1 Comet on to CCS Finals for 2nd Year In A Row

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.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

Comets Earn First Dual Meet Sweep, 3 Wins Against Sobrato

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

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

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

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Kirsten Yutuc takes off after receiving the baton from Lisbeth Galdamez

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

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

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

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

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Jerricho Habon contesting the 400m run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Varsity boys:  JL: 71  S: 55

Varsity girls: JL: 79  S: 48

Frosh/soph boys: JL: 56  S: 44

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

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

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

41 Personal Records for Comets at Bearcat Invitational:

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

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

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Belen Sanchez and Ashley Preciado on the line for the 1600

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sal Lopez on the final phase of the triple jump

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

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Mark Orpia clearing the bar at 7 feet

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

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

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

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

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

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

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

James Lick Track: Then

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Lick Track Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

Comets Continue to Progress in 2nd Dual Meet

The James Lick Comets had their 2nd dual meet of the 2018 season against the Evergreen Valley High School Cougars on March 15th. It was the 2nd dual meet in the ‘B’ division for the team. The team lost in all 3 divisions to reigning Varsity Boys champ Pioneer in their first meet. The result was repeated against reigning girls Champ, Evergreen. The team continued to progress and gain valuable experience nonetheless.

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Lyndel Ventura at the start of the 4×100 

The meet began with the girl’s 4×100. The team of Lyndel Ventura, Yeimili Adame, Kirsten Yutuc and Natalie Rem ran 56.78, falling to the Cougars. The Frosh/Soph boys team of Salvador Lopez, Raven Alcantara, Luis Escamilla and Geovanny Campos ran a season’s best time of 49.21, narrowly losing to Evergreen partly due to a poor handoff. The varsity team of Adrian DeLaRosa, Cody Huoch, Misael Herrera and Chris Okoro ran 48.75.

Belen Sanchez ran a seasons best 6:34 in the girls 1600, and Krystal Tran ran a PR of 8:12, though Evergreen swept the event. The first points on the day came from the Varsity Boys 1600. Azael Zamora ran a seasons best 4:43, nearly running down Evergreen’s top runner to place 2nd. Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a seasons best 5:06 in the same race, as did Mark Orpia in 5:24. Joseph Benitez ran a big PR, running 5:43 compared to a previous best of 5:58.

The team saw their first win of the day in the next race. Valeria Cortez won the 100 hurdles in a seasons best time of 18.20. Susie Peterson scored her 1st point in the ‘B’ division by finishing 3rd in a seasons best 19.74. Yesenia Martinez ran a PR of 21.79. Cody Huoch scored a point in the boys 110 Hurdles with a seasons best time of 17.62. Jonathan Bradley scored a point in the Frosh/Soph version of the race with a new PR of 21.50.

The girls 400 saw an Evergreen Sweep, but Arlet Miranda ran 1:08.09 for her first go at the event this season, the best time by a Comet so far this year. Yeimili and Justine Austria were close behind, both in 1:11. The frosh/soph boys saw several solid performances in  the 400. Salvador placed 2nd in 58.27, a PR of nearly 1.5 seconds. Rudolf Ocampo ran a strong debut of 1:00.56 and Jerricho Habon ran a 3 second PR of 1:00.59. Misael took 2nd place in the 400 in a seasons best of 57.72. Azael took 3rd in a seasons best 58.66.

Evergreen would go on to sweep the 100 on both Varsity sides, though many Comets ran improvements on the week before (despite chilly/rainy conditions). Adrian DeLaRosa lead the team in 12.95 (previous seasons best 13.09). Chris Okoro and Austin Swank both ran 13.28 compared to times over 13.40 the week before. On the girl’s side, Natalie lead the team in 14.75, just missing scoring. Valeria ran 14.99 in her first 100m of the season. Lisbeth Galdamez ran a huge PR of 15.21, compared to a 15.84 previous best. Valeria Gonzalez ran 15.94 for her first try at the event. Kaylee Santos ran 17.19 for her personal debut. Lara Ventura ran a seasons best 19.51. The frosh/soph boys fared well, with Geo taking 2nd place in 12.52. Jojo ran a PR of 13.76 as did Josafar Gomez who ran the same time.

