James Lick Track Team Opens 2020 Season Strong at Willow Glen Invitational

The 2020 Track season is oficially underway with the James Lick Comets joining 35 other track teams at the Willow Glen Invitational on Saturday March 7th. As has seemingly become a yearly tradition, the meet dealt with somewhat chilly conditions and bouts of rain throughout, at times making conditions very unsuitable to strong track performances. Nonetheless, the team had some very strong early performances, with a grand total of 27 PRS in the meet, more that at any invitational from the 2019 season.

The meet began with the frosh/soph girls 4×100. The team of Jenny Fimbres, Cecelia Usui, Daniela Huitron and Jenny Gomez combined to run 1:01.60 with some very rough exchanges in what was the first ever track meet for 3 of the 4 members of the team.

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Jenny Fimbres handing the baton to Cecelia Usui 

Field events were already ongoing at this time as well and saw a number of solid performances for the Comets. In the frosh/soph girls discus, Sara Hawkes lead the Comets with a PR of 65-8.5, a PR by over 5 feet. Jimmie Chircop cracked the 60 foot barrier for the first time as well throwing 60-5 for a 4 foot PR. Francia Castro PR’d by almost 10 feet, throwing 59-10 and Emma Demblewski got a small PR of 57-10.

At the same time, Frosh/Soph boys high jump was going on. Jordan Lagura, the team’s top frosh/soph athlete, cleared 4-10 in his first try at the event and clearly has a much higher ceiling. Chris Escobar, the starting center on the frosh/soph basketball team went 5-0 in his first ever track meet, and only 3 days of practice so far, showing great potential as well. Lastly in boys Triple Jump, Jamie Vong went 37-4, opening the season just 4 inches off his PR. Geo Campos went a solid 35-10 in the event as well.

Back on the track, Ruth Rodriguez was the only frosh/soph girl for the Comets, and she opened her season with a PR of 6:37. The frosh/soph boys 1600 saw all 3 Comets PR. Omar Sanchez and Justin Nguyen both ran 5:44, 13 second PRS for both boys who broke the 6 minute barrier for the first time at our end of XC time trial. Carlos Nava took 6 seconds off his PR to run 6:22, and he’s only been out at practice for a few weeks since he was wrestling in the winter.

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Justin Nguyen (Lane 2) and Omar Sanchez (Lane 1) Storming to PRS in the 1600 

Omar and Justin are following the path of great improvement to varsity levels laid down by Brandon Cruz, Jerricho Habon and others on the team. Both Comets ran with us all summer, yet by late August, Omar could only run 7:03 for the 1600 and Justin only 7:31. The fact that they lowered their PRS to under 6 by the end of XC, and now open track season with big PRS gives us great cause for hope for both boys futures.

The varsity girls 1600 saw multiple PRS as well. Jessica Cervantes lead the team with a 2 second PR of 6:22. Next was Lizbeth Espana in 6:29, ripping 9 seconds off her PR. Keyla Sifuentes, a newcomer to track after an excellent first XC season took 13 seconds off her PR to run 6:33. Ashley Preciado and Emely Lopez came in together at 6:41. This was an 11 second PR for Emely, and while it wasn’t a PR for Ashley, she is more than 20 seconds ahead of her start from last year.

The boys 1600 saw Brandon Cruz lead the group in 5:06. Melvin Estrada also had a solid season opener of 5:14. Nien Tran ran 5:29, a long way from his 5:01, but we’ve learned that Nien takes a longer time than most to get in shape. Jerricho was off to a good start in his 1600 but took a fall and suffered minor injury, only running 5:32 despite going through 800 meters under 5:10 pace.

The hurdle races were next. Cecelia Usui made her debut in 21.58 despite a -1.8 m/s headwind. I’ve been fortunate enough to have coached 2 CCS Qualafiers in girls hurdles and 3 division champions between Andrea Ortiz and Valeria Cortez, and neither of them ran as fast as Cecelia did her first try at the event. Yesenia Martinez ran the varsity girls event in 20.25 into a -2.5m/s headwind. A wind this strong makes a big difference, as the wind conversion formula indicates that time would be a 19.53 under neutral conditions, a strong start to the season.

In the boys 110 hurdles, Rodolf Ocampo made his debut as the team’s highest ranked returning athlete within the CCS in the past decade. After some very strong 60 hurdles performances in early February, Rodolf had spent the last 3 weeks in the Philippines with family, only arriving the night before the Willow Glen Invite, hardly ideal for great performance. Even so, he ran 16.60 into a headwind to place 5th in the meet, narrowly losing to fellow CCS qualifiers. Jamie Vong made his debut in the event in 18.31, a very strong time for his first try. Dekota Castro-Lopez ran a big PR of 19.61, a PR by over 2 seconds despite the headwind. I feel very strong about our hurdles group heading into this season.

Ruth managed a small PR in the 400, running 1:22.01 and proving that she is truly a long distance runner. Hektor Olivera and Navbir Kahlon ran 1:04 and 1:05 in their first attempts at the event. Yeimili Adame managed a very strong season opener of 1:05.52 a PR by .13 to start the season. This is an excellent start, even faster than the season opener of Paloma Contreras when she won the WV title for the team in 2015 and qualified for CCS. In the boys varsity 400, Hector Hidalgo ran a 1:01 in his first attempt at the event and Angel Guerrero lowered his PR a full second from 59.40 to 58.28.

Rain began just in time for the 100s but the team still managed some solid early performances. Newcomer Jenny Gomez was the fastest lady Comet of the day, running 15.17, a very strong early performance. Jenny Fimbres was not far behind in 15.32, just .02 off her PR already. The flying Jenny’s will look to spearhead the frosh/soph girls 4×100 all season. The young lady COmet throwers also showed up strong in the 100, Jimmie Chircop ran 16.04 and Sara Hawkes 16.13. This pair looks to help form a formidable throwers 4×100. Franica Castro (17.67) and Daniela Huitron (17.80) rounded out the FS girls 100.

Jordan lead the team in the F/S boys 100 running 12.42, just .06 off of his PR. Justin took .3 off of his PR to run 13.41. Soreya Thach made his debut in 13.58. Jose Garcia took a big chunk off of his PR lowering his 100m best from 14.41 to 13.68 (and on his birthday no less).

Miny Pham and Azalea Galinato ran very similar times of 15.20 and 15.23 as the only varsity girls competing, solid early season times. Despite the bad weather, and the fact that he’s still dealing with a hamstring injury, Raven Alcantara ran 11.69 to open his season. In similar conditions in 2019, Raven ran 12.02 at Willow Glen, and managed to end the season with a best 11.47, so this 11.69 clocking is a very strong performance in my mind. Geo was the next Comet in at 12.09. Rodolf and Jamie ran 12.21 and 12.22, PRS for both boys though Rodolf has run faster with a big tailwind. These 4 figure to be the ‘A’ team for the 4×100 this season, and we’ll be aiming to soon have all 4 under the 12 second barrier.

More field events were being contested at this point. Jordan had a strong day in the frosh/soph long jump, going 18-5 to place 3rd overall. Soreya and Jose also competed with Jose managing a 6 inch PR. Yesenia went 27-2 in triple jump, and 4-2 in high jump to start her season. Minhy and Cecelia also long jumped, though both were short of their PRS.

In the varsity girls discus, Adriana Marcelino threw her 2nd best toss ever, 75-6 to place 13th out of 33 throwers. In the boys Shot Put, Hugo Marquez threw 23-6.5. Sara narrowly missed medaling for the team, placing 5th in the frosh/soph girls shot put with a toss of 24-4, 4 inches shy of 4th place. Clarrisa Morales also had a strong debut of 23-00.50.

Back on the track it was time for the 800. Justin and Omar both netted PRS with Justin running 2:32 and Omar running 2:36 in just their 2nd try at the event. On the varsity girls side, Mya Hammond lead the group with a seasons best 2:54. Emely managed a 2nd big PR on the day, running 3:05 for the event. Brandon barely missed his PR running a high 2:19 in the event. The final event of the day for the Comets was the 300 hurdles. Both Yeimili and Dekota achieved PRS despite some rain. Yeimili ran 55.53, and Dekota 51.32.

Considering the weather, it was a very strong meet for the Comets. The team will continue gearing up for their season with the K-Bell Invitational on Saturday March 14th. The team will have it’s first dual meet of the season at home on Thursday March 19th against the Prospect Panthers.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

James Lick Track and Field: 2020 Season Preview

The Winter season of CCS sports is nearly over which means that the time for Spring Sports is nearly here, brining with it yet another James Lick track season. The 2019 season saw the Comets achieve their first winning season in the ‘B’ division of the BVAl ever, with the varsity boys squad finishing 5-2. This is a particularly exciting year given the string returners on the boys side especially, setting the team up to be competitive against every team they face in the division.

The division has a slightly new look with Perennial power Pioneer moving up to the ‘A’ division and Branham High School moving down. Pioneer went 7-0 on both the boys and girls sides last season, so their departure opens the door for new champions, although Branham will provide stiff competition in their stead.

Below, you can see lists of the top returning athletes in the division (based on marks in 2019) in each event. Obviously it’s tough to say what new athletes will show up, but this provides a decent idea of where the team stands in different areas.

Top Returning Boys

Top returning Girls

2019 Boys Point Scoring breakdown 

Event Group Average Points Per Dual Meet Points Available Per Meet Average Points as percentage of Available League Finals Points
Distance 15.85 27 59% 7
Hurdles 12 18 66% 12.5
Jumps 23.25 36 65% 30
Relays 4.28 10 43% 14
Sprints 11.85 27 44% 10
Throws 4.71 18 26% 1

As this chart shows, the boys were an above average team in the division in 3/6 event areas, and were nearly league average in 2 others. Throws was the team’s real weakness in 2019, and it is a weakness the team, and throws coach Raul Lopez are working hard to rectify.

The team’s strongest event was boys hurdles and the event figures to be an even greater strength for the team this season. Rodolf Ocampo made it all the way to CCS trials last year after breaking through for a PR of 15.97 at last year’s BVAL finals. For reference however, he did not even run under 17 seconds until our division finals meet, and he should make a run at being the ‘B’ division champ in the event. Factor in Josh Merin who finished 6th in teh division in only his 3rd attempt at the 110 hurdles and these two seniors should form a very strong 1-2 punch for the team.

Things are looking good as the team comes out of conditioning. We use the early season to work n acceleration, with athletes like Rodolf running the 60 meter hurdles at the Los Gatos All Comers meet. A year ago, his PR in the event was 9.97. In just two all comers meets this year, he’s lowered his PR to 8.87.

The team has to deal with the loss of Salvador Lopez, the team’s #1 jumper from last season who is now at Piedmont Hills HS. Still, a strong jump core of Jamie Vong, Geo Campos and Jordan Lagura will look to keep jumps an event of strength for the team after scoring points at division finals last year. Jamie is another athlete off to a great early start. Last season he ended with a long jump PR of 18-6.5 Defying even his own expectations, this past Saturday at the all comers meet, Jamie managed a massive new PR of 19-7.

The team last top distance runner Erik Olsvold who graduated last year, but the team still has a number of scoring distance runners returning. Jerricho Habon is the #2 ranked 800m runner in the division and Brandon Cruz and Mark Orpia both return as sub 5 minute milers already, meaning distance should still be an area of strength although a very strong Branham distance squad will shake things up as well.

The sprints and relays squad was the team’s most improved last year. The 2019 team was the first 4×100 team from James Lick since 2001 to make CCS and 3 of the 4 members of the team are back. The returning members of the team who are conditioning are all ahead of where they were last year as well. After running the 60 meter dash 3 times last year, Raven Alcantara ended the season with a PR of 7.41, the fastest time we have on record. In only one all comers meet this season, Raven has run 7.28.

A year ago, the team’s top 5 boys in the 60 were Raven: 7.41,  Geo Campos 7.60, Salvador Lopez: 7.83, Josh Merin: 7.83 and Misael Herrera at 7.99. Geo and Josh are still in basketball season, Sal is at piedmont and Misael has graduated, yet the sprint team is poised to be much stronger this year based on early 60 meter times.

The team’s top sprinters so far, with still one all comers meet to go are:

Raven: 7.41

Rodolf: 7.53 (pr of 8.17 in 2019)

Jamie: 7.61 (PR of 8.07 in 2019)

Eric Dang 7.71 (a newcomer Sophmore we’re very excited about)

Jerricho Habon 7.72 (PR of 8.07 in 2019).

These times have been achieved without 3 of our 5 fastest returning sprinters.Our team’s acceleration is well ahead of where it was at this time a year ago.

Boys throws were the team’s biggest weakness last season, but coach Raul is hard at work trying to fix that. Throws in the ‘B’ division are a relatively weak event currently, and several newcomers are looking to make an impact.

From top to bottom, the boys squad should be a force in the division, looking for another winning season, and maybe even a division title.

 

Event Group Average Points Per Dual Meet Points Available Per Meet Average Points as percentage of Available League Finals Points
Distance 13.55 27 50% 21
Hurdles 13.1 18 73% 24
Jumps 14.86 27 55% 0
Relays 1.73 10 17% 3
Sprints 7.72 27 28% 1
Throws 14.85 18 82% 32

The girls team was very strong last year in throws and in hurdles but both events will take a huge dent with the graduation of Valeria Cortez and Marquise Nelson. Both athletes made CCS in throws, and Valeria in particular scored the most dual meet points of any Comet on record last season, she will not be easily replaced.

The strides made by athletes like Adriana Marcelino who improved her discus by over 10 feet last year, will be key to keeping the Comets competitive in throws. A batch of young throwers is coming out from winter sports, including the younger sister of Charli Chircop. Charli threw 118-2 in discus in 2018 to set the school record, and her sister Jimmie is a Sophmore now, we can only hope she is a chip off the old block.

In hurdles, the loss of Valeria hurts, but Yesenia Martinez remains as a strong athlete in the event, a former BVAL qualafier. Natalie Rem will also have an impact as will freshmen Ceclia who is looking like a future star so far.

With a healthy season, Natalie can take the team far in jumps. She is still one of the top jumpers in the league with her triple jump PR of 33-4 being particularly strong in the division. Much of the girls season hinges upon her performance, as the team’s projected top sprinter as well. Lisbeth Galdamez has been a very reliable sprinter for the team, and if she can have one more breakthrough she could go from consistent 2nd and 3rds for the team in the 100 to achieving event wins. She and Yesenia also form the team’s solid 1-2 punch in long jump. Yeimili Adame has been the team’s top 400 runner and will look to end her senior year strong, coming off of a strong soccer season.

In distance, the team will also have to overcome the loss of Arlet Miranda. This is not an easy task but the younger distance girls stepped up huge in cross country to go 4-3 without Arlet. Jessica Cervantes and Lizbeth Espana are both in shape to PR already based on the al comers meet where Jessica ran 6:27 for the full mile (current PR of 6:24) and Lizbeth ran 6:38 (same as her PR for 1600). These two will be relied upon heavily, alongside young talents like Daisy Flores to help the team score points in distance.

The girls squad is looking to rebound from a 2-5 season, and add a couple more wins to the ledger this year. The team is determined to make our 3rd year in the ‘B’ division our most successful so far.

The team will compete at the Los Gatos all comers meet on Saturday February 22nd. The following week the team will face Independence in a scrimmage meet. Finally the season will truly begin on Saturday March 7th when the team competes at the Willow Glen Invitational.

Comets End Season Strong at CCS Finals. Varsity Girls finish 4 places better than rank

The 2019 cross country season officially came to a close for the James Lick cross country team at CCS finals. The finals were hosted at the historic Crystal Springs course, the same 2.95 mile course that the team ran at BVAL Finals. In what has been a down year in large part due to injury, the team went in hoping to end on a strong note and start healing up for track. The team resoundingly achieved  this goal.

The varsity girls squad went into CCS ranked 13th out of the 14 complete division IV teams that qualified for the CCS meet, only ahead of Kipp High School. Besides this, the team was still without team #2 runner Mya Hammond whose breakthrough season ended early for medical reasons. To further add to the team’s woes, Jessica Cervantes, consistently the team’s #1 runner had to drop out of the race due to knee injury. The team’s depth was on display however, as the team beat expectations despite missing their 1-2 punch to finish in 9th place. This is only the 3rd top 10 finish (on record) at CCS for the girls in school history. The team also had the 2nd lowest spread in the race (time distance between 1st and 5th runner) with a spread of 1:16. Only CCS champion Menlo, with an impressive 6 second spread did a better job of finishing close together.

The team was lead by breakout star Keyla Sifuentes. In her first cross country season, Keyla has improved by leaps and bounds all year. At her first race, Keyla managed to run 8:40 pace for the 2 mile course at DeLaSalle High school. A few weeks later, she was our #6 girl running 24:06 at the Crystal Springs Center Meet (8:06) pace. Here at CCS, she was our #1 girl with a  time of 22:47. This was a PR by 1:02, and the 7:43 pace she ran is the best of her career by far.

Daisy Flores was next in 23:03, a PR by 53 seconds as well. As only a freshmen, Daisy’s time is very impressive, the 6th fastest James Lick freshmen time in the entire BVAL era (since 1996). Lizbeth Espana loped 50 seconds off of her PR too to stop the clock at 23:26. Emely Lopez finished at 23:48 for a small PR and Ruth Rodriguez picked up the slack to run 24:03, and 11 second PR as the 5th girl. Ashley Preciado ended her HS career as the 6th girl in the race.

Again, heading into the race the girls were ranked 9th, ahead of just Kipp High School. The team defeated Kipp, Carmel, LCPA and King City to finish 9th, narrowly losing to Seaside High School who took 8th. The fact that team’s top 5 are all non seniors, (as well as a 1-2 punch that didn’t race at CCS who are also juniors) gives the team great optimism as we look ahead at what could be a very strong year in 2020.

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The varsity girls before the race 

The boys team only ran 3 runners. Junior Omar Fimbres ran great, taking nearly 30 seconds off of his PR to stop the clock at 18:13. Nien Tran (18:30) and Brandon Cruz (18:39) competed hard but did not PR in their final HS race.

With the season coming to an end, everyone will take a well earned break and our focus as we look ahead to track is very clear: Stay Healthy. Injuries are a part of any season, but losing the team’s top 2 boys in the early part of the season is a recipe for disaster. Likewise Jessica, Mya, and Lizbeth, 3 of the team’s top 5 on the girls side missed/ didn’t finish a race in a combined 9 races due to injury this year. This team has a lot of potential if we can stay healthy, and that will be at the center of our attention as we work towards a 2020 track season in which the varsity boys are coming off their first winning season in the ‘B’ division with over 90% of the team returning.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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. 

 

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

 

 

Comets Set New Team Record For Total Points Scored at ST Division Finals

The James Lick Track Team contested day 2 of the ST division finals(‘B’ division of the BVAL) on Saturday May 20th at Lincoln High School. It was the teams 2nd year in the ‘B’ division in the BVAL era (since 1996). In the teams first year, the Comets scored a grand total of 110 points at division finals. A respectable combined total. This year the team managed a total of 158 points, a strong improvement over the year before.

To make ST division finals, many of the events require the athletes to compete in prelims on Thursday, in order to advance to the final on Saturday.  The top 8 athletes in each event score points for their respective teams, while the top 5 in each event advance to BVAL Championships on May 2nd with the chance to advance to CCS Trials.

The meet began with the 4×100. The girls team of Chantrea Thach, Marquise Nelson, Yeimili Adame and Mya Hammond combined to run 56.32 and took 6th overall (3 points for the team). This ends a year for the girls sprint crew full of struggle, with injuries really taking a big hit on the teams depth.

The boys however performed very strongly. The 2018 team was the first Comet team since 2002 to run under 46 seconds for the 4×100. They did so at division finals last year, running 45.88, (5th place) and followed that up with a 45.51 at BVAL champs where we placed 11th, three places off a CCS berth. This years group improved upon the “best time since 2002 status” by running 45.27, only .05 off of the winners, Pioneer.

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Raven Alcantara handing the baton off to Rodolf Ocampo on the 1st exchange 

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this breakthrough time for the team of Raven Alcantara, Rodolf Ocampo, Salvador Lopez and Geovanny Campos is that every member of the squad is a junior. The team has their sights set on the 45 second barrier at BVAL champs.

The boys 1600 was next, and it was the only distance event where the Comets did not produce points. Nonetheless, both Mark Orpia and Brandon Cruz ran PRS, running 4:55 each, and Melvin Estrada ran a seasons best 5:05 as well. The girls 1600 took place on Thursday, so the next event on the track was the 100 hurdles.

Valeria Cortez won her 3rd consecutive title in the 100 hurdles with a seasons best (2nd best time of her career), 16.84. This was Valeria’s 5th individual championship for the Comets at BVAL division finals (she has 2 in girls discus). While it needs to be acknowledged that all of Valeria’s individual championships came within a division of a larger league, this accomplishment ties her with John Aguiar and Joe Amendt as the only Comets (on record) in school history to win 5 individual league/division titles for the school.

John Aguiar won the SCVAL league title in 100 yard dash from 1953-1955 and had 220 yard dash titles in 53′ and 54.’ Joe won 4 consecutive 800m titles in the MHAL (now the ‘A’ divsion of the BVAL) and won the mile title as a senior as well. The accomplishments/marks of John and Joe are objectively more impressive but is still a hallowed club that Valeria joins, and an achievement we are very proud of.

Yesenia Martinez also qualified for BVAL champs for the 2nd consecutive season with a seasons best 18.57 clocking for 2nd place.

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Valeria Cortez won the 100 hurdle final by a wide margin

In the boys 110 hurdles, the Comets saw a pair of breakthroughs as well. Rodolf Ocampo ran under 17 seconds for the first time, stopping the clock at 16.85 to advance to BVAl champs with a 3rd place performance. Rodolf took 3rd place in pole vault on Thursday as well, helping him become the boys teams highest point scorer at division finals. Joshua Merin in only his 3rd hurdle race ran 18.07, a massive PR for 6th place, just .02 away from a spot at BVALs.

We very much regret not having Josh try hurdling earlier. He ran 21.18 on his first try, then 2 weeks later ran 19.30, only 2 days before his 18.07 clocking today. As a junior, Josh figures to keep improving in the event next season as well.

After running a big PR of 1:05.65 on Thursday, Yeimili struggled in the 400m final, running 1:08 for 8th place. Misael Herrera placed 6th for the Comet boys in 54.88, a good improvement for a team that had no 400m runners make the division final a year ago.

The biggest PR of the day in terms of a major step forward was in the boys 100. Raven has been our best sprinter over the past 2 seasons. He capped off last season at 11.79, and narrowly missed making BVALS (he placed 6 at division finals). His primary goal this year was to advance to BVALS in the 100, but he had only lowered his PR to 11.72. Raven is  a masterful starter, but his weakness has been holding his speed at the end of races. This is evidenced by the fact that his 200m PR entering this season was 25.12 compared to a 100m best of 11.79. This season, he lowered his 200m best all the way down to 24.04 prior to the 100m final, which to me was a sure sign he finally had the strength he needed.

Raven delivered on all hopes, running a massive PR of 11.47 to place 3rd and punch his ticket to BVALS. While there was no wind gauge on what seemed to be a strong tailwind, Raven defeated runners who had run as fast as 11.51 and 11.58 in wind legal conditions this season, showing the legitimacy of his PR.

The girls 800 saw Arlet Miranda run a seasons best 2:30.01 for 2nd place, her best 800m time since her sophomore year when she made CCS in the event. This was especially impressive considering Arlet had to lead the chase pack with winner Hannah Gehrt of Lincoln more than 5 seconds clear of any other runner. Arlet was nearly 4 seconds ahead of 3rd place as well. Mya Hammond ran a PR of 2:48.81 for 9th place, just missing scoring.

Jerricho Habon coasted to a 3rd place finish in the boys 800 running 2:09, sealing his place at BVALS and extending the Comets streak of having at least 1 boy represent the team at BVALS in distance events to a 5th consecutive year, (the girls streak is at 7). Garret Hedlund of Pionerr (1:57 seasons best) and Omar Pina (4:27 1600 PR) were well clear of the field, but Jerricho impressively out-kicked the chase pack.

The Comets had some strong performances in field events as well. Marquise tied for 2nd place in girls Shot Put with a new PR of 33-0. Valeria took 4th in 32-9.5. Sal became the first Comet boy since 2014 to advance to BVAL champs in the long jump, placing 3rd with a leap of 19-4.75. Geo Campos also scored for the team with a jump of 18-5 for 7th place.

The girls 300 saw Valeria take 2nd in a PR of 52.08. Arlet placed 6th though her time was poor as she was fatigued from the 800m. Valeria’s 2nd place 300 hurdle saw her end the day with a total of 33 points at division finals. This is a school record at division finals, bettering her own record of 29 points at the ‘C’ division finals of 2017. As every athlete is allowed 4 events maximum, Valeria’s 33 point performance is very hard to top. She tied with Taylor Hohn of Lincoln (1st in triple jump, 2nd in long jump, 1st in 200m, 2nd in 100m) as the most valuable athlete of the meet.

I do not have records of points scored in league meets from before I was coaching. That being said, I am almost done with year 6 of coaching. In that time, the highest point total any athlete accumulated in a single season was Valeria’s 130 points in 2017, our last year in the ‘C’ division. This year Valeria shattered that mark, with her 33 points at division finals giving her 155 for the season. Considering the 2nd most scored in a season is 113, (by Karan Singh in 2015) I think Valeria’s unofficial record will stand for a long time. We are really going to miss her.

Rodolf and Mark both had off races in the 300 hurdles, but managed to add 4 points to the meet total between the two of them. Raven made it a 2nd PR on the day by running 23.94 in the boys 200 for 7th place. Next up was the girls 3200. Many of the girls were fatigued due to the short meet at the end of long week. This left the door open for Arlet to take 4th for the team, and Yeimili to place 5th in 13:59. Yeimili was only put in the 3200 because of the thin nature of the entries in the division, and because of her XC running proficiency. After qualifying for BVALs, her training will shift quite radically from 400 based to 3200 based for the remainder of the season.

Due to the lack of depth on the girls side, we opted to not contest the 4×400. The boys 4×400 was a very exciting race, with James Lick, Live Oak and Pioneer trading the lead throughout the race. The Comets were in 1st place with 150 left but both Pioneer and Live Oak pulled away in the final straight. Misael, Geo, Jerricho and Sal combined to run a seasons best 3:40.45, and the team will be looking to run faster at BVALS with a chance to qualify for CCS trials on the line.

When all was said and done, the scores for the meet were as follows.

Boys: 

  1. Pioneer: 234.5
  2. Lincoln: 91
  3. Live Oak: 81.75
  4. James Lick: 78
  5. Piedmont Hills: 53
  6. Prospect: 52.5
  7. Sobrato: 16.25
  8. Oak Grove: 11

Girls: 

  1. Lincon: 125
  2. Piedmont Hills: 117.50
  3. Pioneer: 82.50
  4. James Lick: 80
  5. Prospect: 78
  6. Sobrato: 64.50
  7. Oak Grove: 29.50
  8. Live Oak: 7

Of the girls 80 points, a vast majority were scored by seniors:

Valeria Cortez: 33 points

Arlet Miranda: 20 points

Marquise Nelson: 16.5

The team will need younger athletes to step up to remain competitive after some huge losses to come.

On the boys side however, things look good with all of the team’s top 5 point scorers being juniors:

Rodolf Ocampo: 16.5

Salvador Lopez: 11

Raven Alcantara: 10

Mark Orpia: 10

Jerricho Habon: 7.5

The Comets and other ESUHSD schools will have the benefit of Spring Break next week to train hard in preparation for BVAL finals on May 2nd at Westmont High School.

We have high hopes to send a handful of athletes on to CCS.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves