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

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

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

Boys 2018: 116             Girls 2018: 102

Boys 2014: 19               Girls 2014: 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

5 Comets Advance To CCS Trials From BVAL Finals

Team .jpg
Some of the Comets prepare for the meet while others pose for a picture 

 

The Comets competed at BVAl Finals at Westmont High School on Thursday May 10th. The BVAL Finals is the BVALs CCS qualifying meet. The top 7 athletes of the MH (A’) division, top 5 from the ST (‘B’) division and top 4 from the WV (‘C’) division meet to compete for spots at CCS Trials. Athletes who achieve the BVAL Automatic qualifying mark also advance from division finals, but for the most part, 16 athletes compete in each event. The top 8 athletes at BVAL Finals advance to CCS Trials.

The very first event contested was the varsity boys pole vault. Mark Orpia and Rodolf Ocampo placed 12th and 13th, not bad for their first year Pole Vaulting. Mark managed a PR of 9-0, while Rodolf matched his PR of 8-6. This was a good end to the season for the Comet pole vaulters, the first in several decades for James Lick.

Several other field events kicked off soon after. Alejandra Ceron booked her ticket to CCS trials for the 2nd year in row in the girls Shot Put. Her throw of 33-2.5 took 7th place in a very competitive field. Valeria Cortez just missed out on making CCS in the event, taking 10th in 32-5.5. Charli Chircop threw 30-11.5 for the final Shot Put competition of her career.

Lyndel Ventura competed in girls long jump for the final time. Her best jump was 15-7.5, the 2nd best jump of her career, a solid final competition for Lyndel. In the girls triple jump, Natalie Rem placed 9th with the 2nd best jump of her career, 33-0.5. A post meet scratch moved Natlie into the 8th place spot, meaning that she will compete at CCS trials as a freshmen, the first Comet to do so since Valeria in discus as a freshmen.

In the boys Shot Put, Josh Garcia ended his career with a toss of 40-6.5. The Girls discus was the best event for the Comets on the day. Charli threw 116-3.5 the 2nd best throw of her career for 2nd place overall, the highest placing at BVAL Finals by any Comet this decade. Valeria took 3rd with a throw of 109-1. Alejandra threw 100-3 for 9th place.

In the girls 4×100, the Comets ran their 2nd best time of the season, clocking 54.04 despite a very poor final handoff. Valeria, Kirsten Yutuc, Yeimili Adame and Natalie Rem accomplished the mark. On the boys side, the team improced upon their “best mark of the decade” status. Cody Huoch, Jose Limon, Geovanny Campos and Raven Alcantara combined to run 45.50. The team placed 11th, and with 3/4ths of the team returning, the Comets have their minds set on trying to make CCS next year.

Arlet Miranda competed in the girls 1600, running 5:46. Arlet has always battled injury issues, and despite barely running over the past few weeks, she competed well.

The one running events with two athletes competing was the girls 100 hurdles. Valeria ran 17.22 and Yesenia Martinez ran 18.53. It was the 2nd best time of the season for both ladies. Valeria narrowly missed making CCS, placing 9th, only .05 off of 7th place.

Kirsten competed in the 300 hurdles, running the 2nd best time of her career, 52.30. Cody became the Comets 5th CCS qualifier on the day, running 42.62, a small PR in the boys version of the event. Azael Zamora competed for the Comets in the 3200. Like many other Comets, he ran the 2nd best time of his career, 9:59.49, he missed out on making CCS by less than 1 second.

The final event on the day was the 4×400. The girls team of Yesenia, Kirsten, Yeimili and Arlet competed hard, but did not run particularly fast. The boys team managed to break the 3:40 barrier for the first time in over a decade. Salvador Lopez, Erik Olsvold, Cody Huoch and Misael Herrera combined to run 3:39.

5 Athletes are left competing for the Comets.

Charli and Valeria in Girls Discus, Alejandra in Girls Shot Put, Natalie in Girls Triple Jump, and Cody in the boys 300 hurdles. These 5 will compete at CCS Trials on Saturday May 19th at Gilroy High School.

The Ryan/Oyama Awards will be held on Tuesday May 15th in the school gym. A number of XC/Track athletes should be honored. Also, brand new banners representing James Lick’s most recent championships will be unveiled. (This includes boys cross country 2016, and girls track 2016 and 2017.)

Thanks for reading!

