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

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

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

Boys 2018: 116             Girls 2018: 102

Boys 2014: 19               Girls 2014: 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Daniel Medina releasing the discus 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

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

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

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

Distance: 

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

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

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

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

Hurdles: 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Relays: 

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

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

Sprints: 

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

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

Throws: 

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

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

 

Team Scores: 

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

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

 

Which Comets Have a Chance at Division Titles? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Benny Reeves

 

 

Comets Earn First Dual Meet Sweep, 3 Wins Against Sobrato

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

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

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

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Kirsten Yutuc takes off after receiving the baton from Lisbeth Galdamez

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

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

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

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

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Jerricho Habon contesting the 400m run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Varsity boys:  JL: 71  S: 55

Varsity girls: JL: 79  S: 48

Frosh/soph boys: JL: 56  S: 44

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

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

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

41 Personal Records for Comets at Bearcat Invitational:

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

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

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Belen Sanchez and Ashley Preciado on the line for the 1600

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Arlet Miranda expressing her enthusiasm at the chance to run the 200

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

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

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Sal Lopez on the final phase of the triple jump

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

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Mark Orpia clearing the bar at 7 feet

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

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

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

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

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

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

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

James Lick Track: Then

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Lick Track Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

Comets Look Ahead At First Season in ‘B’ Division: 2018 Season Preview

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The Comets three top lady hurdlers from 2017. Left to right: Susie peterson, Valeria Cortez, Kirsten Yutuc. All 3 are returning. 

 

For the first time in the BVAL’S more than 20 seasons of history, the James Lick Track team will be not be competing in the ‘C’ division this year. Most of the 2000s have been a struggle for James Lick sports in general, with track being no exception. The team has been in the WVAL (‘C’ division) ever since the 3 division format was created in 1996.

The combined 35-7 record over the past 3 seasons (20-2 on the girls side) have propelled the team into the STAL division for the first time. This means the 2018 season will be an exciting season of facing new teams, tougher competition, and even an event the team hasn’t contested in decades, (pole vault).

Coaching Staff Shakeup 

The season will not be without extra challenges. Unfortunately, both Coach Steve Nichols and coach Jon Vela will be unable to return to our coaching staff this season. Both coaches were extremely important towards developing the team over the past few seasons. Coach Christopher Turner did a tremendous job coaching the horizontal jumps for us in 2017, and he will now take over sprint coaching duties. As a head coach at Yuma HS in Arizona, coach Turner sent multiple athletes to the State meet, and he himself was an outstanding 400m runner in HS and college. Our sprinters will not miss a beat with him at the helm.

While coach Turner can take over coach Nichol’s sprint coach duties, the loss of coach Vela is a huge one. The school Shot Put record, and the school Discus record on the girls side both fell in Coach Vela’s 4 year tenure. In fact, the top 3 discus throwers in school history on the girls side, are still active at James Lick. Girl’s throws figure to be our strongest area again this season. Coach Raul Lopez will take on the bulk of the throws coaching duties this season. Raul threw Shot Put an discus for James Lick in 2011, and proved himself to be an extremely hard working and dedicated coach in cross country. He will strive to keep the success of our throwers going with the same vigor. Raul will also be the primary pole vault coach for the team, and be the assistant distance coach.

I will continue to fulfill Head coaching duties, as well as being the primary distance coach, hurdles coach and high jump coach. I will be aiding Raul in coaching pole vault and throws as well. Coach Ruth Perez hopes to be back as a volunteer to occasionally help with hurdles as well.

Returning Athletes and the ‘B’ division 

While the coaching staff has been shaken up, we have a very strong group of returning athletes ready to take on the ‘B’ division teams. The 7 other teams in the division are as follows:

Evergreen: 13-1 in 2017 (Girls division champs)

Pioneer: 12-2 in 2017 (Boys division champs)

Lincoln: 11-3 in 2017 

Prospect: 6-8 in 2017 

Sobrato: 4-10 in 2017 

Oak Grove: 4-10 in 2017 

Piedmont Hills: 3-11 in 2017 

We moved up in place of 3-11 Andrew Hill. With this all new challenge, our team goal in terms of dual meets is to go a combined 5-9 or better. While this record wouldn’t blow anyone away, it would prove that we belong in the STAL division.

