Comets Run as a Pack at Crystal Springs Center Meet

The Comets participated in the Crystal Springs Center Meet on Wednesday October 3rd 2018. The Center Meets have dwindled in participation over the years, with only 10 schools in attendance at this version of the event. With the Artichoke Invitational coming up, the team used the Center Meet as a workout opportunity, and a chance for the newer runners to become acquainted with the Crystal Springs course.

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The Team’s Frosh/Soph boys on the start-line 

The meet began with the frosh/soph boys. We went in to the meet with an emphasis on running as a pack, and working the last half of the race. Fast times were not our priority on this day. Jo-Jo Bradley, Omar Fimbres and Jonathan Cortez packed together well for the first half of the race, running at an 80% effort. Over the last mile, Jo-Jo remarkably stormed home for a PR of 19:56, his first time under 20 minutes on the course. Omar also managed to run faster for the center meet than he did last year despite the less than full effort, clocking in at 21:37.

The rest of the Comets running were competing on the course for the first time.

Jay Austria- 22:47

Alberto Trejo- 23:18

Jordan Laguna- 23:53

Huu Thai – 25:49

Josue Gomez- 28:23

Kevin Santacruz- 31:58.

It was by far the best race of Alberto’s career to this point.

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The girls team lined up before the race 

The next race featured all of the lady athletes on the day. Arlet Miranda paced team #2 Yeimili Adame for the first 2 miles before dropping the hammer in final mile. She lead Yeimili to a small PR of 22:11, but even so, Arlet managed to open up a 40 second gap over the final stretch, showing strong finishing speed.

Jessica Cervantes, Belen Sanchez, Ashley Preciado, and Jenny Villagomez ran close together, all finishing in the mid 24s. The JV girls had a fantastic day overall. Mariana Perez (25:42) Erika Camacho (25:49) and Estefani Herrera (25:57) came in close together, all running huge PRs. Mariana’s previous best was 26:54, while the other two had never broken 28 minutes before. It was the best race any of these 3 have ever had.

Yesenia Martinez and Mya Hammond came in near each other in 26:40 and 26:54 respectively. Most of the remaining Comets were making their Crystal Springs debuts, though Francine Estranero and Araceli Mejia both ran faster at this year’s center meet than last year’s.

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The Comet boys on the start line

The final race of the day held all of the remaining boy athletes. The Varsity boys ran as one big back, taking the first two miles at a tempo pace.

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The Varsity boys passing the first mile as a pack 

They finished very strong, with some of the boys managing PRs despite the modest pace through 2 miles. Mark Orpia lead the group at 18:58. Melvin Estrada, Jerricho Habon and Nien Tran streamed in together at 19:10, 19:12 and 19:13. It was a 25 second PR for Jerricho. Jared Resendiz and Brandon Cruz ran 19:27 and 19:30 as the 5-6. It was a course debut for Jared whereas Brandon managed a 2 minute PR. Geovanny Campos was the 7th boy in 19:47 for his debut on the course.

Gustavo Madrigal and Vincent Giglio ran 21:00 and 21:40. Rodolf Ocampo and Josh Merin ran 22:39 and 24:12. Alexis Sarellano (26:12) and Rafael Yanez (27:31) rounded out the Comets day.

It was a good experience for the most of the team, getting valuable experience on the BVAL finals course with less than 4 weeks remaining before the big day.

Many members of the team will head to Half Moon Bay for the Artichoke Invitational on Saturday October 6th in pursuit of fast mile paces.

The entire team will compete in their 3rd league meet on Thursday October 11th at Montgomery Hill.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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Comets end 2017 XC season at CCS Finals

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Varsity boys left to right: Cody Huoch, Jose Limon, Inteus Lopez, Jesus Deloya, Azael Zamora, Mark Orpia, Nien Tran 

The James Lick Cross Country team took to Toro Park in Salinas on Veterans day 2017 for the CCS finals. This is the 4th consecutive year with James Lick represented and the 2nd consecutive year with a full varsity boys team in attendance.