Arlet took the victory for the team in the 800. Arlet ran a commanding race where she remained in 4th place for most of the race, before storming to the win in a seasons best 2:36, winning by 4 seconds. Ashley Preciado ran a significant PR of 2:59.59 compared to her previous best of 3:08. Jenny Villagomez ran a small PR of 3:05. Mariana Perez ran a PR by nearly 10 seconds, clocking 3:24. The highlight of the boys 800 was Melvin Estrada running a PR of 2:21, a PR by 5 seconds. Hugo Marquez also ran a seasons best of 2:29.03.

Kirsten ran a PR in the 300 hurdles of 54.27 to take 3rd place. Yesenia ran another big PR, clocking 1:00.90 compared to a previous best of 1:03.94. The Frosh/Soph boys saw a solid debut from Rudolf Ocampo who ran 50.30. Jojo ran a PR of 51.38. The duo combined for 2nd and 3rd.

Justine Austria ran a PR of 31.67 in the 200 to lead the girls team, though she was unable to score for the team. Misael took 2nd in a seasons best 25.90. Hugo ran a PR of 28.75 and Chris Okoro ran a seasons best as well. Geo scored another point for the team with a 3rd place in the 200.

Azael took another 2nd place in the 3200 to wrap up the individual events for the team. The team would lose the 4×400 although the girls managed a seasons best of 4:46.

The field events saw a number of solid improvements as well. The varsity girls swept the Shot Put. Charli Chircop lead the way, matching her PR of 32-9. Adriana Marcelino threw a PR of 21-2 in the event, and Freshmen Lizbet Alonzo made her debut with a toss of 16-6. Daniel Medina scored 3rd place for the boys with a toss of 36-6. Daniel would also grab 3rd in the Discus with a seasons best 105-0 the 2nd best throw of his career. Jesus Venegas threw a PR of 84-0 as well.

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Daniel Medina, indicating his 3rd place standing 

Valeria and Charli combined to go 1-2 in the girls discus, though Evergreen was able to take 3rd place. Kiely Leal threw a PR of 53-9 and Keara Medina had a strong debut of 51-4.

The highlight of the jumps for the team was Sal winning the Frosh/Soph boys high jump with a clearance of 5-0. Geo and Joshua Merin both managed PRs of 4-10 as well.

The Cougars handed the Comets three loses, moving the varsity boys, varsity girls, and frosh/soph boys each to 0-2 so far. Next week however, the team will be going after the win against the Prospect Panthers.

Prospect was a middle of the pack team last year, going a combined 6-8 in varsity (4-3 girls, 2-5 boys, 2-5 frosh/soph). They defeated Sobrato to start their season, then fell to the same teams as the Comets, Evergreen and Pioneer.

The home dual meet against Prospect on Thursday March 22nd should be the teams best chance yet to claim its first ‘B’ division victory, and the team is resting up this weekend in preparation for it.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

Comets Take Huge Step Forward at TKA Invitational

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The Distance girls, headed by Distance Captain Arlet Miranda (Center) 

The James Lick Comets took 38 athletes to the TKA Invitational on March 10th. It ended up being a tremendous day for the team, with 29 Personal best times and many more seasons bests.

The meet began with field events. The Frosh/Soph boys high jumpers acquitted themselves well Jonathan Bradley taking 4th place, clearing 5 feet for the first time. Salvador Lopez went over 4-10 in his first try at the event, and Josh Merin matched his PR of 406.