The team will look to be lead by the efforts of some of its top returning athletes, such as:

Azael Zamora: Azael is ranked 4th among all STAL boys in both the 1600 and 3200 and he is coming off of a tremendous XC season. He will aim to place top 5 at STAL division finals and earn a 3rd consecutive trip to BVAL Championships.

Jose Limon: Lemon had a tremendous freshmen track season and then lost his Sophomore season to injury. Now after a healthy XC season, we have big goals for him in the sprint events. Despite not running the 400 at all last year, his PR puts him ranked 10th in the STAL.

Cody Huoch: Cody joined track last season as a junior but is now one of the team’s biggest stars. He is ranked 3rd in both hurdle events among STAL athletes, and he is also ranked 6th in the triple jump.

Valeria Cortez: The team’s best all around athlete. Valeria was a CCS qualafier in the Discus, shot put, and 100 hurdles as only a sophomore. She goes into the STAL division ranked 2nd in Discus (to teammate Charli Chircop) 2nd in Shot Put (to teammate Alejandra Ceron) 5th in the 300 hurdles, and 1st in the 100 hurdles. She was the 100 hurdles division champ for the WVAL in 2017, and she will already be aiming to be the STAL champ in 2018.

Charli Chircop and Alejandra Ceron: Our two senior girl throwers were among our most accomplished athletes. Charli achieved a school record in the discus last season, and became the first Comet to make CCS finals in years. Aleajndra set the school record in the Shot Put last year and was the first Comet in years to medal at the CCS top 8 meet. These girls are ranked 1st in their respective top events, and will be a huge source of strength for the team this year.

Arlet Miranda: Despite battling injuries over the past few seasons, Arlet heads into the STAL ranked in the top 4 in all 3 distance events. She is aiming for a bounce back season that could see more BVAL qualifications and even school records being set. Last year she qualified for CCS trials in the 800 for the first time in her career. She’ll look to make a second trip this year.

The team has a number of other top returning athletes and promising newcomers all dedicated to the goal of proving the Comets belong in the STAL.

Official track practice begins on Monday January 29th.

Our first meet is a little over a month away. Track season is here at last!

Updates will come soon.

Thanks for reading,

 

 

 

 

Comets compete at Toro Park in Earlybird Invitational

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Coach Raul Lopez, Inteus Castro-Lopez, Azael Zamora and myself after the Earlybird Invitational.

The Comets took to Toro Park in Salinas for the Earlybird invitational on Saturday September 16th. This is typically one of the most competitive invitationals, especially with all races in Toro Park in 2016 being cancelled due to fire damage. Toro Park and Crystal Springs are now the alternating hosts of the CCS finals XC meet. This year CCS will be held at Toro Park, making a run over the course a kind of CCS preview meet, and very important to CCS caliber runners.

The meet began with the freshmen girls race. Xochitl Godinez lead the team in a solid time of 24:58. Matching her 8:19 mile pace from Alum Rock a few days ago, despite Toro Park being a slower course (in terms of pace and total time). Jana Kikhia likewise had a very impressive race by her standards. Jana ran 26:16, not only a better pace than her league race time, but a better time as well! Jana’s pace of 8:45 nearly equals her performance of 8:43 pace on the 2.13 mile Golden Gate Park course. We have a long layover till our next league race course on October 4th. We have high hopes for these two freshmen girls. My personal hope is that they will both run under 8 minute pace for Crystal Springs come league finals.

Mariana Perez ran 29:10, going under 10 minute pace for the first time in her career. Francine Estranero rounded out the freshmen girls in 32:04, a better pace than she managed at the league race as well.

Jonathan Cortez once again lead the freshmen boys with the best race of his young career. He ran 20:22 for his first full 3 mile course. Again, I think a runner of Jonathan;s caliber should be able to run about 1:20 faster for a STAL league race than they can run at Toro Park. This indicates to me Jonathan can aim for under 19 minutes at Montgomery Hill in a  few weeks, compared to the 19:50 he ran at Alum Rock this week. Jose Ruiz had a solid race as well, running 23:27 for his first 3 mile. Jose is making a case to be moved up to Frosh/Soph for STAL 3.

The Sophomore races displayed more of the team’s young runners. Ashley Preciado lead the group running 27:02. Justine Austria was not far behind in 27:21 and Kirsten Yutuc came across in 28:48. The Varsity girls started this season at STAL 1 with 2 girls under 25 minutes and only 3 girls under 27 minutes. I’m hopeful that by the next league race, the Comets will have 3 girls under 23 minutes and another 2 under 25 minutes. Our young girls may not be the most talented group, but they are determined to outwork other teams in the pursuit of success.

Mark Orpia ran a very strong 18:38 to lead the sophomore boys. This shows Mark should have a good chance at running under 17 minutes at STAL 3. Hugo Marquez ran 20:14 and Nien Tran and Jerricho Habon ran 21:19 and 21:22, adding depth to the team. Brandon Cruz came across the line in 24:19, and Luis Ecamilla ran a very well paced race running 24:54. Luis only a few weeks ago was struggling to run 9 minute mile pace and he is now rapidly approaching the 8 minute pace barrier.

The junior girls race had the team’s top 2 runners. Arlet Miranda’s season so far has been a struggle but we are hopeful that she will be able to turn it around with hard work over the next few weeks. She ran 23:46 for the course. Belen Sanchez ran 24:47 a solid time, especially after missing Thursday with knee pain.

Jose Limon ran 19:50 to be the fastest Comet on the day to that point. Despite Lemon’s background as a sprinter, he has quickly grasped the nuance of pacing in cross country.

The senior girls race saw Analilia Regla lead the team in 27:39, a solid performance as she works her way back to full health. Aliana Santos also had a solid performance, running 28:29.

The most anticipated race on the day for the team was the senior boys race. Azael Zamora has his mind set on qualifying for the State meet and he produced a performance which shows him to be threat to do just that. Azael ran the best race of his career, running 16:37 for a massive 2:20 second PR from his Sophomore year. Azael placed in the top 40 overall out of more than 1,000 runners on the day, and his time narrowly missed the school record of 16:33 set by Jose Gutierrez in 2002. Evan Franco of Branham (1st place at STAL 1 and STAL 2) and Dylan Ellis of Prospect (2nd place at STAL 1 and STAL 2) ran 16:55 and 17:02 respectively. This should give Azael newfound confidence to compete for the win next league race. Inteus Castro-Lopez had a strong day as well running 17:59 for a nearly 40 second PR. Cody Huoch ended the team’s day with the best performance of his career running 21:31 for the course.

Overall it was a very strong day for the team. The team will now look ahead to the rescheduled Alumni Race/Watermelon Run on September 29th. This will decide who will run on what team for STAL 3 on October 4th.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

James Track Moves Up To ‘B’ division for 2018 Season: 2017 Season Summary

The 2017 Track season was another step forward for the James Lick Comets. I am happy to announce that with the BVAL meetings having concluded, the James Lick track team will be officially be placed in the ‘B’ division for the 2018 season. The strength of the team’s past few seasons, especially  the 2017 season, is what catapulted the team out of the WVAL.

The old local leagues of the BVAL, the MHAL (Mount Hamilton Athletic League) the STAL (Santa Teresa Athletic League) and the WVAL (West Valley Athletic League) merged together in 1996 to form the BVAL (Blossom Valley Athletic League). The BVAL is a 24 team ‘power league’ with the 3 former leagues operating as an ‘A’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ division.

The BVAL formed at a point where James Lick was well past it’s heyday in most sports. The track team of James Lick for example, was placed in the ‘C’ division from the very beginning of the BVAL era (like most James Lick sports) and has remained there ever since. 20 seasons of the BVAL era have passed with James Lick in the ‘C’ division every single season. That is all set to change in the 2018 season.

James Lick will compete against the teams of the STAL, with Andrew Hill moving down to replace James Lick in the WVAL. The ‘B’ division was won by Pioneer on the boys side, and Evergreen on the girls side. Other teams in the STAL are: Prospect, Lincoln, Sobrato, Oak Grove, and Piedmont Hills. We will be fully focused on trying to prove we belong in the STAL division, by achieving a middle of the pack finish in our first year in the division.

Now a look back at the season that moved us up. With any luck, we will look back on the 2017 season as the last season James Lick was in the ‘C’ division for track and field.

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Some of the Track Team after the Team Banquet in Alum Rock Park

 

We began conditioning as a team in January. At this early stage we had a large number of boys out, but the majority of our girls were participating in Winter sports. We had the goal all season of trying to win the WVAL on both the boys and girls side.

We came close, going a combined 13-1 for a girls title, narrowly missing the boys.

Here is a breakdown of scoring by event for the 2017 season:

Boys : 

Event Group Average Points Per Dual Meet Points Available Per Meet Average Points as percentage of Available League Finals Points
Distance 24.31 27 90% 49
Hurdles 15.14 18 84% 22
Jumps 15 27 55% 17.5
Relays 5 10 50% 13
Sprints 13.14 27 48% 18
Throws 12.85 18 71% 8

Girls 

Event Group Average Points Per Dual Meet Points Available Per Meet Average Points as percentage of Available League Finals Points
Distance 16.41 27 60% 32
Hurdles 14.35 18 79% 26
Jumps 17.85 27 66% 28
Relays 3.5 10 35% 10
Sprints 8.56 27 32% 0
Throws 17.27 18 96% 45

Both hurdle squads, the girls throws teams and boys throws teams were very dominant in the WVAL. They will look to lead the team next season as the team takes on the STAL.

The team’s top point scorers were:

  1. Valeria Cortez: 130 points 
  2. Cody Huoch: 99 points
  3. Arlet Miranda: 99 points
  4. Erik Olsvold: 80 points
  5. Lyndel Ventura: 75 points
  6. Nathan Bernardo: 70 points
  7. Azael Zamora: 65 points
  8. Alejandra Ceron: 63 points
  9. Jonathan Rodriguez: 61 points
  10. Ace Medina: 53 points

As the team heads up a division, an encouraging note is that all 5 of the teams top point scorers are not seniors, as are 8 of the teams top 10. The team will need a good returning group of athletes in order to compete at the next level.

At the Willow Glen Invitational, many athletes competed for the team and things looked very promising. Jose Limon began the season with times of 11.97 and 24.40 for 100/200 both of which were top 5 finishes for the meet’s frosh/Soph division. This was a fantastic start to the year as no Comet had run under 12 seconds in 2016. Unfortunately, at the very first dual meet of the season, Jose aggravated his hamstring running the 4×100 and never fully recovered, effectively losing his very promising sophomore year.

One of the sprinter’s who stepped up the most in Jose’s absence was Misael Herrera, the team’s next best Sophomore sprinter. Misael opened the season at 12.80 for the 100 and 26.70 for the 200. Over the course of the season, he worked his way down to big PRS of 12.30 for the 100, 24.56 for the 200, and 56.48 for the 400. By the end of the season, Ace Medina would be the team leader in the 100/200 with PRS of 11.68 and 24.17, despite opening the season at 12.70. Cody Huoch would run 24.40 as well to give the team 4 boys under 25 seconds in the 200, a big improvement over the 1 athlete from 2016. The team scored points at WVAL finals in all 3 boys sprint events for the first time since I’ve been coaching.

In the girls sprint events, the team lost their #1, #2, and #3 sprinters from 2016, putting the team in a tough spot. Silvia Amaya emerged as the team’s top sprinter on the side. She opened the season at 15.20 at Willow Glen and worked her way down to 14.30 by seasons end, scoring points for the team in many dual meets along the way. Freshmen Yeimili Adame emerged mid-season as a potential standout athlete, demonstrating impressive range in the two meets she competed in before becoming academically ineligible. We hope she’ll return as a force next season.

This was the first season that the team’s jumpers were under the tutelage of coach Christopher Turner. In this one season, the future strength of the team’s jumpers was shown through massive improvement. Juan Gutierrez opened his season with jumps of 15-2 for the long jump and 31-1 for triple jump. He would end up with PRS of 17-8.50 and 36-3.  Freshmen Jamie Vong had the most encouraging improvement, going from 31-0 at our first dual meet in triple jump, to 37-6 at WVAL finals. He also went from 14-4 in the long jump to 16-10. Hadji Yono-Cruz lead the team in long jump with a leap of 18-3.  Cody Huoch lead the team with a triple jump of 39-4 at WVAL finals.

On the girls side, Lyndel Ventura finally broke the 15 foot barrier officially with help from coach Turner. She started the season at 13-3 and 25-2, and worked her way up to 15-3 and 28-10.50 by WVAL finals. Kirsten Yutuc joined the jumps crew late in the season, but in a very short amount of time went from 12-10 to 13-9 and from 27-7 to 29-10. I’m very excited about the future of these athletes under coach Turner, only bigger things are ahead.

The team also had a much improved season in the high jump. Elyse Elder achieved a PR of 4-8 to take 2nd at WVAL finals, the highest placing by a JL girl at WVAL finals ever. Jonathan Rodriguez went 5-6 and Ace went 5-8 to give the team two boys who scored pints at WVAL finals, after having none the year before.

The hurdles team also took a big step forward. Two boys ran 44 seconds for the 300 hurdles, and Cody Huoch won the team its first ever league title in the event at WVAL finals. Cody also ran the best 110 hurdles time in years for the Comets, clocking 17.16. Hadji also broke the 18 second barrier running 17.83. Jonathan and Gustavo Aguilera ran under 19 seconds to give the team 4 boys under that mark, compared to only two last year.

Valeria Cortez captured the WVAL title in the 100 hurdles with a PR of 16.75, good for #3 in school history. She also brought her 300 hurdles PR down significantly to 52.12. Susie Peterson did the same thing by running 58.99, and Kirsten Yutuc ran a strong freshmen time of 54.44 in the event, as well as running under 20 seconds for the 100 hurdles.

The girls distance team stared the season with some difficulties. Arlet Miranda opened her season at Willow Glen with two great performances, running 5:41 and 2:34, nearly PRs for both events. She suffered injuries the rest of the season which greatly impacted her training. She was eventually able to run a PR in the 800 however, qualifying for CCS by running 2:28.42 at BVAL championships. Belen Sanchez stepped up to be a contributor for the team. She began the year at 7:05 at our first dual meet, and worked her PR all the way down to 6:12 by the end of the season.

On the boys side, the team was lead by Erik Olsvold. Erik took his freshmen year PRs of 4:54 for the 1600 and 10:36 for the 3200 down to 4:37 and 10:20 despite missing time due to a few different issues. While he was able to capture the WVAL title in the 3200, to some extent this was a disappointing season that Erik will be looking to bounce back from in XC. Azael Zamora took his 1600m PR down to 4:40, even though he too struggled with injuries through most of the season.

The freshmen boys were a highlight of the distance team. Hugo Marquez, Melvin Estrada, Daniel Portillo, Nien Tran and Mark Orpia all finished a full year of distance training between XC and track with great results. Hugo’s ran the mile trial for us in August and ran 7:37. He ended track season with a PR of 5:21. Similarily Melvin started off at 6:50 (though he actually had summer training) and ended Track at 5:20. Daniel started off at 7:23 and worked his way down to 5:52.

Mark and Nien did not have as much training time as they both came out from Wrestling late, but they enjoyed big improvement as well. Mark worked his way down from 6;06 to 5:06 and Nien from 6:20 to 5:28. This young group of boys figures to be a strong FS team in XC.

The throws team was improved on the boys side, and exceptional on the girls side. 3 boys threw above 100 feet in discus on the same team for the first time under coach Vela. Alex Alonzo lead the group at 111-4, a 10 foot PR from 2016.

The girls side was the truly remarkable group for the team however. Alejandra Ceron improved her Shot Put PR from 31-9.50 to 35-8.75, a new school record. She also improved her Discus from 90-10 to 95-11. Valeria improved from 99-8.50 to 108-3 in discus, and from 31-1 in Shot Put to 33-4. Charli took her PRS up to a whole new level after missing her Sophomore season. She went from 29-10 to 32-5 in Shot Put, and from 79-0 to 109-4 for discus. With her throw of 109-4, she took the school record from Valeria and became made CCS finals. A  fitting end of the season for a strong team.

The team ends this season with a lot to be proud of, and a big season ahead in 2018 with the ‘B’ division on the horizon.

A few notes looking ahead

For the first time this summer, James Lick athletes who join the East Side running/track club will compete in all comers meets in preparation for the 2018 track season. My club is open to anyone who wants to join of any age group, and the only fee is the USATF registration fee.

Some of the team’s athletes will begin preparation for their fall sports in a few weeks time as well. Coach Turner is the JV girls volleyball coach, and Coach Vela is the JV boys football coach (and I think Coach Steve may join him as a positions coach this year).  I will begin cross country conditioning with the oh so lovable distance rascals in a few weeks, and am happy to say I will be joined by two new coaches this season who have served as volunteer coaches this past track season.

Lastly, I’m very happy to announce that I will be beginning my teaching career when the 2017/2018 school year begins (teaching world history). 90% of my students grades will be participation in cross country or track! (just kidding of course).

I’ll do a general recap of JL sports for the school year if there is an interest in one. This was the best year we’ve had as a school this decade in terms of championships/overall record. Please comment if you’d be interested in such a blog.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

JLXC History: Montgomery Hill / Time Trial recap

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Montgomery Hill as seen from a spectator’s view.

This post will contain two blogs for the price of one. 

Blog 1: JLXC at Montgomery Hill

Today, James Lick is a member of the BVAL, a 24 team “power league” which formed in 1996. James Lick was a member of the MHAL (Mount Hamilton Athletic League) from 1965- the early 90s. With the formation of the BVAL in 96′ MHAL took the place of the ‘A’ division of the BVAL,the STAL (Santa Teresa League) took on the role of the ‘B’ division, and the WVAL (West Valley League) took on the role of the ‘C’ division.

Following its foundation, the BVAL searched for an accessible area to use for its league meets. Alum Rock park, long used by the MHAL, was used for some races, as was Helyer Park and Santa Teresa park. In the year 2000 however, the BVAL created a race course at Montgomery Hill Park, right next to Evergreen Valley college. The park, as its name indicates, is extremely hilly for a cross country course and has no shade to offer. These factors combined with its loose dirt in places, makes it the slowest race course (in terms of mile pace) in the CCS central conference. The original course was 2.95 miles, and was used for several races in 2000. In 2001 and 2002, the course became almost exclusively the BVAL’s course of choice for league meets. In 2003, the course was modified to its current 2.74 mile format, and has been run by the BVAL every year since.

With the 2016 season approaching, Montgomery’s entering its 17th year of use. James Lick has 15 years of history on the course (In 2012 all of JL’s league meets were at Alum Rock). With a limited history compared to historic courses like Crystal Springs, and one which has taken place after most of JL’s greatest seasons, the Montgomery hill school all time lists are not amongst the school’s best performances. The teams of recent years however are heading solidly in the right direction.

The JL teams of the early 2000s were some of the best teams in the entire BVAL on the boys side. The 2001 team ran some of the first fast times on the course. The boy’s team’s 2nd best combined team time (calculated by adding the times of the top 5 runners together) on the course was run in 2001. The team ran a time of 82:47 (converted for the 2.74 mile course). Ivan Navarro ran a converted 15:52, one of only 2 sub 16 minute clockings at Montgomery in school history.

In 2003 the course was altered to its current format, and with it came the current school records on the course, both individually and as a team. Jose Gutierrez ran 15:05,  an outstanding time and a school record for the course. This time helped the team to a combined time of 81:48, an average of 16:22 a runner. In the mid 2000s, (the weakest era of JLXC) the team consistently ran times in the high 80s or low 90s, with a few standout performances such as Erick Herrera’s 16:01 in 2005.

The team gradually fell from the top of the ‘A’ division in 2003, to the middle of the ‘C’ division a mere 4 years later. The team of 2009 however, began to spark some life into the program by winning the WVAL and moving up to the STAL. Even then however, the boys team only managed a team time of 90:02, a far cry from the mid 80 minute clockings of the early 2000s.

The rebirth of JLXC that the current program is striving to create has been a joy to witness. The team of 2013 (my first year as coach), ran a team time of 94:56, the slowest Montgomery Hill team time for James Lick on record. A year later however, then sophomore and current senior and team captain, Nathan Bernardo, helped the team take a huge step back towards respectability with a team time of 87:05.

In the now 16 years of course History,24 Comet boys have run under 17 minutes at Montgomery Hill (A common  varsity boy time even in the ‘A’ division), but only 9 Comets have managed the feet since 2006. In 2014, Nathan added his name to the list along with teammate Karan Singh, making it the first season where two Comets simultaneously broke the barrier since 2010, when Ricardo Flores and myself combined to do so.

2015 witnessed yet another leap forward, as the team combined for a time of 84:40, despite not running their normal 4th runner at their best league race. This was the 4th best team time for JL (out of 15 total years) in history, and only 20 seconds off  of the team of 2004. Nathan ran 16:10 to put himself #4 on the school’s all time list for the course, and the team also saw Hector Ramirez run under 17 minutes, with Inteus Castro-Lopez and Gustavo Aguilera at 17:00 and 17:09 respectively.

The team of 2016 is actively going after the school record of the 2001 team, and their first time trial of the season was a great indicator of their capability. More on that Below.

Even in the 2000s where the boys team was struggling compared to decades and even years past, the girls team was struggling mightily to be competitive, like throughout much of its history. JL was unable to field a full team in some of the early BVAL years, and 2003 was the first time the team managed to break 2 hours for the course, with a combined team time of 1:58:39 or 118:39.

In a few years however, the team was bolstered by the arrival of Kayla Matsuda, who currently stands as James Lick’s greatest ever girl Cross Country runner. Kayla’s PR and school record of 18:12 run in 2006, still stands as one of the top 20 Montgomery times for any school. It also lead the team to a big school record team time of 1:54:53. This time was bettered a year later by the team of 2007, running 1:49:51 to narrowly miss out on winning the ‘C’ division championship. That team also saw freshmen Aurora Lepe run 21:14, a 21 minute time is a decent varsity time in the ‘A’ division. After Kayla’ graduation in 2009, the girls team struggled to be competitive again, especially with the teams move into the ‘B’ division in 2010. From 2010-2012 the Varsity girls team went a combined 0-21, strong individual times such as the 20:03 clocking in 2010 by Ana Tapia (3rd best JL time ever) and the 21:25 of freshmen Daniela Camacho in 2011 not withstanding.

The team of 2013 however saw a surge in there group capability. Despite the boys struggles in 2013, the girls team ran 1:50:06, the then #2 team time in school history, and managed a winning record in the ‘B’ division as a result. Record keeping and political issues lead to the team of 2014 being placed in the ‘C’ divison for the 2014 season, and the 2014 team worked hard to correct that mistake. Daniela Camacho ran the #2 time in school history, with a 19:32 clocking, giving the Comets two girls (all time) under 20 at Montgomery to go with  their 2 boys under 16. Thanks to strong runs from athletes like Paloma Contreras, Milka Perez, and Maria Mendoza, 2014 was the first season in school history where 4 girls ran under 22:00 in the same race. This resulted in a huge team record of 1:45:57, and arguably the greatest girls XC season in JL history.

Despite the loss of of 6/7 of the team’s varsity girls from the 2014 season, the 2015 season ran a solid team time of 1:49:58, breaking the 1:50:00 barrier at Montgomery for the 3rd time in the school’s 15 seasons on the course, despite a very inexperienced girls team. Maria lowered her PR to 20:31, giving her the #4 JL time in history for the course.

Montgomery hill is now the team’s most raced upon course. Generally the team has somewhere between 2-4 races their every season, and the all time lists for the course will continue to grow each season. With the team striving every day to rebuild a once tremendous XC program. Montgomery hill times will be an important barometer of success going forward.

More information on JLXC’s rich history can be found here:

https://coachbennyreeves.wordpress.com/cross-country-history/

Note: All historical data is based on actual archival data/ newspaper results. This is simply the all time lists I have been able to compile, if you have any information that I am missing please do not hesitate to send it my way!

It is my intention to write on a piece on the history of every course we will race this year, if coaching/ graduate studies/ student teaching allow me enough time.

In any case thank you for reading this summary, Blog 2 Below. 

 

Blog 2: Time Trial Recap

The 2016 team showered their desire to take yet another step forward this season with a very strong time trial showing. Azael Zamora lead the group in a huge PR of 16:42, despite only giving an estimated 85% effort. Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a 1 second PR of 16:59, despite the earliness of the season and the fact that he was also treating the run as ,ore of a threshold run than a true time trial. Erik Olsvold did go all out, and ran a full minute PR of 17:18, showing the benefits of his strong track season. Nathan Bernardo did not even bring his racing shoes, but ran a time of 17:33, 17 second abetter than his time at the same time trial a year ago.

Gustavo Aguilera and Gustavo Parra ran 18:36 and 18:49 respectively, way ahead of their 19:04 and 21:37 clockings from last years Montgomery time trial. Jesus Deloya and Vincent Giglio also broke 20, running 19:36 and 19:53, putting both runners on track to break 18 minutes this season for the course.

The next Comet in was sophomore Arlet Miranda, fresh off of her breakout track season, looking to push away the memories of her injury plagued freshmen XC season. Her time of 20:47 puts her #5 on the all time list, and bodes well for her chances to move onto #2 on the school’s list by seasons end. Recent transfer, David Bejines finished with a time of 22:12, an experienced runner as a junior, David will look to factor into the teams plans as he rounds into shape. Freshmen Jericho Habon was next in a time of 22:19. Jericho is one of a number of extremely dedicated freshmen who have worked hard to turn themselves from runners who couldn’t run under 8 minutes for a mile, to strong ‘B’ division frosh-sops athletes. This is their goal with a few weeks before races begin. fellow dedicated freshmen, Kevin Bach came across the line in 24:48 in his first official James Lick clocking. Julia Cruz was the only girl besides Arlet to take part, and she ran a solid 25:05 after her first week back at practice. This is faster than Julia’s time from early October of last season, and she went on to run a solid 23:07 that season.

The Comets are hard at work, and have big time aspirations this season. Despite the fact that the top group of boys treated this run as only a hard practice run, they ran 1:27:07/87:07 , faster than 7 of the 15 seasons where James Lick has run at Montgomery Hill. The team record of 1:21:48/ 81:48 is on their mind, as is a ‘B’ division title.

The girls team spearheaded by Arlet has the aim of breaking 1:50:00 at Crystal Springs, which would be the best league finals time in school history for the girls. Despite the 2 girl showing on Saturday, the girls team is very much rounding together with athletes like Daisy Nava, Maria Mendoza, and Milka Perez hard at work.

The North Rim trail has been closed, but the Comets will look to run a time trial on it as soon as it opens if their schedule permits. In any case the Alumni Race will take place on Friday September 2nd beginning at 6:00 P.M. I recommend any alumni runners arrive at 5:30 if possible to allow time for warmups. The event is less than two weeks away, and the whole Comet team is gaining steam.

Stay tuned for more Comet news.