Comets Compete at the historic Artichoke Invitational

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Inteus Castro-Lopez on his way to an 11 second PR

The Artichoke Invitational is one of the highlights of the bay area High School season. James Lick has been running at the Artichoke Invitational since the 1970s, making the course a good indication of athlete fitness and a good measure of how current Comets stack up against the great athletes of the past. The course was 2.25 miles from its foundation up until 2007. The course has been 2.33 miles since.

The day began with a bang in the freshen boys race. Jonathan Bradley and Omar Fimbres came in close together at 15:18 and 15:24 respectively. Both boys ran by far the fastest pace of their careers to this point, running 6:34 pace and 6:38 pace respectively. These times were notably faster than Mark Orpia’s time from last year (15:41) as Mark is now a high quality STAL varsity runner. Jonathan’s time was even faster than Nathan Bernardo’s freshmen time of 15:22. Nathan would of course go on to lead the team to a STAL championship as a senior and win the school’s Ryan award. Jose Ruiz also had a strong race running 16:37.

The Frosh/Soph girls race was next and the Comets sent a huge group of athletes forward. The leading Comet in the race was Ashley Preciado, who is a great example to her teammates. Ashley ran 19:45 for 8:28 pace, the best of her career. This was a huge PR for Ashley who ran 23:46 as a freshmen last year. Ashley has turned herself into a borderline varsity level runner and should inspire others to do the same. For example, Mya Hammond ran 20:30, Emma Veronica ran 20:55 and Emely Lopez ran 21:06. All 3 girls ran the best races of their careers to this point, and show the potential to be strong varsity runners next year. Mariana Perez (21:46) Francine Estranero (23:06) and Estefanie Herrera (24:34) all had the best races of their career as well. Denise Marquez, Maria Sanchez and Anahi Santos rounded out the race for the Comets.

The Frosh/Soph boys was another huge group for the Comets. The team was lead by a stupendous performance by Sophomore Mark Orpia. After running 15:41 as a freshmen, Mark ran 13:43. This is Mark’s first time under 6 minute pace for an XC race, with a 5:53 pace. This is the 2nd best Sophomore time by a James Lick Comet in the past decade, narrowly missing Nathan Bernardo’s 13:38. Mark placed 5th overall.

Melvin Estrada was the next Comet in, also running the best race of his career. Melvin ran 6:20 pace even, going under 6:30 pace for the first time in his career. He lead a stream of big sophomore PRs. Melvin ran 14:47 compared to a 16:31 clocking a year ago. Nien Tran and Hugo Marquez ran 15:13 and 15:21 compared to times of 17:25 and 17:03 respectively as freshmen. Daniel Portillo went from 18:05 as a freshmen to 15:56 as a sophomore. Jerricho Habon battled a tight hamstring and did not PR. Rudolf Ocampo (17:37) Brandon Cruz (17:44) Luis Escamilla (18:51) and Alvaro Fabian (19:37) completed the team.

Only two athletes ran in the JV race for the team, Elizabeth Perez and Aliana Santos. Aliana ran a big PR of 20:58, while last year she ran over 22 minutes.

The varsity races were last on the ledger. Arlet Miranda ran 17:40 to lead the team. Belen Sanchez ran 18:12, a full minute PR from her 19:10 performance last year. Jennifer Villagomez and Justine Austria ran 19:18 and 19:24 as they continue to build towards solidifying the team. Both girls ran under 8:20 pace for the first time in their careers. Analilia Regla has battled injury this week, but ran a decent time of 21:14 to complete the team.

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Azael Zamora on his way to a 7th place finish in the varsity boys race

In the varsity boys race, Azael Zamora became the first Comet to run under 13 minutes on the 2.33 mile course. After running 13:04 as a junior, Azael managed a 20 second PR of 12:44. This moves Azy up from 17th to 8th on the school’s all time list. Inteus Castro-Lopez had a strong race as well, running 13:38 for an 11 second PR. Cody Huoch had the best XC race of his career to run 15:07. Jose Limon ran 15:33. Isaac Veronica and Austin Swank came across the line together in 16:30 and 16:33 respectively.

The team continues to rapidly approach as the season progresses. The team will take on Leigh and Pioneer at Montgomery Hill for STAL 4. The team will then begin preparations for BVAL finals on October 30th.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

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Comets Run Strong at Artichoke Invitational

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The Freshmen boys warming up 

The 2016 addition of the Artichoke Invitational took place on Saturday October 3rd. A group of 30 Comet athletes headed up to Half Moon Bay for the historic run, looking to leave a strong mark. This is the 29th time the team has run the Artichoke Invite, and as a result, the team’s times are significant, with so many years of history to compare against.

The day got under way with the freshmen boys. Mark Orpia and Jerricho Habon ran 15:41 and 15:52 to lead the team. Next in was Melvin Estrada at 16:31. Hugo Marquez was the 4th guy at 17:03, the 7:19 mile a pace being a new career best for an XC course, and Nien Tran rounded out the scoring team at 17: 25. Kevin Bach and Daniel Portillo came in close together at 17:58 and 18:05. Joseph Allen finished off the race for the team at 26:37, running much faster than his pace from a week ago.  This was a bit of an underperformance form the group as a whole, but valuable race experience for each member of the team.

The Frosh/Soph girls race was next, and it saw a breakout performance from Camilla Hernandez in 20:30, 8:37 mile pace. Camilla’s time is considerably faster than the times that (current varsity athletes) Denisse Calixto and Analilia Regla ran a year ago. After a strong debut at STAL 2, Camilla is rapidly working her way into future team plans. Ashley Preciado ran 23:46, and Jocelyn Rios ran 27:22. All 3 girls ran their fastest ever mile pace for an XC course. In the Frosh/Soph Boys, Vincnet Giglio ran 15:03, an dis gradually working his way back into shape.

In the JV girls race, Valerie Flores lead the team with a solid 22:17 clocking. Aliana Santos was behind her in 22:29. Elizabeth Perez rounded out the team in 24:01. On the boys side, Isaak Herrera lead the team in 16:30, Isaak continues to progress strongly in his junior year. Esteban Garcia-Gomez ran 16:52 for 7;14 mile pace, and Manuel Villalobos ran 17:14 for 7:24 mile pace, for both runners by far the fastest mile pace of their XC career.

The day finished with the two varsity races. Arlet Miranda ran a new school record for the course to place 4th overall in the small school’s race. Milka Perez ran a solid 18:07, and Daisy Nava battled through cramps to run 18:24. This was the first time under 8 minute mile pace this season for both Daisy and Milka.  Belen Sanchez continues to show tremendous potential, running 19:10, with Denisse Calixto right behind her in 19:12. The girls ran 8:13 and 8:14 mile pace, the best of their careers respectively. The same was true of Analilia who ran 19:58 for 8:35 pace. The girl’s had a combined team time of 1:30:30 (90:30) good for the 4th best team time in school history, despite not having #2 runner Maria Mendoza. The girls finished solidly in the middle of the pack in combined team scoring. When the day was done, between both the small schools and large schools races, every team’s top 5 athletes were added up to calculate combined team places. The Lady Comets finished 34th out of 57 total teams, a solid placing.

The Varsity Boys ran well as a team, finishing 5th/19 schools in the small schools division, and 14th/69 teams overall, their best placing in years. Azael Zamora and Nathan Bernardo came in together at 13:04, with Azael adding his name to the school’s all time list, and Nathan moving up it slightly with the 9 second PR. Inteus Castro-Lopez is still struggling to find his form, but ran a PR of 13:49 nonetheless. Gustavo Parra did the same in13:55, a more than 40 second PR, and Gustavo Aguilera ran a small PR of 13:58. Both Gustavo’s ran under the 6 minute mile pace barrier for the first time in their careers. Jesus Deloya ran a 2o second PR of 15:03 to finish the team’s day. The team’s combined time was 1:07:48 (67:48) missing the team’s top 10 team times list by 10 seconds. While several BVAL schools took their varsity teams to the Stanford Invitational, the Comets were able to compete directly against several schools from each division and see their standing.

The only school that the boys lost to from the BVAL was Evergreen, who ran 67:05 to the Comets 67:48, although Erik Olsvold’s presence would help offset this difference greatly. Evergreen is currently undefeated in the MHAL (A division) and in my estimation, are the #2 team in the MHAL, likely to lose to perennial MHAL champion Willow Glen and no other A league school. Despite not having Erik, (somewhere between our #1 and #3 runner depending on the day) the Comets were able to beat several MHAL schools, Piedmont Hills by 1 minute, as well as Silver Creek and Leland by several minutes (though those schools were also notably missing members). The team also beat Lincoln high school, last year’s WVAL (C division) champions. Despite their status as a WVAL team, Lincoln was the #2 school at BVAL finals in 2015, only losing to Willow Glen. Lincoln like Leland and Silver Creek was missing some of their top runners, but the more than  2 minute gap, combined with Erik’s absence, gives the Comets a good shot at defeating these teams come league finals.

The team now looks ahead to STAL #3 on Wednesday October 5th at Montgomery Hill. This is  highly anticipated matchup, with the team taking on Pioneer high school. This pits the STAL’s two undefeated Varsity Boys teams against each other, and the Comets will do their best to come out on top.

Feel free to come out and support the team in this important meet.

Thank you for reading as always.

-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