Comets End Season Strong at CCS Finals. Varsity Girls finish 4 places better than rank

The 2019 cross country season officially came to a close for the James Lick cross country team at CCS finals. The finals were hosted at the historic Crystal Springs course, the same 2.95 mile course that the team ran at BVAL Finals. In what has been a down year in large part due to injury, the team went in hoping to end on a strong note and start healing up for track. The team resoundingly achieved  this goal.

The varsity girls squad went into CCS ranked 13th out of the 14 complete division IV teams that qualified for the CCS meet, only ahead of Kipp High School. Besides this, the team was still without team #2 runner Mya Hammond whose breakthrough season ended early for medical reasons. To further add to the team’s woes, Jessica Cervantes, consistently the team’s #1 runner had to drop out of the race due to knee injury. The team’s depth was on display however, as the team beat expectations despite missing their 1-2 punch to finish in 9th place. This is only the 3rd top 10 finish (on record) at CCS for the girls in school history. The team also had the 2nd lowest spread in the race (time distance between 1st and 5th runner) with a spread of 1:16. Only CCS champion Menlo, with an impressive 6 second spread did a better job of finishing close together.

The team was lead by breakout star Keyla Sifuentes. In her first cross country season, Keyla has improved by leaps and bounds all year. At her first race, Keyla managed to run 8:40 pace for the 2 mile course at DeLaSalle High school. A few weeks later, she was our #6 girl running 24:06 at the Crystal Springs Center Meet (8:06) pace. Here at CCS, she was our #1 girl with a  time of 22:47. This was a PR by 1:02, and the 7:43 pace she ran is the best of her career by far.

Daisy Flores was next in 23:03, a PR by 53 seconds as well. As only a freshmen, Daisy’s time is very impressive, the 6th fastest James Lick freshmen time in the entire BVAL era (since 1996). Lizbeth Espana loped 50 seconds off of her PR too to stop the clock at 23:26. Emely Lopez finished at 23:48 for a small PR and Ruth Rodriguez picked up the slack to run 24:03, and 11 second PR as the 5th girl. Ashley Preciado ended her HS career as the 6th girl in the race.

Again, heading into the race the girls were ranked 9th, ahead of just Kipp High School. The team defeated Kipp, Carmel, LCPA and King City to finish 9th, narrowly losing to Seaside High School who took 8th. The fact that team’s top 5 are all non seniors, (as well as a 1-2 punch that didn’t race at CCS who are also juniors) gives the team great optimism as we look ahead at what could be a very strong year in 2020.

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The varsity girls before the race 

The boys team only ran 3 runners. Junior Omar Fimbres ran great, taking nearly 30 seconds off of his PR to stop the clock at 18:13. Nien Tran (18:30) and Brandon Cruz (18:39) competed hard but did not PR in their final HS race.

With the season coming to an end, everyone will take a well earned break and our focus as we look ahead to track is very clear: Stay Healthy. Injuries are a part of any season, but losing the team’s top 2 boys in the early part of the season is a recipe for disaster. Likewise Jessica, Mya, and Lizbeth, 3 of the team’s top 5 on the girls side missed/ didn’t finish a race in a combined 9 races due to injury this year. This team has a lot of potential if we can stay healthy, and that will be at the center of our attention as we work towards a 2020 track season in which the varsity boys are coming off their first winning season in the ‘B’ division with over 90% of the team returning.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Comets Look Strong at Crystal Springs Center Meet

The Comets competed in the Aragon Center Meet on Wednesday October 9th 2019, with 11 other High Schools. The race was a preview of the league finals course for the team, the nearly 50 year old Crystal Springs cross country course. Since league finals is the most important race of the season for most of the team, getting an early race on the course is important.

There is also a direct relationship between Crystal Springs and our normal league course, Montgomery Hill. Montgomery is a more challenging course, but because it is significantly shorter, most people run 1 minute faster at Montgomery Hill than at Crystal Springs. This is helpful to keep in mind to track the progress of our runners who haven’t run at Montgomery in several weeks now, and to help myself and coach Raul Lopez determine who runs on what team at our next league meet.

The meet began with the frosh/soph boys. Justin Nguyen lead the team witha  time of 22:46, in line with his 21:25 clocking at Montgomery Hill. Navbir Kahlon and OMar Sanchez came in together at 23:06 and 23:07 which shows they are both ready to challenge the 22 minute barrier at Montgomery Hill themselves. Carlos Nava clocked in at 23:27, the best race of his career so far all things considered. Carlos actually ran nearly a minute faster at crystal springs than he has run at Montgomery, showing that he is ready for a big breakthrough at our next league meet. Josue Gomez was the only boy in the race who had run Crystal Springs before, and he ran a full 4 minute PR of 24:12. Jason Madrigal was the last frosh/soph Comet across in 26:43 for his first time on the course.

The next race saw all of the team’s girls competing in one race, a helpful race for helping us determine who should run on which teams next week. Mya Hammond lead the team with a time of 23:04, a PR by over 2 minutes, placing 14th overall. Jessica Cervantes was next, returning from 2 weeks spent in Mexico to run a time of 23:48, not a PR but 50 seconds faster than she ran at this same meet last year. Keyla Sifuentes continued her recent breakthrough to run 24:06 as the #3 girl on the team. Lizbeth Espana and Emely Lopez rounded out the top 5 with times of 24:15 and 24:22 to help the team place 3rd overall on the day. For Emely this was a PR by over 2 minutes. Daisy Flores ran 24:41 for her first time on the course. Mariana Perez managed a 45 second PR of 24:57, giving the team a full 7 girls under the 25 minute barrier.

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Emely Lopez, Keyla Sifuentes and Lizbeth Espana pass the first mile mark in a pack with Daisy Flores close behind

Estefani Herrera beat her center meet time from last year with a time of 25:31. Melanny Sanchez and Yesenia Martinez finished close together in 26:43 and 26:44. Kaylena Gil ran 28:54 and Marisol Carlos 29:52 for their first times on the course. It was overall a strong performance for a girls team missing two of its top 10 runners in the forms of Ashley Preciado and Ruth Rodriguez. We’re hoping for some big PRs on Thursday.

The boys varsity/JV race was the final race of the day and took place after some delay. Nien Tran lead the group with a strong performance and 40 second PR, stopping the clock at 18:05. Brandon Cruz paced Omar Fimbres throughout the race and still beat his time from last year’s center meet, running 19:06. Omar ran a PR of 19:09 in large part thanks to Brandon. Melvin Estrada ran 19:31, a far stronger run than his 20 minute plus clocking at Montgomery Hill at last league race. Geo Campos was the 5th boy on the day in a time of 20:22, only 20 seconds off his performance from league finals last year.

Jonathan Bradely (20:58) and Rodolf Ocampo ( 21:02) came in close together on the back end. Neither boy managed to run this fast last year. Josh Merin managed a huge PR of 2:40, running 21:33, the 7:18 pace being the best of his career for a 3 mile (or near 3 mile) course in his career. Luis Escamilla (24:35) and Luis Gonzales (29:48) ended the Comets day.

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The varsity/JV boys team before the race

Both boys teams are currently 0-3 and next meet (10/17)  figures to be the teams best chance at some wins so far as the team takes on Sobrato and Oak Grove. The team will be competing at league meets in back to back weeks and taking a break from invitationals to focus on Montgomery Hill.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

James Lick Cross Country Season Preview 2019

The 2019 school year is under way and with it, another cross country season for the James Lick Comets. This marks a significant milestone, as the 2019 iteration of the team will mark the 70th year of James Lick’s existence.

In the nearly 70 years of James Lick cross country, the school has managed 15 league/ division championships, (13 boys, 2 girls) more than any other James Lick sport. It is also the only James Lick sport I know of that has achieved a CIF section title, winning a CCS boys title in 1970.

As we head into the school year, James Lick stands as the smallest school in the entire 24 team BVAL. Despite this fact, in 2018 the team managed a combined 9-5 record in the ‘B’ division, placing 10th of the 24 teams at league finals on the boys side, and 12th on the girls.

By any measure we were a middle of the pack team, despite being at a huge disadvantage in terms of sheer enrollment to draft talent from. The 2019 team is aiming to build on this status, and take steps towards an even better year this season.

With these goals in mind, we completed our annual time trial of the 3.03 mile north rim course from the park entrance. We’ve used this course to track our athletes fitness since 2009, and I am personally a big fan of the course for the sheer fact that it is a slower course than any the team will run this year. Typically, a varsity boy will run 2 minutes faster at our league races at Montgomery hill, and 1 minute faster at Crystal Springs (our league finals and CCS course) than they can run for our north rim time trial course.

Obviously our team is not in their peak shape with 11 weeks until league finals, but we go in with the hope that our returning runners will be ahead of where they were a year ago at this time of year.

Our top boy runner immediately achieved more than this. Last year, Mark Orpia ran 20:10 to lead the team at our pre-season time trial. He would go on to run 16:19 at Montgomery Hill (8th all time in the 18 year school-history of the course) and spearhead a top 10 BVAL team at Crystal Springs with a time of 17:36.

Mark opened the season with a time of 18:14, the 3rd best time any Comet has recorded on the course, and the 2nd fastest early season time next to only the 17:53 clocking of Azael Zamora in 2017, a year that would see Azael get on the school’s all time-list at Crystal springs with a time of 16:17. This goes to show that Mark is in phenomenal shape, and he should be one of the best James Lick runners of the BVAL era if he can continue to improve on his current form.

As stated, Mark had a very strong 2018 after starting off at 20:10 for this time trial.This makes us very pleased with the 19:31 time by Nien Tran and the 19:43 time of Brandon Cruz as the 2nd and 3rd boys. Both boys are more than a minute ahead of their times from last year. It was even a 5 second PR for Brandon. Jerricho Habon had an off race but was still near his time from last year, stopping the clock at 20:45. The 5th boy on the team was a close race between Omar Fimbres, 23:17 Melvin Estrada, 23:25, and Hugo Marquez 23:31.  Hugo is working his way back to health after an injury plagued 2018, while Omar and Melvin are coming in off of a summer where they were not training with the team. These boys will need to narrow the gap between themselves and the top 4 to help the team reach it’s potential, which I see as a top 8 BVAL team.

The first girl across was Jessica Cervantes who has looked like a breakout runner all summer long. Jessica finished in 24:51, 3 seconds off of her PR but way ahead of where she was at to start last season. With the graduation of Arlet Miranda (2nd best female  XC runner in school history) just months ago, the team will need athletes like Jessica to step up.

Josh Merin ran 25:42 compared to a 31 minute clocking a year ago, and Rodolf Ocampo was more than a minute up on last year’s time as well. The next boys in were Luis Escamilla in 27:14, Jay Austria 27:16, Abraham Benitez in 27:40 and Josue Gomez in 27:43. These boys were sandwiched between a stream of rapidly improving lady Comets.

Mya Hammond ran 27:07, Ashley Preciado ran 27:32. Ruth Rodriguez (27:45) Emely Lopez (27:48) Estefani Herrera (27:50) and Alexa Rodriguez (28:14) came in close together, displaying the team’s formidable depth on the girls side. Depth will absolutely be the strength of a team full of girls who have transformed themselves into varsity caliber runners through sheer hard work and dedication.

When they began their careers, Mya, Emely and Estefani ran North Rim in 39:05, 41:04 and 44:06 respectively. I can’t say enough about these 3 who helped form the core of an undefeated JV girls team last year. None of them broke the 30 minute barrier to start least season’s trial, nor did Ruth. The addition of Ruth’s sister Alexa only makes this group stronger. The same goes for the knowledge that Yeimili Adame, Mariana Perez, and Erika Camacho all had very rough days by their standards. Even with those girls struggling, (The #1, #4 and #5 returning girls on the team based on last year’s times) the team has never produced more girls under the 30 minute barrier to start the year than the 9 the team managed this year. Yesenia Martinez (28:54) and Lizbeth Espana (29:10) both accomplished the feet as well.

Some of the younger boys on the team came across the line around this time as well. Navbir Kahlon, Ronaldo, and Justin Nguyen came across in 28:41, 28:52 and 29:00 as the 2nd 3rd and 4th  frosh/soph boys. Huu Thai ran 29: 14 not far behind. Two more freshmen, Carlos Nava and Omar Sanchez finished in 30:06 to give the team 6 frosh/soph boys at or under 30 minutes.

These times might not be particularly fast yet, but we have a great recent track record of rapidly improving frosh/soph boys around those times. Gustavo Aguilera for example, ran 31:50 in his first try on the course as freshmen. As a senior, he would run 19:10 and was the 5th boy on the school’s 2016 ‘B’ division championship team.

The team can look at similar examples like Nien Tran and Omar Fimbres. Both boys failed to run under 27 minutes at their first time as freshmen, but both boys were CCS caliber runners by the end of their sophomore years. In short, if these boys are dedicated, we have great confidence that they will improve by leaps and bounds.

Melanny Sanchez and Caylena Gil finished in 30:51 and 31:00 adding yet more depth to the girls team. It’s crazy to think that just 2 years ago only 1 girl on the entire team ran under 33 minutes at this time trial to start the season.

Emily De Dios and Jayson Garcia finished in 36:47 and 37:45. Alex Rios and Marisol Carlos rounded out the group in the 47 minute range.

As the team looks ahead at the season, the depth of the girls team should give the team a good shot at a 2nd consecutive winning season in the ‘B’ division. It should also produce an absolutely lethal JV girls team. Last year at the final division race our JV girls achieved a perfect score against every team except Sobrato, as our girls finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th overall. This year’s JV girls team should be even better as no girl on the JV squad has aged out of it.

On the boys side, the focus will be on having a strong top 5, and on developing the freshmen boys to be ready to replace our senior heavy group next season. Especially if Melvin Estrada can find his form, the boys team will be a force to be reckoned with.

The team will contest the Alumni Race on August 30th  in Alum Rock Park at 6:00 P.M. Any alumni, fans of James Lick, or runners in the area are welcome.

After that the team will have it’s first league meet of the season on the early date of September 4th at Montgomery Hill.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

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The team after the time trial. 

 

Comets Run as a Pack at Crystal Springs Center Meet

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

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

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

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

Jay Austria- 22:47

Alberto Trejo- 23:18

Jordan Laguna- 23:53

Huu Thai – 25:49

Josue Gomez- 28:23

Kevin Santacruz- 31:58.

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

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The girls team lined up before the race 

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

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

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

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The Comet boys on the start line

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

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The Varsity boys passing the first mile as a pack 

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

Comets look ready for BVAL Finals at Crystal Springs Center Meet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Varsity Girls Team before the race

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Comet news!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

James Lick Cross Country 2016 Season Summary

The 2016 season started with some big goals for the James Lick Comets. The team set competitive goals of winning the STAL on the boys side, and improving on a 2-5 record from 2015 on the girls side. The team was hoping to also place within the Top 5 teams at BVAL finals on the boys side, and the top 12 on the girls side. The team also set the time goals of running 86:30 (1:26:30) on the boys side at BVAL finals and 112:30 (1:52:30) on the girls side. The team wanted to do this while representing and performing well in the non-varsity races as well.

From the first days of summer training in early June, the likely group of varsity boys showed how much they wanted to achieve their goals. Based on the PRS of the team’s top 5 returners, Nathan Bernardo 17:02, Inteus Castro-Lopez 17:55, Gustavo Aguilera 18:00, Azael Zamora 18:13 and Erik Olsvold 18:14, the team would run  team time of 89:24. While Track season showed dramatic development, especially from Azael and Erik, the team would have to improve quite a bit to hit their ambitious goal. 2015 marked the first seasons since 2003 that the team had run under 90 minutes at Crystal Springs, and a time in the mid 80s would show the team was back to being a tough local team consistent with the teams of James Lick’s glory years.

As these boys worked hard in the early days of summer, more and more freshmen boys joined the team. Athletes like Jerricho Habon, Melvin Estrada, Kevin Bach and Daniel Portillo followed the lead of their veteran leaders working their way into good shape. These boys are very admirable for the fact that they lacked natural running ability, but worked hard all season to better themselves and turn themselves into strong Frosh/Soph runners. The Frosh/Soph team was made especially strong with the addition of more freshmen boys: Mark Orpia and Nien Tran once school started, along with sophomore Rudy Peterson. The team became so rich in young boy runners, that by the final league meets of the year, the team consistently had 3-4 potential Frosh/Soph boys run reserve who would have been scoring members of half of the other Frosh/Soph teams in the league.

The depth of hard working athletes that the boys team saw, the fruition of 4 years of hard program building lead by team captain Nathan, never developed to the same degree on the girls side. After a breakout track season, Arlet Miranda was a weapon at the front of the team all season, but top returners Maria Mendoza and Daisy Nava both worked various jobs throughout the season in addition to taking numerous AP classes, cutting into their practice time and curtailing their improvements despite their best efforts. This coupled with the fact that 3 of the girls teams top 6 returners, did not in fact return for the 2016 season. The team did gain Milka Perez, who was a team star in the 2014 season, fresh off a 2015 season that she missed due to a torn ACL. Her addition and gradual improvement is a bright spot for the team going forward. While the boys team experienced a large group of incoming freshmen with future varsity potential, the girls team did not receive the sam boom. They gained several hard working freshmen like Ally Floreza and Ashley Preciado, and one clear future varsity runner in Camila Hernandez. The hard work of Analilai Regla, Denisse Calixto, and Belen Sanchez saw them help out as varsity runners despite being well behind the speed of a ‘B’ division varsity runner when the season started.

In the early part of the season, the team struggled with inconsistency but showed they had the potential to achieve their goals. The Alumni Race was a strong performance for the team,  Azael lead the team with a  time of 12:57, the first JL athlete to break 13 for the course in many years. The boys team in general ran well, and had the privilege of meeting JLXC all time greats Joe Amendt and Greg Machado.

Despite a great performance at the Alumni Race, the team did not perform as well at STAL 1 and STAL 2, their only two Alum Rock Park meets of the year. Erik, Azael and Nathan did move into 7th, 9th and 11th on the 2.85 mile course JL all time list, but the team was unable to achieve their league race goal of having 5 boys under 17 minutes. In any case, the Varsity Boys emerged from STAL 2 4-0, with a  win over Prospect, one of two STAL teams to beat them at BVAL finals in 2015.

The team did have some success at their first 2 invitationals, setting school records at both the Lowell Invitational and the Delasalle Invitational. In both cases, Azael lead the team, finishing narrowly ahead of Nathan both times. This was only the 2nd time the comets have run at the Lowell Invitational and the 8th time they have competed at DLS. In any case, both team time records were set by huge margins. The teams consistency issues continued at these invites, while Azael and Nathan performed exceptionally well, Inteus struggled as did Gustavo A. Gustavo P however, began to show huge progress, running 18:31 at the DLS invitational for a new PR by over 1 minute. The Lowell invitational was significant for the team however as they defeated both Santa Teresa and Evergreen, two of the top teams in the MHAL (‘A’ division). The team began the 2015 season looking like a solid ‘A’ league team only to finish 13th at BVALs and the team was determined to not repeat that type of placing.

The team worked very hard over a 2 week hiatus, showing improvement at the 2016 edition of the watermelon run. Nathan became the first Comet athlete to run under 18 minutes for the 3.03 mile version of North Rim, a course which should take longer to run than any other course we race on. The team was very much motivated for a big performance at STAL 3, where they would take on 2 time defending champion Pioneer, at Montgomery hill. The team put it all together at this race, Nathan lead the group as a captain should, running a PR of 15:52 to become the first Comet under 16 at Montgomery Hill since 2003, and only the 3rd ever to do so. The Comets managed to have 6 athletes under 17 minutes at STAL 3, with Gustavo Parra as the 6th boy in, beating the #3 runner from every other school. Even Jesus Deloya as the teams 7th boy  ran 18:22 beating the 5th boy on 4 of the teams in league.

In coming weeks more PRS were set, with the team’s top 4 all achieving PRS under 16:20. Erik Olsvold would go on to run 15:27, the 2nd best James Lick time ever at Montgomery and the best by a Sophomore by far.

The boys extended their record to 7-0 with strong times achieved at the Crystal Springs Invite and Mt. Sac invite as well. Nathan lead the team at Mt. Sac as the first Comet under 17 minutes for the course in a decade.

The team ramped up their focus once more BVAL finals knowing that a good performance would see them achieve their goals. They did all that and more, running a team time of 85:19, and finishing 2nd in the BVAL overall. They were spearheaded by Erik once again, in a time of 16:22. Erik’s times as a freshmen were quite good, his track season was more impressive and this cross country season more impressive still. Erik has truly broken out as a force within the BVAL. Nathan and Azael both run under 17 minutes as well. Inteus had a slightly off race by his standards, but the team saw all 6 competing boys run 17:40 or faster.

The team competed 2 weeks later at CCS without Erik (who cannot compete on Saturdays due to religious commitments) and while their performance was poor at CCS compared to BVAL Finals, the season was overall a huge victory for the varsity boys. The 2016 season saw many milestones for the team, including team course records at Golden Gate Park, Newhall Park, and most significantly Montgomery Hill.

Just as they set out to do, the 2016 JLXC boys team ended the season as STAL champions. This is the 15th cross country league/division championship in school history. It is the 13th league title for the boys, the 5th JLXC title in the BVAL era (1996 and on) and the first ‘B’ division championship for JLXC in the BVAL era, (the first since 1999). This victory is significant for the school as a whole. Since the BVAL went to its power league structure, (1996)  James Lick has only won 17 league/division championships counting this one. This is only the 4th ‘B’ league championship, and the first since Wrestling in 2004.

These varsity boys will now take a break and look ahead to track, where they hope to continue their winning ways.

The Varsity Girls struggled with numbers and finding the time to train as described earlier, but managed to repeat their placings of 2015. The team went 2-5 and placed 14th at BVAL Finals. They also defeated every team in the WVAL (‘C’) league one again, indicating that the time would have won 3 straight championships had we elected to stay down in the WVAL after our 2014 championship. We as a program would much rather move up and push ourselves with greater competition than simply strive for as many titles as possible.

Arlet ran a myriad of good times as the teams leading girl runner. She broke the 20 minute barrier at Alum Rock park and Montgomery hill. Over the course of the season she set school records at Golden Gate Park and at Half Moon Bay HS. She moved up to #2 on virtually every other all time course list, behind only Kayla Matusda. As only a sophomore, Arlet’s future is very bright. At CCS finals she ran 20:02, missing making the State meet by only 7 seconds, the closest any Lady Comet has ever come to qualifying for the State cross country meet.

Arlet helped lead the team to their middle of the pack finish at BVAL finals. Despite the season being slightly disappointing overall for the girls, the team still competed well and had several bright spots. At STAL 5, the girls ran a team time of 109:29, the 2nd best team time at Montgomery Hill in school history. Maria, Daisy and Milka were all quality varsity girls despite difficulties in other areas. Denisse and Analilia stepped up from 2015 and embodied true Comet spirit to become varsity girls. At BVAL final Denisse and Analilia ran 24:26 and 25:08, compared to times of 25:25 and 26:57 in 2015. Belen Sanchez showed great dedication in the 2nd half of the season and looks to be a potential star going forward as well.

The JV and reserve girls suffered from the same lack of numbers that hit the varsity girls,  but they nonetheless had a large group of hard working athletes. Chief among them was Camila Hernandez, the team’s top JV runner. Camila began her season at Alum Rock park, running 27:25 for a 9:37 mile pace. She worked her way all the way down to 24:34 at Crystal Springs, running 8:20 mile pace. Susie Peterson had her best season so far, and teammate Aliana Santos had a very quality JV season as well. Fellow hard working athletes like Ashley Preciado, Diana Romero, and Ally Floreza also helped the JV team to a 3-4 placing in the STAL and a 12th place finish at BVAL Finals.

The Frosh/Soph boys had an exceptional season much like their varsity counterparts. The team started slow, with the top boys at STAL 1 being Melvin Estrada in 20:43 and Mark ropier in 20:46. The FS team time at STAL 1 was 105:35, (1:45:35). By STAL #4 however, the team would run almost 10 minutes faster, recording a team time of 96:12 (1:36:12), a new school Frosh/Soph team record at Montgomery hill.They were aided by Vincent Giglio running 17:49, a new FS race record for the Comets at Montgomery Hill. After starting the season in the high 20s, Mark worked his way all the way down to 18:15 at STAL 5. Nien Tran and Jerricho Habon also ran under 20 minutes, with Rudy Peterson running exactly 20 seconds for his PR. This group of boys, along with Melvin and Hugo Marquez, went on to run a team time of 1:40:17 (100:17) at league finals, the best Frosh/Soph team time of the BVAL era. This hard working group  of athletes makes the upcoming track season even more excitement.

It’s very easy to focus on the scoring teams, and to especially hone in on the fastest varsity athletes. This sport truly is about improvement, and the fact that an athlete is willing to put themselves through miles and miles of effort in the cause of bettering themselves is a fact wort admiring regardless of the athletes competitive level. Valerie Flores exemplified this, starting the season with times consistently in the 29-30 minute range before working her way all the way down to 27:09 at league finals. Brittany Salazar also ran huge improvement throughout the season as the only other reserve girl on the team.

The reserve boys were the team’s biggest group and several athletes had seasons to remember. David Bejines lead the team all season, running quality reserve times of 20:14 at Crystal Springs and 19:23 at Montgomery hill. Isaak Herrera had a breakout season, running under 20 minutes at Montgomery hill as well,a dramatic improvement from a year ago when such courses took him over 23 minutes. Austin Swank, Esteban Garcia-Gomez,  Kevin Bach and Daniel Portillo consistently helped fill out the team along with Jesse Friaz. Kevin and Daniel in particular, as freshmen runners, made great strides over the course of the season.

The 2016 XC season has come to a close for the Comets. All that stands left is the team banquet in December. Many athletes have moved on to Winter Sports, while many more take a break to focus on school. Beginning in December several of the teams athletes will come together to begin training, and on January 1st 2017, the preparation for Track 2017 will begin in earnest. JLXCTF will look to continue the momentum from a very successful XC season into an equally strong track season.

Thank you for reading and a happy Thanksgiving to you all.

-Benny Reeves

Comets Wrap Up Season at CCS Finals

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The Varsity Boys team on the line at CCS Finals. Left to right: Nathan Bernardo, Mark Orpia, Inteus Castro-Lopez, Gustavo Aguilera, Gustavo Parra, Azael Zamora 

 

This year marked the first time that the James Lick boys team qualified for CCS as a team since the team of 2010 did so. The absence of Erik Olsvold, the team’s top runner at BVAL finals was a big blow to the boys team. Even so, the boys struggled as a whole, running an  unfortunately poor race by their standards to finish the season.

Azael Zamora lead the boys team in 17:14, Nathan Bernardo was next in at 17:30. Again these were rough performances for the boys who have both run under 17 minutes at Crystal twice this season. Gustavo Parra ran 17:36, a small PR the only Comet boy to do so at CCS. Gustavo Aguilera and Inteus Castro-Lopez rounded out the top 5. Freshmen Mark Orpia competed as well, becoming the first freshmen boy from James Lick to compete at CCS since 2009.

The girls side of things was much different for the Comets. The team’s only competing athlete was Arlet Miranda, and she ran arguably the best race of her career. No lady Comet has ever made State in cross country, but Arlet came closer than any James Lick girl ever has. Her PR of 20:02 saw her missing State Qualification by 1 place and 7 seconds. It also moves her into #2 on the school’s all time list at Crystal Springs. Her 13th place overall finish was the best by a James Lick girl at CCS in school history.

While the 2016 season ended on quite a sour note for the boys team, it was a highly successful season for the team as a whole. In the BVAL era, (since 1996) James Lick has a total of 5 championships. 1996 in the B division, 1999 in the B division, 2009 in the C division, 2014 in the C division and 2016 in the B division.

James Lick continues to make strides towards being competitive across the CCS, and this year were able to ascend to the the top of the BVAL with a 2nd place finish on the boys side. The team will work hard at recruiting over the next few months for Track, and will try to add more distance runners to their team (especially on the girls side).

The entire team will now likely take a break through Thanksgiving before gearing up for Track season with conditioning beginning for all event disciplines in January.

I will do a more thorough season summary around Thanksgiving.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

Varsity Boys Win STAL Championship, Run Best Team Time At BVAL Finals in School History

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2016 STAL Championship Team Left to Right: Coach Benny Reeves, Gustavo Aguilera, Erik Olsvold, Nathan Bernardo, Inteus Castro-Lopez, Gustavo Parra, Azael Zamora 

 

 

On October 31st, all 24 teams of the BVAL took to the Crystal Springs cross country course for BVAL Finals. The meet determines the final standings for all 3 BVAL divisions, the WVAL (‘C’ division) STAL (‘B’ division) and the MHAL (‘A’ division).

The WVAL, STAL, and MHAL, were all their own individual leagues, but in 1996 they came under the governance of the 24 team ‘super league’ called the BVAL. This re-structing (which happened throughout the CCS during this era) occurred after the glory days of James Lick sports. With teams moving up and down in the BVAL based on strength of program, where a school has it’s teams places is a good indicator of how strong the school’s programs are.

The fact that the BVAL came into existence at the same time that James Lick was achieving the makeup that it has today, helps us to analyze James Lick teams over the past 20 years as part of the “modern era.”

Since the BVAL’s foundation (1996) , James Lick entered the 2016-2017 school year with a total of 16 championships across all sports. Only 3 of these 16 championships were in the STAL (‘B’ league of the BVAL) with the Wrestling team of 2004 being the last JL team to win a title in the B division. Just being placed in the B division is a victory for a James Lick sport these days. Since the BVAl era, James Lick has offered 16 sports, (considering Cross Country, Swimming, and Track as 1 sport each, since boys and girls teams score separately, but cannot move divisions independently). Only 8 of these 16 sports at James Lick  however have ever competed in any division other than the WVAL (‘C’ league of the BVAL). In addition, 2 of those 8 competed in the B division while there was no C division due to a shortage of BVAL teams offering the sport. This means only 6/16 JL sports in the BVAL era have ever been out of the lowest division of the BVAL.

While some teams commonly have most of their teams in the A and B divisions, James Lick currently only has 3, Cross Country, Boys Soccer, and Boys volleyball (though there is no ‘C’ division for boys volleyball). In 20 years now in the BVAL era, with at least 13 sports offered a year, James Lick has never had more than 4 teams in the same year be placed in the ‘B’ division or higher. As such, the cross country team continues to strive to represent the school as a legitimate ‘B’ league team.

BVAL finals in cross country is a great way to prove this strength of program, with all 24 teams in the same race, theoretically a perfectly formatted league would have the MHAL teams place 1-8, STAL place 9-16 and WVAL place 17-24. Any placing higher than 16th in a race legitimatizes the Comets standing and gives the team a sense of pride. As the 4th smallest school in the BVAl, and the 2nd poorest as measured by % of students who receive free/reduced lunch, overcoming this disadvantages to beat schools in a better place to succeed is something to be proud of.

 

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The team after the meet 

The day started well, with the team’s two reserve girls racing for the Comets. After running 29:24 at the Crystal Spring’s invite, Valerie Flores ran 27:09 to place 17th in the reserve race, a huge PR for Valerie. The 9:12 mile pace is by far the best of her career, ending with a very strong peak performance. Brittany Salazar had a similarly huge PR, after running 34:49 at the invitational, she ran 32:41 at league finals. Her 11:05 mile pace was also by far the best of her career. A very strong ending for the two seniors.

The JV girls race was next, as the first scoring race of the day, the team looked for a top 16 team performance. The JV girls is the easiest race to score highly in, as many programs struggle to field a full team. In any case, the Comet girls came in 12th in the BVAL a solid performance. Camila Hernandez lead the group with a very strong time of 24:34. Camila looks poised to have a big track season, and be a key member of the girls team in future seasons. The 8:20 mile pace at league finals was the best of her career. The same was true of Aliana Santos, running 9:01 pace for a time of 26:36. At the CS invite, Aliana ran 29:27, making her league finals PR another outstanding performance. Susie Peterson was next in, while her time of 28:14 was an off race compared to other races this season, it was a solid 30 second PR at Crystal Springs. Ashley Preciado also had the best race of her career, running 29:06 and breaking the 10 minute mile pace barrier for the very first time. Diana Romero ran 31:20 to seal off the team, and Ally Floreza battled through an ankle injury to finish her race and show a warrior spirit in the process.

The Frosh/Soph Boys were next, and they improved their league standing by placing 2nd amongst B division teams at league finals. While final team results are not yet up of FS, I believe that the team managed to finish 8th overall, beating several ‘A’ division teams. Similarly, I do not know the records of the other teams in the ‘B’ division, but this performance may have moved the FS team as high as 2nd place in the STAL.

Vincent Giglio lead the team with a strong PR of 18:22, placing 1st in the STAL to give the team the STAL F/S boys individual champion 2 years in a row. Mark Orpia gave the team a 2nd boy under 20 minutes, running 19:34. The 6:38 mile pace for Mark was the best of his career, though I think it was actually a bit of an off-race for him after he ran 6:40 mile pace at Montgomery Hill a few weeks back. Nien Tran ran 20:18 to manage a 6:53 pace, the first time Nien has run under 7 minute mile pace for an XC race. Rudy Peterson and Melvin Estrada completed the scoring team with times of 21:00 and 21:03, the first the fastest paces of both boys career for a course longer than 2.1 miles. Hugo Marquez was close behind at 21:16, the 7:13 pace being the best of his career as well. Jerricho Habon rounded out the team in 21:25, battling the hip injury that has troubled him throughout much of the season. The team’s 8th place finish saw them defeating 2 teams from the MHAL and running the best James Lick frosh/soph team time in the BVAL era. Their team time of 1:40:25 (100:25) beats the  FS team of 2010 (101:06) for a new BVAL Finals FS record. Our goal of breaking the 100 minute barrier was narrowly missed.

Next up were the varsity girls. Arlet Miranda ran a small PR of 20:12, running a very productive race in which she experimented with running a very hard 2nd mile in preparation for CCS. The Varsity girls team has struggled with finding time to train this season, but the pack of Maria Mendoza in 22:44, Milka Perez in 22:50 and Daisy Nava in 23:02 helped solidify the team’s placing. Denisse Calixto ran 24:28 the best race of her career to come through as the 5th girl. Belen Sanchez had a bit of an off-race running 25:03, though Analilia Regla ran 25:08, the best mile pace of her career as well. The teams time of 1:53:16 (113:16) is the 4th best team time in school history.

Skipping ahead to the reserve race, David Bejines lead the Comets with a strong reserve time of 20:14. Isaak Herrera came in next at 20:31 and Austin Swank was 3rd in 20:50, giving the team 3 athletes solidly under 21 minutes. Both David and Isaak ran under 7 minute mile pace for the first time on a near 3 mile course. Manuel Villalobos ran 21:42 and Esteban Garcia-Gomez ran 22:08 to seal off the top 5.  Kevin Bach ran 22:34 and Daniel Portillo was not far behind in 23:00 a big PR from the Crystal Springs invite. Jesse Friaz finished off the team’s day with a time of 24:26. All 8 reserve boys ran the best mile pace of their career for a new 3 mile course.

The Varsity boys team went in highly motivated, knowing that a good race would clinch  championship. In order to seal the victory, the team would have to hold off a very strong Pioneer team. Erik Olsvold lead the group, displaying his signature strong finish, Erik moved from 15th to 9th place in the last 200 meters of the race. His time of 16:22 is the best time by any James Lick boy in over 10 years, and puts him tied for 20th on the school’s al time list as only a Sophomore. Narrowly holding off Evan Franco of Branham who ran 16:24, Erik also ends the season as the STAL individual champion on the boys side, one year after being the FS champion. Erik’s remarkable improvement, from 18:14 a year ago, speaks to the immense work ethic of the varsity team. Nathan Bernardo and Azael Zamora both missed their PRS, but competed well running 16:47 and 16:59, giving the team 3 boys under 16 minutes in the same race at Crystal Springs for the first time in over a decade. All 3 boys finished in the top 20 overall. Inteus Castro-Lopez had a rough race, but showed his toughness, gritting out a time of 17:33 for a 22 second PR. Gustavo Aguilera also ran a 20 second PR of 17:39, with Gustavo Parra right behind in 17:40.

Pioneer ran a very strong race as well, and ended up placing 5th in the entire BVAL, beating half of the ‘A’ division teams. The Comets nonetheless were able to clinch their STAL championship, placing 2nd out of all 24 BVAL teams, only losing to Willow Glen, the ‘A’ league champs. The fact that the team was able to jump from a disappointing 13th place finish last year, to 2nd this year is truly remarkable. Their team time of 1:25:20 (85:20) is the best James Lick time at BVAL Finals in school history.

When Nathan and Gustavo A were freshmen, they ran 20:36 and 22:34 at BVAL finals.  Nathan was the 7th boy on a varsity team where the #1 runner ran 18:29. That James Lick team placed 20th at BVAL Finals. The work ethic of Nathan and Gustavo, taking minutes  off of their starting times, has helped foster a culture of hard work that has inspired their teammate around them, and drawn in athletes like Inteus and Gustavo P. In their 4 year careers, they saw the varsity boys team move from 20th in the BVAL to 2nd, and from a team time of 97:09 at league finals, to the 85:20 of today.

In the now 38 years of school history (on record) at the Crystal Springs cross country course, the team of 2016 ranks 11th in team time, showing that in 4 short years, the Comets were able to take a team from its 2nd slowest time, back to the times of James Lick’s heyday. It is up to the returning and future members of the team, to keep James Lick where it belongs an to keep driving the team upwards towards greater success. While the varsity and Frosh/Soph boys teams could have committed in the MHAL this year, the girls team has a ways to go before they are able to do the same.

Willow Glen has won 12 of the last 13 BVAL finals meets, and there is no sham in losing to the highly formidable team. The varsity boys team of 2016 showed that the Comets are still capable of competing with the best however, and every year we will try to reach greater and greater heights. The varsity boys, and fellow CCS qualifier Arlet Miranda now look ahead to CCS Finals on November 12th, where they will compete against fellow D3 runners from the CCS. To better understand CCS qualification you can read here:

https://coachbennyreeves.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/what-the-comets-overcome-when-they-make-ccs/

 

The team will unfortunately be without top runner Erik Olsvold at CCS, making a top 3 finish, and a better team time difficult, but the Comets will do their best to try to get a State Qualifier for the first time in 2005.

Thank you for reading as always,

-Benny Reeves

 

JLXC Course History: Crystal Springs

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Crystal Springs Center Meet 2 2014. Daniela Camacho is slightly off center in the front pack. The rest of the Comet girls are on the far left.

 

 

The most significant and historic Cross Country course in the bay area is without a doubt Crystal Springs in Belmont. Unlike other courses, the Crystal Spring’s course was specifically designed as a cross country course. The Course was founded in it’s 2.95 mile format in 1971, and shortly afterwards became a key course for the entire CCS. In 1973 James Lick ran it for the first time at the Crystal Springs Center meet. It served as the CCS regional meet course for region 3 which James Lick found itself in,beginning in 1975 so the Comets ran the course for the first tim in it’s very first year of existence. Athletes would have to run fast enough to qualify for CCS at their regional meets, making the regional meet a key point in the season, BVAL finals and other league finals have taken the place of regional meets and act as the modern day qualifying meet for CCS.

The Crystal Springs center meets are weekday meets run throughout the season at Crystal Springs for athletes to prepare for the big regional meet. The Crystal Springs invite, held on the 2nd Saturday of October, would follow a few years later.  In 1973 CCS was held at Crystal Springs for the first time. CCS would be held at Crystal Springs every year from 1972-2000 with the exception of 1974 when it was at Helyer park. In the 2000s, the CCS committee began the process of alternating the CCS location between Crystal Springs in odd years, and Toro Park in even years. By this time however, the Comets were running Crystal Springs at BVAL finals every year, as well as the Crystal Springs invite or center meet.

The rich history of Crystal Springs make sit the team’s most impressive all time/ team list. The Comets have run at Crystal Springs virtually every year since 1971, now over 40 years of course history! Many years Crystal Springs was run 2-3 times by the Comets, and the full results from almost every race at Crystal Springs dating back to these early years are available online (wish that was the case for every course…) The Crystal Springs course status as a league finals/ CCS playoffs course, make it the number one course in the bay area for time comparisons and rankings.

The Course is made up entirely of dirt trails and is very undulating, with the first 2 miles being downhill overall, with small hills dispersed throughout the course. The final mile (.95 technically) is hilly, with athletes running up towards the finish line form the 2 mile mark. Despite it being a hilly course, its net downhill construction makes it a relatively fast course. In recent years it has become clear that a Varsity athlete should run 45-60 seconds slower at Crystal Springs, than they would for the shorter BVAL league meet courses (Montgomery and Alum Rock).

The Comets of today have a wealth of great times to shoot for, and new great times to achieve when they take to the Crystal Springs course for BVAL Finals and CCS Finals this year.

The Comets began running quality times on the course in 1973 when the began racing it. top runner on that team, Alvarado, ran 16:06, a time which despite it’s standing at 5:27 mile pace, is only the 17th best time for the Comets in school history at Crystal Springs. This team also ran the 3rd best team  time in school, a phenomenal 1:22:25, an average of 16:29 a runner. This was all done at the Crystal Spring’s center meet.

A few years later, more strong additions would be made. The team of 1975 ran a strong team of 1:24:35, which stands at number 10 on the Comet list. They were lead by Joe Salazar however, who became the first Comet to run under 16 minutes on the course, running the school record of 15:21, 5:12 mile pace. Peter Munoz would break 16 a few years later, running 15:57 for a team that ran the 8th best team time in school history, 1:23:44. The team of 1977 ran the #2 team time in school history, 1:21:51 (81:51) at the Crystal Springs center meet.

The boys teams of the mid-late 1970s were very strong, but they were just a precursor to the teams of 1980 and 1981, likely the best boys teams in JLXC history. The team of 1980 ran a very strong 1:23:20 (83:20) for #6 on the school’s all time team list. This gave the team a 10th place finish at CCS finals. Rich Diaz lead the team with a 16:03 clocking, tied for 12th in school history, though many of the team’s runners would return for the 1981 season.

1981 in terms of competition, was probably JLXCs best season altogether.  Both the boys and girls won the MHAL, the only time in school history that the boys and girls have won a league championship in the same season, and the only MHAL title in school history for the girls (one of only 2 total championships for the girls, the most recent coming in 2014). The girl’s team of 1981 ran whats stands as the school team time record by a large margin. Their time of 1:46:41 at the Crystal Springs invite in 1981 has never been seriously threatened, as the only time in school history the team ran under 1:50 (or 110:00 mins). The team’s top runners, Kim Willoughby in 20:10, Angie Silva in 20:27 and Betsy Whyer in 21:19 currently stand as #2, #4 and #9 respectively on the team’s all time list. The team of 81 was the only girls team in school history to have two girls run under 21 minutes at Crystal Springs in the same season.

The boys team of 1981 was equally impressive. Their team time of 1:20:46 (80:46) still stands as the team record. The team placed 4th as a team at CCS, though this team time nowadays would likely win CCS in division 3 in most seasons. Frank Munoz and Randy Pangelina ran 15:37 and 15:49 this season, 4th and 7th on the school’s all time list. Jim Saldivar also ran 16:16 for 19th place on the list. The team’s average of 16:09 a boy is outstanding. The 5th boy in CCS finals for the Comets that year ran 16:31, while the 7th ran 16:45. This outstanding team stands as the competitive apex of JLXC history, and the team that current Comet team’s look up to while striving to better themselves.

Greg Machado was a freshmen on the team of 1981, running 16:37 as the 6th boy, a few years later he would lead the team with a 15:33 #3 in school history. Unfortunately results from Crystal Springs are incomplete from 1982-1984 with no team times available in these years.

The teams of the late 1980s showed a lot of the strength of he early 80s teams as well. The team of 1986 ran 1:22:32 and the team of 1987 ran 1:22:25, 5th and 6th on the combined team list for the Comets. Joe Amendt tied Joe Salazar’s 15:21, giving two Comets a 5:12 mile pace at the top of the Crystal Springs list. Jim Strachan ran 16:06 for #14 on the school’s list in 1986 and Lanoura Goulart in  1988 ran 21:38 for #12 on the girl’s list.

The team experienced a bit of a dry spell during the very late 80’s and early 90’s. Even so, boy’s teams in this dry spell like the team of 1989 ran high quality team times like 1:27:08 (87:08) that the team of today is trying to return to. 1992 saw Armando Avilez run 16:06 to add his name to the school’s all time list, while Lorena Socarzano did the same on girl’s side running 21:32.

In 1996, Alberto Meza ran 15:53, #9 on the all time list, and was followed a few years later by Will Crane who ran 15:45. Crane is #5 on the school’s all time list, and the most recent Comet to break the 16 minute barrier at Crystal Springs. Emil Kayer ran 21:06 on the girl’s side during the same year, #8 on the school’s all time list.  The 90’s and early 2000s had quality runners, but the depth of James Lick throughout 70’s and 80’s was fading as the school achieved it’s “at risk” status. On the boy’s all time team’s list 9/10 times were run in the 70’s and 80’s. The one exception is the 1:24:03 (84:03) of the team of 2000, 9th on the school’s list.

Only two additions to the boy’s all time list have been made since the year 2000, Ivan Navarro’s 16:09 in 2000, and Jose Gutierrez’ 16:00 in 2003. From 2006-2015 no Comet even ran under 17 minutes for Crystal Springs. The team times also weakened as a byproduct.

From 1973- 1989 the Comets ran under 90 minutes (on the boys side) as a team every year on record. Most years they ran under 87 minutes. The team failed to break 90 minutes for the first time in 1991, then again in 1995. In the early 2000s, the team constantly ran in the 85-87 minute time range, very respectable though unspectacular team times. A team time in this range is essentially a guarantee of a CCS spot, more than most sports at the school can claim right now.

Following the 2003 season however, the team fell fast. From a time of 86:14 (1:26:14) in 2003,the team did not break the 90 minute barrier again for 11 straight seasons.Finally in 2015, we were able to break the 90 minute barrier again, running 89:07 as a team at BVAL finals. This season, the Comets had it’s first runners break 17 minutes at Crystal Springs since 2005, Nathan Bernardo and Azael Zamora ran 16:45 and 16:48 at the Crystal Sprinsg invite to accomplish the feet, and the big meets are still ahead with the chance to run faster. This is why we are excited about the team of today, and feel we are moving in the right direction to restore JLXC to it’s former position of competitive success, without sacrificing team culture.

While the boys teams of the mid2000s-2010s were among the weakest in school history, the girl’s teams (which traditionally were never strong competitively) have seen rising success.

Kayla Matsuda ran the school record of 19:39 at Crystal Springs in 2008. On the girls’ all time team list, #1 belongs to the team of 1981, but all 9 other positions have been set since the 2000s. The 10th position is currently held by the team of 2005, at 2:00:16 (120:16) though this year’s team should kook them off, making all 10 positions sub 2 hour clockings.

The #2, #3 and #4 team times at Crystal Springs have been set the past 3 seasons. 1:50:00 in 2014, 1:50:27 in 2015, and 1:55:07 in 2013. The fact that 1:55:07 in 2013 is the 4th best team time in school history, shows that the team’s of the last few seasons are making the school’s history on the girl’s side stronger each passing season. The team will need to break into the 1:40s to be truly competitive throughout the CCS however. Christina Avalos ran 20:38 in 2022 for #7 on the school’s all time list. Daniela Camacho ran 20:33 in 2014 to put herself # 5 on the school’s all time list. In 2015 Maria Mendoza ran 20:35 for #6 and this year Arlet Miranda has already run 20:18 for #3.

With the Crystal Springs Invite just having past, and BVAL Finals at Crystal Springs just 3 weeks away, this is a chance to reflect on the team’s storied history on the course. The JLXC team of 2016 will work hard to try to improve it further, and know that Comets before them have set a high bar for success.

STAL #4 at Montgomery Hill will take place on Thursday October 13th, with STAL #5 a week later. The team is in it’s final phase of training now, readying themselves to run at their best at BVAL Finals (though Arlet and the varsity boys will work to peek for CCS 12 days later).

 

Thank you for reading, there is a chart of Crystal Springs by year below.

-Benny Reeves

 

Below is a list of James Lick’s best times at Crystal Springs each year, taking the best team time in a season, and listing what its runners ran to achieve it.

Year R 1 R 2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Team Time Pace Average Race

2016

2015

17:02 17:55 17:58 18:00 18:13 (18:40) (18:06) 1:29:07 6:03 17:49 BVAL Finals

2014

17:18 17:49 18:35 18:47 18:53 (19:30) (20:51) 1:31:22 6:12 18:16 BVAL Finals

2013

18:32 19:30 19:32 19:42 19:54 (20:36) 1:37:09 6:35 19:26 BVAL Finals

2012

17:50 17:56 18:09 18:16 18:24 (18:52) 1:30:34 6:08 18:07 Crystal Springs Invite

2011

17:31 18:09 18:09 18:26 18:29 (20:13) 1:30:44 6:09 18:09 Crystal Springs Invite

2010

17:30 18:14 18:20 18:38 19:02 (19:03) (19:17) 1:31:45 6:13 18:21 BVAL Finals

2009

17:46 18:17 18:45 18:56 19:00 (19:15) (20:11) 1:32:44 6:17 18:33 BVAL Finals

2008

17:19 18:44 19:14 19:29 20:02 (10:13) (21:10) 1:34:48 6:26 18:58 BVAL Finals

2007

18:49 19:14 19:27 19:43 (20:07) 1:37:20 6:36 19:28 CCS Finals

2006

17:55 18:50 19:16 19:37 19:41 1:35:19 6:28 19:04 BVAL Finals

2005

16:34 17:39 18:20 19:19 19:32 1:31:24 6:12 18:17 CCS Finals

2004

17:03 17:09 17:36 19:05 19:43 (21:11) 1:30:36 6:09 18:07 BVAL Finals

2003

16:17 17:06 17:19 17:38 17:54 (18:24) (18:52) 1:26:14 5:51 17:15 BVAL Finals

2002

16:50 16:57 17:08 17:19 17:23 (17:57) (17:59) 1:25:47 5:48 17:07 BVAL Finals

2001

16:50 16:56 17:02 17:07 17:11 (17:46) (20:15) 1:25:06 5:46 17:01 CCS Finals

2000

16:09 16:29 17:03 17:08 17:14 (18:06) (18:15) 1:24:03 5:42 16:48 CCS Finals

1999

16:38 16:41 17:05 17:30 17:37 (17:46) (17:56) 1:25:31 17:06 CCS Finals

1998

15:45 17:20 17:45 18:19 18:28 (18:32) (20:08) 1:27:37 17:31 BVAL Finals

1997

16:41 16:45 18:03 18:20 18:31 (18:39) (19:47) 1:28:20 17:40 CCS Finals

1996

15:53 16:55 17:39 17:41 17:43 (18:18) (19:46) 1:25:51 17:10 CCS Finals

1995

16:28 17:22 18:29 20:49 21:15 (21:18) 1:34:23 18:53 CCS Finals

1994

16:03 16:48 17:07 18:13 18:34 (19:04) (20:05) 1:26:45 17:21 CCS Finals

1993

16:32 17:07 17:15 18:03 18:29 (19:55) (20:06) 1:27:26 17:29 CCS Finals

1992

16:06 16:33 16:44 17:30 17:42 (17:57) (18:10) 1:24:35 16:53 CCS Finals

1991

17:26 17:46 18:16 18:21 18:33 (19:13) (19:17) 1:30:22 18:04 CCS Regional Meet

1990

NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA

1989

16:46 16:47 17:23 17:30 17:44 (17:55) (18:14) 1:26:10 17:14 CCS Regional Meet

1988

17:11 17:15 17:42 17:49 17:56 (18:25) (20:52) 1:27:53 17:35 Crystal Springs Center Meet

1987

15:41 16:27 16:38 16:45 16:54 (17:15) (17:59) 1:22:25 16:29 CCS Regional Meet

1986

15:21 16:06 16:33 17:14 17:18 (17:38) (18:26) 1:22:32 16:30 CCS Finals

1985

16:22 17:20 17:22 17:24 17:48 (18:13) (18:17) 1:26:16 17:15 Crystal Springs Center Meet

1984

NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA

1983

NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA

1982

NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA

1981

15:37 15:53 16:20 16:26 16:31 (16:37) (16:45) 1:20:46 16:09 CCS Finals

1980

16:03 16:07 16:29 16:58 17:43 (18:55) 1:23:20 16:40 CCS Finals

1979

16:32 16:38 16:38 16:46 16:49 (16:51) (17:41) 1:23:23 16:41 CCS Finals

1978

15:57 16:10 16:25 16:57 17:06 (17:20) 1:23:44 CCS Finals

1977

15:52 16:12 16:29 16:35 16:43 1:21:51 Crystal Springs Center Meet

1976

NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA

1975

15:30 16:45 16:52 17:05 18:20 (19:28) (19:29) 1:24:32 Crystal Springs Center Meet

1974

1973

16:06 16:22 16:26 16:50 17:02 (17:42) 1:22:25 9 Crystal Springs Center Meet

1972

1971