 

Comets Prove They Belong At Their First Ever ‘B’ division finals: Lady Comets Finish in 2nd

2018 was all about one thing for the James Lick Track Team: “Prove We Belong.” After spending all of the BVAL era (since 1996) in the ‘C’ division, 2018 marked the Comets first ever season in the ‘B’ division of the BVAL. Two consecutive girls division titles made the move warranted. I wanted to move up, but I’d be lying if I said that I was positive it was the right move. The 2018 ST division finals proved that the Comets are ready for this next step. The team outperformed their rankings all meet, with the girls ending the meet in 2nd place, and the boys in 5th.

After Day 1, the Comets were in 2nd place on the girls side, while the boys were in 5th. That was though after only 4 girls finals and 5 boys finals.

Day 2 of finals began with the girls discus. This had been the Comets best event all year, and the three headed monster of Valeria Cortez, Charli Chircop and Alejandra Ceron showed why. The girls combined for a 1-2-3 finish, with Valeria taking the division title with a throw of 109-0. Mariah Santos threw a 7 foot PR of 86-3 for 6th place. This meant that in a single event, the Comets combined for 27 points! This is one better than the total  discus points from last year in the ‘C’ division. This is the most points in a single event from a league/division championship meet in school history for the Comets (based on my admittedly incomplete records). This will be a hard total to ever top. The only event where any team outscored the Lady Comets discus throwers, was the boys triple jump, where Evergreen combined for 31 points.

IMG_4556
Valeria Cortez hurling the discus in warmups

The great start to the meet got things rolling for the Comets, but more good things followed soon after. In the girls 4×100, the team of Lisbeth Galdamez, Justine Austria, Yeimili Adame and Natalie Rem combined to run 53.85 and finished in 6th place. This is the fastest James Lick 4×100 team on records in the 2000s. The fact that the team was made up of 3 sophomores and a freshmen bodes very well for the future.

The boys 4×100 team of Geovanny Campos, Jose Limon, Misael Herrera and Raven Alcantara had an equally strong performance. They ran 45.88 to take 5th place and book their ticket to BVAL finals next week. This is just the first time since 2002 that the Comets have run under 46 seconds for the 4×100. Like the girls, no member of the team is graduating.

The boys 1600 was next. Azael Zamora snatched 4 points for the team with a 5th place finish. Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a seasons best 5:02.95 and Melvin Estrada finished his season in the event as well.

In the girls 100 hurdles, Valeria Cortez took home her 2nd division title in a row. After winning the ‘C’ division title in 2017, Valeria summoned up a strong run of 16.88, her 2nd best time ever to take home the victory. You don’t see too many athletes win titles in both the discus and the 100 hurdles. Valeria is in fact the first Comet to win two division titles in the same season since Ruth Lebeau in 2007. Hers wasn’t the only strong performance in the race however. Yesenia Martinez ran a PR of 18.43 and pulled off a 5th place finish in the process, meaning she will also compete at BVAL finals next week. Susie Peterson finished in 7th in 19.11, the 2nd best time of her career. The 16 points the Comets nabbed in the 100 hurdles was more than any other team.

The next Comet to compete was Natalie in the 100. She ran 13.73 for 7th place, the first Lady Comet to score at division finals in the 100 in years. Natalie also took 5th place in the gilrs triple jump, another BVAL qualification for the team. Kirsten Yutuc took 8th in a PR of 30-11. Lyndel was the 3rd jumper for the team, but she only managed a leap of 29 feet.

Salvador Lopez lead the Comets in boys long jump, going 17-8. Rodolf Ocampo also contested the event for the team. In the girls high jump, Yesenia and Lisbeth matched their PRS, doing 4-6 and 4-4 respectively. Yesenia managed 8th place with her performance adding another point to the team total.  The final field event for the Comets was the boys Shot Put. Josh Garcia managed 5th place with a throw of 41-0. Daniel Medina ended his career at JL with a toss of 36-0. Josh Merin also competed for the team.

IMG_4604.JPG
Yesenia Martinez clearing the bar at 4-4 

Arlet Miranda had to scratch the girls 800 due to injury concerns that are all too common for Arlet. On the boys side however, the team saw Erik Olsvold take 6th in 2:08.37 and Jerricho Habon ran a PR of 2:12.88. Erik has had a very strong end to the season. After injury took his 2017 XC season, Erik was not able to start running until March of this season. He made rapid improvement, and the 2:08 clocking is only 1 second off of his PR. Erik looks very much poised to rebound his senior year.

The girls 300 hurdles saw a PR for Kirsten. Kirsten took 3rd place in 51.80, just the 3rd girl in school history to run under 52 seconds for the event. Cody Huoch matched Kirsten with a 3rd place finish in the boys 300 hurdles. He ran 43.11, the 2nd best time of his career.

The girls 3200 was next. Belen Sanchez ended her season in fine fashion, running a massive 31 second PR of 13:15.40. She battled all the way in and managed 1 point for the team in 8th place. Ashley Preciado ran an 8 second PR of 13:41 as well. Jessica Cervantes contested the event for the 1st time, running 15:34.

The girls 4×400 team ended the meet battling their hearts off in a bid to make BVAL finals. The team had to settle for 6th place in a seasons best 4:34, but they put forward a great effort. With Arlet out due to injury, the team had few backup options. With all the pressure that stepping in for Arlet would entail, the Comets turned to none other than Valeria Cortez to run on the team. Valeria had never run the 400 before, but we knew going in that she was the kind of warrior we needed to give us a shot. Valeria ran with a  ton of guts, managing a 71 second leg for the team, but the team finished .4 seconds behind Sobrato for the coveted 5th spot at BVAL finals.

The boys 4×400 ran their best race of the season by far as well. Sal, Cody, Lemon and Misael combined to run 3:40.74, the 2nd best James Lick 4×400 of this decade. They took 4th, meaning they will get the chance to try to run even faster at BVAL finals next week.

When all was said and done, the team scores were as follows:

Girls: 

  1. Evergreen 141.5
  2. James Lick 95
  3. Lincoln 87
  4. Prospect 83
  5. Piedmont 67
  6. Pioneer 47
  7. Sobrato 42
  8. Oak Grove 32.5

Boys: 

  1. Evergreen 254
  2. Pioneer 113
  3. Piedmont 70
  4. Lincoln 59
  5. James Lick 44
  6. Oak Grove 37
  7. Prospect 28
  8. Sobrato  7

It was a very successful meet for the team and a total of 17 Comets have earned themselves one more week of competition.

The team will take to BVAL Finals at Westmont on Thursday May 10th. The team will chase some final PRs, and will try to send as many athletes as possible to CCS Trials the following week.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Distance: 

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

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

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

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

Hurdles: 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Relays: 

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

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

Sprints: 

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

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

Throws: 

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

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

 

Team Scores: 

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

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

 

Which Comets Have a Chance at Division Titles? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Benny Reeves

 

 

Comets Earn First Dual Meet Sweep, 3 Wins Against Sobrato

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_4436
Jerricho Habon contesting the 400m run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Varsity boys:  JL: 71  S: 55

Varsity girls: JL: 79  S: 48

Frosh/soph boys: JL: 56  S: 44

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

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

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

Comets Split Dual against Piedmont Hills: Lady Comets Claim First Win

The Comets had their 5th dual meet of the season on Thursday April 12th. They hosted the Piedmont Hills Pirates, an old rivalry reignited. By the time the meet was over, the Comets would claim the victory on the girls side, as well as the frosh/soph boys side. The varsity boys endured a very narrow loss.

The first event contested by the team was the pole vault. This dual meet marked the first time that any James Lick Comets contested the pole vault. The minimum scoring height for varsity boys is 8 feet, and while no boy was able to score points, Sophomore Rudolf Ocampo came close, soaring over the bar at 7-6. The frosh/soph pole vault requirement is 7-0, so Rudolf is already at a competitive level for a sophomore.

IMG_4353.PNG
Rudolf Ocampo clearing 7 feet in the pole vault as coach Raul Lopez watches

Piedmont Hills began the meet by winning both 4×100 relays. Piedmont has a great history in sprint events, and they proved a difficult test for the Comets in sprint events all meet.

In the distance events however, it was the Comets who dominated. Belen Sanchez, Ashley Preciado and Jenny Villagomez combined to sweep the girls 1600. Azael Zamora, Melvin Estrada and Erik Olsvold did the same on the boys side. Melvin ran a PR of 5:05 in the porcess, despite 20 mpw winds on the home straight. Brandon Cruz, Hugo Marquez and Jose Ruiz swept the frosh/soph 1600, spearheaded by a PR for Brandon in 5:22. This marked the first time in the ‘B’ division that the Comets swept an event in all three divisions.

The Comets widened their lead in the hurdles. Valeria Cortez and Natalie Rem went 1-2 in the 100 hurdles. Jo-jo Bradley and Luis Escamilla went 1-2 in the frosh/soph boys 110 hurdles, while Cody Huoch won the varsity version of the event. The results were similar in the 300 hurdles. Kirsten Yutuc, Valeria, and Yesenia Martinez combined to sweep the 300 hurdles. Jo-Jo and Luis once again went 1-2 in the F/S boys, and Cody took the win home for the varsity boys.

Yeimili Adame ran an impressive 400 to take 2nd place for the team. Her time of 1:07.90 was only the 2nd best of her career, but it was very strong by her standards given the intensely gusty winds. Misael Herrera and Salvador Lopez took 2nd and 3rd for the team in the varsity boys 400.

Justine Austria managed a point for the Comets in the girls 100. Maria Sanchez managed a small PR of 18.27 despite the strong winds. Joshua Merin saw his FS 100 winning streak come to an end, settling for 2nd place in the event. The Piedmont varsity boys swept the Comets, though Josafar Gomez ran a solid PR of 13.58.

Arlet Miranda won the girls 800 in 2:36, and Belen took 3rd in a huge seasons best of 2:50.80, just a few tenths of a second off of her PR. Ashley ran a PR of 2:54 in 5th place. Brandon and Hugo combined for a 1-2 finish in the frosh/soph boys 800, and Azael, Jerricho Habon and Mark Orpia swept the varsity boys 800. Jerricho ran a small PR despite the wind.

Justine again scored for the girls in the 200 with a huge PR of 30.51, beating her previous best by over a second. Lisbeth Galdamez ran a PR of 31.18. Chantrea Thach, Yyana Guevara and Mariah Santos all ran PRs as well, Mariah’s was a PR by almost two full seconds. Misael scraped a point for the Comets in the boys 200. Joseph Benitez ran a PR of 28.47.

Ashley won the girls 3200 in 14:35, and was followed closely by Jenny in a PR of 14:42. Mya Hammond was 3rd in 15:16, beating her PR by nearly a minute. More PRs followed, with Mariana Perez: 15:49, Francine Estranero, 16:15 and Emely Lopez 16:33. Daniel Portillo and Hugo went 1-2 in the frosh/soph 3200. Azael, Melvin and Jerricho combined to sweep the varsity boys 3200.

The Piedmont team won both varsity 4x400s.

In the throwing events, the Comets showed their typical strong form in girls throws. Valeria won the Shot Put in a seasons best 31-11. Alejandra Ceron and Charli Chircop took 2nd and 3rd. Mariah threw a seasons best 24-3. Keara Medina threw a PR of 18-7, and Lizbet Alonzo threw a PR by a foot, with a toss of 19-2. Josh Garcia threw a massive PR of 40-11 to take 2nd in the varsity boys shot. Josh Merin took 2nd in frosh/soph boys shot put with a big PR of 33-9.

In the discus, Alejandra lead the group with a PR of 98-11. Charli and Valeria were close behind in 2nd and 3rd. Keara netted a second PR on the day, with a toss of 56-5 compared to a previous best of 53-0. Daniel Medina took 3rd place for the varsity boys with a throw just over 100 feet.

In the high jump, Erik took 2nd for the team by clearing 5-0. Jo-Jo and Josh went 1-2 in the FS high jump with leaps of 4-10 and 4-8. Yesenia matched her PR of 4-4 to take 2nd in the girls high jump. Lisbeth matched Yesenia, going 4-4 for the first time to take 3rd.

The horizontal jumps saw many PRs for the team (with a little help from the wind this time). Cody and Sal took 2nd and 3rd in the varsity boys long jump going 17-11 and 17-10 respectively. Both were big PRs. This duo went 1-2 in the triple jump as well. Cody went 39-2, and Sal, 37-7,  a huge improvement over his previous best of 35-5. On the girls side, Natalie Rem took the win in triple jump with a new PR of 33-1. Lyndel Ventura took 3rd with a small PR of 30-1. Lyndel won the long jump in 14-8. Kirsten and Natalie took 2nd and 3rd in 14-7 and 14-5, both sizable PRs.

When all was said and done, the Comets emerged with their first ‘B’ division victory on the girls side.

With two meets remaining, the team is  1-4 on both varsity sides, and 3-2 in frosh/soph boys.

The Comets will head to San Mateo HS for the Bearcat Invitational on Saturday April 14th. They will then head to Sobrato HS in Morgan Hill for their 6th dual meet of the season.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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

James Lick Track Kicks Off The Season At The Willow Glen Invitational

IMG_4098-1
Luis Escamilla and Brandon Cruz surrounded by teammates after falling asleep on the infield. 

The James Lick Track team kicked off their 2018 season with the Willow Glen Invitational. The 2018 version of the invite saw the most James Lick Comets attend in school history. 43 different Comet athletes tested their early season form, and the team looks ready to tackle their season after an all around strong showing.

The meet began with field events. Cody Huoch went 36-10.50 in the triple jump to place 7th overall in the meet. Cody went nearly a foot farther than he did at last years Willow Glen Invite.

IMG_4088.JPG
Cody Huoch in the 2nd phase of the triple jump

The 1600 was a huge success for the team overall. The 4 frsoh/soph girls who competed took huge chunks of time off of their PRS. Jenny Villagomez ran 6:50 (previous best 7:14) Ashley Preciado ran 6:55 (Previous best 7:14) Mya Hammond ran 6:56 (previous best 7:35) and Estefani Herrera ran 7:40 (previous best 9:18). Mya has had a stellar freshmen year, running a sub 7 mile to start track season despite not being able to run under 10 minutes for the mile in the beginning of XC season.

IMG_4087-1
Left to right: Estefani Herrera, Mya Hammond, Ashley Preciado, Jenny Villagomez

The Frosh/Soph boys were lead by Melvin Estrada who ran 5:25 for the 1600, Considerably better than the 5:39 he opened last season at. Hugo Marquez ran 5:31 compared to a 5:51 clocking from a year ago. Mark Orpia ran 5:32 compared to a 5:50 season opener from last year.  Jerricho Habon narrowly missed his PR running 5:38. Daniel Portillo (5:48) Brandon Cruz (5:51) Joseph Benitez (5:57) and Dakota Castro-Lopez (6:00) all managed PRs.

Arlet Miranda opened her season at 5:53, a very solid opening time as she continues to build up after a tough XC season. Belen Sanchez opened her season with a 6:42 clocking, compared to a 7:06 from her 2017 season opener. Analilia Regla ran 7:22 to start her season. Azael Zamora opened his season with a strong time of 4:44, better than his season opener from a year ago. Inteus Castro-Lopez ended the teams day in the 1600 y running 5:14.

The 100 hurdles saw the debut of freshmen Natalie Rem. She placed 3rd in the frosh/soph division with a time of 19.55. This is the best debut time for a James Lick lady hurdler in years. It is faster debut time than Valeria Cortez managed, and Valeria managed to make CCS as only a sophomore, so this speaks volumes of Natalie’s long term potential. Yesenia Martinez made it through her race in 22.36, a solid debut for the new hurdler. Valeria ran 18.99 and Susie Peterson ran 19.84 in the varsity division. Susie is well ahead of where she was at last year at this same time. Cody Huoch ran 18.17 to open his season in the 110 hurdles. Luis Escamilla ran 13.19 in his first try over the 65m hurdles.

The Comets had only one athlete running the 400m in sophomore Justine Austria. She ran 1:12.75, only a second off of her PR already. Natalie and Kirsten ran 14.50 and 14.86 in the 100m dash despite strong headwinds. The duo also medaled in the triple jump, placing 2nd and 4th. Natalie’s debut jump of 30-5.50 puts her #2 on the schools all time tripe jump list already. Kirsten’s jump of 29-0 puts her within a foot of her PR already. Susie Peterson and Aliana Santos ran low 16s and Yesenia Martinez clocked a mid 16 second 100 in her debut in the event.

Cody Huoch lead the boys in the 100 with a time of 12.41. Raven Alcantara ran 12.92 compared to a 13.17 opener from last year. Jonathan Bradley and Josua Merin made their debuts in the 100, running in the mid-high 13s as did Austin Swank. Isaak Herrera rounded our the 100 runners in 14.56.

Jenny, Mya and Ashley ran 3:05, 3:08 and 3:10 in their first try at the 800m. Mya won her heat with an exciting final sprint. Estefani Herrera ran 3:35 for her first go at the event. Jerricho, Mevlin and Hugo ran 2:23, 2:25 and 2:31 for the 800. Jerricho’s 2:23 shows great potential as it was his first try at the event. Brandon ran a PR of 2:37 and Dakota ran a 2:39 for his first try at the event. Daniel PRd yet again with a time of 2:41. Arlet ran a 2:37 in the varsity 800 and Azael and Inteus ran 2:13 and 2:26. Both boys greatly prefer the 3200.

Kirsten and Yesenia ran 56 and 1:03 respectively in the 300 hurdles. Kirsten narrowly missed medaling, placing 5th in the event. Luis and Jonathan both ran 53 seconds in the boys event.

Jesus Venegas and Daniel Medina both represented James Lick strongly in boys throws, but the girls throwers once again proved to be dominant. Alejandra Ceron placed 3rd in the Shot Put with a seasons best 31-1. Charli Chrciop and Valeria threw 30-2 and 29-5 for 4th and 5th. Charli won the meet in the girls discus with a toss of 107-3 only 2 feet off of her PR. Charli is James Lick’s first ever Willow Glen Invite individual champion. Valeria placed 2nd with a throw of 100-6. Both girls are well ahead of where they were at a year ago.

IMG_4099.JPG
Valeria Cortez and Charli Chircop with their medals 

The final event for the team on the day was the 200. Justine ran a low 32, just narrowly missing her PR. Lyndel Ventura and Aliana Santos ran 33.99 and 34.88 respectively. Lyndel also opened her season in the long jump with a 13-6. Jose Limon lead the boys in 25.52 in the poor conditions. Misael Herrera ran 26.54, David Bejines ran 26.91 with Adrian DeLaRosa and Austin Swank running 28.10 and 28.88 to end the boys day.

Overall it was a very strong day for the Comets. Most of the team is well ahead of where they were at one year ago, and the team notched 17 PRs.

The team will now look ahead to their first ever B division dual meet this Thursday 3/8. We will be hosting reigning boys division champs Pioneer, in a big early season test. The team will then head to the TKA Invitational on March 10th.

Track season is here!

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

8 Comets on to CCS: 20 Personal Records at BVAL Finals

The James Lick Cross Country Team competed at BVAL Finals on October 30th 2017. The season was a turbulent one in terms of weather. Due to fires around Sonoma County, multiple practices were canceled, as well as STAL 4. This meant that BVAL finals also served as the makeup meet for STAL teams. BVAL finals was the final High School competition for many of the team’s seniors, and a qualification opportunity for CCS.

The meet began with the reserve girls race. Though reserve girls is technically non-scoring, this is the first time in the BVAL era (since 1996) that the Comets were able to field a full reserve girls team. Had the meet been scored, the Comets reserve girls would have placed 4th as a team out of the 24 assembled. They were lead by senior Aliana Santos, who ran under 26 minutes for a 3 mile course for the first time in her career. Francine Estranero ran a huge PR, running 28:23 after clocking 29:17 her first time on the course. Estefani Herrera had the best race of her career by far. After never breaking 30 on any STAL course, Estefani stopped the clock at 28:42, the first time in her career that she ran under 10 minute pace per mile. Susie Peterson, Kirsten Yutuc, Araceli Mejia and Elizabeth Perez rounded out the team. Susie and Elizabeth ran seasons bests in their final HS race.

The JV girls was probably the team’s best race on the day and the team’s most improved group on the season. At STAL 1, the JV girls team ran a team time (top 5 runners times added up) of 2:22:27. That is an average of 28:31 per girl for the 2.85 mile ALum Rock course. In my estimation, that course is about a  minute shorter than Crystal Springs’ 2.95 mile course. The JV girls improved so much that they achieved a time of 2:09:37 at BVAL Finals for a slower course. This is an average of 25:57 per girl when none of the JV girls could run under 27 minutes for North Rim at STAL 1.

The team was lead by Ashley Preciado and Jana Kikia. Both girls had the best race of their career to this point. The duo ran 24:52 and 24:53. Their previous PRS (personal records) for the course were 25:59 and 27:11 respectively. Mya Hammond ran a PR of 26:28 to run under 9 minute pace on a 3 mile course for the first time. Emma Veronica, Emely Lopez and Mariana Perez worked as a pack throughout the race and achieved great results. Emma ran 26:44, Emely ran 26:48 and Mariana ran 26:54. Emely’s previous best was 27:55 and Mariana’s previous best was 29:20. Erika Camacho ran a 12 second PR to end the race for the girls. The team placed 9th out of the 24 BVAL teams and end the season with a  4-3 record for 4th place.

IMG_3682.JPG
Emma Veronica, Emely Lopez and Mariana Perez working as a pack 

 

The Frosh/Soph boys ended up being the highest placing team for the Comets in the STAL standings. Nien Tran lead the group in a PR of 18:45. Melvin Estrada was next in 19:23. Jerricho Habon broke 20 minutes for the first time to run 19:38 and Hugo Marquez was right behind him in 19:39. Jonathan Cortez sealed off the scoring team in 19:55. No James Lick frosh/soph team had ever run under 1:40:00 as a team at BVAL finals. 1:40:00 is an average of 20:00 a boy. This team managed to have all 5 boys run under 20 minutes for a BVAL finals F/S team record of 1:37:19. Daniel Portillo and Jonathan Bradley also competed for the team. The Frosh/Soph boys end the season at 5-2 in 2nd place in the STAL.

IMG_3684
F/S Team Left to right: Jonathan Bradley, Jonathan Cortez, Daniel Portillo, Melvin Estrada, Hugo Marquez, Jerricho Habon, Nien Tran 

The Varsity Girls had a solid showing as a team, running under 2 hours as a team for the 5th consecutive season. Arlet Miranda spearheaded the group in 20:52, clinching a CCS berth for the 2nd consecutive season despite still battling iron deficiency. Yeimili Adame ran 22:13 to miss a CCS spot by only 11 seconds.  Belen Sanchez and Xohitl Godinez  came in close together at 23:40 and 23:52. Jennifer Villagomez rounded out the group in 24:50. Analilia Regla ended her career with a seasons best 25:38. Justine Austia was the 7th girl in.  The girl’s team placed 16th and 6th overall in the STAL to end the season.

The Varsity boys had a rough race as a group. Azael Zamora lead the group but ran well off of his PR in 16:43. Inteus Castro-Lopez matched his PR of 17:30. Mark Orpia, Jose Limon and Jesus Deloya formed the 3-4-5 in 18:20, 19:01 and 19:34. The team was hampered by the fact that Erik Olsvold was unable to finish the race due to knee injury. The loss of one of our core runners resulted in a 13th place finish. If Nien had run varsity however, the team would have been catapulted into 10th place assuming Nien ran the same time he did in the Frosh/Soph race. As the top division 4 school in the BVAL, the Comets still qualified for CCS on the boys side and will look for a bounce back performance to end the season. Nien Tran will compete at CCS on the varsity team.

The final race of the day was the reserve boys. Omar Fimbres ran a big PR of 19:54, taking nearly a minute off of his previous best. Austin Swank and Rudolph Ocampo also ran solid PRS with both boys running under 21 minutes. Isaac Veronica and Isaak Herrera came in together in the 21:12 range giving the team a top 5 that ranked 9th among the BVAL reserve teams. Kevin Bach ran a 30 second PR of 22:07 just behind teammate Brandon Cruz in 21:59. Adrian DeLaRosa, Luis Escamilla and Alvaro Fabian rounded out the day for the team.

Overall it was another solid season for the team. Both sides are building towards big future seasons with a plethora of young hard working athletes. It’s worth noting that the Frosh/Soph and JV teams were more successful than their varsity counterparts, boding well for the future.

8 Comets will compete on Saturday November 11th at Toro Park in the Central Coast Section Finals. The team will spend the next 10 days preparing for a strong showing.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

Comets look ready for BVAL Finals at Crystal Springs Center Meet

The James Lick Cross Country team took to the Crystal Springs Center Meet (hosted by Aragon) on October 18th for a preview of the BVAL finals course. Crystal Springs is among the most historic courses in the entire State. James Lick runners have been running the rolling 2.95 mile course since 1973. This makes for great comparisons with runners of the past, and the Crystal Springs all time list for James Lick is the most difficult to get onto of all of our all time lists.

The meet was consolidated into only 4 races, the first of which was the Frosh/Soph Girls. The team placed 3rd and was only one point away from 2nd, with many of the girls having the best race of their career. Ashley Preciado lead the team in 25:59, continuing her breakout sophomore season. Her previous best was 29:06. Jana Kikhia and Mya Hammond came in together at 27:11 and 27:13. I estimate that a runner should run about a minute slower at Crystal Springs than they would at a STAL race, as the STAL race courses are considerably shorter than Crystal Springs. Despite that fact, Mya actually ran faster than her STAL best of 27:23. Emely Lopez (27:55) and Erika Camacho (28:36) both ran under 10 minute pace for the first time on a 3 mile course. Mariana Perez and Francine Estranero both broke the 30 minute barrier for the course as well. Kirste Yutuc (29:57) Araceli Mejia (30:22) and Estefani Herrera (30:50) rounded out the team. It was the best performance of their career to this point for both Araceli and Estefani.

The Frosh/Soph Boys were next, with a preview of the team we will run at BVAL finals as we attempt to win the STAL frosh/soph title. The team was lead by a strong Sophomore trio running big PRs. Melvin Estrada ran 19:07 (previous PR 21:03) Nien Tran ran 19:09 (previous PR 20:18) and Hugo Marquez ran 19:38 (previous PR 21:16). These sophomores have improved dramatically in their sophomore season and have each contributed to varsity teams this season. They will be a handful for other teams at BVAL finals. The team’s top 2 freshmen came in next. Jonathan Cortez ran 19:50 while Jonathan Bradley ran 20:00, both very solid times. Daniel Portillo ran a nearly 3 minute PR of 20:20, Jerricho Habon ran a 30 second PR of 20:26. Omar Fimbres gave the team one more strong freshmen boy, he ran a time of 20:52, 7:04 pace for a runner who had never run that fast for one mile before the season.

Brandon Cruz and Rudolf Ocampo both ran strong, coming in close together at 21:25 and 21:37. Kevin Bach, Jose Ruiz and Luis Escamilla rounded out the team. The team is poiseed to have every boy on the team run under 8 minute pace at BVAL finals. The Frosh/Soph boys team ran a combined team time of 1:37:45. This is the best Frosh/Soph team time for James Lick in the BVAL era (since 1996) by over 2 minutes. The team will look for an even bigger performance at BVAL finals.

The team’s most improved group was up next: The Varsity Girls. Arlet Miranda had a brilliant sophomore year that saw her miss qualifying for the State meet by only 7 seconds. Her junior year has been plagued by iron deficiency, resulting in her running minutes off of her PR. Over the past month, Arlet has really focused on getting back to full health, and fueling her body properly. The center meet was a turning point for her, as she ran by far her best race of the season. Arlet’s time of 21:09 not only lead the team, but is her fastest time of the season on any course longer than 2.33 miles. Only 2 weeks earlier she could only muster 23:19 at the shorter Montgomery hill course. Arlet is truning the corner at the right time for the team. Yeimili Adame also ran very well, runing 22:31. The 7:38 pace is the best of her young career. Belen Sanchez ran 23:30, a big PR from her 25:06 performance at BVAL finals as a sophomore. Freshmen Xochitl Godinez ran 23:54, the 8:07 pace being the best of her career so far. Jennifer Villagomez rounded out the top 5 in 24:19 the 8:15 pace was also the best of her career to this point. Justine Austria, Analilia Regla, Aliana Santos and Susie Peterson also ran for the team.

The varsity girls ran a team time of 1:55:25. This is remarkable considering the very first league meet of the year, on a significantly shorter course, resulted in a 2:06 clocking. The team began the season as the 12th best James Lick team of the BVAL era. Their Crystal Springs time however, puts them as the 5th best team of the BVAL era and 7th best in school history. The team will aim to run even faster at BVALs, and move up in the STAL standings.

IMG_3469
The Varsity Girls Team before the race

Last but certainly not least on the day was the varsity boys. Azael Zamora has been having a  strong season by the standards of any James Lick team, and that continued on the historic Crystal Springs course. Azael placed 4th on the day in 16:17, putting him 20th on the school’s all time list (knocking off teammate Erik Olsvold at 16:22). He is 1 second behind Jim Saldivar at 16:16. With one last race on the course left in his HS career, Azael will aim to move higher on the list, and will try to attack the 16 minute barrier at BVAL finals.

Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a small PR of 17:30, and Mark Orpia ran a big PR of 17:52 to give the team a strong 2-3. Erik Olsvold had his first race of the season, and ran a helpful 18:35. Jesus Deloya ran a 20 second PR to be the 5th guy in 19:17. Jose Limon and Cody Huoch came in at 20:08 and 20:11. Austin Swank, Isaac Veronica and Isaak Herrera ended the teams day, Austin ran a 10 second PR of 20:40 in the process.

The varsity boys ran a team time of 1:29:30. This gives the team 3 season in a row under the 90 minute barrier at Crystal Springs, a streak they will aim to continue. The team looks poised to run well at BVAL finals, and a big finish is ahead at CCS with several runners essentially locks to make it on.

A few dedicated members of the team will compete at the Riverside Invitational and then the whole team will take to BVAL Finals on 10/30. The season is nearing it’s grand finale.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Comet news!

-Benny Reeves