Arlet Miranda got the day started for the team with a huge PR in the division 3 race. Arlet ran 21:03, catapulting her from 9th to 4th on the school’s all time list on the course.  Arlet has had a fairly remarkable season. After finishing in 13th place at last years CCS finals (missing qualifying for the state meet by one place) she placed only 33rd this year. She managed to do this however, while battling iron deficiency. Arlet started off strong this year, running a new personal best for the beginning of the season time trial. By the middle of the season however, she was a full 4 minutes slower than she was the year before. Despite this frustration, Arlet never wavered in her determination. As her health improved so did her times. She made CCS by running 7:04 pace at BVAL finals, just weeks after it seemed she had no chance of doing so. She ended her season with her best performance of the season, with a time of 7:01 pace. Arlet will now look ahead to her junior year of track with even more experience and confidence under her belt.

The division 4 boys race was the final of the season for James Lick. Azael Zamora ran 16:50 for 12th place. This is the highest place for a James Lick Comet at CCS in over a decade. Azael was very disappointed to not make the state meet, but his improvement over the past few seasons has been remarkable. Azael joined cross country as a sophomore who had never run under 6 minutes for the mile before. By the end of his sophomore season, he improved to the point that he could run the crystal springs course at 6:11 pace, for a time of 18:14. He averaged 6:26 pace as a sophomore XC runner, a solid but unremarkable start.

His first ever XC  race was at Toro Park where he placed 73rd among all sophomore boys. Two years later, he placed 16th against the same group of (now senior) boys. He went from an average of 6:26 mile pace as a sophomore, to 5:51 pace as a junior, to 5:37 pace this year as a senior. He ends his XC career as the #20 James Lick runner on the Crystal springs course, the # 9 runner at Half Moon Bay HS, the #5 runner on both STAL courses (Montgomery Hill and the 2.85 mile version of Alum Rock) #2 at Toro Park and the school record holder at Golden Gate Park and Newhall Park. With one final HS track season ahead, I for one don’t think Azael has anything to be ashamed of.

A stream of PRs followed Azael. Inteus Castro-Lopez ran 17:44 for a 15 second PR. Mark Orpia ran a 4 second PR of 18:34. Jose Limon ran a 30 second PR of 19:21, and Nien Tran took a whole 90 seconds off his best as the 5th boy. Cody Huoch and Jesus Deloya rounded out the group in 20:11 and 20:14, both huge seasons bests for any 3 mile course. Inteus, Jesus and Cody all end their XC careers here as well. While this was Cody’s first season in XC, Inteus and Jesus were both varsity members of the 2016 STAL championship team. Inteus was consistently the 4th boy on that team, helping it to a James Lick team record for BVAL finals at Crystal Springs of 85:19. Inteus ends his career 9th on the school’s all time list at Toro Park and 7th at Montgomery Hill.

After a disappointing team result at BVAL finals, the team rebounded at CCS to end the year strong. After placing 13th at BVAL finals, the team was the 8th fastest BVAL team at CCS ( and all 12 teams that beat the Comets at BVALs were in attendance.) The team ran faster than local rivals Independence, Piedmont Hills and Silver Creek, all of whom ran faster than the Comets at BVAL finals.

The team as a whole will take a well earned break for the next few weeks. Some of the most dedicated members of the team will begin conditioning on their own in December before official track conditioning begins in January.

With a strong end to the cross country season (and some HS careers) the team will look to it’s distance team to help lead the way in track. The 2018 track season will mark the first time in school history that James Lick will compete in the STAL (‘B’ division). We’ll be working hard to prove we’re up to the task.

Thanks very much 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.

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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

 

 

 

4 Comets Compete at CCS Trials 1 Comet on to Finals

It was a very hot day at Gilroy High School on Saturday May 20th for the CCS (Central Coast Section) semifinals competition. The CCS is made up of 8 different leagues in track, with roughly 150 member schools. These days, qualification works in the following format:

Each of the 8 leagues has their own league championship which serves as a qualifying meet. Each league advances a certain number of athletes to CCS trials, these numbers are based on the size of the league. The BVAL is the largest league at 24 schools, so the top 8 athletes from BVAL finals advance to CCS. The WCAL (West Catholic Athletic league, containing teams like Bellarmine and Valley Christian) gets 6 CCS qualifications. The same goes for the SCVAL (teams like Los Gatos and Palo Alto). The smaller leagues like the SCCAL (Santa Cruz Athletic League) only get two CCS qualifiers.

Altogether, 32 athletes compete at CCS trials in each event. It is possible for an event to have more than 32, in the rare case that an athlete achieved the CCS qualifying mark/time in their event without achieving the necessary place at their league finals, though this is very rare. Some league are stronger than others even with the adjustments for population, so some CCS qualifications are stronger than others. In any case, hundreds and in some cases thousands of athletes in the CCS alone contest each event every season, and being one of the final 32 athletes competing at CCS trials is a tremendous honor.

According to my records, over the many years of James Lick track, the Comets have had 120 different CCS competitions from 69 different athletes. Several of the Comets this year deserve distinction however.

The meet began with the Girl’s Shot Put. Alejandra Ceron and Valeria Cortez both competed, the 5th and 6th James Lick Shot Put competitions at the section meet (the 2nd and 3rd on the girls side). Alejandra threw 34-2 and Valeria threw 32-11. This is the first time that two James Lick Shot Put throwers made CCS in the same year. Alejandra placed 18th and Valeria placed 23rd, solid mid-pack placings for both girls. They entered the meet ranked 19th and 25th respectively, so both out performed their rank slightly. In the field events and distance events, the top 12 athletes advance to CCS Finals on May 26th, while in the lane events, the top 8 do the same.

Valeria went from the Shot Put to the 100 hurdles. She competed very well here, placing 19th in 16.93, running into a headwind. Valeria’s PR of 16.75 would likely not have been wind legal if the WVD meet had a wind gauge. This is her 2nd ever sub 17 second clocking, and the fact that she ran it into a headwind is  a very encouraging end to her season. She qualified in the event after not coming close to CCS last year. She was ranked 25th entering the meet, so her 19th place performance exceeded expectations.

Arlet competed in the 800 next, and many distance runners were wilting in the cloudless 90+ degree heat. Arlet competed very well however, running 2:29.06 to place 25th overall.  She was ranked last in her heat and 29th overall, but immediately put herself in the middle of the pack, and beat several girls from her heat. The last 100 meters saw her very close to a PR and school record, but she struggled over the final stretch, a very impressive end to her season in my book considering how much time was spent battling injury this season.

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Arlet Miranda (3rd from right) approaching 200 meters in the 3rd heat of the 800m

 

The Girls discus was the final event for the team on the day. It has been the team’s best event all season. The team scored 62/63 possible dual meet points in the girls discus this West Valley season. They swept the WVD finals with a 1-2-3 performance, and added a 7th place scoring as well. They placed 3rd, 4th and 8th at BVAL finals to send 4 girls to CCS in the same event for the first time in school history. Very few teams can boast 3 athletes in a single event at CCS trials. Essentially 3 of the top 32 athletes out of over 600 CCS athletes this year, go to James Lick.

Alejandra Ceron managed a small PR of 95-11, placing 26th. Another good performance considering she entered ranked 30th. Valeria Cortez was the team’s lone CCS qualifier last year, placing 22nd in the girls discus with a throw of 99-5. She improved upon that performance, throwing 105-4 for 18th place. Valeria is the first Comet athlete in school history on either side to compete in 3 different individual events at the sectional meet. She placed 18th in the girls discus, 19th in the 100 hurdles and 23rd in the Shot Put, an asset to any team, Valeria is quite clearly our strongest overall athlete for her versatility.

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Alejandra Ceron (Left) and Charli Chircop (right) preparing for the girls discus 

 

The performance of the day came from Charli Chircop however. Entered at 18th after a PR of 106-0 last week, Charli began her competition poorly with a throw out of sector. Her 2nd throw was better, though still not near her best, landing around 83 feet. Her 3rd throw was fantastic, a toss of 108-8 to take the school record from Valeria by 4 inches. She improved on the record with her 4th and final throw of 109-4. Charli would need every inch of this throw as girls continued to compete. When all was said and done, Charli sat in 12th place with her 109-4 toss, the final qualification spot for CCS finals was hers. 13th place had a best throw of 109-3.

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Azael Zamora, Arlet Miranda and Alejandra Ceron “watching” Charli and Valeria in the discus 

Charli has improved her discus PR by nearly 30 feet this system, a testament to Coach Vela and how much he has grown as a coach over the past 4 seasons as well.

Charli will compete next Friday at Gilroy HS at CCS Finals, the first Comet since Ruth Lebeau in 2008 (Ruth advanced to the State Meet in the triple jump that year). Charli will be the 26th Comet to compete at CCS finals and only the 4th girl to do so.

Very proud of her season.

A recap of her performance at CCS finals will follow soon.

If you have an interest in reading a general recap of the meet, citing particularly impressive performances from other schools at CCS finals, please comment indicating this. I’d be happy to do so, just not sure how interested you readers are in the general quality of the meet.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves