The 2019 cross country season officially came to a close for the James Lick cross country team at CCS finals. The finals were hosted at the historic Crystal Springs course, the same 2.95 mile course that the team ran at BVAL Finals. In what has been a down year in large part due to injury, the team went in hoping to end on a strong note and start healing up for track. The team resoundingly achieved this goal.
The varsity girls squad went into CCS ranked 13th out of the 14 complete division IV teams that qualified for the CCS meet, only ahead of Kipp High School. Besides this, the team was still without team #2 runner Mya Hammond whose breakthrough season ended early for medical reasons. To further add to the team’s woes, Jessica Cervantes, consistently the team’s #1 runner had to drop out of the race due to knee injury. The team’s depth was on display however, as the team beat expectations despite missing their 1-2 punch to finish in 9th place. This is only the 3rd top 10 finish (on record) at CCS for the girls in school history. The team also had the 2nd lowest spread in the race (time distance between 1st and 5th runner) with a spread of 1:16. Only CCS champion Menlo, with an impressive 6 second spread did a better job of finishing close together.
The team was lead by breakout star Keyla Sifuentes. In her first cross country season, Keyla has improved by leaps and bounds all year. At her first race, Keyla managed to run 8:40 pace for the 2 mile course at DeLaSalle High school. A few weeks later, she was our #6 girl running 24:06 at the Crystal Springs Center Meet (8:06) pace. Here at CCS, she was our #1 girl with a time of 22:47. This was a PR by 1:02, and the 7:43 pace she ran is the best of her career by far.
Daisy Flores was next in 23:03, a PR by 53 seconds as well. As only a freshmen, Daisy’s time is very impressive, the 6th fastest James Lick freshmen time in the entire BVAL era (since 1996). Lizbeth Espana loped 50 seconds off of her PR too to stop the clock at 23:26. Emely Lopez finished at 23:48 for a small PR and Ruth Rodriguez picked up the slack to run 24:03, and 11 second PR as the 5th girl. Ashley Preciado ended her HS career as the 6th girl in the race.
Again, heading into the race the girls were ranked 9th, ahead of just Kipp High School. The team defeated Kipp, Carmel, LCPA and King City to finish 9th, narrowly losing to Seaside High School who took 8th. The fact that team’s top 5 are all non seniors, (as well as a 1-2 punch that didn’t race at CCS who are also juniors) gives the team great optimism as we look ahead at what could be a very strong year in 2020.
The boys team only ran 3 runners. Junior Omar Fimbres ran great, taking nearly 30 seconds off of his PR to stop the clock at 18:13. Nien Tran (18:30) and Brandon Cruz (18:39) competed hard but did not PR in their final HS race.
With the season coming to an end, everyone will take a well earned break and our focus as we look ahead to track is very clear: Stay Healthy. Injuries are a part of any season, but losing the team’s top 2 boys in the early part of the season is a recipe for disaster. Likewise Jessica, Mya, and Lizbeth, 3 of the team’s top 5 on the girls side missed/ didn’t finish a race in a combined 9 races due to injury this year. This team has a lot of potential if we can stay healthy, and that will be at the center of our attention as we work towards a 2020 track season in which the varsity boys are coming off their first winning season in the ‘B’ division with over 90% of the team returning.
The James Lick cross country team competed at the 2019 edition of BVAL Finals on Monday November 4th at the historic Crystal Springs cross country course. BVAL finals is significant as the final race of the year for most runners, and the final determinant of team standings for the league season. It is also the CCS qualifying meet, with the top half of teams (24 total teams in the league so top 12 as long as full teams are run) qualify for CCS. Each of the CIF divisions are also guaranteed 1 representative team. With only 3 division schools in the BVAL, that meant the Comets just needed to beat San Jose and Gunderson to clinch a CCS berth, a feat the team managed to achieve.
Conditions were warm and many runners across the league struggled as a result, though we as a team competed quite well despite the heat.
The meet began with the varsity boys race. The varsity boys team has struggled this season with the loss of 1-2 runners Mark Orpia and Jerricho Habon since early in the season. The top trio of Nien Tran (18:20) Brandon Cruz (18:35) and Omar Fimbres (18:40) competed quite well with Nien and Brandon both breaking the 19 minute barrier for the first time. After that, the team’s lack of depth really stung with Geo Campos (20:30) and Jo-Jo Bradley (21:25) coming in next. Melvin Estrada rounded out the group. This was good enough for a 16th place finish out of the 24 BVAL teams. The team also defeated Sobrato, meaning that although the squad went 0-7, we will not be in last in the final standings.
The team did handily beat Gunderson and San Jose to clinch a CCS berth but in many ways it was a disappointing season. For reference, if Mark and Jerricho simply had been healthy enough to MATCH their finals times from last year (not ambitious as the top 3 boys all ran at least 30 seconds better than last year) the team would have finished in 9th place. This is the nature of sports, staying healthy is a big part of success and we were simply unable to do that this year.
The next race was the varsity girls, a far greater source of strength for the team this season. The team placed 12th of the 24 BVAL schools. Though not every school had a full team, this was a solid middle of the pack performance and the team clinched a CCS spot by being the top D4 school.
Jessica Cervantes lead the team in a PR of 22:57. Keyla Sifuentes (23:49) Emely Lopez (23:55) and Daisy Flores (23:56) all broke the 24 minute barrier for the first time. Yeimili Adame ran 24:26 for her final high school race and Ahsley Preciado rounded out the team in 25:12. This was all without team #2 runner Mya Hammond who is recovering from injury, and Lizbeth Espana, the usual #5 who dropped out during the race due to ankle pain. The girls clinched a middle of the pack finish in the division and even defeated 2 ‘A’ division schools in Piedmont Hills and Andrew Hill. Perhaps the most exciting feature of the team is that the top 6 runners this year are non seniors, and they will look to get valuable experience at CCS finals in 2 weeks.
The JV girls were next, and for the 2nd year in a row, they achieved the Comets top finish on the day. The team came in 6th in the entire BVAL and saw a few strong performances. The best performance was by Ruth Rodriguez who lead the team in 24:15, a PR by over 2 minutes and the 5th best JL time on the day. Mariana Perez (24:59) and Estefani Herrera (25:44) were next in as a solid 2-3. Melanny Sanchez ran a PR of 26:16. Kaylena Gil had a rough day but was the 5th girl in 29:20. Deisy Flores rounded out the team in 30:50.
The frosh/soph boys race was next on the docket. Justin Nguyen and Omar Sanchez lead the team, both running huge PRS of 21:22 and 21:26 respectively. Their previous bests were 22:46 and 23:07 respectively. Navbir Kahlon narrowly missed his PR running 23:08, fighting through leg pain to be the #3 boy. Josue Gomez took 30 seconds off of his PR to run 23:35 and Carlos Nava was the 5th boy in 24:03. Jason Garcia ended the frosh/soph day in 26:06, a 30 second PR.
The final race of the day was the reserve race, and it was combined between boys and girls. Abraham Benitez lead the Comets in 21:35 a very solid performance. Josh Merin was next in 22:10. Luis Escamilla took 48 seconds off of his PR to stop the clock at 23:05. Luis Gonzales and Yesenia Martinez ended the Comets day by squeezing under the 30 minute barrier.
Looking around the league, many teams struggled mightily, suggesting that our team had a great day in terms of improvement. For example, the 29 competing Comets achieved 14 PRS to end the season. Compared to Santa Teresa, a top level ‘A’ division team that achieved only 4 PRS from 25 athletes. I for one am proud of the fact that our team competed hard despite not ideal conditions and can say that every member of the team went out with an effort to be proud of.
The team will compete in a final team event, the Watermelon Race this week, before the top runners on the team prepare for CCS finals on Saturday November 16th back at Crystal Springs.
The Comets took to Gilroy High School on Saturday May 11th 2019 for CCS trials. A total of 6 Comets competed in the meet, the most for James Lick in over a decade. The meet saw a few strong results for the team, and for the 3rd consecutive season, James Lick will have an athlete competing at CCS Finals in the girls discus.
The meet began with the boys 4×100. Geovanny Campos, Raven Alcantara, Rodolf Ocampo and Salvador Lopez combined to run 46.04, an off race due to a poor first exchange. This saw them place 28th in the meet. They are nonetheless the first 4×100 team for James Lick to compete at CCS since 2002. With an all junior quartet, the Comets will hope to be back at the event next season.
Marquise Nelson ended her track career with a PR in the Shot Put. She threw 33-8, a PR by 8 inches and moved up to #3 on the schools all-time list in the event. Marquise didn’t join track until this, her senior season. She showed great talent to finish 16th at CCS trials, despite her inexperience in the event.
Rodolf became the first Comet to contest the 110 hurdles at CCS in over a decade as well. Rodolf had alot go wrong with his race. He took 9 steps to the first hudle (All season we’ve used an 8 step takeoff) and this forced him to hurdle on his right leg for the race instead of his left. Rodolf can use both legs effectively because he spent most of the season “four-stepping” (alternating legs) but his left leg is his stronger lead led. He lost momentum and almost crashed into the final hurdle narrowly avoiding it. Despite all this, he ran 16.57, the 2nd best time of his career. He placed 19th and I am very excited about his chances to produce even greater results next season.
The final Comet to compete on the day has been our ringer for the past four seasons, Valeria Cortez. As detailed in past posts, Valeria has been our MVP for 3 straight seasons, and has represented James Lick to a very high caliber both on and off the track. Because she has been such a strong athlete for such a long time, PRS have not been easy to come by for Valeria.
She entered the meet with a PR of 112-8, 2nd in school history, a mark that had not been improved upon since April of 2018. Both she, and throws coach Raul Lopez have worked hard all season with the goal of making CCS Finals, and finally achieving a PR in the girls discus. This involved weeks of fine-tuning and minor tweaks to her form, all with the hope of squeezing a last few inches out of Valeria’s arm before the end of her High School career.
Only the top 12 athletes advance to CCS Finals in field events, and Valeria was ranked to do so. That being said, the field was very strong.
Valeria’s first throw was a 95 foot mark. Well off her best. Her 2nd was a 108 foot toss with a very high release. The mark put her safely into the top 12, but it looked as if she had more in her on the day. Throw number three looked to be very strong, but Valeria was not able to maintain controlling, she stepped outside the ring for a foul.
On her final throw, Valeria had the same strong rotation, but the release still seemed a little too high. The discus wobbled in the air due to this, but the momentum was there. The throw measured at 116-10, a PR by over 2 feet to send her to CCS Finals as the #6 seed. This is the highest ranking for any James Lick athlete at CCS finals since Ruth Lebeau in 2007.
Valeria will represent the Comets next Friday at the Gilroy venue. Charli Chircop made CCS finals two years in a row in this event, and now Valeria will take her turn at representing the team at the CCS’ most hallowed event. According to my records, she will be the 26th Comet to compete at CCS Finals.
She and the other 11 ladies in the event will receive 3 throws. The top 8 at that point will be re-seeded and receive an additional 3 throws. The top 8 athletes will score points for their teams. The top 6 athletes make the CCS podium (and I think they get medals) and the top 3 athletes will advance to the State Meet.
Based on the standings, 3rd place is a difficult proposition (124-1 is the 3rd seed). That being said, Valeria is ranked to make the CCS podium. For an athlete who has racked up more medals than any other Comet in recent years, it would be a great one to end on. The competition will be fierce. the #4 seed is less than a foot ahead of Valeria. The #7 seed has a PR over 120′.
It is sure to be an exciting day on Friday May 17th, when Valeria Cortez will represent James Lick for what is likely the final time in a marvelous career that has defined what I affectionately think of as our attempt at a James Lick Track renaissance.
Counting the relay athletes, the Comets had 9 CCS qualifiers from the BVAL Finals meet on Thursday May 2nd at Westmont High School. This is the most athletes the team has seen qualify for CCS in the entire BVAL era (since 1996). That being said, the team only produced 3 individual qualifiers, compared to 4 the year before.
The meet features the top 7 athletes from the ‘A’ division finals, the top 5 athletes from the ‘B’ division finals and the top 4 from the ‘C’ division finals. In some events, additional athletes competed in the case that the “At-large” mark was reached. For example if the 5th place time in the ‘C’ division final was high quality enough, they would also advance to BVAL finals.
For the most part, every event has 16 entries and the top 8 in each event advance to CCS Trials.
The meet began with the pole vault. Last year at BVAL finals, both Mark Orpia and Rodolf Ocampo competed, representing the Comets at the meet in Pole Vault for the first time in school history. They went 9-0 and 8-6 respectively, both PRs at the time. The duo has come a long way, with the pair achieving PRS of 10-8 and 10-2 respectively at this years addition. They placed 10th and 12th.
Next up was the girls discus. Valeria Cortez took 2nd overall with a toss of 111-1, sealing her 4th consecutive CCS appearance in the girls discus. Joe Amendt and Ruth Lebeau are the only other Comets (on record) to make CCS four times in a single event. Marquise Nelson managed a PR in the event though she came in 10th, ending her career with a best of 94- 4.5, the 5th best mark in school history in the discus.
The running events began at 5:00 PM with the 4×100. This years squad has established themselves as the best 4×100 team from James Lick in many years and they backed it up, becoming the first 4×100 team from James Lick to make CCS trials in the BVAL era. The squad of Raven Alcantara, Rodolf Ocampo, Salvador Lopez and Geovanny Campos combined to run a seasons best 45.06 to place 7th, clinching their spot at CCS.
The next event with Comet competitors was the hurdles. Valeria ended her career in the event with a 17.28, finishing 10th place. Valeria’s PR of 16.75 in the event is currently the #3 all-time mark in school history (on record).It was an off race for her, where many times were hampered by a headwind. Yesenia Martinez was racing well until she clipped a hurdle and stumbled, losing her balance. She recovered but it was a poor time by her standards.
The performance of the day in my opinion, and perhaps the performance of my entire coaching tenure was Rodolf in the 110 hurdles. Last year, Rodolf began hurdling late in the season and ended the year with a PR of 19.01, not advancing to BVAL finals. This year, he improved dramatically, lowering his PR all the way down to 16.85 at ‘B’ division finals to place 3rd and qualify for BVALS. He went into BVAL finals ranked 11th, meaning he would need a big day to make CCS. Rodolf had more than a big day, he had an absolute breakthrough. He placed 5th in a massive PR of 15.97, making CCS by a wide margin. After “four-stepping” all year, it was Rodolf’s first time “Three-stepping” a race and it lead to the huge PR. Rodolf is the first boy to make CCS in the 110 hurdles in the BVAL era.
The Comets did not have any more competitors in the meet until the boys 100. Raven ran 11.63, the 2nd best time of his career in the event, placing 14th. Next up was the girls 800. After years of ups and downs, Arlet Miranda went out with the best time of her career, 2:28.08. This PR was not enough to get her to CCS however, as she finished 9th, one spot out of qualification. Arlet nonetheless ends her career #2 in school history in all 3 distance events.
Jerricho Habon competed in the boys 800 but had a poor race, gaining experience for next years addition. The final field events were going on at this time. Marquise Nelson threw 32-4.5 for 7th place in the girls Shot Put, punching her ticket to CCS trials. In the long jump, Sal barely missed his PR, going 20-3.5 but sadly finishing in 9th place. Even so, Sal had a great season as last year his best long jump was 17-10. Yeimili Adame contested the girls 3200 for the Comets, running 13:27, a PR by more than 30 seconds, moving her to #7 on the schools all time list in the event.
The final event of the day was the boys 4×400. The Comets went in ranked 11th, needing a great performance and some good luck to make it through to CCS. The team of Sal, Erik Olsvold, Jerricho and Misael Herrera combined to run 3:36.78, the best time by any JL 4×400 team since the 3:35 clocking of 2002. Initially, it looked like the Comets were 10th, but disqualifications to Willow Glen and Pioneer moved the Comets up to 8th place.
The Comets who advanced to CCS trials will be competing on Saturday May 11th at Westmont High School with the chance to end the season with some good marks, and to potentially make CCS finals. The 9 total qualifiers is the highest number the Comets have ever produced at BVAL finals.
Day 1 of ST (‘B’) Division finals kicked off on Thursday April 18th at Lincoln High School. The meet serves as the final determinant of standings in the division. Day 1 is trials in all lane events, with the top 8 athletes advancing to finals on Saturday. The top 8 athletes in each event score points for their teams in the following format:
1st place: 10 points
2nd place: 8 Points
3rd place: 6 points
4th place: 5 points
5th place: 4 points
6th place: 3 points
7th place: 2 points
8th place: 1 points.
The final point totals at division finals help solidify the standings for the regular season. In addition, the top 5 athletes in each final advance to BVAL Championships in 2 weeks (the CCS qualifying meet).
Most events were only trials on Thursday but the Comets did well in a few different finals. The meet began with the pole vault for example. Mark Orpia managed a full foot PR of 10-6 to take 2nd place overall. Rodolf Ocampo was 3rd in 10-0 even. Last year, these two placed 4th and 5th with jumps of 8-6 and 8-0, to become the first vaulters from James Lick in a long time. Both have come along way, as both are now over the 10 foot barrier. Adrian DeLaRosa tied for 6th with a vault of 8-0.
The next event to take place was the boys high jump. Salvdor Lopez had an off day, only clearing 5-4 and tied for 6th, unfortunately out of the qualification for BVALS. Josh Merin tied with Sal in what was a PR for him, going 5-4 as well. Erik Olsvold went 5-2 in the event as well.
Meanwhile, the Girls discus was won by Valeria Cortez with a best of 111-11. This was the 2nd consecutive division championship in the girls discus for Valeria, and the 4th division championship of her career (she has two titles in the 100 hurdles). Valeria will certainly leave James Lick as one of the most decorated athletes in school history, with a shot at a 3rd consecutive division title in the girls 100 hurdles on Saturday.
Marquise Nelson was 2nd with the 2nd best throw of her career, 87-4. This 1-2 punch will advance to BVALs looking for even more. In the boys Shot Put, Nathan Rios managed 8th place with a huge PR of 34-0 (previous best 31-10).
The running events began with the girls 1600. Arlet Miranda placed 5th in 5:45, the 4th BVAL qualification of her career in the 1600. Ruth Rodriguez also ran, clocking in at 6:41, the 2nd best time of her career.
In the 100 hurdles, the Comets advanced two athletes to the final on Saturday. Valeria ran a seasons best 17.01 and enters the final as the #1 ranked athlete by a wide margin. Yesenia Martinez is ranked 5th entering the final with a time of 19.28.
On the boys side, the Comets also advanced two hurdlers to the final. Rodolf ran a PR of 17.09 and is ranked 3rd entering the final. Josh managed a huge PR of 19.30 and is ranked 6th for the final on Saturday. Dekota Castro-Lopez also competed, running a PR of 21.70.
In the girls 400, Yeimili Adame ran a PR by more than a second, clocking in at 1:05.65 to place 2nd in her heat. Despite placing 2nd in her heat, Yeimili actually ran the 2nd best time of the day between the 3 heats. She will enter the final as the #4 seed because she did not win her heat, but figures to have a great shot at making BVALS. Estefani Herrera ran a PR of 1:17.34 in the event as well.
On the boys side, Misael Herrera made the 2nd division final of his career, placing 7th overall with the 2nd best time of his career (54.86). A big PR in the final could see him advance to BVAL Champs. He is ranked 7th entering the final. Angel Guerrero alos competed, running 59.56.
The 100m dash saw multiple false starts which hindered some of the times. Even so, Marquise managed a small PR of 14.19. Chantrea Thach ran the 2nd best time of her career as well (15.54). After missing the final narrowly last year, Raven Alcantara ran 11.81 to qualify for this one as the #6 seed). Geo Campos ran 12.10 to place 10th and Jordan Laguna also competed for the Comets.
The final field event of the day was the boys triple jump, where Raven, Jordan and Jamie Vong represented the team. Jamie and Jordan both scored points in the final, with Jamie taking 7th in 37-1 and Jordan taking 8th in 36-8.25.
All 3 lady Comets in the 800 advanced to the final on Saturday and with strong performances to boot. Arlet took 2nd in her heat at 2:35, losing only to Hannah Gehrt, the #1 seed in the event. Arlet’s time was the 2nd best time on the day, so she enters the final as the #3 seed (since she was nota heat winner). Mya Hammond ran a massive PR of 2:49.41 and is the #9 seed entering the final, putting her in a position to score. Mya’s previous best was 2:57, but her strong sprint times indicated she was ready for a big breakthrough in the 400/800. Ashley Preciado also advanced to the final running 2:51.62 for a seasons best, putting her ranked 11th for the final on Saturday.
Erik Olsvold ran the 800 knowing it would be the final race of his career since he will not be able to attend the final on Saturday. Erik went all-out , running a new PR of 2:05.90 in the event. It was by far the 2nd best time of the day, but unfortunately Erik’s distance season will end here. Jerricho Habon comfortably made the final, coasting to 7th overall in 2:13.47.
In the girls 300 hurdles, all 3 Comets made the finals. Valeria placed 4th overall in 54.41. Yeimili ran a new PR of 56.24 to place 5th and Arlet ran 56.64 for 6th. On the boys side, Rodolf and Mark head to the final ranked 3rd and 4th with PRS of 45.46 and 45.50.
In the girls 200, Mya ran a 2nd big PR of the day, running 29.89 for the event, the only Comet to break 30 seconds this season. Chantrea also ran a big PR, running under 33 seconds for the first time to clock in at 32.64. On the boys side, Raven made the final as the #8 seed with a new PR of 24.04. Misael matched his PR of 24.56 and Angel competed as well though he was not close to his PR.
The final event of the day was the final of the boys 3200. Two Comets scored points for the team. Melvin Estrada ran a seasons best 11:02 for 7th place and Brandon Cruz ran a PR of 11:07 for 8th.
The Majority of the finals will take place on Saturday, but with 4 finals finished on the girls side, and 5 finals finished on the boys side, here are the team scores so far:
Pioneer 83 points
Lincoln 29 points
James Lick 27 points
Prospect 24 points
Sobrato 15 points
Piedmont Hills 11 points
Live Oak 6 Points
Oak Grove 0 points
Lincoln 25 Points
James Lick 22 Points
Pioneer 18 points
Sobrato 20 points
Oak Grove 15 Points
Piedmont Hills 15 points
Live Oak 6 points
Prospect 6 points
If the current positions hold, the Comets are likely to move up in the standings on the girls side and Pioneer is in danger of losing their division title on the girls side are going 7-0 in the regular season.
The final day of Division finals will kick off at 11 AM on Saturday April 20th. Athletes who make BVALS champs will then have spring break to train hard for an even bigger meet.
For the first time since 2007, James Lick had scoring varsity teams on both the boys and girls sides at CCS Finals.
This year’s CCS finals was held later than usual due to the devastating wildfires that have raged in Northern California over the past few weeks. While San Jose was fortunate enough to be many miles from the fires, the smoke from the fire has caused unhealthy conditions throughout the Bay area, and the team was not allowed to practice due to safety concerns for over a week.
The meet was postponed 3 times and finally moved to Toro Park in Salinas where the air quality was better. The lack of practice hurt the team, as the varsity boys had a very poor performance by their standards. The team of Nien Tran, Erik Olsvold, Jerricho Habon, Mark Orpia and Melvin Estrada made up the team. Despite a disappointing showing at CCS, the boys were able to represent the team well in what was a solid season for the team.
The girls team was able to perform fairly well despite the unusual buildup to CCS. Arlet Miranda ended her HS cross country career with a PR of 20:42, a strong end to a great James Lick career. Arlet ends her career firmly entrenched as James Lick’s 2nd greatest female cross country runner ever.
She ends her career as: The school record holder on two courses: (Golden Gate Park and Half Moon Bay).
The 2nd fastest runner in school history on 6 courses: (Stanford, Mt. Sac, Montgomery Hill, Newhall Park, Crystal Springs and Alum Rock Park BVAL version).
The 3rd fastest runner in school history on 3 courses: (Toro Park and Alum Rock Park MHAL version).
Arlet was not able to approach the times of Kayla Matsuda, but was an absolute rock for our team over the past few years, despite often battling injury issues. Coming off of her first healthy XC season since her sophomore year, Arlet will attack the school record in all 3 distance events in track this season. She currently sits at #2 in all 3 to Daniela Camacho (Kayla Matsuda did not run track).
Yeimili Adame ran 23:04 for her first time on the course. Belen Sanchez, Jessica Cervantes and Ashley Preciado combined to form the 3-4-5 as they have all season. Yesenia Martinez rounded out the team. The Comets placed 11th as a team, beating Mercy-Burlingame and Seaside.
That’s a wrap on the 2018 season!
I will do a season recap this week if I have time.
The James Lick Comets competed in BVAL Finals on Monday October 29th. The race was held, as it always is, at the 2.95 miles long Crystal Springs course. The team went in to the race with several of their key runners missing, but nonetheless managed to qualify two full teams to CCS Finals for the first time 2008. There were other highlights as well, particularly on the JV girls side.
The meet is always exciting as the final meet for most of the team. I love the fact that all 3 divisions race together, which provides extra incentive to show your best form. The top half of teams (top 12 if all 24 teams compete) advance their varsity squads to CCS finals.
The first race of the day was the reserve girls race, and it saw the first PR of the day for the Comets. Araceli Mejia ran a massive PR of 29:05, smashing her previous best of 30:22 set last year. Francine Estranero also competed in the race for the team.
The JV girls race was next, and the JV girls have been a strength for the team all season. The girls headed into the race 7-0, with aspirations of placing highly within the BVAL. With two varsity girls being absent, Mariana Perez, the team’s top JV girl was called up to varsity. Even without her, the JV girls managed to impress. Mya Hammond spearheaded the group with a time of 25:04, a PR by more than one minute. Estefani Herrera was close behind, running 25:16 to lop 40 seconds of of her PR as well. Erika Camacho and Ruth Rodriguez were next in 26:09 and 26:16. Emely Lope was the all important 5th girl in with a PR of 26:41. Jhesselyn Santos ran a big PR of 27:51 to round out the team. The JV girls ended up being the 5th fastest JV girls team in the entire BVAL, beating half of the teams in the ‘A’ division.
The next race up was the frosh/soph boys. Omar Fimbres lead the group wth a time of 19:15, a PR by over 40 seconds. Jay Austria and Jo-Jo Bradley were the 2nd and 3rd boys in. Alberto Trejo ran 22:34, a 43 second PR. Jordan Laguna ran 23:55 to round out the group. The frosh/soph boys placed 13th as a team, a solid end to the season for a team that struggled all season.
Next up was the varsity girls race. The team was without team # 2 Yeimili Adame, and the normal team #6 in Jenny Villagomez. The team was limited without these two, but still managed their highest team placing since 2014. Arlet Miranda lead the team with a 20:25 clocking, her best time on the course since 2014. Belen Sanchez and Jessica Cervantes were the 2nd and 3rd runners in 22:54 and 22:58. Both girls broke the 23 minute barrier for the first time. Ashley Preciado was next in a PR of 23:35. Yesenia Martinez was the 5th girl in 24:58. Mariana Perez finished in 26:26 to round out the team. The team ran a team time of 1:54:20, a time good for 12th place in the BVAL. If the team had Yeimili Adame, and she ran her PR from the center meet of 22:12 (not a stretch since every other girl ran faster than they did at the center meet) the team would have placed 8th. The team advances to CCS for the first time since 2014 and will compete in the division 4 race. The girls hope to rebound with all of their team members at full strength.
The varsity boys race followed. Mark Orpia lead the team in a PR of 17:35. Erik Olsvold was not far behind in 17:54. Jerricho Habon, Melvin Estrada and Jared Resendiz made up a closely packed 3-4-5, running PRs of 18:26, 18:27 and 18:35 respectively. Brandon Cruz ran a PR of 18:53 as the 6th boy, and Nien Tran rounded out the team in 19:16. The varsity boys team managed 10th place on the day, just their 2nd top 10 BVAL finals performance in the past decade. The team will advance to CCS alongside the girls.
The final race on the day was the reserve boys. Geo Campos lead the reserve team in a time of 19:55. Gustavo Madrigal went out on by far the best race of his career, running 20:17 for the course. The 6:53 pace was the 2nd best race pace of his career. Daniel Portillo, Rodolf Ocampo and Hugo Marquez formed the team’s 3-4-5. Adrian DeLaRosa and Alexis Sarellano both achieved PRs, as did Rafael Yanez and Kevin Santacruz. Josue Gomez, Huu Thai, and Vincent Giglio also competed for the team. The reserve boys were the 7th fastest team in the BVAL.
Despite being the 2nd smallest school in the 24 team BVAL, James Lick’s lowest team placing on the day was 13th in the frosh/soph boys race. A strong end to the season in terms of competition.
The team will compete again on Saturday November 10th at CCS Finals, once again at Crystal Springs.
The Comets took to the Earlybird Invitational for the final time on Saturday September 15th 2018. Meet management announced that this years edition would be the final Earlybird Invitational. The Earlybird meet had become a favorite for CCS schools especially in years where CCS was being held at Toro Park. The Comets went out with a strong showing, as every Comet who had run the course before managed a PR, and many of the younger Comets had the best performances of their careers as well.
The meet began with the freshmen girls race, with three young lady Comets competing.
Ruth Rodriguez was the first freshmen girl in at 25:52. Toro Park is a 3 mile course, and typically, runners run at least 1 minute faster on the 2.74 mile long Montgomery Hill course. This shows that Ruth is already in 24 minute shape for league meets, which is a lower-end varsity caliber time. Jhesselyn ran 28:46, the first time in her young career that she has cracked 10 minute mile pace. The same was true of Angelina Guevara who ran 29:22 to round out the freshmen girls race for the team.
The boys freshmen race was next. Jay Austria made his debut for the team, running a solid 22:32. This was an unremarkable time, but one that we are confident Jay can build on greatly. Josue Gomez has been running a few weeks now, and the improvement is starting to show. Josue ran 26:52, 8:57 mile pace. Two weeks ago at the alumni race he could only manage 10:08 pace for the 2.25 mile alumni race. Josue even managed to run faster than he did at the Lowell invite, despite the Lowell course being easier and shorter. Josue is just one example of what hardwork can do. Kevin Santacruz made his debut for the team as well, running 33:10.
The sophomore girls were up next, one of only two complete teams for the team on the day. Jessica Cervantes lead the team in 26:23. Jessica is rapidly shaping into a strong runner for the team. She did not run cross country for the team last year, but made a solid impression in track. She was the #5 sophomore girl at the alumni race two weeks ago, #3 last week at lowell and now #1 at Earlybird. Erika Camacho was not far behind in 26:40. This was the first time that Erika managed to run under 9 minute pace for an entire 3 mile race. Mya Hammond was next in at 26:49, giving the Comets 3 sophomores under 27 minutes, in addition to Ruth’s time under 26 minutes.
We have a lot of optimism this year regarding the girls JV team. Last year the team went 4-3 and came in 9th place at BVAL finals. That year’s team produced only 1 JV girl under 27 minutes at Montgomery Hill.The Earlybird results indicate that the team should have multiple girls under 26 minutes, likely even under 25. Esetfani Herrera and Emely Lopez rounded out the top 5 with times of 27:41 and 28:27 respectively. Araceli Mejia also competed, running 32:47.
The upperclassmen were up next, with several Comets who had run the course before. Ashley Preciado was the first of the junior girls to finish. Ashley ran 24:15, shattering her PR from a year ago of 27:02. Ashley is one of many examples of great improvement on the James Lick team. Last year in the sophomore race, Ashley finished in 155th place. As a junior, against largely the same runners, show moved up nearly 100 spots to 56th place. Giulissa Correa ran 26:59 the strongest showing of her career to this point. Adriana Marcelino ran 35:34, the 11:51 pace being the best of her career this point.
The junior boys would be the Comets final boys race of the day. While the team was missing 3 of their top 4 boys from the alumni race, (Erik Olsvold, Melvin Estrada and Mark Orpia) the team put up a strong showing with most of their other varsity contenders in the race.
Brandon Cruz, the team’s most improved runner was the first Comet in. He ran 18:54, a massive PR by over 5 minutes. As a sophomore, Brandon was 349th place at the Earlybird Invite. Brandon’s colossal improvement saw him finish in 81st place this year. He was not the only Comet to move up the standings from the year before. Jerricho Habon finished in 19:13, a PR by over 2 minutes. Jerricho improved from 228th place last year, to 98th this year. Jared Resendiz ran 19:28, the 6:28 pace being by far the best of his career. Nien Tran was right behind in 19:33. Nien improved from 227th place to 111th place. Gustavo Madrigal was the 5th Comet in at 21:02. Rodolf Ocampo ran 23:29 to end the boys day.
The final race of the day for Comets was the senior girls race. Arlet Miranda had a great race, placing 13th overall in a PR of 20:46. This moves Arlet passed Daniela Camacho into 3rd on the school’s all time list at Toro Park. Belen Sanchez ran 23:55, beating her PR of 24:47 handily.
The team showed great improvement across the board. Hard work leading to huge improvement is the way that James Lick has stayed competitive in cross country despite being a much smaller school than the teams they will compete against.
The team will look to keep the improvement rolling on Thursday September 20th when their league season begins.
The Comets will be competing in the ST division’s first race of the year, and will be scoring directly against Prospect and Independence.
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.
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.
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.
5 Comets competed at CCS Trials on Saturday May 19th at Gilroy High School. CCS Trials sees the 32 best athletes from the CCS, competing for spots at CCS Finals. Only 8 athletes advance to finals in lane events, and 12 advance to finals in field events.
For the 2nd year in a row, Charli Chircop advanced to CCS Finals in the girls discus. Her best throw was 107-6, which earned her entrance into CCS Finals as the 12th and final qualifier in the event. Valeria Cortez competed in the girls discus as well, placing 19th with a throw of 103-2.
In the girls Shot Put, Alejandra Ceron placed 20th with a throw of 33-3. With that final competition completed, Alejandra’s career at James Lick is over. She leaves the school with much to be proud of, namely the school record in the Shot Put, a mark of 35-8.75.
Natalie Rem placed 25th in the girls triple jump with a best of 32-10. Natalie was the 3rd best freshmen girl at CCS Trials and in fact, of the 24 girls to beat her, 12 were seniors. Natalie is poised to do big things for the Comets for years to come.
The career of Cody Huoch ended with a 20th place finish at CCS in the 300 hurdles. Cody ran 42.84. Cody had an exceptional career for James Lick especially considering he did not join track until his junior year. Cody ends his career as the #3 300 hurdler in school history and the only one on record to compete at CCS.
Alejandra will be competing for De Anza college in track and field next season while Cody will compete at San Jose City College.
Charli gets one final competition at CCS Finals on May 25th.