Comets Tune up for League Meets with Alumni Race

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

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

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Just before the race began 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The team after the race

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

The season is here and exciting times are ahead!

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

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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 Show Great Improvement at Watermelon Run: Midseason Recap

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The Comets team awaits the start of the Watermelon Run Headed by several James Lick Alumni

After two weeks of hard work without a race, the James Lick Cross Country team assessed their fitness with the 2017 edition of the Watermelon Run. Due to the cancelation of the Alumni Race earlier in the month, the Watermelon Run doubled as the alumni race with several recent James Lick graduates in attendance.

The team ran the 3.03 mile north rim time trial course. The team ran the same course on August 14th to check their fitness heading into the new season. The Watermelon run showed just how far some of the Comets have come.

Azael Zamora battled sickness to run 17:58 a few seconds off of his personal best. Inteus Castro-Lopez was the 2nd boy across in 18:55, a 2 second PR. The big improvements started piling in soon after. Mark Orpia ran 19:37, far better than his 22:06 PR on August 14th. Erik Olsvold was next in 20:57. Erik has yet to race this season after his outstanding 2016 cross country season. His knee is nearly 100% and he looks to ready to finally begin racing again soon. Jesus Deloya ran a massive PR of 21:06, far better than the 25:17 clocking he managed at the original North Rim time trial of the season.

Nien Tran ran 21:09 for a new PR (25:57 on August 14th). Freshmen Jonathan Cortez ran 21:27 and continues to show his long term potential as a distance runner. This is the best freshmen time at the Watermelon run in the past 4 seasons at least. A stream of Sophomores were next, further illustrating the team’s youth.  A group of Sophomores, Melvin Estrada (21:29) Jerricho Habon (21:38) and Hugo Marquez (21:42) and Daniel Portillo (21:59) all ran under 22 minutes for the first time.

Cody Huoch came across the line next in 23:01. Isaac Veronica ran 23:12 for his first time on the course. Austin Swank was not far behind him in 23:18, a lifetime best in his final run on the course to give the team a strong reserve trio. Freshmen Omar Fimbres ran 23:51 just before Brandon Cruz and Rudolph Ocampo came across together in 23:55. Brandon managed to run faster for North Rim Timed than he did for Toro Park, indicating a big breakthrough is coming. Rudolph made a big impression in his first race for the team. The two sophomores were joined by freshmen Jose Ruiz (23:58) and Jonathan Bradley (24:10). We have some big decisions ahead on who should run on the Frosh/Soph team after these strong performances. Luis Escamilla and Kevin Bach also ran well with times of 24:50 and 25:15 to add two more solid sophomore times.

The girls team as a whole took a huge step forward in the watermelon run. At the North Rim time trial in August, only one girl on the team, (Arlet Miranda) managed to run the course under 33 minutes. Arlet ran 23:07 that day but has been battling iron deficiency since. With Arlet focusing on getting back to full health, it is more important than ever that the team steps up. They certainly did that at the Watermelon run.

Yeimili Adame who made a big impression during track joined the cross country team one week ago. Helped by Arlet’s pacing, Yeimili and Belen Sanchez came across the line together in 25:58. They are only the 6th and 7th JL girls to run under 26 minutes for the North Rim course. Belen ran 33:41 to be the #2 girl on August 14th. Arlet was right behind in 26:03. Xochitl Godinez and Justine Austria came across together in 27:42. Justine ran 37:12 for her first try on the course in August. This gave the girls 5 girls under 28 for the slow North Rim Timed course, something they were unable to muster at STAL 1 this season. Jennifer Villagomez, Jana Kikia and Analilia Regla came in at 28:45, 28:46 and 28:49, giving the team 8 girls under 29 minutes for North Rim Timed. Again, when we did the time trial on August 14th, we had only one girl under 33 minutes.

Alvaro Fabian and Jonathan Ergino were the last boys in at 28:43 and 29:19. Ashley Preciado ran 30:07 for a 4 minute PR. She was joined under 31 minutes by freshmen Mya Hammond (30:53) Emely Lopez (30:55) and senior Aliana Santos 30:53. All 3 girls achieved big PRs. Mya and Emely ran 41 minutes and 39 minutes respectively when they ran the course on August 14th.

Mariana Perez (32:11 for a 6 minute PR) Erika Camacho (32:44, 5 minute PR) and Francine Estranero (32:58) provided 3 more freshmen girls under 33 minutes for the team. Emma Veronica ran 32:56 for her first time on the course. Susie Peterson also ran 32:58, narrowly missing her PR but running 5 minutes faster than she managed in August. The final big PR of the day belonged to Estefani Herrera, 35:12 compared to a 44 minute clocking in August. Kirsten Yutuc ran 37:26 and Maria Sanchez ended the team’s day running 52:26.

Overall it was a big step forward for the team and a welcome performance with STAL 3 just days away. Some interesting notes from the Watermelon run:

46 Current Comets attended the Watermelon Run, the most in my 5 years of coaching. 2 runners, (Jose Limon and Adrian DeLaRosa) were sat out as they are dealing with minor injuries.

Of the 44 Comets who competed in the run, the team breaks down like this:

  1. Freshmen: 14 Total 9 girls 5 boys
  2. Sophomores: 17 Total 6 girls 11 boys
  3. Juniors: 4 Total 2 girls 2 boys
  4. Seniors: 8 Total 3 girls 5 boys

The team is very young this year, with nearly 70% of the team being underclassmen. This bodes very well for the future. This year in some ways might seem like a letdown after the 2016 STAL championship of the varsity boys, but the team is building towards future success.

Cross country and track are the only sports at James Lick reprinting the school in the ‘B’ division this year, and competing against larger schools is never easy. I am confident however, that the team will finish strong and improve on their current records.

Here is a breakdown of the teams records and how their team times changed from STAL 1 to STAL 2 (Team Times are the team’s top 5 runners times added up): 

Varsity Girls: 0-3   STAL 1: 126:06 STAL 2: 124:38

Varsity Boys: 1-2  STAL 1: 91:35  STAL 2: 87:59

Frosh/Soph Boys: 2-1 STAL 1: 101:35  STAL 2:  100:59

JV Girls: 0-3  STAL 1: 142:37   STAL2: 143:47

Reserve Boys: STAL 1: 110:59          STAL 2: 111:47

Reserve Girls: STAL 1: 164:03   STAL 2: INC

The team’s varsity record so far is 1-5 for a .200 winning percentage. I’d be willing to bet that this will improve over STAL 3 and STAL 4.

Both varsity teams improved from STAL 1 to STAL 2 by a considerable amount and the girls did it without Belen.

Frosh/Soph and JV tend to be inconsistent with runners moving up and down as needed for varsity. At STAL 2, the top runner from Frosh/Soph (Melvin Estrada) moved up to run varsity. The Frosh/Soph boys still managed to run faster as a team.

We are hoping that the Varsity Boys will run under 85 minutes as a team at STAL 3,  with the girls ideally running under well under 2 hours as a team for the first time this season.

The team will face Oak Grove and Sobrato at STAL 3 on Wednesday October 4th. It will be the 1st meet of the year at Montgomery Hill for the team. The team will look for many STAL season bests and the first wins of the year on the girls side.

The team will then trek to Half Moon Bay for the Artichoke Invitational on Saturday October 7th.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for STAL 3 recap!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comets Take Big Step Forward at STAL 2

The James Lick Comets had their second league meet of the 2017 season on September 14th in Alum Rock Park . A week after opening their season on the very same 2.85 mile course, the team took a big step forward, with numerous PRs and their first Varsity win of the season.

 

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Varsity Boys Left to right: Jose (Lemon) Limon, Hugo Marquez, Jesus Deloya, Azael Zamora, Inteus Castro-Lopez, Mark Orpia, Melvin Estrada

The meet began with the Frosh/Soph boys race. Nien Tran and Jonathan Cortez came in at 19:48 and 19:50, both running under 20 minutes for the very first time. Jerricho Habon was the 3rd boy in at 20:03, a PR by over a minute. Daniel Portillo ran a small PR of 20:18, and Omar Fimbres ran under 21 minutes for the first time, running 20:59. The team got the win over Branham to move to 2-1 on the season, despite the decision to move Melvin Estrada (last week’s top F/S boy) to Varsity.

The Varsity girls also saw a number of strong performances, and competed much better despite the absence of number 2 runner Belen Sanchez. Arlet Miranda lead the team in 22:28, still nowhere near her best. The next runner across for the Comets was Xochitl Godinez in 23:43, a massive improvement after running 25:32 only a week earlier. Justine Austria was 3rd in at 25:39, a huge PR as well after she ran 28:08 last week. Jana Kikhia and Ashley Preciado rounded out the top 5 with both girls running 26:24. Neither girl ran under 27 minutes last week. The girls are 0-3, but are improving rapidly. The team will work hard over the next few weeks to try to score their first win against Oak Grove in October.

The varsity boys team was spearheaded by Azael Zamora once again. He ran 15:44 for 3rd place. Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a 20 second PR of 17:08. Mark Orpia succeeded in going under 18 for the first time, running 17:42. Jose Limon ran 18:35, compared to his 19:46 clocking from a week ago. Lemon flashed his track speed over the last 100 meters, passing two runners from Branham (and several other runners) with his outstanding finishing kick. Had he not passed those runners, the Comets would have fallen to 0-3. Thanks to his finish however, the team scored a narrow victory over the Bruins. Hugo Marquez and Melvin Estrada came across the line together in 18:50, both breaking 19 for the first time.

The JV girls race also saw some huge PRS with Jennifer Villagomez taking her PR from 28:20 to 26:01 in one fell swoop. Mya Hammond cracked the 28 minute barrier and Kirsten Yutuc did the same to the 29 minute barrier.

The boys reserve race also saw a huge PR from Luis Escamilla. Luis took his best time down from 27 minutes a week ago, to 24 minutes this week.

Overall, STAL 2 was a huge steo in the right direction for the team.

Earlybird Invitational recap coming soon.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

Comets open season with STAL 1 and Lowell Invitational

The first race of the season for the Comets got underway on Thursday October 7th in Alum Rock Park. The team entered the season as reigning STAL (‘B’) division champions on the Varsity Boys side. 2016 Was a tremendous year for the team, with the team setting school records for combined team time at Montgomery Hill and at BVAL finals where the Comets placed 2nd overall, beating out every BVAL team except for the ‘A’ division champs, Willow Glen.

This years team looks to be headed for a much different season in what looks to be a rebuilding year for the team. 46 Athletes ran at STAL 1, the most athletes to run in a single race for James Lick since 2011. Of those 46 athletes, 30 were either freshmen or sophomores. Our team is very young this year, but very dedicated as well, which points to some strong seasons down the road for the team.

The Frosh/Soph boys got the meet started for the team on a day where all JL teams were facing Prospect and Independence. The Frosh/Soph boys came away 1-1 defeating Prospect but losing to Indy. Melvin Estrada lead the team in 19:28, a 2 minute PR. Last season the Comets best FS boy only managed to ru  20:46 at the first race. Nien Tran and Daniel Portillo both ran sizable PRS of 20:16 (21:17 last year) and 20:22 (24:03 last year), and talented freshmen Jonathan Cortez was close behind in 20:26. Jerricho Habon sealed off the top 5 with a time of 21:03. Freshmen Omar Fimbres ran 21:27 for a solid opening race, and Kevin Bach rounded out the team in 22:48.

Arlet Miranda has been dealing with the flu, but pushed through it to lead the Varsity Girls in 21:52. Nowhere near her best but good enough to be a competitive time. Belen Sanchez was the next Comet in at 23:59,  a 40 second PR. Freshmen Xochitl Godinez was the 3rd girl in at 25:32, a solid debut. Next was freshmen Jana Kikhia in 27:12, followed by Analilia Regla in 27:31. Sophomore Jennifer Villagomez and freshmen Mya Hammond rounded out the team in 28:17 and 28:47. More than half of the varsity girls team were running their first ever cross country race.

The Varsity boys team was unable to score a victory a year after going undefeated. They did see the best time by a Comet on the Alum Rock course in over a decade however. Azael Zamora placed 4th in 15:41, (the winner ran 15:34). This places him 5th on the school’s all time list for the course. Sophomore Mark Orpia ran 18:16, smashing his PR of 20:45 from last season,though we feel he could have done even better. Inteus Castro-Lopez has a very rough race by his standards, running 18:28. Jesus Deloya was the 4th boy in 19:24 and Jose Limon rounded out the team’s scoring in 19:46 for his first ever XC meet. Hugo Marquez ran 19:51 to take apart his previous PR of 21:44 as well.

The JV and reserve girls teams showed great signs of future success as well. The first JV girl across the line was Ashley Preciado in 27:32. Every other girl in the race for the team was running her first XC race. Justine Austria and Emma Veronica came across the line together in 28:07 and 28:08. Kirsten Yutuc and Mariana Perez finished in 29:14 and 29:36, with Emely Lopez and Erika Camacho rounding out the group in 29:46 and 30:15. Aliana Santos, Francien Estranero, Susie Peterson, Anahi Santos and Maria Sanchez competed for the team on the reserve side as well.

The Reserve boys was the largest group for the team and had some of the best performances as well. Freshmen Jonathan Bradley ran 20:52 to earn a spot on the Frosh/Soph team for next week. The majority of the boys in the race were running their first ever XC race, and overall the team competed well.

The team is young which makes the 0-2 start of the varsity teams a little bit easier to take. If you’ve read this blog regularly, you’ll know I’ve been saying for months that I felt we just needed a group of young dedicated girls (similar to the young group of boys we have) to really turn the team around. The group of freshmen/sophomore girls we have now are not otherworldly talents (most of the freshmen ran over 9 minutes at our August time trial) but their dedication is leading to rapid improvement. Our hope is that we can build this group into high quality varsity runners with a few seasons of work. Both STAL 1, and the Lowell invite showed the potential is there.

Lowell Invitational

The Lowell invitational in Golden Gate Park is a great experience for the team. The flat/fast courses are a great confidence builder for the team going forward. With this being the team’s 3rd time attending the meet, a number of team records fell.

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Freshmen Omar Fimbres (Left) and Jonathan Cortez (right) warmup at the Lowell Invitational 

Starting with the freshmen boys race, Jonathan Cortez had a great performance, running 14:09 to shatter the team record of the 2.13 mile course. Last year Jerricho Habon ran 14:28 for the course. Jonathan ran 6:39 mile pace for the course, a very encouraging fact. Omar also had a great race running 14:56 for 7:01 pace. His August time trial saw him run barely faster than that for one mile at 6:55.

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Left to right: Freshmen Francine Estranero, Jana Kikhia and Mya Hammond before the Frosh/Soph girls race. 

Jana Kikiha was one of the team’s top freshmen at the mile time trial when she ran 9:14. At the Lowell invite however, she ran 18:35 which comes out to 8:43 mile race, a stellar improvement. Mya Hammond had a similariliy impressive performance. After running 9:39 for the mile time trial a month ago, she ran 9:11 pace for the 2.13 mile Lowell Invite course.  Francine Estranero ran 10:13 pace for the course, approaching her PR of 9:59 for a single mile as well.

The Sophomore race saw the record of Jonathan Cortez fall just hours after it was set. Melvin Estrada ran 14:05 for a 29 second PR. Hugo Marquez was next in 14:24, a nearly 2 minute PR. Nien Tran ran 14:52 for a 25 second PR. and Daniel Portillo ran 15:23 for a 90 second PR as well. Brandon Cruz rounded out the team in 16:43. Despite the PRs across the board by the Sophomore boys, we actually feel this was an underperformance by the team, and one we hope they will bounce back from next week.

The non-Varsity race had only 2 Comet boys, Gustavo Madrigal and Adrian DeLaRosa. Both ran very impressive races. Gustavo ran 21:58 for the 2.93 mile course and Adrian ran 22:26. They ran 7:30 pace and 7:40 pace respectively, after both ran well over 8:00 pace on Thursday for STAL 1.

The Varsity girls team as a whole took a big step forward as well. On Thursday only two girls managed to run under 9:00 pace, Belen and Arlet. At the Lowell invite, 5 girls managed the feat, with two others close behind. Arlet lead the team in 21:23, still awaiting her breakout race. Belen had one of the best races of her career, running 23:09 for 7:54 pace, her first time under 8:00 pace. Ashley Preciado was the next girl in at 25:26. Ashley’s improvement has been remarkable. Last year she managed only one race under 10:00 pace, and with the Lowell invite she ran a new lifetime best XC pace of 8:41. Right behind Ashley was Justine Austria in 25:28 and not far behind her was Analilia Regla in 25:42. Kirsten Yutuc ran 26:46 and Aliana Santos ran a PR of 26:57 to finish the girl’s day. While the 2.93 course at Lowell is easier than Alum Rock’s it is also over 100 meters longer. The fact that many of our varsity girls ran 2 minutes faster at the Lowell invite shows we are ready for a much better showing next Thursday.

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The Varsity Girls After the race

 

The final race of the day was the Varsity Boys. The team was looking to bounce back from Thursday’s disappointing performance. Azael lead the team in 15:50, beating his own course record (set last year) by 33 seconds. After a poor race Thursday, Inteus bounced back in a big way running 16:47 for a 30 second PR. This equates to 5:43 pace, by far the best of his career to this point. He wasn’t the only one either. Mark Orpia ran 17:42 for 6:02 pace, a huge performance for him as well. Jose Limon ran 18:40 for 6:22 pace. These 4 boys now look poised to go get their first win next Thursday when the team takes on Branham.

 

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Sophomore Mark Orpia in the final 100 meters of his race

The first week of racing is done and the team is headed in the right direction. The youth of the team makes for a very exciting season in terms of progression. Next Thursday the team will take on Branham in Alum Rock Park before heading to Toro Park in Salinas next Saturday for the Earlybird Invitational.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Comet news!

-Benny Reeves

 

JLXC Course History: Half Moon Bay High School

The Half Moon Bay High School Cross Country Course, site of the famous and historic Artichoke Invitational, is one of the Comet’s  most raced courses. The 17 team Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) uses the course for some of its league meets, and many schools trek to it yearly for the Artichoke Invitational in the cool and scenic city. The Comets will do so on Saturday October 1st, so now is a good time to look back over the school’s history on the course.

James Lick first ran the Artichoke Invitational in 1979, and ran it every year through 1989. Those 10 years provided a strong foundation of the team’s all time lists for the course. After a hiatus, James Lick returned to the Artichoke Invitational in 1997, and has run the invite every year since. 2016 Will be the 29th time the Comets race the course, and the all time list for the course is very strong given all the years of history on it.

The Half Moon Bay HS course was 2.25 miles for most of it’s history. Construction on the baseball field which neighbors the starting line in 2006 made it so there was no invite that year, and in 2007 the invite returned with it’s current 2.33 mile course. The course is very similar to it’s original format, the only difference being that runners now run up a small hill to go around the baseball field before heading to the track, compared to early years where runners would run straight across the field to the track. The course is mostly flat, save for the famous “Cougar Hill” a short but steep excursion a little more than half way through the race.

Rather than have 2 separate all time lists, times from before 2007 have been converted to the 2.33 mile format. This has been done with the use of the XC stats course converter,basically taking the pace of runners form the shorter course, and calculating what that pace would achieve for the longer course, with a few seconds added to account for the small added hill.

Overall, the course is a great chance for athletes to go out and run fast paces on a fun short course with a great atmosphere. The fact that we now take the team to the beach following the meet has strangely down wonders for our meet attendance…

Here is a history of James Lick Cross Country at the Artichoke Invitational, collectively the team’s favorite invitational.

1979 was the first year the Comets ran the course, and it saw some of the earliest quality times on the course. Paul Simmons ran what equates to a converted 12:56 for the course, and teammate Jose Ruiz ran 13:12. The Team also won the small schools team title that year, with a  team time of 1:04:35 (64:35) for the course. The Artichoke invite has always divided the meet into a small schools section and a large schools section, giving smaller schools like ours the chance to compete against fellow small schools directly.

1980 was perhaps the best year competitively in JLXC history. The team ran what stands as the team course record that year of 1:02:55 (62:55) to win the meet for the 2nd year in a row. That year the team had what stands as the #2 time in school history, Frank Munoz ran 11:44 which converts to 12:14 (and 5:15 mile pace) for the all time list. Ben Trujillo ran 12:36(c) and Gilbert Zaragosa ran 12:47 (c) for 8th and 11th on the school’s all time list. Adam Flores nailed down the 20th place on the school’s list as well by running 13:13 (c).

1981 saw the additions of strong times from Randy Pangelina, 12:22 (c) Rich Diaz 12:46 (c) and Jim Saldivar, 12:49 (c). Their team time of 1:02:57 (62:57) is the #2 team time in school history and gave the team their 3rd straight team title at the Artichoke Invitational, and no Comet team since has won the team title at the invite. The James Lick boys teams of the late 70s and earlier 80s were some of the school’s best, seeing MHAL league titles in 1978, 1980 and 1981.

1981 was also a good season for the girls team. The girl’s team would win their first ever league title in the season, their only MHAL title in school history and only the second championship in JLXC history on the girl’s side. Kim Willoughby ran a converted 16:02 that season, which stands as the #3 all time performance for the school to this point. her teammate, Silva, also ran 16:32 (c) for the #4 time on the course for JLXC. While the girls team has never had the competitive strength of their male counterparts, the early 80s and recent years have yielded quality times. Thanks to the abundance of years run at the Artichoke Invitational, the girls all time list for the course is one of the few in which all 20 members ran under 8 minute mile pace for the course.

As the 80’s rolled on, so did good times on both lists. 1982 saw Lisa Murphy run 17:54 (c) for #16 on the school’s all time list. 1984 saw Michelle Ruiz run 17:23 (c) which stands at the teams 7th best ever time. Greg Machado also ran the boys #7 time in this year, clocking in at 12:33 (c)

1986 saw Joe Amendt run 12:18 (c) for #3 all time, and teammate jim Strachan run 12:26 (c) for #6 all time in school history. The team clocked in with a combined team time of 1:05:41 (65:41) as well, for #4 in team history. in 1988 Lanoura Goulart ran 17:51 (c) for #14 on the girl’s list, and the year before the #20 entry of 18:06 (c) was made by Heather Haney.

Following the hiatus of the early 90s, where JLXC experienced a few down years as a team, the team came on strong with some quality times in the 90’s. in 1998, Will Crane ran what stands as the school record. His 11:43 converts to 12:13 (c) which I will use as the course record for the team at a blazing 5:14 mile pace.

The strongest team of the 2000s was the team of 2000, managing a team time of 1:05:39 (85:49) for the #5 combined team time in school history. The team was lead by Eric Santos at 12:22 (c). Teammates Ivan Navarro and Brent Nichols would run their PRS in 2001, with times of 12:50 (c) and 13:13 (c). In 2002 Jose Gutierrez ran 12:42 (c) and a few years later Erick Herrera ran 13:04 (c). No addition to the boys list would be made for a full decade, until Nathan Bernardo ran 13:12 in 2015.

The girl’s list by comparison saw many of it’s best times in the mid-current 2000s. Christina Avalos: 17:32 (c) Elizabeth Topete 17:33 (c) Joanna Rabano 17:34 (c) and Anita Castillo 17:43 (c) filled out the 9-12 all time performances during the early 2000s. The team of 2003 ran a team of 1:29:40 (89:40) for what stands as the #2 team time in school history, one of only 3 times that the team averaged under 18 for their top 5 girls. Kayla Matusda ran a then course record of 15:45 (c) in 2005, the only one of the 10 team course records she set during her career to have fallen since her graduation. Teammate Elsie Carillo, currently the XC coach at Shepherd middle school, ran 17:51 in 2007 for #15 on the school’s all time list as well.

2009 saw the 16:42 of Ana Tapia, but the 2014 season, where the girls won the WVAL, the second championship in school history in the girls side, yielded dramatic improvement to the list. Daniela Camacho set a new school record, running 15:38 for the course. Paloma Contreras at 17:25, Evalilia Garcia at 17:47 and Julie Cruz at 17:54 all added their names to the list this season as well. Maria Mendoza ran 17:55 to finish that teams combined time of 1:26:39 (86:39) a school record by 3 minutes. A year later, Maria would improve her time to 16:42, moving her to #6 all time and helping her team run 1:29:43 (89:43) for the 3rd best team time in school history.

What does this all mean for this year’s team? 

The class of 2004 was a key turning point in JLXC history. While the program began gradually weakening in the late 80’s and 90’s, it still produced very competitive season through most of the late 90’s and early 2000s.The team of 2003 was very strong, lead by Jose Gutierrez, the team went 7-0 in the MHAL (A league of the BVAL) but failed to win the league championship, because they lost to two teams at BVAL finals. James Lick in it’s heyday would consistently run in the mid 80 minute range as a team at Crystal Springs (83 minutes to 87 minutes with 85 being very typical) and during the 80s, the team would consistently run in the mid 60 minuet range for Artichoke (after converting time to their current format). The team of 2003 ran a team time of 67:27, slightly better than the #10 team time of 1987 at 67:39.

A time in this range would represent the team truly having returned to the form it showed consistently throughout much of it’s history. The team would also likely have to run this time without aid of Erik Olsvold, one of the team’s top runners. If  the Comets taking to the course this Saturday can combine to add their names to the top team times list, they ill be well poised to restore James Lick’s status as a leading school in distance running at bigger courses like Crystal Springs. The team is in a good place to see several additions, as Azael Zamora and Nathan Bernardo are likely to be the team’s first athletes under 13 minutes for the course since 2002.

On the girl’s side, the team will look to run a solid team time, with the goal being another sub 90 minute clocking. Arlet Miranda will go after the school record for the course, and runners like Daisy Nava and Milka Perez should have a good chance to add their names to the school’s all time list.

The Artichoke Invitational is just days away, and the Comets will have the benefit of 2 hard weeks of training in their legs since their last meet. Look for the invitational to be a great indicator of the team’s status and fitness. Recap will be up soon after the race, (either Saturday evening or Sunday morning).

Thank you for reading.

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comets have fun day at annual Watermelon Run

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The team running along “service road” in Alum Rock Park

 

The Comets participated in the JLXC annual Watermelon run on Friday 9/23. This event has been a team tradition for over a decade now. Athletes contest the North Rim Timed course, the 3.03 mile version of North Rim, which starts and ends at the park entrance. This is our standard time trial course, and It  has proved useful as a means of tracking improvement, and doing course conversions for different athletes.

Athletes earn watermelon slices for participating in the run, and the winner of the run (calculated by time that day, improvement from original time trial, dedication, leadership etc) gets the biggest piece.

The run itself yielded many of the best North Rim timed performances we’ve seen in the 7 years of the courses use. The North Rim timed course, due to it’s hilly nature yields the teams slowest times on any course each season. In Short, whatever an athlete can do for North Rim Timed, they should be able to run faster on any other course we race, and multiple minutes faster on the shorter league race courses.

Nathan Bernardo finished the run first in 17:42, a terrific time, becoming the first athlete to break 18 minutes for the course. This was a poignant moment for Nathan, whose first ever timed run for the team was North Rim Timed during his freshmen year, where he ran 24:27. We have never done the Watermelon run so early in the season, meaning that athletes should still improve considerably from here, but Nathan’s time indicates that he is already in shape to run under 16 minutes at Montgomery Hill. Teammates Azael Zamora and Erik Olsvold were not far behind, running strong times of 18:08 and 18:19 for the #2 and #3 best times on the course all time.

After a few off races, Inteus Castro-Lopez redoubled his focus on training this week, and was looking to run a low 19 while staying relaxed the entire run. He did so with a time of 19:02, 40 seconds better than last year’s Watermelon run in a season where he went on to run 17:00 exactly at Montgomery Hill. Gustavo Parra continues to progress rapidly in his senior year, running 19:10, the first time he’s broken 20 for the course, nearly breaking 19 in the process.

Jesus Deloya ran a small PR of 21:30, and Arlet Miranda ran a big PR of 21:47 to be the first girl in. The freshmen boys began to stream in afterwards. Jerricho Ventura and Mark Orpia came in at 23:33 and 23:36, with Nien Tran at 22:46 close behind. This indicates that all 3 boys should be able to run in the low 20 minute range at Montgomery Hill (Mark has already run in the 20s for STAL 1 and 2). Austin Swank and Isaak Herrera ran big PRS of 23:18 and 23:35 to lead the reserve boys. Melvin Estrada had an off race, but nonetheless ran a nearly 2 minute PR of 24:13, with Hugo Marquez at 24:14 right behind him. Kevin Bach came in with a huge PR of 24:37 as well. With Melvin already having run in the low 20s for STAL 1, and with Vincent Giglio likely being added to the team, the 2-2 Frosh/Soph Boys will be looking to end their season very strong, and should have the goal of getting 5 boys under 20 by STAL #5.

Manuel Villalobos was next in 24:55, a good reserve time. Daisy Nava and Milka Perez streamed in at 26:24 and 26:25, good PRS for the two, though I think they could have run faster. Denisse Calixto ran a solid 27:38, continuing to progress as a varsity girl, and Analilia Regla ran a solid PR of 28:40 despite feeling sick.

Susie Peterson, Aliana Santos and Ashley Preciado clocked in with times of 35:33, 35:55 and 37:03 respectively. Finally, the biggest PRS on the day came from Joseph Allen and Jocelyn Rios. Joseph ran a time of 52:08 at North Rim Timed a month ago, and at the Watermelon run he worked his way down to 42:24. Jocelyn’s improvement was even more colossal, from 55:58 at North Rim timed to 42:29 at the watermelon run.

The Varsity boys at the top, and the reserve runners at the bottom both showed the indomitable spirit that XC runners need, and earned remarkable improvement over the course of the season.

The team has another week of training before heading up to Half Moon Bay for the historic Artichoke Invitational. Artichoke Course History will be up soon to give context to the race. Artichoke is the team’s 2nd or 3rd best all time course list, as the team has been running the invitational nearly every year since the early 1970s. The team will use the race as a final buildup to STAL #3 at Montgomery Hill, in a highly anticipated matchup with Pioneer.

Overall, the team ran very well at the Watermelon Run despite the difficulty of running all out without another team to race. The team is in a good place, particularly on the boys side, and will look to prove that again at the Artichoke Invitational.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

Comets Open Season With First League Meet

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The Varsity Girls on the Starting Line 

 

STAL # 1 took place on September 8th, with the Comets facing off against Branham and Leigh. The temperature at the start of the first race was 82 degrees (Fahrenheit) making it a bit warm for very fast times, but not too bad compared with some of the practice temperatures this season.

The Frosh/Soph Boys kicked off the action on the 2.85 mile course. Melvin Estrada and Mark Orpia came up big, running 20:43 and 20:46 to lead the team. With Jerricho Habon 3rd in 21:14, it became clear that the team’s strength would come from having  tightly-nit pack. Jerricho was the team’s expected number one runner, but a fall earlier in the week resulted in a bruised hip, and he ended up running a much slower pace than he did at last weeks Alumni Race.  Lone sophomore, Rudy Peterson and Hugo Marquez sealed off the team’s top 5, with times of 21:23 and 21:46, giving the team it’s whole top 5 within about a minute of each other. Kevin Bach and Nien Tran ran 22:29 and 22:39 to rap the race up for the Comets. Melvin, Hugo and Mark all ran significantly faster mile paces at STAL 1, than they did at the Alumni Race, showing that they are progressing rapidly. The Frosh/Soph Boys beat Leigh solidly, by a score of 26-33. They were narrowly defeated by Branham, with a  final score of 27-28, giving the a 1-1 start to the season.

The Varsity girls were the next team up. Arlet Miranda opened her season with a very strong 20:08, a huge improvement from her 21:55 to open last season. This time makes her #3 in school history and placed her 6th overall in the extremely competitive (on the girls side) STAL division. Maria Mendoza was second for the team in 22:51. Daisy Nava and Milka Perez came in together in 23:29 and 23:34, both runers finishing in the middle of the pack. Denisse Calixto was the 5th girl at 25:36 and Analillia Regla was 6th in 25:47. Both girls ran huge PRS, but the lack of depth to support the 5th girl role on the varsity team was evident. The Comets fell to both Branham and Leigh on the Varsity Girls side.

The Varsity boys team was another story however. Based on time trials and the Alumni Race, as a whole several of the boys underperformed somewhat severely, but the team nonetheless won the meet comfortably against both Branham and Leigh. In fact, the boys would have beaten any team in the STAL, despite the fact that several boys had bad races. Azael Zamora lead the group in 16:17 in what was a solid performance and a Huge PR for him. Erik Olsvold was just behind him in the same time, the two boys were 2nd and 3rd overall. Azael and Erik ran 17:55 and 18:14 to start last season, showing their remarkable development of the past year. Nathan Bernardo had an off race, failing to improve on his time from last season, but still placing 5th overall in a very strong 16:34. Gustavo Aguilera crossed the line in 17:44, and Inteus Castro-Lopez was 5th in 17:55. All things considered, this was probably the worst Cross Country race of Inteus’ career, but he was 16th overall as the 5th boy nonetheless. By the time Inteus finished as the 5th boy, only one other team (Pioneer) had 3 boys in. Gustavo Parra was the 6th boy in 18:10 and Jesus Deloya the 7th in 19:15, both boys improving on last years season opening times. The Varsity boys start 2-0 overall. Their teaam time of 84:46 (1:24:46) is the second best team time in school history, and 2 minutes faster than last season already.

The Reserve boys were the next team up. David Bejines lead the group in 20:38, a strong reserve time. Isaak Herrera ran a huge Pr to finish in 21:29. Austin Swank rounded out the team’s captains in 21:55. Daniel Portillo 24:15, Alfonso Farias 24:18, and Manuel Villalobos in 24:32 were next. Jesse Friaz rounded out the group in 25:57, giving the team 7 Reserve boys. While reserve boys is ethnically “non scoring” They beat Branham and lost to Leigh giving them a record of 1-1 though the league will not officially score them.

The JV/ reserve girls was the final race race of the day. Susie Peterson lead the group in 27:08, a 3 minute PR to start the season. Ariana Santos ran a solid 28:05 in her XC debut. Valerie Flores lead the reserve girls in 28:49. Diana Romero and Elizabeth Perez ran 31:19 and 32:57 respectively. Freshmen Ashley Preciado was the 5th JV girl in 33:25. Brittany Salazar and Ally Floreza ended the Comets day with times of 34:51 and 35:36. The JV girls fell to Branham but beat Leigh, opening the season 1-1.

Overall it was a good day for the Comets. The team competed well, especially on the boys side, and went home with a lot of PRs. The Comets who had an off-race will look to rebound Saturday in Golden Gate Park, and then the team will prepare for one more meet at Alum Rock Park on Thursday 9/15.

JLXC History: Alum Rock Long Course / STAL League Meet Previews

This blog contains both a course history of Alum Rock Park’s Long course, and a breakdown of the upcoming STAL league meets, including a cool ( I think so anyway) competition chart.  

With just two days left until the 2016 Season opens for the Comets, now is a great time to look over the school’s history at the current Alum Rock race course. Alum Rock Park, only 2 miles away from James Lick, has always given the Comets a home field advantage. Just yesterday, the Comets did hill repeats up the signature North Rim hill, in preparation for their league race.

Alum Rock Park’s short course (the 2.25 mile version which you can read about here: https://coachbennyreeves.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/jlxc-historyalum-rock-short-course/)   was used for MHAL Finals and the Alum Rock Invitational, from 1966-1990. The league switched to the current 2.85 mile version, using a farther back starting/finish line, in the early 90s. 1996 saw the formation of the BVAL, in which 3 of San Jose’s leagues (the MHAL, STAL, and WVAL) were merged to create a 24 team power league. The BVAL gradually moved away from Alum Rock Park as a race course. While it was still raced on most years in the 90s, it was usually used exclusively by the MHAL (‘A’ division). By 2001, the entire BVAL was using Montgomery hill as the leagues only course (with Crystal Springs as the league finals course).

Alum Rock Park was not used for any races from 2001-2007. In 2008, the WVAL held two races at Alum Rock, bringing the course back into activity. In 2010, with James Lick moving up into the STAL (‘B’ Division) 3 Alum Rock races were run. Alum Rock was raced on again in 2012, 2013, and 2015 in only one BVAL division, (It’s likely not a coincidence that the only division to run Alum Rock in the 2000s is always the division that James Lick happens to be in…). We have two races at Alum Rock on the ledger in 2016 (our first two league meets) and I for one will fight to keep races at Alum Rock as long as I am coach.

With a total of 9 seasons on record, the Alum Rock Long Course is no where near as impressive as the Short Course, but it continues to grow stronger each season the Comets run on it, and some notable additions should be made this year.

The team saw it’s earliest strong times in 1993. This team saw Onofre Navarro run 15:36, and Jaime Recondez run 16:05, these times still stand as the team’s #3 and #6 all time marks respectively. The current school record was set in 1995, by star runner Alberto Meza. Meza ran 15:15 for the course at MHAL finals. Despite running a few years after the end of James Lick’s golden era, Meza is a JLXC all time great. In addition to holding the course record at Alum Rock Park for the long course, with a PR of 15:53 at Crystal Springs, Meza is in the top 10 all time on James Lick’s most impressive all time list.

The team of 1997 ran some strong times on the course as well. Will Crane, another all time JLXC great ran 15:36 to tie Navarro’s mark for #3 all time. In addition to Crane, the team had 3 runners make the all time list, with Daniel Rendon at 16:16, Sham Parmar at 16:27 and Rubalcalva at 16:29. These late 90s years marked the beginning of the decline of James Lick’s prolonged Cross Country success. The team of 1997 sent 4 runners to the State Meet, the most in school history. The team of 1996 won the STAL, to win James Lick’s first championship in the BVAL era in it’s very first year of existence.

The team of 1999 won the STAL again, moving into the MHAL, though Alum Rock Park was not run in 99. The year 2000 was the last time Alum Rock Park would be used for several years, and the Comets made it count. Eric Santos ran a very strong 15:28, and Ivan Navarro ran 15:47. This marks the only time in school history where two Comets broke 16 for Alum Rock long course in the same race ( a feat which this years group, Nathan Bernardo and Azael Zamora in particular, is trying to replicate). Brent Nichols at 16:21, Nelson Funston at 16:27, and Jerry Reyes at 16:55 capped off a very strong top 5. This group combined for a team time and school record of 1:20:58 (or 80:58) This team had tremendous potential, and went on to run a very strong team time of 1:25:46 (85:46) at league finals at Crystal Springs to place 3rd in the BVAL. They did this without the benefit of top runner Eric Santos, who may have helped them win the whole thing. Santos would go on to have a great track season, running a 4:25 1600m, the 2nd best time in school history (on record).

The only girls time on the all time list set prior to 2000 was Emel Kayer’s 22:14 in 1997. The team time on the girls side in 2000 was 2:16:44 (136:44) a far cry from the team times of recent years, consistently well under the 2 hour mark.

James Lick remained in the MHAL from 2000-2003, but has not been back in the ‘A’ division since. Nor has the team been able to match the spectacular ‘5 guys under 17 minutes’ for a league race course that teams of the early 2000s were able to achieve. From 2001-2007, the BVAL used only Montgomery hill as a race course. The course returned to Alum Rock just in time for Kayla Matsuda to run the course as a senior. Kayla ran the school record of 18:56 to win a WVAL race in 2008, making her the school record holder on a total of 9 different courses, by any measure, she is without a doubt the best JLXC runner on the girls side in history.

The team of 2008 lowered the team record to 2:09, a 6 minute improvement on the team of 2000. In addition to Kayla, 2008 saw Elsie Carillo run 22:03, currently the 9th best time in school history. The team of 2008 also saw Carlos Montes run 16:52 on the boys side, adding his name to the all time list.

The team of 2010 had numerous additions on the boys side. Currently the #2 team time by JLXC was run in 2010, 1:26:11 (86:11). I ran 16:28 for the course that year, and my teammate Ricardo Flores also broke 17, running 16:40. On the girls side, Ana Tapia ran 20:48, the #3 time in school history. She and teammates Teresa Farias and Melissa Cabrera at 23:5 and 24:02 respectively, helped lower the team record to 2:00:35. The team of 2012, would lower the mark even further to 1:57:12 (117:12) breaking 2 hours as a team for the first time. Alma Padilla ran her PR of 22:41 to be the #2 girl on that team to Daniela Camacho’s 21:25. Armando Aguilar at 17:04, Isaac Sanchez at 17:14 and Luis Carrasco at 17:15 added their names to the all time list for the course that season as well.

The 2013 season saw the girls setting the current team record of 1:49:16 (109:16). They were lead by Daniela’s #2 all time clocking of 19:53. Karla Rodriguez and Paloma Contreras ran strong times of 21:54 and 21:58 to give the team 3 girls under 22 on the course. The 2015 team had the benefit of only one race at Alum Rock Park, their very first race of the season. Even so, the team ran strong, with Arlet Miranda running 21:55, and Elizabeth Guevara running 22:55. Maria Mendoza and Andrea Ortiz would go on to run 20:54 and 21:17 at the post season time trial of the course.  Nathan Bernardo ran 16:33 to add his name to the all time list in 2015, as did Hector Ramirez running 17:02.

Despite the team having only their first league meet at Alum Rock, the boys ran the 3rd best team time in school history in 2015. With only 2 early season meets scheduled at Alum Rock this year, the team of 2016 will be hard pressed to beat the school record, but they should come closer than any team ever has by a long shot.

 

STAL League Race Preview

 

With the team on the verge of facing Branham and Leigh to begin their STAL season, now is a good time to look into an explanation of the significance of various times. As always, our focus is on each athlete being a positive representative of James Lick high school, and improving as much as they can over the course of the season. In my opinion, the most successful runner on the team is the one who improves the most from where they started, not necessarily the team’s fastest runner. If every runner on the team experiences significant improvement,(both as a runner and as a person) and has fun doing so, I will consider our season a success. In terms of competition however, it’s natural to also go after wins, just not at the expense of our team culture.

Here is an explanation of various levels of competitive times in the BVAL:

My hope is that the following information will give athletes who are very competitive context to go with their times, as well as the ability to set goals based on places and tiers, in addition to time and process goals.

The return of the use of the Alum Rock Long course in 2008, has illustrated to me (though some other coaches disagree) that Montgomery Hill and the Alum Rock course are essentially equal in terms of time. The Alum Rock course is .11 miles longer than Montgomery, though the overall hillier Montgomery course makes times turn out very similar on either course. It goes without saying that some runners are stronger on a particular course, and each Course needs to be treated distinctly as it’s own entity. I do think that we can compare Montgomery and Alum Rock fairly closely, and use the common times to establish “league race PRS” based on a runners fastest time between the two courses.

I believe in most cases that the disparity in time between the two courses is due more to the point in the season that each course was run, rather than one course being slower than the other. Last year for example, Nathan ran 16:33 at Alum Rock and 16:10 at Montgomery. His Montgomery time however was run a month after his Alum Rock time, with him closer to peak form.  Montgomery is undoubtedly the slower course in terms of mile pace, but the shorter distance of the course should equate to roughly equal times for the two courses, varying by each runners specific strengths.

In any case, the past decade has indicated the following in terms of competetiveness:

BVAL Competitive Times Chart

These competitive times charts are based on the past 10 seasons, with an emphasis on the past 3. Times are sorted into categories or tiers based on how rare each time is.

Each division has different levels of strength, as you’ll see below, a Strong time in the STAL is only a decent time in the MHAL and so on.

Very Elite: Less than 1% of runners run this fast each year.
Elite: less than 5% of runners run this fast each year.
Near Elite: less than 10% of runners run this fast each year.
Very Strong: Less than 25% of runners of runners run this fast each year.
Strong: Less than 40% of runners run this fast each year.
Solid: Less than 50% of runners run this fast each year.
Decent: Less than 70% of runners run this fast each year.
Respectable: Less than 90% of runners run this fast each year.

Varsity Boys

Time MHAL (‘A’ Division) STAL (‘B’ Division) WVAL (‘C’ Division)
15:00 or faster Elite, usually 1-3 boys a season Very Elite, usually 1-2 boys, if any, run this fast. Very Elite, usually no boy runs this fast.
16:00 or faster Strong, usually 15-20 boys will run this fast Near Elite, Usually about 3-5 boys will run this fast Near Elite, Usually about 2-4 boys will run this fast
17:00 or faster Decent, usually about 30 boys will run this fast Strong, usually about 13-18 Boys will run this fast Very Strong, Usually about 10-15 boys will run this fast
18:00 or faster Respectable, Usually about 50 boys will run this fast. Decent, Usually about 30-35 boys will run this fast Solid Usually about 20-25 boys will run this fast

Varsity Girls

Time MHAL (‘A’ Division) STAL (‘B’ Division) WVAL (‘C’ Division)
18:30 or faster Elite, usually 1-3 girls a season will run this fast. Elite, Usually 1-2 girls, will run this fast. Very Elite, usually no girl runs this fast.
20:00 or faster Strong, usually 10-15 girls will run this fast Very Strong, Usually about 6-10 girls will run this fast Elite, Usually about 2-4 girls will run this fast
21:30 or faster Decent, usually about 28-33 girls will run this fast Strong, usually about 15-20 girls will run this fast Near Elite, Usually about 6-10 girls will run this fast
23:00 or faster Respectable, Usually about 45-50 girls will run this fast. Decent, Usually about 30-35 girls will run this fast Very Strong Usually about 10-15 girls will run this fast

 

Frosh/Soph Boys

Time MHAL (‘A’ Division) STAL (‘B’ Division) WVAL (‘C’ Division)
17:30 or faster Near Elite, usually 4-8 boys a season will run this fast. Very Elite, usually 1-2 boys, if any, run this fast. Very Elite, usually no boy runs this fast.
19:15 or faster Decent, usually about 35-40 boys will run this fast Very Strong, Usually about 10-15 boys will run this fast Near Elite, Usually about 3-6 boys will run this fast
21:00 or faster Respectable, Usually about 50 boys will run this fast. Decent, usually about 28-34 Boys will run this fast Very Strong, Usually about 12-16 boys will run this fast
22:45 or faster Usually every FS Boy who races runs this fast. Respectable, Usually about 40-45 boys will run this fast Solid Usually about 19-25 boys will run this fast

 

A team’s varsity group will always be the thing people focus on. The BVAL division placements are based almost entirely on varsity team strength. The BVAL hold 6 different races at any given league meet.

Varsity Boys (Top 7 Boys)

Varsity Girls (Top 7 Girls)

Frosh/Soph Boys (Top 7 Freshmen and Sophomore boys, not on Varsity)

JV Girls (Top 7 Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors not on Varsity).

Reserve Boys (All remaining boys)

Reserve Girls (All remaining girls).

While Varsity teams are the true focus of a competitive season, the Frosh/Soph and JV teams are also scored, meaning a team can achieve a championship in one of those divisions as well, though only a Varsity Championship will be widely acknowledged. The reserve teams are technically non-scoring, though with the help of XC stats, I will score the meets personally to see which team wins in those races as well. I see no reason why an athlete who works hard to better themselves shouldn’t be able to be a part of a scoring team simply because they were too old for Frosh/Soph or not fast enough for Varsity. Some of our reserve boys the year would be Varsity runners at other schools.

And finally an explanation of how our league meets are scored (If you’ve read this far thank you for your interest).

All 8 teams in the STAL will race at the same time this Thursday at Alum Rock Park. The current schedule indicatesVarsity girls start at 3:30, boys at 3:40 and so on. For STAL #1, we are facing both Branham and Leigh. The BVAL uses head-to-head scoring to determine league meet results. This means that even though 8 teams are racing, our race will be scored first as if only James Lick and Branham ran, and then as if only James Lick and Leigh ran.

Each runner is assigned a point value based on their place in the meet. For example last years STAL 1, which also featured James Lick vs. Leigh, looked like this in terms of scoring.

  1. Nathan Bernardo 16:33 JL
  2. Alec Reynolds 16:49 LE
  3. Hector Ramirez 17:02 JL
  4. Jason Morway 17:14 LE
  5. Inteus Castro-Lopez 17:27 JL
  6. Gustavo Aguilera 17:38 JL
  7. Pearson 17:52 LE
  8. Azael Zamora 17:55 JL
  9. Hisamura 18:06 LE
  10.  Mead 18:07 LE
  11. Jesse Chircop JL 18:15
  12. Gustavo Parra JL 18:38
  13. Carlen LE 19:33

Once a race is finished the top 5 runners places are added up to calculate a team score. In Cross Country the lowest score wins. The 6th and 7th runners displace, so while they don’t affect their own team’s score, they can add points to the other team’s total.

The results of the meet listed above were:

JL: 1,3,5,6,8 (11) (12) for a total of  23 points.

LE: 2,4,7,9,10 (13) for a total of 32 points.

If Jesse as the 6th boy had run 18:05, he would have added two points To Leigh’s score, while not affecting ours.

Hopefully this blog was helpful in understanding how our STAL meets work. The Comets will look to start off strong against Branham and Leigh. The opportunity to take on two larger and more affluent schools is an exciting one for this group of Comets, looking to represent the Eastside well. Branham will be an extreme challenge on the girls side, having placed 2nd at BVAL finals last year and both teams will need to be taken seriously.

STAL #1 recap coming soon. Thank you for reading.

-Benny Reeves

Boys All Time List Alum Rock 2.85 Miles

Place Name Time Pace Date Race Place Grade
1 Alberto Meza 15:15 5:21 1995 MHAL Finals 6th 11
2 Eric Santos 15:28 5:25 2000 MHAL # 1 1st 12
3 Onofre Navarro 15:36 5:28 1993 MHAL Finals 6th 12
4 Will Crane 15:36 5:28 1997 STAL Meet 2nd 11
5 Ivan Navarro 15:47 5:28 2000 MHAL # 1 4th 11
6 Jaime Recondez 16:05 5:38 1993 MHAL Finals 12th 12
7 Daniel Rendon 16:16 5:42 1997 STAL Meet 5th 12
8 Brent Nichols 16:21 5:44 2000 MHAL # 1 8th 10
9 Sham Parmar 16:27 5:46 1997 STAL Meet 8th 11
10 Nelson Funston 16:27 5:46 2000 MHAL #1 10th 11
11 Benny Reeves 16:28 5:46 2010 STAL # 4 3rd 12
12 Rubalcalva 16:29 5:46 1997 STAL Meet 11th
13 Nathan Bernardo 16:33 5:48 09/17/2015 STAL # 1 5th 11
14 Ricardo Flores 16:40 5:51 2010 STAL # 4 5th 12
15 Carlos Montes 16:52 5:55 10/10/2008 WVAL # 2 2nd 11
16 Jerry Reyes 16:55 5:56 2000 MHAL # 1 16th 12
17 Hector Ramirez 17:02 5:59 09/17/2015 STAL # 1 9th 12
18 Armando Aguilar 17:04 5:59 10/04/2012 STAL # 4 18th 11
19 Isaac Sanchez 17:14 6:03 09/20/12 STAL # 2 19th 12
20 Luis Carrasco 17:15 6:03 10/04/2012 STAL # 4 23rd 12

 

Girls  All Time List Alum Rock 2.85 Miles

Place Name Time Pace Date Race Place Grade
1 Kayla Matsuda 18:56 6:38 10/01/2008 WVAL # 2 1st 12
2 Daniela Camacho 19:53 6:59 10/24/2013 STAL # 5 8th 11
3 Ana Tapia 20:48 7:18 10/05/2010 STAL # 2 8th 12
4 Maria Mendoza 20:54 7:20 11/04/2015 Farewell Seniors Race 1st 11
5 Andrea Ortiz 21:17 7:28 11/04/2015 Farewell Seniors Race 2nd 12
6 Karla Rodriguez 21:54 7:41 10/24/2013 STAL # 5 17th 11
7 Arlet Miranda 21:55 7:42 09/17/2015 STAL # 1 21st 9
8 Paloma Contreras 21:58 7:42 10/24/2013 STAL # 5 18th 11
9 Elsie Carrillo 22:03 7:44 10/01/2008 WVAL # 2 6th 12
10 Emel Kayer 22:14 7:48 1997 STAL Meet 12th 11
11 Jennifer Custodio 22:40 7:57 11/04/2015 Farewell Seniors Race 3rd 11
12 Alma Padilla 22:41 7:58 10/04/2012 STAL # 4 33rd 10
13 Gabriela Aguilar 22:43 7:58 10/24/2013 STAL # 5 27th 10
14 Karen Ruiz 22:48 8:00 10/24/2013 STAL # 5 28th 12
15 Elizabeth Guevara 22:55 8:02 09/17/2015 STAL # 1 30th 12
16 Teresa Farias 23:08 8:07 10/19/2010 STAL # 4 34th 11
17 Destiny Lopez 23:52 8:22 10/24/2013 STAL # 5 37th 12
18 Melisa Cabrera 24:01 8:26 09/21/2010 STAL # 1 2nd 11
19 Andrea Romero 24:02 8:26 10/04/2012 STAL # 4 39th 11
20 Daisy Nava 24:23 8:34 09/17/2015 STAL # 1 41st 11

 

 

 

Comets Ready For Season After Strong Alumni Race

IMG_0720
JL Comets and Alumni after the race

 

 

With less than a week before league meets officially begin, the JLXC Alumni Race was the perfect opportunity for the Comets to test their fitness, and practice racing in the park. The Alumni Race at 2.25 miles, is a great tuneup for the current league race version of North Rim, which at 2.85 miles, just uses a different starting and ending point than the Alumni Course. In running the 2.85 mile version, you will also cover all of the Alumni Course.

With the Varsity Boys actively chasing a STAL Championship, the team knew they’d have to be ready to race fast from day 1. The team was able to do just that. Azael Zamora won the race, finishing in 12:57 to become the first Comet (on record) to break 13 for the course since it was eliminated from official race use in the early 90s. The race demonstrated just how far Azael has come in the last year, from a strong 14:28 as a sophomore to run sub-13 as a junior. Nathan Bernardo was close on his tail, running 13:07 for a roughy 20 second PR. Erik Olsvold also ran a huge PR, crossing the finish line in 13:26 after running 15:01 as a freshmen last year. The first Alumni in was next, with JLXCTF all time great, Joe Amendt finishing in 13:36. Inteus Castro-Lopez was right behind in 13:40, running a 36 second PR despite being sick.

Gustavo Aguilera and Gustavo Parra finished the race in strong times of 14:18 and 14:27. During the past few seasons, a time of low 15 or better generally translated to a runner being a decent varsity boy at the STAL (B Division) level. Times under 14:30 have almost always translated into above average STAL runners in recent years. The team’s depth is a strength with a 6th boy under 14:30, though narrowing the gap between the 5th and 4th boy will be a point of emphasis for the team going forward. Sophomore Vincent Giglio ran 15:37, and continues to work towards improving his freshmen times. Alumni, Coach Q was next in, finishing in a strong 16:14. Coach Q is currently at Roberto Cruz Leadership Academy, a new East Side Charter school and has formed it’s first ever Cross Country team! We will be keeping tabs on the Jaguars as they begin their program.

Freshmen Jerricho Ventura and Arlet Miranda finished together in 16:25. Jericho continues to develop at a stellar rate, and Arlet is more than a minute ahead of her times from last year. She is poised to place highly in the STAL league meets, her 16:25 moving her to #4 on the schools all time list for the course. David Bejines and Isaak Herrera were next in 16:33 and 16:34, strong reserve boys times. A trio of boys came next, with Rudy Peterson, freshmen Mark Orphia, and Austin Swank all finishing in 17:05. Two more freshmen, Melvin Estrada and Nien Tran finished in 17:29 and 17:34. Esteban Garcia-Gomez, brother of JL soccer star and now UC Davis soccer player, Kevin Garcia-Gomez, clocked in at 17:54. Hugo Marquez finished just under 18, with a time of 17:59. This gives the team 5 freshmen boys under 18 minutes for the course, and exciting potential for the Lowell Invitational’s freshmen race in a week if all 5 boys attend. More freshmen strength was close behind. Kevin Bach finished in 18:06, and Maria Mendoza was the team’s second girl at 18:11. Daniel Portillo ran 18:27, yet another solid freshmen time for the team. Alumni Edgar Centeno, and Paloma Contreras were next in 18:36 and 18:41.

Alfonso Farias clocked in at 19:02. Alumni Alejandro Arteaga finished in 19:26, with #3 girl Daisy Nava running 19:28 for a PR right behind him. Alumni Oscar Sanchez and Ivan Morales streamed in at 19:45 and 19:54. Denisse Calixto ran 20:03 for a 4 minute PR, and has worked her way onto the team’s varsity plans. Alumni Ivan Luna and Brianna Flores ran 20:17 and 20:21 respectively, and Analilia Regla also ran a huge PR for a varsity caliber time of 20:21. Juan-Carlos Rios finished in 20:32, a nearly 3 minute PR as well.

Three alumni were next,with David Solorio Teresa Farias and Jose Contreras finishing in 21:08, 21:37 and 21:55 respectively. Susie Peterson and Aliana Santos both ran solid JV times of 23:22 and 23:36. Diana Romero ran nearly a 2 minute PR of 24:46, and Elizabeth Perez followed her in at 25:05. Final Alumni, Christian Orozco and Vivian Ngo came in at 27:56 and 28:19. Jocelyn Rios and Brittany Salazar came in together at 28:59. Joseph Allen and Ally Floreza wrapped up the Comets day with times of 29:26 and 29:34.

Overall the Alumni Race was a great day for the Comets. The current members of the team had the privilege of meeting star runners of the past in Joe Amendt, and Greg Machado who was also in attendance.

The team’s first league meet is on Thursday 9/8 at 3:30 in Alum Rock Park, and the varsity boys look very ready to attack the team title. With a good amount of depth especially on the freshmen side, the Frosh/Soph Boys and Reserve boys also look to be very competitive within the STAL.

The girls side lacks the depth of the boys, but is lead by a strong front 4, (including Milka Perez who was sick and unable to run the Alumni Race). The current 5th and 6th girls will need to work hard to close the gap until strong athletes not in attendance like Julia Cruz and Evalilia Garcia can get their grades up. The girls JV team however, should be competitive in a league thats struggles to field full JV girls teams.

In just a few days the Comets will officially open their season at STAL #1! Then two days later, the team will head to San Francisco for the Lowell Invitational in their first invite of the year. JLXC history of Alum Rock’s 2.85 mile course, and race preview coming soon.

Thank you for reading.

-Benny Reeves