James Lick Track season ends with Charli Chircop 10th place at CCS Finals

 

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Coach Vela instructing Charli Chircop after her 2nd attempt 

 

Charli Chircop became just the 25th member of James Lick High School to make section finals with her performance at CCS trials last week. Charli qualified for CCS finals after throwing a new PR and school record of 109-at CCS trials. She entered the final ranked 12th, and competed well to place 10th at 104-7.

This means all 4 girls who competed at CCS this year, placed better than their ranking in every competition, a very positive trend that the team will look to continue in future seasons. A 10th place finish at CCS finals is a very impressive performance for Charli as a junior. She missed all but one week of her Sophomore season due to a knee injury. Her PR entering the season was 79 feet. Coach Vela’s tremendous coaching saw her improve 30 feet from a borderline to BVAL qualifier, to a CCS finals qualifier.

The season ends for the team on a strong note, and with the school year now over for James Lick, it is time for many of the team’s athletes to take a well deserved rest.

A full recap of the team’s season, as well as news about my new “East Side Running/Track Club” will be coming soon.

The BVAL At CCS

The CCS meet is special because of the fact that the best athletes from all 8 CCS track leagues come together to compete. That means strong athletes from schools as far south as King City HS of the MTAL clash with team’s as far north as Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Francisco. As a result, some of the best athletes in the entire State compete for victories at CCS finals.

The most impressive CCS performance from a BVAL athlete might have been from Maya Cook of Branham. Maya was a double CCS champion, winning the 100/200 and helped the Branham team to a 2nd place performance in the 4×100.  The Bruins came in 2nd overall on the girl’s side, scoring 38.50 points to Mountain View’s 42 points.

Right behind Branham was Silver Creek at 38 points for 3rd as a team. They were lead by standout athletes Jazlynn Shearer and Arianna Fisher.  Jazlynn won the girls 100 hurdles in 14. 69, and took 2nd in the triple jump at 39-0. Arianna won the triple jump in a very impressive jump of 40-7.

Jorge Estrella of Andrew Hill really emerged this season as the top distance runner in the BVAL. In XC, He, Zack Walker of Willow Glen, and Julian Adam of Westmont were frequently battling it out for victories. Estrella narrowly missed winning the CCS title in the 1600, running 4:14.76 and leading with only 80 meters to go before being run down by Alex Scales of Bellarmine. Jason Gomez of Westmont also narrowly lost a victory to scales, coming in 2nd in the 800 in 1:52.37 to Scales’ 1:52.34.  Santa Teresa placed 6th on the boys side to be the highest placing BVAL team (and the #2 public school) at CCS finals.

The meet was a high quality display of many high quality athletes. As I said earlier, a full JL season recap will follow this post soon.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

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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

3 Comets at CCS Top 8 Meet: The Rise of James Lick’s Lady Throwers

In 2014, I came on alongside a few other JL coaches to become the head coach of the James Lick track team. Early into the season, I was introduced to coach Jonathan Vela, an alumni of Prospect HS and Fresno State, who had been working as a coach for the JV football team. He offered to work  with the throwers on the team, and after speaking with him, I was very eager to have him join our staff. At the time, I was only a 20 year old coach, one of many coaches brought into to fill the coaching void at JL, utterly obsessed with building the program, and helping JL succeed as a school. I knew very little about what building the program would entail, but I knew for certain that it would require coaches who could build the right team culture, and train athletes to the best of their abilities.

For this reason, I was very excited to gain a coach in throws, the area I myself was least confident in coaching. In a short time watching Coach Vela’s results, I knew that we had a legitimate throws coach. I could not have known then, that we had just added a coach who would transform our throws program completely, (especially on the girls side). The CCS has over 150 member schools. Many of those schools have outstanding throws coaches, but only one has 3 different girls throwers who qualified for the CCS top 8 meet this year.

Valeria Cortez and Charli Chircop both qualified for the prestigious meet in the Discus, and Alejandra Ceron qualified in the Shot Put. The CCS Top 8 meet has been contested for decades, and these three are the first lady Comets on record to compete in throwing events at the meet.

Valeria and Charli both thew decent marks, though not close to their PRs. Valeria threw the disc 96-11, and Charli threw 94-1. The big result for the team came in the girls Shot Put. Alejandra had been the last girl admitted into the meet at 33-4, ranked 20th/20 girls. Her very first throw of the meet went for a massive PR of 35-8.75, establishing a school record and helping her to a 6th place finish. This makes her the first Comet to score at the Top 8 meet since Joe Amendt in 1988. In fact, Alejandra is the first female Comet to score at the Top 8 meet in school history. The accomplishment puts her in elite company, the only Comets ever to score at the CCS top 8 meet are Henry Barba, Joe Amendt, and now Alejandra Ceron. Henry and Joe both were double champions of the Top 8 meet, Henry in 100/200 and Joe in the 800/1600 but we’ll happily take the 6th place performance from Alejandra!

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Left to Right: Charli Chircop, Coach Vela, Valeria Cortez and Alejandra Ceron all pretend they don’t see me taking a picture of them near the Los Gatos discus ring during the Top 8 meet.

Alejandra’s mark is just the latest in a very impressive progression under the tutelage of coach Vela. The story of the girls track team is similar to the story of the girls XC team. Many of JL’s greatest achievements on the boys side came in the first 25 years of the school’s participation in track (1950-1975). This includes the school records in boys Shot Put and boys discus.

Dan Lloyd holds the Shot Put school record with a toss of 59-9 in 1972, a few years later a Comet named Webster threw 56-0.5, and Bill Pabst threw 51-0.5 in 1969.  These 3 marks stand as the best Shot Put marks in school history by quite a margin. For reference, the CCS Top 8 meet was won this year with a toss of 51-0.25 by Mountain View’s Owen Mountford.

The top 2 discus marks in school history belong to James McGhee 159-9, and Bill Pabst 149-7, both achieved in 1969. (As always, these records are based on my research of results and communication with former JL coaches and athletes, if you have any more information about past teams, please feel free to contact me). 

So while the best boys marks in school history were set in the 60s and 70s, girls were not even allowed to compete until the mid 70s. Even so, Kathy Shelby’s Shot Put school record of 34-0 was set in 1975. A few years later a Comet named Dwyer threw 89-5  in the discus to set a school record that stood until 2002. A Comet named Ward threw 96-6 that year, a standout mark in an era of overall weak teams for the Comets.

Before 2013, one Comet girl had thrown above 90 feet in discus, and one Comet girl had thrown over 32 feet in the Shot Put. In 2014, coach Vela helped Robert Rios to a massive improvement in the boys Shot Put, from 35-10 the year before, to a WVAL title in 40-3. The next year Robert threw 43-2 to win the WVAL title again, and move into 8th on the school’s all time Shot Put list.

While the boys are not throwing close to the marks of JL’s glory days in throws, the Comets of today under Vela are building up year by year, in pursuit of excellence. This is the first year that Coach Vela has had 3 boys over 100 feet in the discus for example. Given the team’s steady improvement, the team could be a force in years to come, the way that girls throwers already are.

In that 2015 season, we had two very talented freshmen join the team in Alejandra and Charli. They both showed great ability, throwing the Shot Put in the 23 foot range,and the discus in the high 50s, with essentially no prior training. By the end of that season, Alejandra threw 29-6 for Shot Put and 75-8 for Discus, while Charli threw 27-11 and 76-2. Alejandra qualified for BVAL championships as a freshmen. Charli lost most of her Sophomore year to injury, but did throw PRS of 29-1 and 79-4. Alejandra progressed to 31-9.5 in Shot Put which put her #2 on the all time list, and gave her and Coach Vela the firm goal of trying to break the school record of 34 feet. Alejandra also threw 90-10 in the girls discus to become the 2nd lady Comet to throw 90 feet in school history.

2016 saw the addition of Valeria Cortez, just to add to the riches of Vela’s dynamic duo. Valeria was as good in Shot Put as Alejandra and Charli were when they were freshmen, but better in discus. At her first HS meet she threw 25- 5 in the Shot Put and 65-10 in the discus. By the end of the season Valeria would beat both Alejandra and Charli’s freshmen marks, throwing 31-1 in the Shot Put (#5 all time at the time) and at BVAL Championships, threw a school record 99- 9.5 to make CCS trials.

The girls have reached even greater heights this season. Alejandra opened the season with a toss of 32-3 for a new PR. Charli opened her season by breaking the 80 foot barrier, and 90 foot barrier in discus with a throw of 95-11, followed by a cracking of the 30 foot barrier in the Shot Put. This years team is the first JL team ever to have 3 girls above 90 feet in discus, and 3 girls above 30 feet in the Shot Put.

A few weeks into the season, Valeria threw over 100 feet to extend her school record. The record was then taken by Charli when she threw 103-2, and then taken back by Valeria’s recent toss of 106-2. Charli and Valeria threw 32-7 and 32-5 in the Shot Put around the same time that Alejandra threw 33-4 to move ever closer to her coveted school record.

The top 8 meet would be the venue for the achievement, her mark of 35-8.75 a PR by over 2 feet. Alejandra is now ranked #2 across the entire BVAL, and should be a lock to make CCS Trials. She is also now ranked 8th in the CCS as a whole. A top 12 performance at CCS trials would advance her to CCS finals, which no Comet has qualified for since Ruth Lebeau in 2008. Valeria and Charli are currently ranked 3rd and 4th in the BVAL in the discus, putting them in an excellent position to make CCS trials as well.

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Alejandra preparing to throw the Shot Put. Alejandra uses the glide technique, popular among many professional Shot Put throwers.

 

The throws team is in great hands under Coach Vela and the fruits of the teams labor are paying off in this regard. With the girls 6-0 on the season, it’s been clear that James Lick is the best girls throws team in the WVAL, but it may be the very best girls throws team in the entire BVAL at this point.

The team’s three-headed monster in throws will lead the team against Del Mar next week, as the team will try to cinch it’s second consecutive undefeated season.

The team will then begin its championship season with WVAL finals. The girls will be pursuing a 1st place finish to hopefully clinch a 2nd West Valley Division championship in a row. The boys will be hard pressed to win their own title, (Independence will clinch the boys title with 2nd place at WVAL finals) but they will attempt to beat Del Mar and earn a 6-1 record, and then will try to place 1st at WVAL finals regardless of final standing.

The season is fast approaching its climax,

Thanks for reading.

-Benny Reeves

Best Girls Marks Under Coach Vela (2014-present) 

Name Grade Mark Location Date
1 Alejandra Ceron 11 35-8.75 Los Gatos 4/22/17
2 Valeria Cortez 10 32-7 Overfelt 4/1/17
3 Charli Chircop 11 32-5 Fremont 3/25/17
4 Leysmi Saldana 11 24-6 Overfelt 4/21/16
5 Karina Venegas 12 23-7 Live Oak 5/1/14
6 Mariah Santos 9 23-3 Gunderson 3/29/17
7 Arlet Miranda 10 21-0 James Lick 3/25/17
8 Ruth Rodriguez 9 20-11 James Lick 3/15/17
9 Valerie Flores 11 19-10 James Lick 4/14/16
10 Adriana Marcelino 9 19-5 James Lick 3/15/17
Name Grade Mark Location Date
1 Valeria Cortez 10 106-2 James Lick 5/15/17
2 Charli Chircop 11 103-2 De Anza 4/8/17
3 Alejandra Ceron 11 93-5 James Lick 4/12/17
4 Karina Venegas 12 74-3 James Lick 3/27/14
5 Mariah Santos 9 74-1 Fremont 3/25/17
6 Leysmi Saldana 11 72-8.50 Overfelt 5/4/16
7 Adriana Marcelino 9 65-1 James Lick 3/1/17
8 Karen Montes 12 57-11 James Lick 4/7/16
9 Valerie Flores 11 56-10 Overfelt 5/6/16
10 Audrey Nguy 9 52-7 James Lick 4/12/17

Meet The Coaches of James Lick Track 2017

As we look ahead at 2017, I thought those of you who read this blog might be interested in a little background about the current coaching staff of James Lick Track.

 

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Left to right: Coach Nichols, Coach Vela, Coach Turner, Coach Reeves

A little background: 

As discussed at length, we are very much trying to build our program to the heights of JLTFs great programs of the past, and beyond. The earlier James Lick coaches such as Keith Antes, Carlos Saldivar, and George Carty, produced very successful athletes over their decades of coaching at James Lick.

Today we use their success as both an inspiration, and a bar to measure ourselves against. James Lick’s academics and athletics have fallen considerably from the school’s heyday, but I for one believe with enough dedication we can restore the school to its former glory, and give the east side a greater sense of pride in their local schools in general.

This is basically the 4th year that this staff has been in place with myself as the head coach since 2014. Coach Jonathan Vela came on in the same season to work with the throwers. We also had coach Juan Trejo and Ricardo Flores on that staff, working largely with the boys team. In this first year, I coached only the girls in all non throwing events.

In 2015, our staff consisted of Coach Vela in boys and girls throws, and myself in boys and girls everything else with the help of coach John Quasarano (now the head XC coach at Roberto Cruz Leadership Academy).

In 2016, Coach Steven Nichols replaced John Quasarano, and handled sprints, horizontal jumps, and hurdles for the team. This year we have added coach Christopher Turner to our staff, and he will be coaching horizontal jumps and working with Coach Steve who’ll focus on sprints and relays going forward.

Without further ado, in order of juniority:

Coach Christopher Turner Horizontal Jumps :

This is Coach Turner’s first year coaching track for the Comets. It is his 5th year coaching Track and Field, and his most recent experience was as the head coach of  Yuma HS in Arizona. He competed collegiately at Binghamton university, competing in the 400 and the horizontal jumps.

He sites his proudest achievement as coaching several athletes to the Arizona State Meet. Notably, he coached two separate athletes to 3rd place finishes in horizontal jumps at the State Meet.

David Stiles long jumped 21-10 as a senior at the State meet for Coach Turner, a huge improvement on a PR of 19-1 from his junior year. On the girls side, he coached Michelle Watson from a 32 foot triple jump best as a junior, to a 35 foot triple jump best as a senior.

Coach Turner’s jumps experience is something we’re very excited to add to our staff. Boys jumps managed only 1 point at WVAL finals in 2016, and we’ll need big improvement in that area if we are to achieve our goal of a WVAL title.

Coach Steven Nichols Sprints/Relays: 

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Coach Steve and Gustavo Parra coincidentally matching at practice

 

This is Coach Steve’s 2nd year coaching track for the Comets. Steve competed from Homestead High School in Cupertino, and graduated in 2002. He then competed at De Anza college, focusing on the 100/200 as well as long jump and relays.

Steve has been coaching sprints for 10 years now, and has experience coaching at some of the top schools in the area, most recently Adrian Wilcox High School.

In Steve’s first year coaching sprints for the Comets, we had a very young sprints team that accomplished a lot despite their inexperience. With any program, it takes time to build top level competitive athletes, but the team as a whole took a big step forward. 9 boys ran under 13 seconds for the 100m dash in Steve’s first year, nearly doubling the amount of boys who accomplished in the previous year. The same went for the 60 second barrier in the 400,  9 athletes cracked that number compared to only 5 in 2015.

The girls team also ran the 2nd best 4×100 time in school history, and earned a 2nd place finish at WVAL finals, their best finish in over a decade. Coach Steve has expressed enthusiasm in the potential of Sophomore Jose Limon, who ran 24.22 for the 200, and 55.28 for the 400 last season, despite not joining Track until April.

I feel confident that our sprints are well attended to thanks to Coach Steve.

Coach Jonathan Vela Throws : 

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Valeria and coach Vela after Valeria’s school record discus throw at BVAL championships 2016. 

 

 

This is Coach Velas 4th season coaching track for the Comets and he is also the Head coach  of the JV football team. Coach Vela graduated from Prospect High School and competed at Fresno State in both football and Track after that.

In the 35+ years of league finals records I’ve assembled prior to Coach Vela’s arrival, the Comets had only 2 league or division  titles in throws, both in the Shot Put.

(More championship history details here)

https://coachbennyreeves.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/james-lick-track-history-league-division-champions/

Coach Vela however, has coached a WVAL champion in each of his first 3 seasons coaching, including the first throws champion in school history on the girls side.

Robert Rios won back to back Shot Put titles for the boys in 2014 and 2015, throwing 43-2 which currently stands as the 8th best boys Shot Put mark on record for the team. He qualified for CCS trials in the Shot Put in 2015 as well.  In 2016, Alejandra Ceron won the WVAL title in the girls discus, with teammate Valeria Cortez finishing 2nd. Then at BVAL championships, Valeria threw 99-9.50 to qualify for CCS trials and establish a new school record in the girls discus.

While the boys history is very rich for the Comets despite the huge amount of missing data, the girls records are far less high quality. Coach Vela has already greatly improved the Comets throws achievements list in just 3 seasons. Girl athletes coached by coach Vela hold 3 of the Top 10 spots on both of James Lick’s all time throws list. This includes namely Valiera’s school record in the girls discus and Alejandra Ceron’s #2 Shot Put placing of 31-9.

Girls throws was the teams strongest area last year and very well may be again. In order to achieve this years goal of a double WVAL championship, the team will be leaning heavily on their girl throwers, and looking to the boys throwers to step up and provide a good chunk of points for the team. Coach Vela’s leadership will be huge towards this goal.

Coach Benny Reeves Distance/Hurdles/High Jump 

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Myself, Nathan Bernardo, Arlet Miranda, and Erik Olsvold after the trio all medaled at the TKA invitational 2016. 

 

 

 

I ran 4 years of cross country at James Lick and graduated in 2011. I then went on to run 2 years at De Anza College. I competed in a variety of distances and even ran a few 4x400s legs for the team, but my primary event was the 3000m steeplechase.

I’ve long been a student of distance running and this is my area of speciality, though I did work with the hurdlers several times a week as Steeple work.

I am the first coach in quite a few years to head both the XC team and track team at James Lick, and I think this year long consistency has gone a long way towards building the distance program.

I’m proud of a lot of the different strides forward that the distance team has taken since I’ve been here. Daniela Camacho breaking the school record in all 3 distance events in 2015 made for a standout season. I’m also very proud of the increased depth of the distance team. From 2004-2013, the 10 seasons before I came on as coach, only 5 Comet boys broke the 5 minute barrier in the 1600. Past Comet teams have had such strength that breaking 5 minutes would not even qualify you for the teams top 3 Frosh/Soph boys.

In 2014, I did not coach boys distance, and in all honesty the fact that James Lick’s fastest distance times at WVAL finals that season were 5:30 in the 1600 and 12:08 in the 3200 frustrated me immensely.

In 2016, we had 5 different boys run under 5 minutes for the 1600, and 4 run under 11 minutes for the 3200. The James Lick teams of the past continue inspire myself and my distance runners, and we continue to work towards emulating their success every season. This season we are aiming for the goal of having 3 different Comet boys under 4:40 for the 1600, a feat which would have been a solid accomplishment during virtually any James Lick track era.

Coming off a STAL championship and 2nd place finish at BVAL Finals in cross country, I expect the boys distance team to carry the team as much as possible towards our goal of a WVAL title. At many duals, we will be aiming to take home all 27 available points in distance events, to make up for some of our developing areas.

In hurdles the team has made improvements each year, and we do well in the event at dual meets because half of the WVAL teams have no hurdles coach. Replacing the void left by Andrea Ortiz will be huge to repeating as WVAL champions on the girls side.

On the boys side, hurdles will likely be a critical event in the struggle to claw a WVAL title away from reigning champion Independence HS, a team that dominated in hurdles last year thanks to standout senior Anthony Ho.

The Rebuild

This is year 4 of our program building for track. In the 5 years previous to myself and coach Vela coming on as coaches, the team went a combined 0-69-1.  In the 3 years since we have gone 2-12, 10-4, and then 12-2 for a combined 24-18 record.

The students are the #1 reason for the turn around in track. Their ability to commit themselves, recruit, and compete, is what has taken James Lick from the cellar of the WVAL, to the pinnacle of it. We as coaches will do the best we can to make sure that the Comets get more improvement from their hard work, than our rival schools foster in their athletes.

 

James Lick Track History: League/ Division Champions

This post is a recap of James Lick’s league and division championship history in Track and Field.

The data I have here, and the school records list, (http://www.xcstats.com/track_all_time.php?school_id=1097 ) is based off records I have found using the prepcaltrack index of athletics, and newspapers.com. I’ve also gotten a few reports from various James Lick alumni including coach Keith Antes. While a large number of years are available on these sites, many still are missing. James Lick has at least 63 years of Track history, and I only have 35 years league finals results fully accounted for.

I have 55 years with at least one track meet result available, but only the past decade or so have nearly the full season worth of meet results available to draw from. If you have any specific meet results from past seasons that I can add to our XCstats database, I would very much appreciate you contacting me with the specifics.

In short, the school records and list of champions especially is very much incomplete. In any case, here is a list of all league/division champions that I have on record for the Comets.

It should be noted when James Lick began competing in Track, (at latest 1952) they were a member of the SCVAL (Santa Clara Valley Athletic League). By 1963 they were a member of the MHAL (Mount Hamilton Athletic League). From 1996 onward, we have been a member of the BVAL. The MHAL was generally an 8 team league for most of its history. The BVAL is a 24 team league, and the league is further divided into three different 8 team divisions. James Lick Track has been a member of the WVAL (within the BVAL) since 1996.

While WVAL, STAL, and MHAL are now technically divisions, they are each the size of many leagues, and I have therefore put champions from the BVAL era in the same category as champions of the Pre-BVAL era. It should be acknowledged however that as the WVAL is the ‘C’ division, a championship in this division is usually considerably easier to achieve than it would have been in the MHAL or SCVAL days. In any case here is our championship history.

The earliest records I have are of the 1954 SCVAL Championships. The article mentions however, that John Aguiar won both the 100 and 220 yard dash the year before. This makes Aguiar the first Comet Track league champion on record, with a double championship in 1954. Aguilar repeated the feat in 1954, becoming the school’s first double champion on record, and the school’s first repeat champion on record. His converted times of 11.00 and 22.64 for the 100m and 200m respectively stood as school records for over a decade. He is still one of only two Comets ever to repeat as league champion in the 100/200.

1954 is the season with the most Comet champions on record. Ed Brewer was the SCVAL double champion in hurdles, winning the 120 yard hurdles and the 180 low hurdles which is no longer contested. Brewer’s converted 110m hurdles time of 15.44 is still the 5th best James Lick time on record. A jumper named Lawrence also became the school’s first champion in the long jump, going 20-10.50. Gary Antes, brother of long time JLXCTF coach Keith Antes, won the mile run in 4:35.9. This was the first of 8 individual league championships in the 1600 that the Comet boys have achieved.

The team of 1954 narrowly missed winning the SCVAL finals meet, but won the SCVAL title on merit of their dual meet victories. According to the school’s banners, they were able to win the SCVAL title in both 1955 and 1956 as a team. Full records from those years are unavailable however.

In 1956, Russ Ray won the SCVAL title in 880 yard run, becoming the first Comet on record to break 2:00 for the 800, with a converted time of 1:58.70. He repeated his title in 1957, becoming the school’s first repeat champion in a distance event. Ray still stands as one of only 2 Comets ever to win two league titles in the 800. 1958 Saw a jumper named Turner go 44 feet in the Triple Jump to capture the SCVAL title for the Comets.

Records from 1959-1962 are very limited. In 1963, Ray Clayton went 13-6 in the Pole Vault to become the only Comet Pole Vault champ on record. Clayton also became the first Comet champion on the MHAL era on record. There is no record of the 1964 MHAL finals, though judging by his 4th place finish at NCS Finals, and his place on the Norcal Best Marks list for 1964, it is very likely that Clayton won the league title in the pole vault again in 1964. Clayton also competed at the CIF State Meet in 1964, becoming the first Comet on record to do so.

In 1967, the Comets were co-Mt. Hamilton league champions as a team. The team also had the only 400m champion on record on the boys side this season. Steve Baker ran a converted 52.8 to capture the then 440 yard MHAL title. The team also captured a victory in the no longer run, 880 yard relay.

The 1968 season team saw a number of champions as well, including the teams first 4×400 league title on record. The team of Richard West, Chris Moulton, Gary Sires and David Pike won the mile relay in what converted to a 3:31.5 for the modern 4×400. Richard West was the MHAL champion in the 880, with a converted 800 time of 2:02.7. Molton won the triple jump in 44-3, and Pike won the 220 with a converted time of 23.02 for 200m. Noe Chavez also won the pole vault for the Comets, with a  mark of 12-6.

Records from MHAL finals for many of the upcoming years are missing, though the Comets did have some champions during the available years. In 1969 Dave Pike won the 220 yard sprint. This was the 3rd converted 200m title for the Comets on record. The same  George Costa also won the 880 with a  time of 2:01, giving the Comets their 4th league championship in the half mile run on record.

The next available MHAL records are from 1975. The Comets had Shot Put champion Webster that year, with a colossal heave of 56 feet. The following year Pete Moreno won the triple jump with a mark of 48-11, surely one of the best MHAL championships marks ever.

In 1979, the Comets got their first ever female champion, just a few years after girls track began. Joan Jacobs ran a converted 12.34c to win the 100 yard dash for the Comets. The girls results from 1980 are missing, but Jacobs won the 100 again in 1981. This makes her the only repeat winner of the 100 in school history on the girls side.

1984 and 1985 saw Henry Barba winning the 100/200 in back to back years. Barba established school records in both events in his tenure, and is fairly definitively the best sprinter in school history, with official HS bests of 10.69 for the 100 and 21.57 in the 200. 1985 also saw the first league championship for Joe Amendt, winning the 800 as a freshmen in 2:00.24. Joe would go on to win the MHAL 800m title 4 consecutive times and add a 1600m title in his senior year as well.

Joe Amendt is the only Comet on record to win 4 league/ division championships in a single event. He is also the one of only two JL runners to win titles in both the 1600 and 800 and the only one to achieve the double. Joe’s 5 individual MHAL titles makes him the winningest athlete in school history.

The 1990 season saw Arick Putnam win the 1600 with a time of 4:33.35.  Again, results in the early 90s are largely missing, though the 1996 season held two titles for the Comets. Patrick McClinton won the long jump in the Comets first year in the WVAL, going 21-1. Alberto Meza won the 1600 with a time of 4:36.7 In this era, full finals results became more readily available and most years in the BVAL era have good records.

The year 2000 saw the boys win their most recent title, winning the WVAL ‘C’ division championship of the BVAL. They had a number of individual champions this year. Kevin Stewart won the Long Jump and Triple jump, going 21-5 and 41-1 respectively. This made Stewart only the second Comet ever to win a double championship in jumps, following the example of Lawrence in 1954. Mike Rodgers also won the sprint double with times of 11.26 and 22.43 for the 100 and 200. In addition, Rogers helped the team to a victory in the 4×100 with a team time of 44.43. Eric Santos gave the team their first 3200 champion on record with a 10:09 clocking, and Ivan Navarro added his name to the list of school 1600m champions with a time of 4:43.34.

The teams of the early 2000s also won a number of titles. After winning the 3200 the year before, Eric Santos won the 1600 with a time of 4:36.4, giving the team its 7th 1600m champion a year before Nelson Funston (4:40.05) would give the school its 8th. Tommy West won the 200 with a strong time of 22.15 in 2001. The team also won only their second 4×400 title on record with a time of 3:33.6. 2001 also saw Nelson Funston winning the 800 in 2:01.20.

In 2005, Ruth Lebeau won the first of her 4 WVAL titles, becoming the winningest athlete in JL track history on the girls side. Ruth won 2 Long jump titles and 2 triple jump titles and established school records of 17-5 in long jump, and 37-5 in triple jump along the way. Sara Toscano also won the girls 400 in 2005 with a time of 1:01.25. The same season Rogelio Gonzalez won the boys 800, giving the school its 9th individual 800m title, making it the most successful event for the Comets at league/division finals in school history.

In 2011, Ricardo Flores won the 3200 for the Comets with a time of 10:52, just the 2nd title for the Comet boys ever in the 3200 or 2 mile. In 2014, Robert Rios won the first of his back-to-back Shot Put titles, throwing 40-3 and 43-2 in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Paloma Contreras became the school’s 2nd ever 400m champion on the girls side the same year.

In 2016, the James Lick girls team won their first ever championship, taking the WVAL title with a 7-0 record. Despite huge success at WVAL finals, the team only had one individual champion, Alejandra Ceron in the discus who threw 90-10.

The track team has only 6 total team league/division championships in school history to this point.

  1. 1954 SCVAL Boys
  2. 1955 SCVAL  Boys
  3. 1956 SCVAL  Boys
  4. 1967 MHAL Boys (Co-champions)
  5. 2000 WVAL Boys (‘C’ division)
  6. 2016  WVAL Girls (‘C’ division)

 

The full list of champions I’ve found can be found at the link below, as can all of our info about JL track and field history.

https://coachbennyreeves.wordpress.com/q/

This year the team is aiming to take a leaf out of some of the team’s past seasons and add some team and individual titles to the school’s resume.

Thanks for reading as always,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

One Comet On to CCS after BVAL Championships

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Valeria Cortez and Coach Vela sharing Enthusiasm after her huge PR and school record in the girls Discus. 

 

 

The Comets took a record number of athletes to the BVAL Championship meet at Sliver Creek high School on May 12th. In total 16 Comets competed. The meet held such strong results for the team, though it was not a great showing for the team overall. The team will look to emphasize this meet to a greater extent in future seasons, with more and more Comets advancing from WVAL finals with ease.

The BVAL Championship meet is contested between all three BVAl divisions (A, B and C). A total of 16 automatic qualifiers advance to BVAL Championships, based on their divisional meets. The top 8 Athletes in each event at BVAL champs advance to CCS trials.

The girls 4×100 team of Lyndel Ventura, Maria Mendoza, Karen Montes and Elyse Elder ran 54.68 to end their season. Arlet Miranda got valuable big-race experience in the girls 1600. She placed 10th in a time of 5:41, the fast first lap of the race costing her in the later half. As a freshmen however, Arlet will look to build on her performance in future seasons, coming within 2 places of making CCS. In the boys 1600, Azael Zamora and Nathan Bernardo competed, though they did not perform well, running 4:54 and 4:58 respectively.

Andrea Ortiz had a strong final 100h race of her high school career, running 17.68 for 10th place after not even making BVAL champs in the event the year before. Valeria Cortez competed as well, though she had a poor race. Hadji Yono-Cruz ended his season on a high note, running a PR of 18.27. Hadji will look to break through next year.

The girls 400 had Maria running 1:08.91, while Jose Limon ran the boys 400 in 55.99. The girls 800 had another solid race for Arlet, coming home in a high 2:31. Daisy Nava competed as well running 2:46. Erik Olsvold ran a small PR in the boys 800 of 2:08.14. Nathan ended his season with a 2:10 following his 1600. The girls 300h had Andrea placing 10th in 50.96. Andrea’s injury plagued season limited her potential in the event. Her knee pain was so bad she was on the verge of dropping out 100m into the race, but decided to finish at a lessened effort level. She ran a time which only missed qualifying for CCS by .3 seconds, despite being hampered by injury causing her to hold back. Andrea’s toughness is a lesson in perseverance, as well as illustrating the fact that things don’t always go smoothly just because you work hard. While we dearly wish she could have run to her full potential, she has a bright future ahead of her and will be competing at De Anza college next year. Gustavo Aguilera competed in the boys 300h, running 46.80.

The team finished the running events with the 4x400s. The boys team of Jose, Gustavo, Misael Herrera and Nathan ran a seasons best of 3:45. The girls team of Maria, Daisy, Andrea and Arlet ran a solid 4:34. In the field events, Elyse Elder placed 11th in girls high jump at 4-4. Lyndel Ventura jumped 14-4.5 for 12th place in girls long jump.

In the girls Shot Put, Alejandra Ceron threw a PR of 31-9 for 10th place. Valeria threw a solid 30-0. The event of the day for the team however was the girls discus. Alejandra struggled, throwing 82-0, but Valeria had a huge day throwing a new PR of 99-9.50. This was good enough for 6th place and a CCS berth. This also makes Valeria the school record holder in the girls discus, beating the 96 foot throw of Ward in 2002. Valeria has had a tremendous season. At her first ever high school competition, Valeria competed in her 3 primary events. At the Willow Glen Invitational she threw 25-5.50 in the Shot Put, 65-10 in Discus and ran 22.94 in the 100 hurdles. Valeria worked hard all season under Coach Vela in the throws and myself in the hurdles, and drastically improved her marks. She ended up throwing 31-1 in the Shot Put, 99-9.50 in Discus and 17.80 in the 100 hurdles. Valeria should be a huge factor in the WVAL, and the entire BVAL for years to come.

Valera will head to Gilroy High school next Saturday for the CCS Trials, while some members of the team will contest the Stanford Cardinal All Comers Meet at Gunn high School in the same day.