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Left to right: Salvador Lopez, Jonathan (JoJo) Bradley and Joshua Merin before the High Jump 

Natalie Rem and Kirsten Yutuc placed 3rd and 4th in the frosh/soph triple jump though neither girl PRd. David Bejines also tripled jumped for the team. The trio of Valeria Cortez, Charli Chircop and Alejandra Ceron combined for a 1-2-3 sweep of the varsity girls discus. This gives the Comets their 2nd consecutive Invitational victory in the girls discus. While Charli won the Willow Glen Invite in 107-3, Valeria took the win at TKA with a season;s best 105-0. Alejandra also threw a seasons best 94 feet in discus for 3rd. She would go on to win the Shot Put in a seasons best 32-1. Charli would throw 31-7 for 2nd and Valeria had to settle for 4th in a seasons best 30-1. The lady throwers from James Lick are poised to have a special season. Daniel Medina competed in boys throws for the team.

The TKA Invite was originally a distance carnival, and while it has now expanded to include some other events, it keeps the lively atmosphere that makes it exciting, with music playing during the breaks and during the distance events.

The meet began with the 4×100 relay. The Frosh/Soph team of Yesenia Martinez, Kirsten Yutuc, Chantrea Thach and Natalie Rem combined for a 4th place finish in 58 seconds, just off of medal position. The F/S boys team of Geovanny Campos, Salvador, Josh and Raven Alcantara took 7th in a tick over 50 seconds, a seasons best for James Lick’s F/S side.

The meet then moved into the 1600. Arlet Miranda started the day off strong with a seasons best 5:38.59. This is Arlet’s 2nd best time ever, missing her PR by only .13. This was a very rewarding result for Arlet. After her great freshmen track season and Sophomore XC season, Arlet had suffered through injuries and even iron deficiency, but she never stopped working hard. She now looks poised for her best track season yet. Yeimili Adame ran 6:14.86, a PR which moves her onto the school’s top 10 list in the event. Ashley Preciado ran 6:33, a 12 second PR and Mya Hammond ran a 7 second PR of 6:48. Mariana Perez and Emely Lopez both broke 7:30 for the first time, and Francine Estranero, Estefani Herrera and Erika Camacho also ran PRs.

The strong performances on the girls side were replicated by the boys. Melvin Estrada ran a new PR of 5:07, and is now knocking on the door of the HS distance runner’s biggest barrier. Jerricho Habon ran a PR of 5:22, his first time under 5:30. Hugo Marquez was just behind in a season’s best 5:23. Brandon Cruz ran a PR of 5:30 and Jose Ruiz ran a massive PR of 5:40, breaking the 6 minute barrier for the first time.

The meet then took a break from distance events to run the sprint events. Kirsten and Natalie went 1-2 in their heat and ran big PRs in the 100. Kirsten took her PR from 14.70 to 14.23 and Natalie jumped from 14.50 to 14.24. Yesenia ran 15.81, compared to her previous PR of 16.66, and Chantrea managed a small PR as well, running 16.60.

On the boys side, Geovanny continued to impress as a sprinter. In his first ever track meet earlier in the week, Geo took the win in the F/S 100 with a time of 12.76, a solid debut time for a Sophomore. He followed that up with a PR of 12.47 at TKA, showing real potential. Raven matched his PR of 12.60, and Salvador made his debut in the 100 running 13.38 despite a slip in the blocks. All 3 sophomores ran PRs in the 200 as well. Geo ran 25.73 (compared to a 26.70 on Thursday) Raven ran 26.07 (compared to 26.14 on Thursday) and Sal ran 26.37 (compared to 26.87 on Thursday). Misael Herrera and David Bejines competed for the team in the varsity sprint events. David ran a seasons best 12.92 in the 100, while Misael ran a seasons best 25.92 in the 200.

Susie Peterson ran a 200m PR of 33.51 and Kirsten ripped off a huge PR of 29.86. She is just the 4th girl since I’ve been coaching at James Lick to run under 30 seconds for the 200.

Yeimili followed up her strong 1600 with a strong 800. She ran 2:46.22, which lands her 9th on the school’s all time list in the event. Krystal Tran ran a PR of 3:21 in a later heat. Dakota Castro-Lopez ran an 800m PR of 2:34, while Jose ran 2:35 for his own PR.

Arlet ran 12:55 for the 3200, her first sub-13 clocking since her freshman year. Many Comet 2 milers Prd. Jenny and Ashley ran 14:46 and 14:49 respectively, and Daniel Portillo ran 12:24. Two Prs stood out in particular however.

In the frosh/soph race, Melvin ran a very impressive 10:52. Melvin’s ascent this track season has been spectacular.  He entered cross country as a freshmen unable to run under 7 minutes for 1 mile. With his sophomore track season only just beginning, he has shown he can now run 2 miles at under 5:30 pace per mile.

The single most impressive performance on the day however was Azael Zamora in the 3200. Azael was determined to attack the 10 minute barrier and did so with very little help. 800 Meters into the race, he was nearly 100 meters ahead of 2nd place. He lead from gun to tape and stopped the clock in a massive PR of 10:05.14. This moved him into 7th on the school’s all time list in the event.

Overall it was a fantastic day for the Comets. They will now head to Evergreen High School on Thursday 3/15 to face an exceptionally strong Cougar team. Evergreen looks to be the best overall team in the division. The Comets will look to improve their marks ahead of a tilt with Prospect on 3/22 that should be very competitive.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

Comets prepare for season with Los Gatos All Comers Meet

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Cody Huoch racing the 65m Hurdles

The Comets are just a few practices away from opening their season officially at the Willow Glen Invitational on March 3rd. A few of the team’s athletes took to the Los Gatos All Comers meet on February 24th to test their readiness for the season.

Two young runners began the day for the team competing in the 800m. Brandon Cruz ran a 2:40 for his first try at the event after a solid Sophomore XC season. Francine Estranero ran 3:20 for her first ever track competition.

A large number of Comets competed in the 60m hurdles for girls and 65m high hurdles for the boys. Valeria Cortez lowered her school record in the seldom run event to 11.08, compared to the 11.30 she ran at the same meet a year ago. Susie Peterson and Kirsten Yutuc ran solid times of 11.77 and 12.15.

Cody Huoch lead the boys in the 65 hurdles with a time of 10.26. This puts Cody 4th on the school’s all time list. Jonathan Bradley made his debut in 12.24 and Dakota Castro-Lopez ran 16.16 despite a fall.

Jose Limon opened his season in the 400 with a clocking of 56.42. Many of the team’s distance runners tested their speed with the 400m as well. Azael Zamora ran 59.48. Jerricho Habon had an impressive debut time of 1:03.04. Melvin Estrada opened his season with a small PR of 1:05.67. Jonathan Bradley ran a debut time of 1:07.75. On the girls side, Ashely Preciado and Mariana Perez ran 1:24.32 and 1:26.90 respectively.

In the throwing events, the team was represented by some of the team’s best athletes. Alejandra Ceron and Valeria threw 30-10 and 29-11 for the Shot Put, both girls are ahead of where they were at in the event at this time a year ago. Adriana Marcelino threw 19-1, nearly a PR in her first meet.

Overall it was a solid day for the team as it looks ahead to the start of the season.

The team will head to the Willow Glen Invitational on March 3rd before hosting Pioneer HS on March 8th in James Lick’s first ever ‘B’ division track meet.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

Comets Compete at the historic Artichoke Invitational

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

Comets Enjoy Rapid Improvement at STAL 3

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The Frosh/Soph Boys team before STAL 3

The James Lick cross country team took to Montgomery Hill on Wednesday October 4th for their 3rd league meet of the season. Montgomery Hill is 2.74 miles, shorter than the 2.85 mile course at Alum Rock Course. Do to the hilly nature of the course however, times between the two courses are quite comparable in terms of time. The first two meets saw the teams of record as follows.

Frosh/Soph Boys: 2-1  Varsity Boys: 1-2

JV Girls: 0-3     Varsity Girls: 0-3

The team took on Oak Grove and Sobrato for STAL 3.

The day began with the Frosh/Soph boys. The boys team was missing their top 2 runners from STAL 2. Nien Tran moved up to varsity for the meet and Jonthan Cortez sat out the meet with minor injury. Nonetheless, the frosh/soph boys competed well.

Jerricho Habon had the best race of his career. Jerricho came by the first mile in around 20th place. He moved his way up from there to finish 2nd place with a PR of 18:57. He became the first frosh/soph Comet of the year to go under 19 minutes for a STAL race. Freshmen Jonathan Bradley was close behind. Jonathan ran 19:10 for a huge STAL best after running 20:52 at Alum Rock Park. He placed 6th overall. No Frosh/Soph Comets had cracked the top 10 at STAL 1 or STAL 2 (and again, our 1-2 punch from those races did not run frosh/soph this time). Daniel Portillo ran a huge PR of 20:01 and Omar Fimbres ran 20:36 after running 20:59 at Alum Rock. The team’s 5th boy was Rudolf Ocampo, a newcomer to the team who ran 22:23. The Comets got wins over both Oak Grove and Sobrato to move to 4-1 on the Frosh/Soph side.

The next race up was varsity girls. After standing out in her one week of track, Yeimili Adame got to experience the first cross country race of her career. She acquitted herself well, placing 16th and running 22:07. Arlet Miranda and Belen Sanchez came in close togetehr at 23:21 and 23:29. Xochitl Godinez ran 23:54 for her first montgomery hill race. Jennifer Villagomez ran 24:06 and Justine Austria ran 24:26. Neither girl had run under 25 minutes for a STAL race before, (Jenny hadn’t run under 26 minutes before). The varsity girls have shown great improvement. After a team best time of 2:04:38 at STAL 2, the team ran under 1:58:00 at STAL 3. This lead the team to their first win of the season over Oak Grove, though they fell to an undefeated Sobrato team.

Azael Zamora continued to spearheaded the varsity boys just as Montgomery Hill continued to be the bane of his running career. He ran a PR of 16:01 to place 4th, a solid but underwhelming performance given some of the times he’s achieved this season. Inteus Castro-Lopez had his best STAL race of the season, placing 7th in 16:37. Mark Orpia had a PR by a full minute running 17:16 to be the 3rd man in. Jose Limon and Hugo Marquez rounded out the scoring team in 18:26 and 18:37. Melvin Estrada and Nien Tran came across with PRS of 19:04 and 19:08. The varsity boys picked up a pair of wins to move to 3-2 on the season.

The reserve boys was next and the team saw a number of strong performances. Cody Huoch and Isaac Veronica formed a strong 1-2 punch running 20:18 and 20:59. Austin Swank and Jose Ruiz were next in 21:24 and 21:56 (very strong race for Jose). Isaak Herrera (22:37) Jonathan Ergino (24:52) and Alvaro Fabian (27:46) finished off the boys day.

The JV girls also got their first win of the season, defeating Oak grove. They were lead by Ashley Preciado who ran a more than 5  minute PR, going under 30 minutes for the first time, running 25:25. Emely Lopez came across next with the best race of her career, running 27:22. Reserve girl Aliana Santos was right behind in 27:23. Mya Hammond and Emma Veronica came in together at 27:35 and 27:36. Kirsten Yutuc (28:24) and Mariana Perez (28:40) rounded out the JV girls team. Susie Peterson came in at 28:59.Francine Estranero ran a big STAL best of 29:07, running under 30 minutes for the first time, Erika Camacho narrowly missed doing the same thing running 30:01. Araceli Mejia, (31:08) Estefanie Herrera (31:44) and Maria Sanchez (35:43) finished up the day for the Comets.

It was a big step forward for the whole team. The Varsity teams improved their combined record from 1-5 to 4-6.

Many members of the team will head to the Artichoke Invitational on Saturday October 7th. The Comets will then run STAL 4 at Montgomery Hill on Thursday October 12th.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves