lead the group in 18:44, 8:02 pace, by far the best of her career to this point. Keyla did not join the team until September but she is looking like a varsity caliber runner more and more as the season progresses. Estefani Herrera narrowly missed her PR, running 19:54. Yesenia Martinez took 20 seconds off of her PR running 20:03. Melanny Sanchez ran 20:58. Marisol Carlos clocked in at 23:29 and Adriana Marcelino rounded out the team’s day in 27:03.

The JV boys had one of the best spreads of the day, with only a little over a minute sperating the 1st and 5th runners. Abraham Benitez, Joshua Merin and Navbir Kahlon ran 17:05, 17:10 and 17:30 respectively. Hugo Marquez came across in 17:50 and Josue Gomez was the 5th boy in a big PR of 18:28. Luis Escamilla took 15 seconds off of his PR as well running 18:37. Luis Gonzalez made his debut for the team as well running 23:00 to finish the day for the JV boys.

All that remained were the varsity races at this point. Mya Hammond continued her breakout season, running 17:46, getting herself the #14 spot on the school’s all time list with a PR by over a minute. Lizbeth Espana and Emely Lopez both broke 8 minute pace for the first time, running 18:27 and 18:33 respectively.  This was a massive PR for Emely after a previous best of 20:22, as she continues her own breakthrough season. Mariana Perez took 23 seconds off of her PR, running 19:17. Ashley preciado rounded out the varsity girls day in 19:59.

The varsity boys race was next and this is the group that as a team has really struggled all year. Brandon Cruz ran a strong 34 second PR of 14:06 to lead the group. Nien Tran was caught behind a falling runner and boxed in to start the race, and never got in rhythm, running 15:00 as the #2 boy. Omar Fimbres, Jonathan Bradley and Rodolf Ocampo rounded out the varsity group, though none of the boys ran a PR.

The team has yet another week without a league race and will take to Crystal Springs on Wednesday October 9th as a preview of the league finals and CCS course.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The team taking in the lake before the race

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

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Mya Hammond approaching the 1 mile mark in the race

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

 

Comets Show Steady Improvement at 2nd League Race

The Comets had their 2nd league meet of the 2019 season on Thursday September 26th at Montgomery Hill. It was a long 3 weeks in between league meets, and many members of the team ran dramatically faster than at ST Division (‘B’) division race #1. Overall the team showed improvement, but we are still not where we want to be at this point in the year.

The first race of the day was the frosh/soph boys. The team fell to a very strong Branham team (currently the 3rd best boys team in the BVAL by my reckoning) but every boy in the race managed a big improvement. None was bigger than Justin Nguyen. At ST #1, Justin ran 24:22 as the #2 frosh/soph boy for the team. At this meet, Justin PR’d by over 4 minutes, stopping the clock at 20:21, a very solid time for a freshmen boy.

Jay Austria was the next Comet across in 21:51, better than the 23:03 he managed at the first league meet. Omar Sanchez had a massive PR as well, running 22:23 compared to his 25:58 clocking from the first league meet. Josue Gomez had his first race of the season, running 23:36, shattering his previous PR of 25:14. Navbir Kahlon was close behind in 22:44, nearly a 2 minute PR as well. Carlos Nava ran 24:20 for a minute PR and Jason Garcia ran 25:15 for his first time on the course.

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Freshmen Justin Nguyen during the first Mile with Sophomore Navbir Kahlon not far behind 

The varsity girls race was next and it would be one of the stronger races for the Comets on the day. Jessica Cervantes lead the group, running a PR of 21:49, but she finished behind all of Branham’s top 3. Mya Hammond narrowly missed breaking 24 for the first time at ST race #1, running 24:02. She didn’t leave that barrier to chance this time, netting a massive PR of 22:50, placing in the top 20 in just her 2nd ever varsity meet. Emely Lopez also managed a massive PR, running 23:10, her first time under 24 minutes as well. Those 3 girls managed to come in before Branham’s 4th girl, giving the team some hope. The Branham 4-5 ran high 23s to seal their victory however. Daisy Flores ran 23:48, and Mariana Perez and Ashley Preciado ran 24:03 and 24:05 to round out the team, both were big season bests. This performance was obviously a massive improvement on race 1 where only 1 lady comet ran under 24, and it was without team #3 Lizbeth Espana as well.  The varsity girls sit at 2-1 and look ahead at a very good chance at a winning record this year.

For the 2nd race in a row however, it was a very rough performance from the varsity boys. At race 1, Mark Orpia and Jerricho Habon lead the team. Neither boy was able to race at this meet due to injury. Brandon Cruz lead the team with a strong time of 17:29, a PR by 1 second.

While Brandon finished in the top 15, no other varsity boy from the team finished in the top 40. The last time we had a race with only 1 boy in the top 40 was in 2013, also the last time a varsity team from James Lick finished 0-7. The team will hope to see speedy recoveries from Mark and Jerricho, but the entire squad will need to pick up the slack to avoid a winless season.

After a 7-0 season last year, the JV girls team on paper looked ready to take things even further, aiming for a top 4 finish at BVAL finals. While the team kept their undefeated season alive against Branham (moving to 3-0) it was an uneven performance for the JV girls. The race also proved that Leigh and Pioneer will be tough opponents.

Ruth Rodriguez had a great race, running under 24 minutes for the first time, stopping the clock at 23:50. Estefani Herrera took 8th overall in 25:01 a small improvement on ST race 1, but not near her PR. Keyla Sifuentes ran 25:32 for her first league meet and is likely to be a key contributor by seasons end. Yesenia Martinez and Melanny Sanchez came in close together at 26:34 and 26:44 respectively. The time was a PR for Melanny. Kaylena Gil ran 27:29 for her first league meet to round out the team.

Erika Camacho had a rough day, running 28:28. Marisol and Deisy Carlos ran big PRs, lowering their marks from the 32 minute range to the 30 minute range. Marisol just missed the big barrier, running 30:04, while Deisy ran 30:34.

Rodolf Ocampo lead the reserve boys, running a PR of 20:25 which was better than our 7th varsity boy on the day. Josh Merin took over 40 seconds off his PR as well, running 20:53. Hugo Marquez also netted a seasons best of 21:16 as the 3rd reserve boy. Luis Escamilla PR’d by over a minute, running 21:51. Abraham Benitez ran 24:14, a PR by over a minute, but he is clearly ready to run way faster than that based on his other races. Expect more than a 2 minute PR the next time out.

When all was said and done, the team came away with 17 PRS on the day, and a few big steps forward, particularly in the frosh/soph boys, varsity girls, and reserve boys races.

The team has another 3 week layoff before the next league meet, (This is the weirdest league race schedule we’ve had since I’ve been coaching) but the team will compete at 3 invitationals in the meantime.

This Saturday, the Comets will take to Shadow Cliffs Regional Park in Pleasanton for the Scott Bauhs Invitational. This is the first time the team has ever been to this meet, so the fastest Comets of the day will come home as school record holders for the 2.95 mile course. The distance is the same as Crystal Springs, (our league finals course) but past results suggest this is a faster course, making it a good confidence builder.

Next week, the Comets will head to Half Moon Bay for the always fun Artichoke Invitational.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comets Shake Off Rust at De La Salle Invitational

After a 2 week hiatus from any racing, the James Lick Comets began their busiest stretch of the season by competing at Newhall Park in Concord, in the hyper competitive De La Salle Invitational. This was the 9th time in school history that James Lick competed at this invitational, the first time being 2005. With less than 10 years on the course, every year the team improves the school’s all-time list on the course, an exciting prospect for many of our runners. The varsity runners contested the 3 mile course, while the JV and frosh/soph runners ran the 2 mile course.

The meet began with the varsity girls race. Jessica Cervantes lead the Comets with a strong time of 22:39, the 6th best time in school history. The Comets were without #2 runner Mya Hammond, but the other girls picked up the slack by running as a pack. Lizbeth Espana and Emely Lopez came in together at 24:37. Mariana Perez ran 24:51 and Ashley Preciado 24:54. Yesenia Martinez ran 26:49 to round out the team. The times from Lizbeth- Ashley are actually quite encouraging. Over the years I have several examples of lady Comets who ran over 25 minutes at De La Salle, who would go on to run under 23 minutes at Crystal Springs for BVAL finals, a solid middle of the pack time. Despite Mya’s absence, the team ran the 2nd best team time on the course in school history, missing the mark of the 2014 squad by only 20 seconds.

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Left to Right: Emely Lopez, Ashley Preciado, Yesenia Martinez, Mariana Perez, Lizbeth Espana and Jessica Cervantes

 

The varsity boys race was next. Top runner Mark Orpia is still battling injury and did not run.  Nien Tran lead the Comets with a solid time of 18:33, the fastest time Nien has ever run for a 3 mile race by over 40 seconds. The last time we ran at De La Salle, Nien was a freshmen, who ran 7:12 pace for the 2 mile version of the course. The 6:11 pace for 3 miles he was able to produce as a senior is the result of 4 years of hard work.

The same can be said about Jerricho Habon who finished in 18:54. He ran only 7:06 pace for the 2 mile as a freshmen and just produced his first sub-19 3 mile clocking at De La Salle. Brandon Cruz was next in 18:55, giving the Comets 3 boys under 19 at De La Salle for just the 2nd time in the 9 years we’ve race the course.

Without Melvin Estrada or Mark present, Omar Fimbres was the 4th boy in 19:51. Hugo Marquez stepped up to give the team a 5th varsity boy, running 22:27. The varsity boys beat 7 teams despite missing some key players, a solid performance as they look ahead to more races to come.

The next race saw the JV and frosh soph girls competing on the 2 mile course. Daisy Flores spearheaded the group with a time of 15:52, just the 3rd girl in school history to run under 16 minutes for the course. This was the single race with the most additions to the all time list for James Lick, since our JV girls have never been stronger than they are right now. Ruth Rodriguez was next in 16:26, the 6th best time in school history. Estefani Herrera claimed the 8 spot in 17:17. Junior Keyla Sifuentes, in her first race for the team impressed by running 17:20, good for #10 on the all time list. Melanny Sanchez and Erika Camacho ran 18:02 and 18:10 for spots 16 and 17, and Kaylena Gil ran 18:32 for the 19th spot on the list. Adriana Marcelino ran 23:18 to round out the girls day with her best performance of the season so far.

This squad managed a new team course record by over 5 minutes, stopping the clock at 84:59.

The next race up was the frosh/soph boys. Justin Nguyen and Ronaldo Castillo came in together at 14:44 and 14:45, solid performances for the duo who will look to crack the 7 minute pace barrier by the end of the season. Omar Sanchez squeezed under 15 minutes with a time of 14:59. Omar continues to be one of our most rapidly improving athletes. A month ago at our north rim trial he ran 9:56 pace for the difficult 3 mile course. The De La Salle Course may be shorter and less challenging but 7:29 pace is a dramatic improvement anyway you slice it.  Navbir Kahlon was next in 15:12, the 7:36 pace being the best of his career so far. Carlos Nava (16:17) Huu Thai (16:45) and Jason Garcia (17:02) rounded out the group.

The final race of the day was the JV boys over the 2 mile course. Josh Merin lead the group in 14:40, his best performance of the season so far. Abraham Benitez was the next boy across in 15:00 even. Rodolf Ocamp and Luis Escamilla came in at 15:35 and 15:52. This was the 2nd straight race under 8 minute pace for Luis.

The Comets have their 2nd league meet of the season on Thursday September 26th against Branham. Branham has been by far the toughest boys team in the division over the last 2 seasons, and the Comets  will be mostly focused on achieving PRS after a rough showing at our first league meet this season.

Then the team will take to the Scott Bauhs Invitational in Pleasanton for the first time in school history on Saturday September 28th.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

James Lick Team Records Fall at 2019 Lowell Invitational

On Saturday September 9th, the James Lick Comets took to Golden Gate Park to participate in the Lowell Invitational for the 5th time in school history. Due to very muddy conditions the courses were slightly altered making the traditional Frosh/soph course 2.07 miles instead of 2.13, and the traditional long course 2.8 miles instead of 2.93.

This might not seem like a big deal to many but it is unfortunate in my opinion since we cannot directly compare the performances to past years and use the comparisons to project ahead. For example, at the end of the meet, we were under the impression we had established a new varsity girls team record, only to learn later that the course had been altered.

In any case, the invitational was a good bounce back race for many of the Comet runners after what was a tough day for the team on Wednesday at their first league meet. The meet began with the freshmen boys race.

Despite the mud, the flat nature of the course and cool weather makes it a course where many runners run a fast pace and build confidence going forward.

Justin Nguyen lead the Comets with a strong time of 15:09, good for a 7:21 mile pace. This was a huge breakthrough for Justin, who just 3 weeks ago ran a 7:31 for our 1 mile time trial to start the season. Omar Sanchez was next in 16:10, also running under 8 minute pace for the first time in his career. Carlos Nava came across in 16:28, just under the 8 minute mile pace barrier as well. Jason Garcia rounded out the group in 17:40, a strong showing for him as well.

The frosh/soph girls race was next, and the first lady Comet across was Ruth Rodriguez in 16:45. The 8:05 pace is by far the best pace of her career to this point. Marisol Carlos also ran in the race as a substitute for a runner who couldn’t make it, and she ran 19:21. The 9:21 pace was a strong improvement for her as well.

In the soph boys race, Jay Austria ran a strong time of 14:45, a 7:08 pace, the 2nd best pace of his career so far. Navbir Kahlon finished in 15:56, a 7:42 pace as well.

With the JV races, the day turned to the 2.8 mile course, more comparable to our league races on the 2.74 mile Montgomery hill course. Even though it is a slightly longer course than Montgomery Hill, the conditions make it much faster. A good goal for any athlete is to try to run faster at Montgomery than you were able to manage at Lowell. This is even more challenging with the course being shortened this year.

Mariana Perez lead the JV girls with a time of 23:18. Estefani Herrera was close behind in 23:27. The 8:23 pace for Estefani is the best of her career to this point. Erika Camacho ran 24:06, a big step forward from a 27 minute clocking at Montgomery on Wednesday. Melanny Sanchez ran 24:21, the best race of her young career so far.

Hugo Marquez lead the JV boys with a time of 19:57, a big step forward from a 23 minute run on Wednesday. Abraham Benitez had by far the best race of his young career. He stopped the clock at 20:13, running 7:13 pace. Josh Merin was close behind in 20:24. Rodolf Ocampo ran 20:56 to and Luis Escamilla ran 21:23, breaking the 8 minute pace barrier for the first time.

The varsity girls race some some big breakthroughs as well. Namely Mya Hammond running 21:08 for the 2.8 mile course. Mya had never run under 8 minute pace for a cross country race before. She went way under that mark, managing a 7:33 mile pace for the race. Lizbeth Espana and Emely Lopez ran 22:16 and 22:18, both dipping just under 8 minute pace for the race as well. Ashley Preciado and Yesenia Martinez both took solid steps forward running 23:19 and 23:33 respectively to round out the groups.

The final race of the day was varsity boys. Mark Orpia lead the group in 16:10, the 5:47 pace being the fastest of his career so far. Jerricho Habon was next in 17:00. Brandon Cruz and Nien Tran made up the 3rd and 4th in 17:26 and 17:39. Omar Fimbres was the 5th boy in 18:09

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The varsity boys after the race

After a very rough first league meet, the team bounced back soundly at the Lowell Invite.

The team will work towards matching their Lowell Invite times at Montgomery Hill, which would make the team a force to be reckoned with at meet #2.

The team will take most of the next 2 weeks to focus on training. The Comets won’t race again until September 21st at the DeLaSalle Invitational.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

Varsity Girls Scrape Pair of Wins at ST Division Race 1

The 2019 James Lick cross country team had their first league meet of the season on Wednesday September 5th at Montgomery Hill. For the 5th consecutive year, JLXC is competing in the Santa Teresa (‘B’) division of the BVAL.

While every ST team was present, the Comets were specifically competing against Independence and Prospect. The first league meet being this early is unusual, and I think this contributed to the meet being a very rough performance for much of the team.

The frosh/soph boys fell to both Independence and Prospect to start the meet. Almost every member of the team was competing on the course for the first time however. Jay Austria lead the team in 23:03, but this is a far cry from his PR of 19:12. Freshmen Justin Nguyen and Navbir Kahlon had solid debuts of 24:22 and 24:28. Ronaldo Castillo and Huu Thai came in together as the 4-5 in 25:23 and 25:36. Carlos Nava was just behind Huu in 25:37. Omar Sanchez rounded out the group in 25:58.

While these times were not exceptional, our young Comets have some good examples to look up to, for example Brandon Cruz. When Brandon first ran the course as a sophomore, he stopped the clock in 23:41. Now a senior, Brandon finished in the top half of the varsity race despite not being within a minute of his PR as well. This is the example we will be trying to follow for our young runners.

The varsity girls team managed to defeat Independence and Prospect despite a very rough showing across the board. Mya Hammond ran a PR 24:02, finishing in the top 20 in her first varsity race. Lizbeth Espana had a strong first XC race, running 24:30 as the 3rd girl. Emely Lopez ran a PR of 24:43 as well. Ashley Preciado was 5th in 25:13, a very off race by her standards. Ashley’s PR is 22:09, and while it’s early in the season, last year she was able to start off at 23:31. It was a similar day for Yesenia Martinez, the 7th girl who ran 26:34 compared to a PR roughly 3 minutes faster. Alexa Rodriguez made her debut in between these two seniors, running 25:34.

Despite it being a very off day for the girls overall (like most of the team) they still managed a narrow win over Prospect due to the team’s depth. The team managed a 28-29 victory, and it was only possible because all 7 Comets finished before the Panthers 5th girl.  A decisive win against Independence made it a 2-0 start for the varsity girls team.

Mark Orpia spearheaded the varsity boys with a strong time of 16:44, placing 7th overall in the varsity race. This was the highest placing of Mark’s career and was a very strong start to the season, 30 seconds better than the 17:16 clocking he managed a year ago at ST #1. Jerricho Habon had  a decent race running 18:06. Brandon Cruz was next in 18:30. Both boys were about a minute off of their best times. Melvin Estrada and Nien Tran came across in 19:31 and 19:32, both over 2 minutes slower than their PRS. Omar Fimbres in 20:11 and Geovanny Campos in 20:17 rounded out the group. The varsity boys lost to both Independence and Prospect, starting the season 0-2.

The reserve boys race had a few bright spots. Rodolf Ocampo and Josh Merin lead the team 21:12 and 21:37. Josh’s time was a PR whereas Rodolf’s was well ahead of his early season times from a  year ago. Both boys should make a serious run at the 20 minute barrier, always a good benchmark. The same can be said of Hugo Marquez who ran 21:59. Luis Escamilla and Abraham Benitez ran 25:44 and 25:46 to finish together as well.

A year ago, the team’s strongest group was the JV girls. The team went 7-0 and placed 5th at BVAL finals, defeating half of the teams in the ‘A’ division. This year’s team figures to be even stronger.

Ruth Rodriguez lead the team in 24:39, close to her PR to start the season. Estefani Herrera was not far behind, running 25:05. Both girls are way ahead of last year’s first ST meet times, despite the very early start. Mariana Perez is likewise a minute up on her counterpart from last year, giving the team 3 JV girls under 26 minutes to start the season. Melanie Sanchez and Erika Camacho rounded out the scoring 5 with times in the 27 minute range.

Sisters Deisy and Marisol Carlos came in together in 32:56 and 33:12 in their first race for the team. Adriana Marcelino ended the Comets day at 37:04.

What made many of the performances so disappointing to myself and coach Raul, was the fact that so many members of the team performed great at the alumni race. Our team showed then that they were physically capable, and we will be greatly emphasizing consistency in mental preparation over the next few weeks with the aim of performing far better at ST division #2.

In the meanwhile, the team will look for a bounce back race at the Lowell Invitational on Saturday September 7th. Then team will get two weeks of pure training in before they race again at the De La Salle Invitational on Saturday September 21st.

Thanks for reading!

Comets Tune up for League Meets with Alumni Race

The 2019 edition of the James Lick Alumni Race took place on Friday August 30th in Alum Rock Park.  With the team’s first league meet of the just days away, the Alumni Race was critical for coach Raul and myself to determine who would run on which squad for the team.

We were fortunate to have a myriad of esteemed alumni in attendance, and several made a big impression on the race itself. The 2.25 mile course is shorter than the Comets league races, but it provides a good indicator of a runners potential nonetheless.

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Just before the race began 

 

The first Comet to cross the line was Mark Orpia in a strong time of 13:22. Over the past 15 years of alumni races, only 2 Comets have run faster on the alumni course, Azael Zamora, and Nathan Bernardo, two of the spearheads of the 2016 league championship team.  Mark’s time was a 1:10 second PR and puts him in a very strong place to start the season. He should already be able to attack his PR at Montgomery Hill despite the earliness of the season.

The next finisher was Joe Amendt, the legendary Comet from the class of 88. Joe finished in 13:43, nearly 30 seconds better than his 14:10 clocking from a year ago. He passed Nien Tran on the downhills, where Nien typically struggles. Nien nonetheless finished in a PR of 13:55, a PR by 1:20. Branon Cruz was next in 14:01, a 40 second PR for him as well, giving the Comets a much stronger 1-2-3 punch where the top runners were Erik Olsvold at 13:50, Jerricho Habon at 14:06, and Melvin Estrada at 14:34.

Azael Zamora and Erik Olsvold ran together, finishing in 15:04, and Omar Fimbres impressed running 15:10. Jerricho had a very rough race, but is normally close to Brandon and Nien. As Such, the real question mark on the boys squad is around the 5th boy, and Omar’s performance helped to ease some of those concerns. Geovanny Campos ran 15:39, and Melvin Estrada ran 16:08 to round out the varsity group.

Alumni Don Mora was the next runner in, stopping the clock at 16:44, a big improvement over his 18:01 from last year. Josh Merin and Rodolf Ocampo came in together at 17:04 and 17:08, both big PRS. Hugo Marquez followed close behind in a 30 second PR of 17:22 to give the reserve team a solid trio.

Jessica Cervantes ran a strong time of 17:36, demonstrating hwo rapidly she has become the team’s heir apparent to recent graduate Arlet Miranda. Jessica isn’t quite at the elite ‘B’ division level of Arlet and her preceder, Daniela Camacho (they both ran in the low 16s at Alumni) but her mid 17 clocking makes her just the 4th girl this decade to break 18 for the course. The girls team has a a lot to feel good about, more on that later.

Ronaldo Castillo was the top freshmen of the day, running 17:48, a promising time on the course. For reference, Nien is working towards his 3rd consecutive CCS appearance in XC, and as a freshmen, he ran 17:34 at the alumni race, very comparable to the time Ronaldo managed.

Luis Escamilla as another reserve boy finished in a solid 18:26, followed by #2 Lady Comet Mya Hammond. The fact that Mya ran faster than Belen Sanchez and Yeimili Adame did in 2018 is very encouraging. It was a massive PR as a year ago Mya only managed a time of 21:11. She would not be the last lady Comet to really stand out.

Abraham Benitez, and Navbir Kahlon, newcomers to the team came in together at 18:49 and 18:50. Freshmen Daisy Flores and Justin Nguyen came in together at 18:55 as well. Daisy looks to be the next in a strong line of a good Comet family. Daisy’ brother, Ricardo Flores, was a friend and teammate of mine on the 2009 WV  (‘C’) division championship. Ricardo and I battled for status as the #1 runner on the team senior year, and he ended his HS career with a strong PR of 4:41 in the 1600. Daisy looks to have the genes for running, along with the work ethic, and she’s established herself as a runner to watch going forward. Her cousin, Brianna Flores, was a member of the 2014 WV division championship team. We’ll have to make sure that Daisy isn’t the only runner in her family without a league title.

Not far back was Omar Sanchez in 19:04. Omar has improved dramatically over the course of the summer and along with Carlos Nava in 19:20, (brother of Daisy Nava, scoring member of the 2016 and 2017 WV division championship track teams) gives the team 4 dedicated freshmen to work with going forward.

This insurgency of youth was badly needed. Of our top 10 boys at the alumni race, only 1 was not a senior (Omar Fimbres, junior). Our goal is to try to have these boys ready to be quality ‘B’ division varsity boys by next season.

Just before Carlos finished, Emely Lopez came across as girl #4 in a great performance, running 19:18. This is faster than key runner Ashley Preciado managed last year when she ran 19:27. Alumni John Acosta came in right with Carlos Nava in 19:20, with freshmen Alexa Rodriguez, and Senior Yesenia Martinez finishing in 19:34, and 19:40 respectively. Ashley had an off day but still ran 19:52, and Lizbeth Espana, a standout in track now trying XC for the first time, ran 19:53. Estefani Herrera just missed the barrier running 20:01.

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The team after the race

 

 

The 20 minute barrier is significant as it has always signified a standard for the varsity girls. In my 6 years of coaching, we have never been worse than the 16th best team at BVAL finals, we’ve always been at least middle of the pack. Last year we managed 12th, a top half finish and in 2014 we were 8th. In all those years, the highest total of girls we’ve had who could run under 20 minutes at the alumni race was 5. That was last year, when Arlet, Yeimili, Belen, Ashley and Yesenia did so. That group went on to place 12th at BVAL’s WITHOUT Yeimili, our then #2 runner.

Despite Yeimili’s absence today, the team had 8 girls under 20, and Estefani missed by less than 1 second. Our JV girls team has been a BVAL powerhouse the past few years, but this year is going to be special in that regard because of the sheer depth on the team. We will be aiming for a top 5 finish at BVALS on the JV girls side.

Huu Thai was the next Comet in at 20:02, just beating out alumni Andres Rosas. Ruth Rodriguez and Mariana Perez ran PRS of 20:14 and 20:18. Erika Camacho took a step forward from her time trial result, running 21:12. Melanny Sanchez and Kaylena Gil finished in 21:59 and 22:46 respectively, adding even more depth to the JV girls. Jason Garcia finished in 23:06. Deisy Carlos ran 24:43. Emily DeLaRosa and Francia Castro ran 30:22 and 30:25 and alumni Nancy Reed finished the race with a clocking of 33:07.

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The Alumni in attendance, including long time James Lick coach Keith Antes (3rd from right)

 

The Comets have a lot to feel good about, and the season is here! The team will take on Prospect and Independence in their first league meet of the season on Wednesday September 4th at Montgomery Hill. Then, they will head to Golden Gate Park for the Lowell Invitational on Saturday September 7th.

The season is here and exciting times are ahead!

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves