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

When Charli Chircop hurled the discus 100-10 at CCS Finals, she signaled the end of not only her career, but of the 2018 track season (as far as James Lick is concerned). The 2018 season ending was very significant for me personally. It signified the end of my 5th year coaching, and also the end of my first year as a teacher. This blog will be a reflection on my first 5 years as a coach, and the growth of the cross country and track programs over the past 5 seasons.

The team has improved a lot over the past 5 seasons, that is especially demonstrated in track. If this years team faced the team of 2014 in a dual meet, assuming everyone matched their seasons bests, this would be the result:

Boys 2018: 116             Girls 2018: 102

Boys 2014: 19               Girls 2014: 25

I began coaching in fall of 2013. Alex Ponik, one of my coaches at James Lick, was stepping down as head coach. He offered me a position as an assistant coach, a job I was happy to accept. The day before school began for James Lick however, I was informed that our intended head coach would be unable to coach after all. As a result, I was forced to take the helm along with John Quasarano at the last moment.

That first year was tough. As a 20-year old, I lacked confidence in  my own authority as a coach. Our top runner and team captain was Armando Aguilar. Armando and I were teammates just a few years before when I myself was team captain. We were also a very inexperienced team on the boys side. 5 of our 7 varsity boys had never run cross country before 2013. Only Armando had been a member of the varsity team before. This combined with our placement in the ‘B’ division, saw us finish with a 1-6 record on the varsity boys side. Honestly, we were lucky to even win 1 meet.

The huge bright side of that season was the varsity girls team. We pulled off a 4-3 season, the first winning season for the Lady Comet since 2009. Of the 24 BVAL teams, we finished in 15th place on the girls side at BVAL Finals. Our Combined team time was 117:28 (or 1:57:28). It was the first time the team had run under 2 hours at Crystal Springs in several years, giving us good hope for the future.

The boys however finished 20th. Our team was 97:09 (1:37:09). This was partly due to the fact that Armando was unable to finish the race, but in any case, a 20th place finish was not where we wanted to be. Seeing our BVAL places, and our inexperienced coaching staff, the BVAL moved us down to the ‘C’ division for the 2014 season.

That was my lowest moment as a coach so far, largely because I believed that we did not belong in the ‘C’ division. We were a young coaching staff and a young team, but I was very confident we could turn things around.

Track was a different season. I joined the track coaching staff along with Ricardo Flores, Juan Trejo and Ray Iniguez. At the time, James Lick track had not won a single dual meet in over 5 years. The Comets had not had a winning season since 2000, and the girls had not had one on record in school history (definitely not since 1996 when the BVAL began keeping records).

The setup that first year saw me in charge of the girls track team, while the other 3 coaches handled the boys team. We managed to eek out our first wins in years, which gave us cause to dream bigger for the future.

On a personal level, 2014 was my most important year as a coach. My goal has always been to help my athletes improve by as much as possible, and hope that wins and success will follow from great improvement. 2014 was when I first gained confidence in my ability to foster improvement in my athletes, thanks to the hard work of a few key athletes.

Daniela Camacho had run 5:49 for the 1600 as a freshmen, though she slowed down to 6:02 as a sophomore, (not an uncommon phenomenon among girl distance runners). That year as a junior, we managed to reverse that trend and Daniela ended the season at 5:43 for the 1600. She lowered her PR to 5:27 the next season, a mark which currently stands as our school record (though Arlet Miranda ran 5:31 this season so here’s hoping she will beat it next year).

Destiny Lopez was maybe the most important athlete towards helping me believe in my own training methods. Destiny had run track since freshmen year, and her PRs were 6:51 in the 1600 and 15:47 in the 3200. 2014 was her senior year, my only year coaching her. It was a trough process, but at division finals, she ran massive PRs, 6:31 for the 1600 and 14:11 for the 3200.

Our track team had 23 athletes in 2014 and we had our first wins in years. Most important to me personally, I felt that just like the James Lick teams of old, we could work hard and improve substantially in pursuit of bigger victories. Our goal for XC 2014 was simple, prove that it was a mistake to send us down to the ‘C’ division.

Our girls thrived in that goal. The team went 7-0 and won the division handily. At BVAL Finals, after placing 15th in 1:57:28 the year before, we finished in 8th place in 1:50:00. The 1:50:00 mark is the 2nd best team time in school history. The team of 1981 is the only team to have run faster, incidentally the only other girls championship team in school history. The boys team improved significantly as well, moving up from 20th place to 15th place, and running 6 minutes faster as a team.

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

The 2014 team will always be special to me because it was my first division championship as a coach. The more rapid improvement was in track and field. In 2015, we had our first winning season in over a decade. By 2016, a girls division title. In 2017 a 2nd girls title, followed by our move up the ‘B’ division. The success in track and field is in no small part thanks to the excellent coaches I’ve had the chance to work with. From Coach Vela who was by my side in track from the beginning, to coach Nichols, and Turner, and recently coach Raul Lopez. Every coach we’ve had in track has played a pivotal role in improving the team.

The most impressive team of my coaching career however was the 2016 XC team, my only boys title to date, and my only ‘B’ division championship team so far.

That team showed what the culmination of years of hard work could lead to. Team captain Nathan Bernardo did an exceptional job leading that team. Truth to be told, I had to miss many practices throughout the season but Nathan never let the team waver. He lead practice when I could not. All of the teams hard work paid off with the boys going 7-0 and placing 2nd at BVAL finals, only losing to the ‘A’ division champions Willow Glen.

Our team time of 1:25:19 was a respectable mark for James Lick in any era. While it is nowhere near the school record of 1:20:46, it was the 12th best team time in school history,  and the best ever JL time at BVAL Finals.

img_1238
2016 Championship team Left to right: Me, Gustavo Aguilera, Erik Olsvold, Nathan Bernardo, Inteus Castro-Lopez, Gustavo Parra, Azael Zamora

After 5 years, I feel pretty good about where the program is at. We are solidly in the ‘B’ division in both cross country and track, and we have a very young team on both sides. Long term, coach Raul Lopez and myself will be looking to help take the program to the next level, eventually being a member of the ‘A’ division.

I’m proud that we’ve been able to outperform many schools that are larger than us, and better funded. We are currently the 2nd smallest school in the BVAL with a tick over 1100 students. The schools that are still consistently better than us have a few things in common. Some are outside of our control, such as larger enrollment and greater funds to draw from.

The most difficult discrepancy to overcome for us in my opinion is the lack of experience many of our athletes have. Our primary feeder schools are Joseph George and Shepard Middle School . Neither school had a track team this year. They often do not have cross country and when they do, it is not a substantial program. Willow Glen is consistently the best cross country team in the BVAL. This is in large part due to the amazing work of Coach Victor Santamaria, but every year, Willow Glen Middle School churns out multiple boys in the low 5 minute range in the 1600 and sometimes even some sub 5 minute boys.

The same is true of many of the schools we struggle to beat. Many of the top athletes in the area have been training for a long time. Our athletes have a lot of catching up to do. Azael Zamora just graduated with HS personal bests of 4:33 in the 1600 and 9:55 in the 3200. He did not join cross country until his sophomore year, and to that point he had never broken 6 minutes for the mile.

Long term, we are aiming to help ensure  that some of our alumni will take on coaching positions at some our local middle schools to help athletics not just at James Lick, but throughout the east side as a whole.

I also hope to have more alumni join my coaching staff. Coach turnover has been an issue for us, and having a more consistent solidified coaching staff will help us improve.

We are not at the same level of James Lick’s greatest teams, but restoring the greatness of James Lick in XC and track has been my goal since I started coaching. We are not nearly there, but we are a lot closer than we were 5 years ago. I want to thank every Comet that has been apart of it, and everyone who actually reads my rambling with interest/support.

Best marks/times under me can all be found under the history section of the blog ^

The 2018 XC team will begin conditioning on June 18th at 9:30 A.M.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

1 Comet on to CCS Finals for 2nd Year In A Row

5 Comets competed at CCS Trials on Saturday May 19th at Gilroy High School. CCS Trials sees the 32 best athletes from the CCS, competing for spots at CCS Finals. Only 8 athletes advance to finals in lane events, and 12 advance to finals in field events.

For the 2nd year in a row, Charli Chircop advanced to CCS Finals in the girls discus. Her best throw was 107-6, which earned her entrance into CCS Finals as the 12th and final qualifier in the event. Valeria Cortez competed in the girls discus as well, placing 19th with a throw of 103-2.

In the girls Shot Put,  Alejandra Ceron placed 20th with a throw of 33-3. With that final competition completed, Alejandra’s career at James Lick is over. She leaves the school with much to be proud of, namely the school record in the Shot Put, a mark of 35-8.75.

Natalie Rem placed 25th in the girls triple jump with a best of 32-10. Natalie was the 3rd best freshmen girl at CCS Trials and in fact, of the 24 girls to beat her, 12 were seniors. Natalie is poised to do big things for the Comets for years to come.

The career of Cody Huoch ended with a 20th place finish at CCS in the 300 hurdles. Cody ran 42.84. Cody had an exceptional career for James Lick especially considering he did not join track until his junior year. Cody ends his career as the #3 300 hurdler in school history and the only one on record to compete at CCS.

Alejandra will be competing for De Anza college in track and field next season while Cody will compete at San Jose City College.

Charli gets one final competition at CCS Finals on May 25th.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

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

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

Rise and Fall of JL Track

What The Comets Overcome When They Make CCS

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

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

101-85-4 

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

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

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

 

IMG_4701
Members of the Track team After the Ryan/Oyama Awards

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

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

Varsity Boys: 

Most Valuable Runner: Azael Zamora

Award for Leadership: Inteus Castro-Lopez

Varsity Girls: 

Most Valuable Runner: Arlet Miranda

Award for Leadership: Analilia Regla

Frosh/Soph Boys: 

Most dedicated runner: Daniel Portillo

Most improved runner: Hugo Marquez

Frosh/Soph Girls: 

Most improved runner: Ashley preciado

Most dedicated runner: Emely Lopez

 

For Track and Field the awards were as follows

Varsity Boys: 

Most dedicated athlete: Austin Swank

Most Valuable Athlete: Cody Huoch

Varsity Girls: 

Most valuable athlete: Valeria cortez

most dedicated athlete: Aliana Santos

Frosh/Soph Boys:

Most improved athlete: Melvin Estrada

Most valuable athlete: Salvador Lopez

Frosh/Soph Girls: 

Most valuable athlete: Kirsten Yutuc

Most improved Athlete: Yesenia Martinez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

 

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_4535
Daniel Medina releasing the discus 

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

IMG_4536
Ashley Preciado, Belen Sanchez and Arlet Miranda before the mile. Valeria Cortez leaps into the picture behind them. 

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

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

 

IMG_4542
Valeria Cortez on her way to a heat win and seasons best in the 100 hurdles. Teammate Yesenia Martinez is not far behind. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_4548-1.JPG
Dylan Ellis of Prospect (10:00.84)  Azael Zamora (9:55.14) and Omar Pina of Lincoln (9:50.89) After the 3200

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

ST Division Finals Preview: Which Comets Have a Chance to Make BVAL Finals?

The Santa Teresa Division (‘B’ division) finals of the BVAL are almost here. Division finals factor in the final standings for the league, and also determine which athletes will advance to BVAL Finals next week. In each division final, the top 8 places score points for their team.  The top 4 athletes in each event in the ‘C’ division, top 5 in the ‘B’ division, and top 7 in the ‘A’ division all advance to BVAL finals which is the leagues CCS qualifying meet.

Heading into division finals, the Comets are looking for a middle of the pack finish, and would like to send as many athletes as possible to BVALs. Here is a meet preview of the best athletes in the division, and how the Comets stand in regards to the meet program.

Distance: 

The Comets figure to have someone score in most of the distance events. Azael Zamora is ranked 2nd in the 3200, and 4th in the 1600. He has his sights on the victory in the 3200. His current PR is 10:05, while the favorite, Omar Pina sits atop the division rankings at 9:51. Amy’s longtime rival from Prospect, Dylan Ellis,is close behind at 10:08. No other athlete in the division has run under 10:20 in the 2 mile this season, so the final (which is this Wednesday) figures to be a 3 man race. Inteus Lopez and Melvin Estrada sit at 11th and 12th in the rankings. Many of the 3200 runners in the division will have to run the 800m prelims earlier in the meet Wednesday, so Melvin and Inteus will look to steal a point or two for the team there.

Azy is ranked 4th in the 1600 at 4:33.64. Omar Pina of Lincoln is ranked 1st at 4:32.84. Obviously, this looks to be a highly competitive final on Friday. Sophomores Melvin Estrada and Mark Orpia will look to PR and gain valuable race experience, though they are not serious threats to score.

In the boys 800, Jerricho Habon and Erik Olsvold are ranked 9th and 10th. Hugo Marquez is ranked 15th. The top 12 athletes from the prelims on Wednesday will advance to the final on Friday. With many athletes doubling up on the 1600/800, Jerricho and Erik are very well positioned to score points for the team if they can make the final.

On the girls side, Arlet Miranda is ranked 5th in the 1600 and 4th in the 800. She has battled injuries all season, but has maintained solid fitness throughout, running a PR in the 1600 only 2 weeks ago at the Bearcat Invitational. Belen Sanchez and Ashley Preciado will be going after PRs in the competitive atmosphere that is division finals. Both ladies are running the 1600 on Wednesday and the 3200 on Friday. Freshmen Mya Hammond and Mariana Perez will join Arlet in the 800.

Hurdles: 

Valeria Cortez is ranked #1 in the division in the 100 hurdle after going undefeated in dual meets this season. Yemeni Martinez is ranked 9th, and with a great race in the prelims on Wednesday could make it through to the final on Friday. Susie Peterson, in her 4th year competing for the Comets, will look to end her career on a high note in the race as well.

Cody Huoch is ranked 5th in the 110 Hurdles. He will have to hold off some stiff competition to punch his ticket to BVALs. Rodolf Ocampo and Luis Escamilla will also compete for the team.

Kirsten Yutuc is ranked 4th in the girls 300 hurdles.She will be looking to make BVAls for the 2nd year in a row.  Yesenia and Susie will chase PRs behind her. Cody is ranked 3rd in the 300 hurdles, behind Evan Sablan of Evergreen, last years BVAL champion, and a second Evergreen Cougar.

 

Jumps: Natalie Rem and Cody are both threats to make BVALs in the triple jump. Cody is ranked 6th at 40-3, only one inch off of 5th place. Natalie is ranked 4th at 33-1, with 1st place entered only 3 inches ahead, Natalie could fight for a very high place indeed. Salvador Lopez, Raven Alcantara and Rudolf make up the rest of the boys jumpers, while Lyndel Ventura and Kirsten make up the ladies side. Lyndel is currently ranked 8th in long jump at 15-3.5, and this figures to be the final meet of her career as well.

Jo-Jo Bradley and Josh Merin will contest the boys high jump. Yesenia and Lisbeth Galdamez will contest the girls high jump for the team. Both are long-shot threats to score.

Rodolf and Maro Orpia are the 4th and 5th ranked pole vaulters in the division. Only 5 vaulters are entered, so if both boys clear height, they will make BVAL championships.

Relays: 

Both Comet 4×100 teams are ranked 6th place heading into finals. The boys team is well poised to pull an upset however. If Jose Limon is at full health, the team could run a big time seasons best, and they are only .70 away from 3rd place.

The girls 4×400 team is ranked 6th, but within a second of 5th place. The boys team sits at a competitive 5th, with 3rd place less than 2 seconds away in what figures to be a competitive final event of the meet.

Sprints: 

The team’s sprint group is much improved this season, with two girls under 14 seconds in the 100 and two boys under 12 seconds in the 100, heading into finals (all are sophomores or freshmen.) Natalie is ranked 7th in the 100 at 13.49. If she makes the 100m final, she will be the first lady Comet to make division finals in the 100 in this decade. Lisbeth and Susie will join her in the event. Natalie, Yeimili and Lisbeth will contest the 200 as well. Yeimili, Justine and Aliana Santos will be the teams 400 athletes.

In the boys 100, Raven is the highest ranked Comet at 11.79. 11.61 is the 8th place rank, so he would need a great race to crack the top 8. Geo Campos at 11.97 joins him in the event, as does Chris Okoro, looking for one last PR before graduation. Misael Herrera, and Geo will run the 200 for the team. Misael, and Salvador Lopez will run the 400. The boys are not ranked close to scoring position in the 200/400.

Throws: 

The last hurrah for the 3 headed monster is near. Charli Chircop, Valeria and Alejandra Ceron are ranked 1-2-3 in girls discus, with Charli leading the way at 118-1. Mariah Santos is the Comets lone 4th entry in an event, ranked 11th in the event. The girls are ranked 3rd, 4th and 7th in the Shot Put as well.

On the boys side, Josh Garcia, Daniel Medina and Jesus Venegas make up the teams throwers. Josh is ranked 5th in the Shot Put at 42-9. In Discus, all three boys will be looking to PR.

 

Team Scores: 

Based on the current rankings, the James Lick girls would finish 4th out of the 8 teams at division finals, and the boys would finish 6th. Currently, the Comets sit in 5th place on both sides with a 3-4 record. The girls are likely to clinch 5th place however, there is intrigue on the boys side.

Prospect, Piedmont and James Lick are all 3-4 on the boys side, meaning whichever team finishes the highest at division finals will clinch 4th place behind 7-0 Evergreen, 6-1 Pioneer and 5-2 Lincoln.

 

Which Comets Have a Chance at Division Titles? 

Several Comets have legitimate shots at becoming the ‘B’ division champions in their respective event.

  1. The most likely champ for the team is Charli Chircop/ Valeria Cortez. Charli hows thrown 118-0 and Valeria has thrown 112-0. No other girl is close to these two in the rankings. It is likely whichever Comet has the better day will emerge as the Comets 1st ever ‘B’ division champion.

2. Valera in the 100 hurdles. She hasn’t lost all season and is poised to become division champ if she maintains her composure. At 17.39, her next closest competitor is Nelly Romo at 17.85.

3. Azael Zamora in the 1600/3200. As already detailed, Azy is ranked very highly in both events. Azy is the boys teams only realistic shot at a division championship this season.

This is one of the most exciting weeks of the season!

Tomorrow, May 1st, Rodolf and Mark will compete in the pole vault at Prospect High School.

Wednesday May 2nd, all lane events, as well as the 800 will contest their trials at Evergreen High School. Finals in the boys 3200 and girls 1600 will take place. Finals in the boys discus, boys triple jump, girls long jump and girls high jump will also take place.

All other finals will take place on Friday May 4th.

Here is a link to the ‘ST” division finals.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/zzbvjhkxtmigylc/performance%20list%20bval%20stal.pdf?dl=0
Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

Comets Earn First Dual Meet Sweep, 3 Wins Against Sobrato

For the first time since moving up to the ‘B’ division, the James Lick Comets left a dual meet with nothing but wins. The frosh/soph boys, varsity boys, and varsity girls all managed to defeat the Sobrato Bulldogs.

The conditions at Sobrato were very windy, but unlike on our home track, the events were run with a tail wind, rather than a head wind. If a wind gauge were present, the times/marks in some events likely would not have counted. Regardless, the Comets achieved over 50 PRS, the most in a single meet for the Comets in this century.

The meet began with the girls 4×100. The girls team of Lisbeth Galdamez, Kirsten Yutuc, Natalie Rem and Yeimili Adame ran 56.02 to win the event. The bulldogs were done in by a mishap at the 2nd exchange.

IMG_4432.JPG
Kirsten Yutuc takes off after receiving the baton from Lisbeth Galdamez

It was the first win of the season for the girls 4×100. The varsity boys lost to the Bulldogs, but ran a seasons best 47.44. The team of Salvador Lopez, Raven Alcantara, Jose Limon and Geovanny Campos accomplished the feet.

The girls 1600 saw Arlet take 2nd place for the team, behind perennial CCS qualifier Emily Harris. Krystal Tran ran a PR, breaking 8 minutes for the first time. Azael Zamora won the varsity boys 1600 with Melvin Estrada taking 3rd. Erik Olsvold ran a seasons best 5:15, despite the windy conditions. Brandon Cruz and Jose Ruiz combined for a 1-2 result in the frosh/soph 1600.

Valeria Cortez ran a seasons best 17.39 in the 100 hurdles to win the event for the 6th time this season. Yesenia Martinez took 2nd in 18.93, just .06 off of her PR. Natalie Rem ran a PR of 19.32 in 5th. Cody Huoch broke the 17 second barrier for the first time, clocking 16.93. Rudolf Ocampo made a solid debut in the event clocking 19.37 in 2nd place. Jo-Jo Bradley ran a PR of 20.93 to win the frosh/soph version of the event. Luis Escamilla and Dakota Castro-Lopez took 2nd and 3rd.

In the girls 400, Yeimili took 2nd place for the lady Comets. Lemon took 2nd for the team on the varsity boys side. Jerricho Habon won the frosh/soph boys 400 in 59.20, breaking the 60 second barrier for the first time. Many Comets on the day ran more than a second off of their 400m PRs due to the wind, this indicates that Jerricho is capable of running a bigger PR if he gets the chance before the season ends. Hugo Marquez also ran a small PR of 1:04.38.

IMG_4436
Jerricho Habon contesting the 400m run

The 100m dash was where the team saw the best improvements spurred by the wind. Natalie Rem won the event in 13.49, by far the fastest James Lick Comet 100m time of the past 8 seasons. Only 1 other lady Comet has broken 14 in that time, and that was Maria Mendoza running 13.99. While Natalie was aided by the wind, the wind does not account for the massive improvement she managed from 14.10 to 13.49. By comparison, Kirsten took 3rd in 14.10, taking .12 off of her previous PR. Lisbeth was 4th and missed her PR narrowly, as did Susie Peterson in 7th. Natalie as just a freshmen, is the best triple jumper, and 100m sprinter the team has had in a decade. Time will tell just how far she goes.

Valeria Gonzalez ran a massive PR of 14.72, taking over a second off of her previous best. Aliana Santos ran a PR of 15.61. Araceli Mejia and Chantrea Thach both ran under 16 seconds for the first time, clocking 15.49 and 15.99 respectively. Maria Sanchez (17.11) Lara Ventura (17.22) and Yyana Guevara (17.38) all clocked massive PRs.

In the varsity boys, Raven and Geo ran 12.11 and 12.12 huge PRs for the sophomore duo. With dedication and good health, this duo could take the Comets to great heights next season. Raven also netted a point for the team with his performance. David Bejines ran a big PR of 12.58, as did Austin Swank who ran 12.95. Chris Okoro, Isaak Herrera and Jaime Gomez ran seasons bests and Josafar Gomez ran a huge PR of 13.18. Josh Merin cracked the 13 second barrier for the first time to take 3rd place in the frosh/soph 100. Dakota ran a PR of 13.74 as well.

Arlet took 2nd place in the varsity girls 800 and Ashley took 3rd in a PR of 2:50.56. Mya Hammond ran a PR of 3:05.08. Erika Camacho also ran a PR, stopping the clock at 3:30. Azael won the varsity boys 800 and Erik took 2nd. Brandon and Jose once again provided a 1-2 finish in the frosh/soph boys.

Kirsten won the 300 hurdles in 54.36. Yesenia ran a full second PR of 57.95 to take 3rd. Valeria G also achieved a PR of 59.64 in the event. Cody won the varsity boys 300 hurdles, Rudolf took 3rd. Jo-Jo, Luis and Dakota swept the frosh/soph boys 300 hurdles.

More PRs followed in the 200. Justine broke the 30 second barrier, finishing in 29.93. Valeria C took 2nd in a big PR of 30.36. Aliana broke 32 seconds in the 200 for the first time. Araceli and Yyana both ran PRs as well. Misael took 2nd for the varsity boys in a seasons best 24.81. David took 3rd place. Austin, Joseph Benitez and Isaak all ran PRs, with times of 27.12, 28.28 and 28.88 respectively.

Arlet and Belen took 2nd and 3rd in the 3200. Belen only narrowly missed her PR. Azy, Melvin and Inteus CAstro-Lopez combined to sweep the boys 3200. Jerricho won the frosh/soph boys 3200.

Both varsity 4×400 teams won with near season best times. Sal, Cody, Misael and Lemon ran 3:48 in the boys 4×400 to take the win. Justine, Kirsten, Yeimili and Arlet ran 4:42 to win the girls 4×400.

The field events yielded perhaps the best results of the day for the team. Valeria C won the girls shot put in a PR of 33-7. Alejandra Ceron took 2nd in 33-5. Charli Chircop 3rd in 32-1.  Many other Comets threw PRs in the shot put. Adriana Marcelino threw the shot 21-11, Keara Medina and Kiely Leal threw it 21-1 and 21-0. Neither girl had thrown over 20 feet before. In the boys shot put, Josh Garcia had a very strong toss of 42-9. A PR by almost 2 feet, to win the event. Daniel Medina took 2nd in a seasons best 36-10. Jesus Venegas threw a PR of 29-0.

Similar strong results were had in the discus. Josh threw a huge PR of 108-4 to place 2nd. The girls trio had huge breakthroughs as well. Charil threw the discus 118- 1, extending her own school record by a remarkable 9 feet. Valeria threw the discus 112-8, beating Charli’s school record of 109-3 just minutes after Charli did. Alejandra finally broke the 100 foot barrier, chucking the discus 105-8. The Comets are now one of only 3 teams in the entire CCS with 3 girls over 100 feet in the girls discus, (Mills and Santa Clara are the other two).

Lyndel Ventura earned a pair of PRs in the horizontal jumps. She went 15-3.5 to take 2nd in girls long jump and Yesenia took 4th in a strong debut of 13-3. Rudolf and Raven took 2nd and 3rd in the boys long jump. Natalie took 3rd place in girls discus behind a very strong Sobrato duo and Lyndel took 4th in a big PR of 31-0. In the boys triple jump, Cody got a long awaited PR, going over 40 feet for the first time with a leap of 40-3. This moves him to 8th in the BVAL rankings. Sal took 2nd in the event for the Comets. Jo-jo and Josh went 1-2 in the frosh/soph shot with small PRs of 33-4 and 31-8 respectively.

Lastly, the Comets saw a few PRs in the high jump. Jo-Jo went 5-2 for the first time to win the frosh/soph boys high jump. Jo-jo figures to be a solid Comet high jumper for years to come as justa  freshmen. Yesenia cleared 4-6 to win the girls high jump, a PR by 2 inches. Lisbeth took 3rd in 4-4, matching her PR.

When all was said and done, the Comets won all three divisions.

Varsity boys:  JL: 71  S: 55

Varsity girls: JL: 79  S: 48

Frosh/soph boys: JL: 56  S: 44

The Comets improved their combined varsity record to 4-8 (2-4 on both sides) and the frosh/soph boys improved to 4-2.

A few Comets will compete at the CCS Top 8 meet this Saturday. Following that, the Comets will head to Oak Grove for their final dual meet of the season on April 26th.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

41 Personal Records for Comets at Bearcat Invitational:

IMG_4379
Yesenia Martinez and Valeria Cortez with their medals in the 100 hurdles

The Comets took to San Mateo High School for the Bearcat Invitational on Saturday April 14th, 2018. The Bearcat Invite has been a team favorite over the past few years. With its placement being right after Spring break, the Comets have always seen a number of great improvements at San Mateo. This years invite took the cake however. The 41 PRs (personal records) mark the most PRs the Comets have seen at an invitational in recent years. For reference, the most PRs at any meet over the last decade for the Comets was the 2017 dual meet against Overfelt. The team got 48 PRs on the day, produced by 59 athletes. At Bearcat this year, the team got 41 PRs from only 35 athletes at the invitational.

IMG_4362.JPG
Belen Sanchez and Ashley Preciado on the line for the 1600

The meet began with the varsity girls 1600. Belen Sanchez attempted to run the 1600 under 6:00 for the first time. She just missed, running 6:04.95 for a 7 second PR. Ashley Preciado continued her remarkable improvement bringing her PR down to 6:15.99, compared to a previous best of 6:33. Arlet Miranda ran a PR a long time in the making, clocking 5:31. 27, a 7 second PR. This moves Arlet to #2 on the schools all time list in the 1600. The school record of 5:27 by Daniela Camacho was run at the 2015 edition of the Bearcat Invite.

Melvin Estrada ran a big PR in the 1600, becoming the latest Comet to break 5:00 for the mile. He lowered his personal best from 5:05, to 4:53. Azael Zamora also ran a PR, clocking 4:33.64, a 2 second PR that moves him into 10th place on the schools all time list. The Mile PRs did not stop there. Mariana Perez lowered her PR from 7:24 to 7:16. Francine Estranero took a second off of hers, clocking 7:26 and Krystal Ran ran an 8 second PR of 8:04.

In the frosh/soph boys, Brandon Cruz, (5:14.53)  Jerricho Habon (5:16.59) and Hugo Marquez (5:19.80) all ran under 5:20 for the first time. Mark Orpia ran a small PR of 5:06.55 as well.

Next up on the track was the 100 hurdles. Valeria Cortez ran a seasons best 17.61 in the event, placing 5th and earning herself a medal. She ran 17.86 at the 2017 version of the event to become the frosh/soph 100 hurdles champion of the meet. Teammate Yesenia Martinez did her best to emulate that performance. Yesenia ran a huge PR of 18.87 to place 3rd in the frosh/soph division, earning herself a medal as well.

IMG_4368.JPG
Yesenia Martinez on her way to winning her heat in the F/S girls 100 hurdles

Cody Huoch just missed his PR, running 17.21 in the 110 Hurdles. A false start disrupted his rhythm as his heat was recalled.

The team also saw strong performances in the 400. Making his return, Jose Limon ran 55.99 in the boys 400, a seasons best for Lemon and the best Comet time on the year so far. Salvador Lopez had a huge PR in the frosh/soph version of the event, running 56.22 (previous best 58.27) and placing 7th overall, one place off of a medal. Kirsten Yutuc and Justine Austria both ran PRs as well, clocking 1:09.66 and 1:10.51 respectively.

Valeria ran a PR in the 100 taking three tenths of a second off of her career best to stop the clock at 14.22, the 2nd best Comet time this season. Regine Valecruz ran under 17 seconds for the first time, clocking 16.96 for the event. Cody Huoch ran a PR of 12.06, the best time by a Comet so far this season. Lisbeth Galdamez lowered her PR from 14.72 to 14.35, and Yesenia lowered hers from 15.81 to 15.37. Finally, Geovanny Campos returned from injury to run a small PR of 12.45.

The distance runners were back for more strong performances in the 800. Arlet ran a seasons best 2:33.16 to place 8th. On the frosh/soph girls side, Ashley lowered her PR from 2:54 to 2:51. Mariana took hers from 3:24 to 3:13 and Estefani took her PR down from 3:33 to 3:21.  The boys side saw some major breakthroughs.

Azael took his PR down to 2:07.04, a 3 second PR. Melvin and Jerricho worked together to run huge PRs. The boys entered with PRs of 2:21 and 2:22 and went 1-2 in their heat to earn new PRs of 2:13.2 and 2:13.8 respectively. Hugo Marquez and Brandon Cruz ran PRs of 2:24 and 2:25 respectively to end the day for the distance team.

By this time, many Comets had already competed in field events as well. Valeria achieved seasons bests in both the discus (106-9) and Shot Put (32-2). She placed 3rd overall and 2nd overall respectively. Charli Chircop placed 2nd in discus with a throw of 108-0. Alejandra Ceron placed 4th in Shot Put with a throw of 30-10. Rudolf Ocampo placed 6th in the frosh/soph boys shot put with a throw of 33-7 to earn a medal.

Kirsten added a long jump PR of 14-9 to her already strong day, earning a medal in the event. She missed her PR in the tripe jump by 1 inch, going 30 feet even and placing 4th. Yesenia placed 5th with a jump of 28-0, giving her a second medal on the day as well.

The 300 hurdles began around 3:00. Dakota Castro-Lopez ran a huge PR in the frosh/soph boys 300 hurdles, clocking 51.67, he had not broken 1:00 on his first two tries at the event. Yesenia was on her way to a massive PR, until she fell at the final hurdle of the race. She got to her feet and scurried across the line in 58.95, missing her PR by .10. She was likely headed for a 3 second PR before the fall, and will look to run a big PR soon. Kirsten did manage a long awaited PR, taking her best time down from 54.27 to 52.89. She earned a 3rd medal on the day with this performance.

IMG_4380.JPG
Arlet Miranda expressing her enthusiasm at the chance to run the 200

The final event on the day for the Comets was the 200. Arlet relished the rare opportunity to compete in the 200, and ran 31.05, just .12 off of her PR. Justine and Lisbeth added more PRs to the Comet totals. Justine ran 30.14 compared to a previous best of 30.51, and Lisbeth ran 30.63, compared to a previous best of 31.18. A solid day for the Comets young sprint crew. Jerricho lowered his 200m PR from 27.20 to 26.81. Geovanny lowered his 200 PR from 25.63 to 25.37.

The final events on the day for the team were the F/S boys triple jump and pole vault. Sal placed 5th in the triple jump with a best jump of 37-7, matching his PR.

IMG_4418.JPG
Sal Lopez on the final phase of the triple jump

The pole vault saw great performances for the team. Mark cleared 8-0 for the first time, while Rudolf managed a whole foot PR of 8-6. This Comet duo is looking to lead a renaissance in the pole vault. The fact that they can now both clear the minimum varsity scoring height shows great potential for future seasons.

IMG_4396
Mark Orpia clearing the bar at 7 feet

It was a tremendous day for the Comets overall. Probably the best invitational performance I have seen as a coach. Out of the 47 teams at the Bearcat invite, the Comets placed 20th in both varsity and frosh/soph boys. 7th in frosh/soph girls and 6th in varsity girls.

The team will head to Sobrato HS on Thursday April 19th with hopes of improving on their 2-8 varsity record. Then a few Comets will head to the historic CCS Top 8 meet on Saturday April 21st.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

James Lick Track, Then And Now: The Rise and Fall and Rise (hopefully) of James Lick Track and Field

Forward: I have a profound love for James Lick High School. I have lived within a few minutes of the school my entire life. I learned how to swim there. I was raised next door to its most successful coach (who I will discuss later). I went to school there, as did my father and his sisters. Now I have the privilege of teaching and coaching at James Lick, and as a history teacher, I often find myself reflecting on the history of the school I hold so dear.

Through the hard work of my athletes, I’ve already experienced a lot of fortunate success as a coach as I approach the end of my 5th year coaching. I’ve been lucky enough to have coached 4 different division champion teams (2 in XC 2 in track). I have twice been awarded James Lick’s “Keith Antes Coach of the Year Award” (Undeservedly I might add, more on Keith Antes later). And above all, I’ve been pleased to have fostered a high rate of improvement among my student athletes. That is the only success that is really meaningful, because as I am about to detail, the competition my teams have beaten, pales in comparison to what the Comets of yesteryear had to face.

As I will discuss below, by many measures, James Lick “used to be a better school.” When I first started at James Lick in 2007, it had a very negative reputation, and that is still the case today (though to a slightly lesser extent). It is against this reputation and pervading negativity that we as a team fight today. For we as a team/school to continue to progress, I think it is important to draw pride, wisdom, and lessons from the past. As such, this is my best attempt to briefly compare James Lick (and the CCS as a whole) across eras. This is my attempt to summarize the track history of a school that is almost 70 years old, to the furthest degree possible by a 25 year old. To you kids reading this, understand the powerful tradition we are trying to reignite. To alumni reading this, thank you for setting the bar.

James Lick Track: Then

James Lick High School, like much of Eastside San Jose, contains a rich history that may easily be lost on a casual observer. James Lick opened its doors in 1950, as the first high school in the East Side Union High School district. James Lick track has such a history, that it predates the BVAL, the MHAL, and even the CCS.

When James Lick track began competing, it was a member of the SCVAL (Santa Clara Valley Athletic League) within the NCS (North Coast Section). James Lick had immediate success, winning three straight titles in the SCVAL, in 1954, 1955, 1956. While the Green and White has been a constant, much has changed at James Lick over the years, not just in terms of track and field.

Many of the athletes on the great teams of the 1950s would be just as competitive if they were competing today. Despite the faster track surfaces, (rubber instead of cinders) some of James Lick’s best times come from a long while back.

It is worth noting that most of my sources are from a combination of internet/newspaper archives, and first-hand word of former James Lick athletes and coaches. As such, our current all time lists and information are incomplete.  Anyone with any information about past teams/times, can feel free to contact me at: reevesb@esuhsd.org. I would very much appreciate any information.

The first James Lick track champion that I have on record, was a pole vaulter at the 1952 SCVAL championships. This vaulter (last name Guzman) cleared 11-0 to take the title. The pole vault is very symbolic of James Lick’s rise and fall. The Comets were once great in pole vault, and we are now beginning to try to emulate that greatness. By the mid ‘60s, the Comets had already had 3 different league champs in the pole vault. The best of them was Ray Clayton, an athlete who cleared 14-2.5 in 1964 to make the State Meet.  We are attempting to re-institute pole vault competition this year. If any vaulter clears a height in a meet, they will be the first Comet to do so this century.

James Lick was a very strong school by every measure by the 1960s, a time period that saw the foundation of both the CCS and the MHAL (Mt. Hamilton Athletic League). The football team had its best run of success with Jim Plunkett at quarterback, winning multiple MHAL titles. The swimming and waterpolo teams also had a remarkable run of success under coach Gene Nyquist. Coach Nyquist is by far James Lick’s winningest coach, having over 20 league titles to his name.

My dad attended James Lick in the late 1960s, and ran track and cross country under the legendary coach Keith Antes. Coach Antes and his longtime assistant coach/successor, Carlos Saldivar, were both James Lick alumni. This connection to the school might help to explain the tremendous success that both of these coaches had at James Lick. In 1967, the team achieved its only MHAL track title.

In some ways, the ‘60s were the glory days of James Lick Track, if not San Jose track as a whole. With San Jose dubbed “speed city” the area bore witness to tremendous High School track competition. The one MHAL title is a result of the stiff competition the Comets had to face. For example, the Comets had to contend with Lee Evans of Overfelt High School in the early ‘60s. Evans would of course go on to win the gold medal in the 400m in the 1968 Olympics, and become the first man to run under 44 seconds for the event. You can imagine how tough he would have been against the Comets in a dual meet.

But the Comets strength and depth in track was fantastic. The team consistently had multiple athletes in the 4:40 mile range. The team produced top-notch jumpers like Phil Passafuime, Chris Moulton and Dave Pike. Pike is in fact still the schools long jump record holder at 22-6.5. Towards the later part of the decade, James McGhee and Bill Pabst threw for the Comets. Their best discus marks of 159-5 and 149-7 respectively still rank 1-2 in school history. To even make the varsity team was a huge challenge.

It wasn’t uncommon for James Lick to have 3 different boys go over 40 feet in the triple jump in the same dual meet. By comparison, as I write this in April of 2018, only 4 boys have gone over 40 feet in the triple jump in the entire 24 team BVAL.

There is of course a natural ebb and flow to the quality of CCS track. Some eras are stronger than others. But in some areas, the extent to which modern marks/times pale in comparison to those of more than 30 years ago is jarring.  For example, I will compare the MHAL finals of 1975, to the MHAL finals of 2017.

The MHAL of 1976 was its own league, whereas the MHAL of 1996- present has been a division of the BVAL. Regardless, in both cases the MHAL has generally had 8 teams. The modern MHAL is the ‘A’ division of the BVAL so it should be the strongest in any given year. The MHAL of 1976 had 11 teams, so while it did have several more teams to add quality to the league, it was a geographical league, not a power league.

The 1976 MHAL 4×100 (Back then the 440 yard relay, which is actually a tiny bit longer than the 400m relay)  was won by Mt. Pleasant in 41.8. A new MHAL record at the time. Piedmont Hills ran 42.2 and Yerba Buena ran 42.5. Times in this era were still hand-timed, meaning they are likely off by roughly .25 seconds. Even accounting for this, the times are substantially stronger than the 44.78 winning time of Santa Teresa at the 2017 version of the event.  Santa Teresa would go on to run a very strong 43.24 at CCS Finals. Even with that strong time, a time which placed them 6th at CCS finals, they would have only placed 5th at the 1976 MHAL Finals.

Some events are still as strong/stronger than ever around the area. The Winner of the 880 (Which takes about a half second longer to run that the 800m) ran 1:55.8. The top athlete in the MHAL right now is Jason Gomez of Westmont, he ran 1:52 last year as a junior in the event. Similarly, the mile was won in 4:26.7 by Johnson from Overfelt. That equates to roughly a 4:25 1600. That would have placed him 3rd at the 2017 MHAL which was won in 4:18. Lick’s Joe Salazar placed 3rd in 1976 with a 4:30.1 (converted to 4:28.8 for 1600). Azael Zamora, our top distance runner today is at 4:35.20 with a month left in the season, so he isn’t totally put to shame by strong milers like Joe Salazar.

While distance is as competitive (maybe even a bit more competitive) as ever, many of the speed based events are lacking. The relay is the most glaring example, showing a lack of depth of top-notch sprinters compared to the ‘70s. The jumps are the next most extreme example.

The 2017 MHAL boys long jump was won with a jump of 21-0 by freshmen Jared Vasquez. While that is a great mark, especially for a freshmen, it would not have placed him in the top 5 at the 1976 MHAL finals.

Hunter Beck of Branham won the MHAL 300 hurdles, and ran just under 40 seconds to do so. Going under 40 in the event is an impressive feet, no other athlete did so at MHAL finals 2017. The entire top 5 of the 1976 MHAL finals ran under 40. The event was won by Andre Philips of Silver Creek in 36.4. This was only a few years after the CCS made the switch from the 180 low hurdles to the 330 yard intermediate hurdles (basically identical to the modern 300 hurdles). Andre Phillips would go on to win the gold medal at the Olympics in the 400 hurdles in 1988.

The depth of the BVAL in throws is also way down compared to earlier years. Bill Pabst was unable to make CCS in the discus throw with his career best heave of 149-7 in 1969. 133-3 was good enough to make CCS last year.

I do not draw this comparison to criticize or demean our current crop of athletes. Looking at the past strength of the CCS forces us to consider ways to reignite the strength of our track programs here in the Blossom Valley. That is certainly what I am trying to do at James Lick, a school that fell further than most from the great times of the ‘70s.

Most of James Lick’s top athletes showed up in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Pete Moreno went 50 feet in the triple jump. Henry Barba ran 10.69 in the 100, a school record which still stands. Randy Pangelina and Joe Amendt both won CCS titles in the 800, Randy running 1:52 and Joe running 1:50. These are the marks that I intend for James Lick athletes of today to aspire to. We are a long way off in most areas, but emulating the Comets of the past will only help our current athletes.

By the 1980s, the depth of James Lick track was beginning to wane. More and more schools began to populate San Jose, and take from James Lick’s attendance. The most significant of these was the foundation of Independence HS in 1976. Independence quickly grew into a power in the CCS, let alone the MHAL.

There was one especially large change during the ‘70s that would alter the CCS forever, the inclusion of girls sports. With the inclusion of girls sports officially happening after many of James Lick’s greatest teams, you have to wonder how many lady Comets missed their chance. And even with girls finally having the opportunity to compete on the same level as boys, it would take time for them to receive the same emphasis.  

Even so, some of our schools records on the girls side are from this era as well. Joan Jacobs running 12.26 for the 100, and Christine Smallwood running 25.1 are the most impressive Comet marks from the ‘70s. The girls all time list is much weaker than the boys one, and one of the joys of coaching the team right now is that the team is dramatically altering that list. For example, Kathy Shelby threw the shot put 34-0 in 1975. That remained the school record for over 40 years until Alejandra Ceron threw 35-8.5 last year.  

San Jose as a whole would dramatically shift over the next few decades. The rows of orchards became houses, and the blossom valley became silicon valley. Some things never change. Students still take every chance they get to swing by Peters Bakery before school for a slice of Burnt Almond cake. James Lick distance runners run right past the country club on their way to Alum Rock Park. James Lick’s sporting success in recent years however, is a far cry from what it once was.

The BVAL formed with its 3 division ‘power league’ structure in 1996. Since then, most James Lick sports have never been out of the WVAL (‘C’ division). In the late 90s and early 2000s, James Lick track was at its lowest point. They did win a title in track in 2000, and a few titles were won by other sports over the years, but overall JL suffered. From 2007-2013 the team did not win a single dual meet, despite being in the lowly WVAL. The girls team hadn’t managed a winning record in a single season from 1996 on. The WVAL in those years was far weaker than it has been lately. In many dual meets, all it would have taken were enough athletes  to fill up events to grab a win. The team hovered between 8-12 athletes (combined between boys and girls) during these years, and the program would have been cut if not for the intervention of soccer coach Ray Iniguez, (now our athletic director).

James Lick Track Now

In 2014 I was brought on to coach the team. While it is not standard practice to hire 20 year olds to head track programs, few 20 year olds are as obsessive as I was. More importantly, I had a very dedicated freshmen class, whose talent as athletes was fair, and whose caliber as people was exceptional. Nathan Bernardo, Gustavo Aguilera and Maria Mendoza to name a few. They would transform as athletes over the next few years. Nathan went from a 6:00 mile to a 4:47. Gustavo went from a 54 second 300 hurdles time to a 44. Maria went from 58 in the 300 hurdles to 51 seconds, setting a new school record until a teammate broke it.

Besides working hard themselves, they brought more athletes to the team. The team size grew from 12 in 2013, to 23 in 2014 where we grabbed our first wins. We went 1-6 on boys and 1-6 on girls. Those wins were important to our morale, we broke our losing streak and knew we were heading the right direction.

In 2015 came the big jump, our team size doubled to 45 athletes and we went a combined 10-4. 6-1 on girls and 4-3 on boys. The first winning season on record for the girls in school history.

For the first time in a long time, James Lick started to vaguely resemble its past. Davion Thomas ran 23.19 for the 200 and 11.44 for the 100. These times do not approach the school records of Henry Barba, or even the consistent low 11s of James Lick’s heyday, but James Lick had a sprinter at CCS. Karan Singh ran 4:39 for the 1600, becoming the first Comet to run under 4:40 in over a decade.

While we are still in the infancy of recapturing James Lick’s glory on the boys side, I am confident in saying that the girls team as a whole has never been better.

We won the WVAL in 2016 and 2017, propelling us to our first ‘B’ division season this year. The boys narrowly missed the WVAL title, losing to Independence by 5 points in our dual meet.

Now we sit in the ‘B’ division. We are moving upwards, but we are not yet near where we want to be. We are currently a combined 1-7 in the ‘B’ division, but mark my words, we will greatly improve on that record before the season is over (don’t rule out 7-7).

We are not the only James Lick sport showing an upwards trajectory. The girls volleyball team, and girls basketball team both won the WVAL this school year. Both teams made incredible improvements to earn their titles. The volleyball team went from 3-11 to 13-1, and the girls basketball team went from 2-11 to 10-0 (the WVAL is only 6 teams in basketball this season).

As a school, we are committed to improving the school, and I will encourage my team to use the past as a measuring stick.

If you’ve sorted through this convoluted mess, thank you sincerely. I appreciate your interest.

 

The 2nd half of the season kicks off this week. The Comets will be hosting Piedmont Hills, and then heading up to the Bearcat Invite in San Mateo.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

Comets Leap Forward at Firebird Relays

IMG_4222.jpg
Cody Huoch contesting the triple jump 

32 Members of the James Lick track team competed on Saturday March 24th at the Firebird Relays.  The meet features combination relays as well as a few seldom run relays such as the DMR (Distance Medley Relay) and SMR (Speed Medley Relay).

The meet kicked off with the hurdles. Valeria Cortez and Susie Peterson ran 18.03 and 20.12 in the varsity girls 100 hurdles. Valeria Gonzalez ran 23.61 in her first try at the event. Yesenia Martinez had a huge breakthrough, running 19.63, shattering her previous best of 21.75. In the boys event, Cody Huoch matched his PR of 17.16 and Luis Escamilla ran a PR in the 65m hurdles, running 12.64.

IMG_4210.JPG
Left to right: Yesenia Martinez, Valeria Cortez, Susie Peterson, Valeria Gonzalez, Luis Escamilla 

Several  Comets would run PRs in the open 1600m next. Estefani Herrera ran a 7:18, beating her previous PR by 14 seconds. Estefani has had remarkable improvement throughout her freshmen year. She began Cross country as an 11 minute miler, and is now moving towards the 7 minute barrier. Brandon Cruz took his PR from 5:30 to 5:23, and Daniel Portillo lowered his from 5:48 to 5:37. Belen Sanchez ran a PR of 6:11.61, putting her in position to attack the 6 minute barrier soon. The most impressive PR on the day was Azael Zamora running 4:35.20. This marks the best James Lick time in the 1600 since Jose Gutierrez ran 4:28 in 2003. Azy will look to keep chipping away seconds to try to make the school’s top 10 list in the event.

The Comets ran a girls team and a boys team in the frosh/soph 4×100. The girls frosh/soph 4×100 team of Justine Austria, Kirsten Yutuc, Lisbeth Galdamez and Natalie Rem ran 56.80. This is the fastest frosh/soph 4×100 time that James Lick has run in the past decade at least. The same would prove true of the team of Rudolf Ocampo, Raven Alcantara, Salvador Lopez and Geovanny Campos. The boys ran 48.39. They will aim to run under 48 seconds soon and try to earn a spot at the CCS top 8 meet.

The team also ran frosh/soph DMR teams. The girls team of Jenny Villagomez, Valeria Gonzalez, Mya Hammond and Ashley Preciado placed 4th in 15:55. The boys team of Mark Orpia, Jerricho Habon, Hugo Marquez and Melvin Estrada ran 12:23, a solid time, earning then 5th place. They missed medaling by only 4 seconds. The same team would narrowly miss medaling in the 4×800 with a time of 9:37 as well.

Misael Herrera ran a seasons best in the 400. He clocked 56.55, missing his PR by only .07. Aliana Santos ran a massive seasons best of 15.71, missing her PR by only .04. Adrian DeLaRosa had a similar strong performance, running 12.67 compared to a previous seasons best of 12.95.

Azael ran a seasons best 2:10.35 in the 800, as did Arlet Miranda who ran 2:34.35. Ashley managed a 2 second PR of 2:57 as well.

One of the highlights of the firebird relays has always been the combined event relay.s Every team with 3 athletes in a field event has their marks added up. The team with the highest combined marks wins, and top 3 teams medaled. The Varsity Girls team took 3rd in the Shot Put relay, with several of the girls having an off day. They did however win the discus relay with a combined total of 297-0. They missed the meet record by 4 feet. The girls were lead by Charli Chircop who threw a seasons best 108-5, only a foot off of her PR. Mariah Santos threw a seasons best 73-0 in the event as well.

The James Lick girls also earned medals in the frosh/soph triple jump (2nd as a team) and the frosh/soph high jump (3rd as a team). Valeria Gonzalez managed a PR of 4-2 in the high jump. Most impressive in the jumps was the debut of Yesenia Martinez. The team simply needed a 3rd girl to make the minimum of 22 feet, and the strong tandem of Kirsten Yutuc and Natalie Rem would lead the team to a medal. Yesenia managed to go 27-7.50 in her very first try at the event, and she is proving to be a versatile athlete for the team.

IMG_4233.JPG
Valeria Gonzalez, Yesenia Martinez and Lisbeth Galdamez combined to medal in the high jump. 

The frosh/soph boys team of Sal, Raven and Geo missed medaling in the triple jump by only a foot. Sal and Raven both achieved PRs with Sal going 35-5.50 and Raven 34-1.

There were only two running events left with field events concluded, the 300 hurdles and the SMR. Yesenia netted yet another strong showing on the day, running 58.85 for a 2 second PR. Cody Huoch ran 45.53 for a solid seasons best time.

Both SMRs proved to be thrilling races and the team only narrowly missed medaling. Natalie and Lisbeth put the team in 6th place in the FS race through the two 100 meter legs. Justine moved the team into 5th on the 400 leg. Kirsten battled the whole 400 but could not move the team up any more. The Comets combined to run 2:09.98. This is the first time the Comets have contested the event, meaning it is the James Lick school record.

The boys race was even more exciting. After missing so narrowly in the triple jump, the Comets were determined to grab some hardware in the SMR. Rudolf started the team fast out of the blocks, and had a very smooth handoff with Raven. The team was in 2nd place as they approached the next handoff, but a poor handoff knocked the team into 7th place. Geo recovered from the poor handoff to move the team back into 5th place on the 200 meter leg before handing off to Sal. Sal immediately moved the team into 4th place to start the 400m leg, and then moved into 3rd down the backstretch. He battled Santa Clara’s anchor leg the entire race, but got run down in the final 100m. The Comets finished in 4th with a time of 1:47.61, with 3rd place finishing in 1:47.60.

The Comets had a number of performances to feel good about, and the Firebird relays only reinforced the teams youth. The team will take on the Lincoln Lions on Thursday March 29th before heading to the Quicksilver Classic on Saturday March 31st. The Lincoln Girls are 3-0 while both the Frosh/Soph and Varsity boys are 2-1 making the team a challenging matchup. The Comets will then have some hard training over spring break.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

Comets Continue to Progress in 2nd Dual Meet

The James Lick Comets had their 2nd dual meet of the 2018 season against the Evergreen Valley High School Cougars on March 15th. It was the 2nd dual meet in the ‘B’ division for the team. The team lost in all 3 divisions to reigning Varsity Boys champ Pioneer in their first meet. The result was repeated against reigning girls Champ, Evergreen. The team continued to progress and gain valuable experience nonetheless.

IMG_4160
Lyndel Ventura at the start of the 4×100 

The meet began with the girl’s 4×100. The team of Lyndel Ventura, Yeimili Adame, Kirsten Yutuc and Natalie Rem ran 56.78, falling to the Cougars. The Frosh/Soph boys team of Salvador Lopez, Raven Alcantara, Luis Escamilla and Geovanny Campos ran a season’s best time of 49.21, narrowly losing to Evergreen partly due to a poor handoff. The varsity team of Adrian DeLaRosa, Cody Huoch, Misael Herrera and Chris Okoro ran 48.75.

Belen Sanchez ran a seasons best 6:34 in the girls 1600, and Krystal Tran ran a PR of 8:12, though Evergreen swept the event. The first points on the day came from the Varsity Boys 1600. Azael Zamora ran a seasons best 4:43, nearly running down Evergreen’s top runner to place 2nd. Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a seasons best 5:06 in the same race, as did Mark Orpia in 5:24. Joseph Benitez ran a big PR, running 5:43 compared to a previous best of 5:58.

The team saw their first win of the day in the next race. Valeria Cortez won the 100 hurdles in a seasons best time of 18.20. Susie Peterson scored her 1st point in the ‘B’ division by finishing 3rd in a seasons best 19.74. Yesenia Martinez ran a PR of 21.79. Cody Huoch scored a point in the boys 110 Hurdles with a seasons best time of 17.62. Jonathan Bradley scored a point in the Frosh/Soph version of the race with a new PR of 21.50.

The girls 400 saw an Evergreen Sweep, but Arlet Miranda ran 1:08.09 for her first go at the event this season, the best time by a Comet so far this year. Yeimili and Justine Austria were close behind, both in 1:11. The frosh/soph boys saw several solid performances in  the 400. Salvador placed 2nd in 58.27, a PR of nearly 1.5 seconds. Rudolf Ocampo ran a strong debut of 1:00.56 and Jerricho Habon ran a 3 second PR of 1:00.59. Misael took 2nd place in the 400 in a seasons best of 57.72. Azael took 3rd in a seasons best 58.66.

Evergreen would go on to sweep the 100 on both Varsity sides, though many Comets ran improvements on the week before (despite chilly/rainy conditions). Adrian DeLaRosa lead the team in 12.95 (previous seasons best 13.09). Chris Okoro and Austin Swank both ran 13.28 compared to times over 13.40 the week before. On the girl’s side, Natalie lead the team in 14.75, just missing scoring. Valeria ran 14.99 in her first 100m of the season. Lisbeth Galdamez ran a huge PR of 15.21, compared to a 15.84 previous best. Valeria Gonzalez ran 15.94 for her first try at the event. Kaylee Santos ran 17.19 for her personal debut. Lara Ventura ran a seasons best 19.51. The frosh/soph boys fared well, with Geo taking 2nd place in 12.52. Jojo ran a PR of 13.76 as did Josafar Gomez who ran the same time.

Arlet took the victory for the team in the 800. Arlet ran a commanding race where she remained in 4th place for most of the race, before storming to the win in a seasons best 2:36, winning by 4 seconds. Ashley Preciado ran a significant PR of 2:59.59 compared to her previous best of 3:08. Jenny Villagomez ran a small PR of 3:05. Mariana Perez ran a PR by nearly 10 seconds, clocking 3:24. The highlight of the boys 800 was Melvin Estrada running a PR of 2:21, a PR by 5 seconds. Hugo Marquez also ran a seasons best of 2:29.03.

Kirsten ran a PR in the 300 hurdles of 54.27 to take 3rd place. Yesenia ran another big PR, clocking 1:00.90 compared to a previous best of 1:03.94. The Frosh/Soph boys saw a solid debut from Rudolf Ocampo who ran 50.30. Jojo ran a PR of 51.38. The duo combined for 2nd and 3rd.

Justine Austria ran a PR of 31.67 in the 200 to lead the girls team, though she was unable to score for the team. Misael took 2nd in a seasons best 25.90. Hugo ran a PR of 28.75 and Chris Okoro ran a seasons best as well. Geo scored another point for the team with a 3rd place in the 200.

Azael took another 2nd place in the 3200 to wrap up the individual events for the team. The team would lose the 4×400 although the girls managed a seasons best of 4:46.

The field events saw a number of solid improvements as well. The varsity girls swept the Shot Put. Charli Chircop lead the way, matching her PR of 32-9. Adriana Marcelino threw a PR of 21-2 in the event, and Freshmen Lizbet Alonzo made her debut with a toss of 16-6. Daniel Medina scored 3rd place for the boys with a toss of 36-6. Daniel would also grab 3rd in the Discus with a seasons best 105-0 the 2nd best throw of his career. Jesus Venegas threw a PR of 84-0 as well.

IMG_4169
Daniel Medina, indicating his 3rd place standing 

Valeria and Charli combined to go 1-2 in the girls discus, though Evergreen was able to take 3rd place. Kiely Leal threw a PR of 53-9 and Keara Medina had a strong debut of 51-4.

The highlight of the jumps for the team was Sal winning the Frosh/Soph boys high jump with a clearance of 5-0. Geo and Joshua Merin both managed PRs of 4-10 as well.

The Cougars handed the Comets three loses, moving the varsity boys, varsity girls, and frosh/soph boys each to 0-2 so far. Next week however, the team will be going after the win against the Prospect Panthers.

Prospect was a middle of the pack team last year, going a combined 6-8 in varsity (4-3 girls, 2-5 boys, 2-5 frosh/soph). They defeated Sobrato to start their season, then fell to the same teams as the Comets, Evergreen and Pioneer.

The home dual meet against Prospect on Thursday March 22nd should be the teams best chance yet to claim its first ‘B’ division victory, and the team is resting up this weekend in preparation for it.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves