As we wind down the year of 2019, I thought we could take a look back at the decade and determine the James Lick Cross Country All Decade Team. Ultimately this a subjective list, based on the times of the runners of this decade with particular emphasis on Crystal Springs (our league finals course) and our league race course of Montgomery Hill and Alum Rock Park.
I was a senior on the 2010 XC team, and have been a coach on the team since 2013. As a result, I was either a teammate or coach of every member of this all decade list. This list will be my best attempt to give James Lick it’s best top 7 boys and girls of the decade with a few honorable mentions.
Boys Honorable Mention:
- Ricardo Flores Class of 2011
Ricardo really emerged as a senior running 16:22 at Montgomery Hill, the 6th fastest league race time of the decade. His struggles at Crystal Springs (18:08) PR keep him off the list. Every other member of the all decade team managed a sub 18 3 mile, a feet Ricardo never quite managed.
2. Gustavo Aguilera Class of 2017
Gustavo really built himself into being a great runner through hardwork. As late as his sophomore year his PRS were 17:50 at Montgomery Hill and 18:47 at Crystal Springs. Over the next two years he took these decent but unspectacular times down to 16:53 at Montgomery and 17:39 at Crystal Springs. He was the 5th boy on the 2016 league championship team, the best team of the decade by far, but his PRS fall just short of some other members of the list.
The Boys list
7. Benny Reeves Class of 2011
It’s always a weird thing to include yourself on a list like this but frankly I think it would be dishonest not to. At my best league meet at Alum Rock, I ran 16:28, the 7th best league race time of the decade for a James Lick boy. My Crystal Springs mark of 17:30 ties Inteus Castro-Lopez for 5th of the decade. The next few boys on the list I put above myself despite the fact that I was faster than them at Half Moon Bay HS, Newhall Park and Mt. Sac, all courses we had in common.
6. Karan Singh Class of 2015
Karan only makes this list because of his final month as a senior. He was a quality runner as a senior but really went off at the end of the season. With one month left in his career, he just barely managed to crack 17 minutes for a league meet, running 16:50 at Montgomery Hill, only the 12th best league race time of the decade for a Comet. At BVAL finals however, he ran 17:17 at Crystal Springs, the 4th fastest Comet of the decade at our most important course. He did even better at Toro Park, running 17:27 at CCS.
His lack of early performances keep him low on the list, but if this list was based on single most impressive performance he’d be #4 on this list.
5. Mark Orpia Class of 2020
Mark may have gotten higher on this list if not for an injury plagued Senior year. He ran 16:19 at Montgomery Hill (the 5th best league race time of the decade by a Comet) and he did it as a junior. He also ran 17:34 at Crystal Springs, 7th best of the decade. Across the board he had quality invitational times as well. The fact that he didn’t get to run a single league meet hurts his case but the fact of the matter is he was our team’s #1 runner for two seasons in a row.
4. Inteus Castro-Lopez Class of 2018
Inteus was a runner who surpassed all expectations we had of him. He ran with a limp as a result of a metal plate in his leg, but still managed to run 16:17 at Montgomery Hill, the 4th best Comet league meet time of the decade. His 17:30 at Crystal Springs ties him for 5th best their as well. He didn’t have the high ceiling of the rest of the boys on this list but he was a reliable runner, exactly the kind of runner you want for a 4th or 5th boy. He was the #4 boy on the 2016 league championship team.
3. Erik Olsvold Class of 2019
There is a very good case to be made that Erik should be #1 on this list. In an ideal world he definitely would be. As a sophomore he was the #1 boy on the 2016 league championship team. He was the individual champion for the ‘B’ division with a time of 16:22. He was also the only Comet to win a league meet with an outstanding 15:27 time at Montgomery Hill. That race is the #2 Montgomery time in school history, the best time of the decade and arguably the single most impressive performance of the decade by any Comet.
What hurts Erik’s case were injuries his junior and senior year that never allowed him to come close to this form again. This coupled with the fact that he was never able to compete in invitationals meant he was never as reliable as the next to boys on the list. In a single race where you needed any of these boys at their peak to try to win a race, Erik would be the best choice, but the reliability and consistency of the next two boys place him 3rd in my humble estimation.
2. Nathan Bernardo class of 2017
Nathan’s leadership was essential to the championship of 2016. He had very strong times at every course he ran. 15:52 at Montgomery Hill, 16:45 at Crystal Springs and the best Mt. Sac time of the decade. He is #2 in the decade at De La Salle, Lowell, and Half Moon Bay all because of the #1 boy on this list, but Nathan was as consistent a competitor as a coach could ask for.
1. Azael Zamora class of 2018
Azy as a senior was the most impressive male James Lick runner of the last 15 years. His 16:37 clocking at Toro Park was perhaps the most impressive Comet performance of the decade. His 16:17 at Crystal Springs was not only the best of the decade, but it put him on the top 20 list in school history at our area’s most historic course.
His best league race time was 15:41 at Alum Rock Park, and he is the only boy on the list to crack the 13 minute barrier at half Moon Bay, as well as the only boy this decade to run under 17 at Crystal Springs for 2 seasons in a row. He also came the closest to making the State meet of any boy in the decade. For all of these reasons I feel confident in stating that Azael Zamora is the cross country runner of the decade.
1. Jessica Cervantes
Jessica is only a junior now so she has one more season ahead of her. This year she established herself as a strong varsity girl, running 21:32 at Montgomery Hill (7th best of the decade) although injuries stopped her from running at Crystal Springs, she is close to making this list for her reliability over the past two years, including being the #4 girl on the school record Montgomery team of 2018.
The Girls list
7. Milka Perez Class of 2018 :Milka was maybe the most talented girl runner I’ve ever coached, but she didn’t stick with it. As a freshmen she practiced only 1-2 days a week and still ran 21:12 at Montgomery Hill (7th best time of the decade and #1 freshmen time) and 21:38 at Crystal Springs ( 4th best time of the decade and #1 freshmen time). At Toro Park for CCS she ran 21:30 far more impressive as the #3 time of the decade. She didn’t run sophomore or senior year, and her junior year (after suffering an ACL tear in soccer) she was a quality runner but simply not at this level. So again, while her times indicate she is higher than 7th, the fact that she only competed for 2 years keeps her off this list in my opinion.
6. Yeimili Adame Class of 2020: Similar problems hold Yeimili down on this list. Her Montgomery Hill time of 20:13 is 4th best of the decade, and it was as a junior. She only ran a bit as a senior, and her Crystal Springs time of 22:12 is strong, (7th best of the decade) but she was capable of more, as she didn’t run league finals during her best season. This keeps Yeimili in the #6 spot.
5. Paloma Contreras Class of 2015: On the other side of the spectrum we have Paloma. She didn’t have a performance as impressive as Yeimili’s Montgomery or Milka’s Toro Park but she was very consistent and reliable, the #3 girl on the 2014 league title team. Her 21:02 at Montgomery is still the 6th best league meet time of the decade as is her 21:43 at Cyrstal Springs. Paloma’s reliability is exactly what you want out of a #5 runner.
4. Maria Mendoza Class of 2017: Maria, like Yeimili and Milka were not as strong as senior as they were earlier in their career. Maria was the 4th girl on the 2014 title team and was a strong runner but as a junior she blossomed. She ran 20:31 at Montgomery Hill, (5th best of the decade) but her Crystal Springs time of 20:35 is what really stands out. It’s the 3rd best of the decade and only 2 seconds from #2. It also puts her 6th in school history on our most historic course. Her struggles as a seniro hold her back from moving up even higher on this list.
3. Ana Tapia Class of 2010: Ana was always very strong at our league meets, winning several race in the ‘C’ division in 2009. As a senior, her best time of 20:03 was very strong, the 3rd best time of the decade behind only the two girls ahead of her on the list. Her best Crystal Springs time was only 21:52, 6th best of the decade, but her reliability and great league meet time make her deserving of the #3 spot on the list.
2. Daniela Camacho class of 2015: These top 2 spots were very easy to decide on. Daniela ran the 2nd best time of the decade at Montgomery Hill, Alum Rock Park, Half Moon Bay, Stanford, De La Salle, Mt. Sac, and Toro Park. Her highlights include a 19:33 clocking at Montgomery Hill in leading the team to a league title. She also held the Artichoke invite school record for 2 years at 15:38 until it was beaten. She is undoubtedly the #2 James Lick girl of the decade behind the one girl who beat her on every one of those courses ^.
1. Arlet Miranda class of 2019: This was not a difficult call. Arlet was a varsity runner from her freshmen year on, and while she had an injury plagued career, she STILL managed to be very reliable. She was the fastest lady Comet of the decade on every course she ran and even set a school record at the Artichoke Invitational. On other courses she is #2 all time behind Kayla Matsuda. No James Lick girl has ever made the State Meet in cross country but Arlet came the closest, she ran 20:02 at CCS as a sophomore to miss making State by 1 place and 7 seconds (it still kinda haunts me).
As stated in the beginning, this list does involve a lot of subjectivity. One could debate several other runners as being on these lists, but this was my personal take on who should be considered the top 7 cross country runners of the decade.
I hope you enjoyed this breakdown, I’ll try to do an “All-Decade track Team” before the year ends as well.
Thanks for reading!