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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Ideally, the Crystal Springs Invite is one of the biggest invitationals of the season for the Comets, a chance to compete against many of the top schools in the CCS on a historic and significant course. Every member of the team can stand to benefit from running at Crystal Springs, as BVAL Finals in 3 weeks will be held there. Due to SATS, homecoming week, and other such commitments, only a small group of Comet runners made the trip up for the invite this year, but the invite still yielded some impressive results for the team.
The day began with the JV boys race, the only race in which the Comets fielded a full team.David Bejines nearly broke 7 minute mile pace for the first time on a (basically) 3 mile course, running 20:42 for the 2.95 mile crystal springs. Freshmen Nien Tran and Jerricho Habon followed in 20:58 and 21:00, strong times indicating both boys should have a chance at breaking 20 minutes for Montgomery Hill next week. The 7:06 pace was the best of Nien’s XC career, and the best pace of Jerricho’s career on any course longer than 2.3 miles. Austin Swank ran a solid 21:24 to be the next boy in, and Hugo Marquez was the 5th boy in 22:21. The 7:35 mile pace for Hugo was also the best of his career for a course close to 3 miles. Melvin Estrada ran a solid 22:31, but other races suggest he can already go faster. Daniel Portillo rounded out the team in 23:45, following his teammates lead with a career best pace for a 3 mile or similar race.
4 of the team’s Varsity girls competed in the highly competitive Varsity Girls Championship race next. Arlet Miranda lead the group in 20:18, the 3rd fastest time in school history. Her performance earned her a medal in the very competitive race. Maria Mendoza ran 22:52, a solid time though well off of her strong times form last year when she had more time to train. Daisy Nava cam in next, a bit off of her initial Crystal Springs time from last year, though Denisse Calixto ran a solid PR to finish in 25:21. The final 3 Comet girls to run ran later in the JV girls race. Valerie Flores and Aliana Santos kicked in together at 29:25 and 29:56. Brittany Salazar finished in 34:49.
The team took only two varsity boys to the race, but they performed exceedingly well. Nathan Bernardo ran a 17 second PR of 16:45 to become the first Comet since 2005 to break 17 minutes at Crystal Springs. Azael Zamora was right behind him at 16:48. The pair worked together throughout the race, running a 5:25 1st mile, a 5:43 second mile, followed by a 5:37/5:40 for the final .95 miles, which are slightly uphill. The presence of only two boys made it so that the team could not compare team times directly to other teams however, Nathan and Azael finished 6th and 7th amongst BVAL runners with 16/24 total schools represented. Nathan and Azael ran very well compared to many of the team’s target schools, setting the team up well for future meets at full strength.
I believe a reasonable translation for Montgomery Hill to Crystal Springs comparison is to add 45 seconds to 1 minute depending on a runners proficiency on either given course. For example, Nathan ran 16:45 at Crystal Springs just days after running 15:52 at Montgomery. Azael had an off race at Montgomery, running 16:26, then ran 16:48 today at Crystal Springs. Arlet and Mara ran 19:16 and 21:50 at Montgomery Hill, then 20:18 and 22:52 today. These are anecdotal comparisons, but they illustrate the conversion as relatively accurate. Athletes significantly stronger at Crystal Springs can keep the gap to about 40 seconds, but 1 minute is a fair time to add for conversion purposes.
Using this conversion to add Inteus (16:40 at Montgomery this week) Gustavo A (16:53) and Gustavo P (16:56) would give the team a 1-5 of: 16:45, 16:48, 17:40, 17:53, 17:56. This is with the omision of Erik Olsvold who ran 15:57 at Montgomery, since he is unlikely to be able to run at CCS this year. Even with the omission of Erik, this team’s hypothetical time would have been 87:02. The top 3 teams in CCS division 3 go to State. At the last ranking, the Comets were 6th with Mills, St. Ignatius, Riordan, Sacred Heart Cathedral, and Aptos ranked ahead of James Lick in that order. At the Crystal Springs invite Riordan was the top D3 school at 86:23, with SHC at 87:26 and St. Ignatius at 89:10. It’s no mean feet to take on private schools like these, but the Comets are showing a capability of at least putting up a strong fight at CCS.
The Comets will take to Montgomery Hill again on Thursday October 13th for STAL #4 against Oak Grove.
The James Lick Comets took to the Lowell Invitational in Golden Gate Park this Saturday for only the 2nd time in school history. The event went so well however, that it may become a yearly one for the Comets. The Lowell Course is clearly a fast one, with the 2.13 mile FS Course, and 2.93 mile JV/Varsity Course both being overall very flat. The 61 degree weather at race time, also made for great distance running conditions. Overall the Comets capitalized on these factors, running very encouraging times, though the lack of JL history at Lowell makes contextualizing these results a bit tricky.
A relatively small group attended the meet, with the Comets only forming two full racing teams. The first race of the day saw one, where 5 Comet Boys ran the Freshmen race. Jerricho Habon and Melvin Estrada lead the group, finishing in 14:28 and 14:33. Both runners broke the 7 minute mile pace barrier for an XC course for the first time. Both boys worked hard all summer as incoming freshmen, and neither had broken 8 minutes for a single mile before this season. Nien Tran was the next Comet in at 15:17. Nien’s pace of 7:11, was also by far the fastest pace of his young XC career. Hugo Marquez clocked in at 16:08, 7:35 pace and Daniel Portillo finished the Comets race with a 16:53, also breaking the 8 minute mile pace barrier for the first time. With this being the Comets second year ever at Lowell, Jerrichio’s time establishes a new 2.13 mile course record for the team.
The next race for the team was the JV Boys, shortly followed by the JV girls. Isaak Herrera continues to build on a strong start to his season, running time of 20:37 for the 2.93 mile course. Isaak had never run under 7:30 pace for an XC race before, but at Lowell he nearly broke 7:00 pace. Alfonso Farias’ time of 23:09, meant that every boy on the team ran under 8:00 mile pace for the day.
The JV girls race also saw improvements for the team. Aliana Santos built on a solid XC debut on Thursday, with a 27: 42 showing at the Lowell Invite. Aliana’s kick was something to behold (see video) where she passed over 20 girls in the final 500 meters of the race. Elizabeth Perez broke 30 minutes for the first time on a course longer than 2.5 miles. Her time of 29:43, was nearly the best XC pace of her career. Ally Floreza ran 33:21, all 3 girls ran faster for the Lowell invite than they did on the shorter Alum Rock Course on Thursday.
The Varsity Girls saw some very strong performances as well. Following her breakout run of 7:03 mile pace on Thursday, our goal for Arlet was to break the 7 minute mile pace barrier for he first time. Arlet’s time of 19:27 had her shattering that goal, with a mile pace of 6:38, and the establishment of her very first JLXC Course record (and hopefully not the last). Maria Mendoza rebounded from an off race on Thursday, running 21:19 and 7:16 pace compared to an 8:01 pace on Thursday. Her race, along with the strong time of Denisse Calixto (1:30 faster than she ran on Thursday) is a good sign for a girls team that started their STAL season 0-2. Denisse ran 24:16, her pace of 8:16 being the fastest of her career to this point.
The final race of the day, and the most anticipated with it being the team’s best group this year, was the Varsity Boys. Religious commitments prevent rising star Erik Olsvold from competing on Saturdays, but the team was eager to prove they could excel without the team’s #2 runner from Thursday (as they will likely need to do at CCS the year). The team has been hoping to not only win the STAL, but to break into the top 8 overall at BVAL Finals and beat some MHAL (‘A’ Division) teams in the process. No JL team since 2004 has finished in the top 10 at BVAL finals. The fact that the team had two MHAL teams in their race at Lowell was very motivating for them. Comparing themselves against two MHAL teams in the same race is a great way to asses their fitness against tough competition. Evergreen (last year’s 6th team at BVAL Finals, and the #1 Frosh/Soph team) and Santa Teresa (last year’s #9 team at BVAL finals) both toed the line with the Comets. The sustained success of these two programs, both being in the MHAL for over 8 years in a row now, combined with student bodies which more than double James Lick’s in number, make the Comets a clear underdog against the two teams. It should also be noted that with MHAL #1 taking place last Thursday, both Evergreen and Santa Teresa’s Varsity boys teams showed their strength, starting off undefeated in the ‘A’ division.
At the Lowell Invitational however, the Comets defeated them both. The team will need to work extremely hard to stay up with these top teams, and will try to take them on at BVAL Finals where it counts. While Invitationals are more about experience and times than they are competition, this was a huge confidence building victory for the team. The team was spearheaded by the 1-2 punch of Azael Zamora and Nathan Bernardo, running 16:22 and 16:23 respectively despite running very different races. Azael ran a very fast first mile and may have exerted himself too much, he had to fight to hold off Evergreen’s best boy who ran 16:23. Nathan on the other hand, was well behind Evergreen’s best boy and Santa Teresa’s best boy (who ran 16:27), with only 200 meters to go, but managed to run them both down, finishing just behind Azael in the placings. Both boys ran under 5:40 pace for the first time in their XC careers.
Inteus Casto-Lopez was the team’s 3rd boy in 17:19, running under 6 minute pace for the first time this year and the second time in his career. This was a solid rebound from his 17:55 on Thursday. Gustavo Aguilera ran 17:34, breaking the 6 minute mile pace barrier for the first time in his XC career. Gustavo Parra nearly did the same as the team’s 5th boy, running 17:45 for 6:03 pace. Jesus Deloya rounded out the group with a time of 18:34 for 6:19 pace, the first time Jesus has broken 6:30 pace for any XC course. Their team time of 1:25:27 (85:27) is in line with the Comets goal of running in the Mid 80s as a team for 3 mile/near 3 mile courses this season.
Overall the race was a fantastic day for the team. Some of the paces/times the team achieved at Lowell were almost too good to believe. The Comets will look to build on their performance at Lowell, and the athletes who managed to run faster times at Lowell than they did for STAL 1, will look ahead to next Thursday’s matchup with Prospect to end their Alum Rock racing season strong.
This post will contain two blogs for the price of one.
Blog 1: JLXC at Montgomery Hill
Today, James Lick is a member of the BVAL, a 24 team “power league” which formed in 1996. James Lick was a member of the MHAL (Mount Hamilton Athletic League) from 1965- the early 90s. With the formation of the BVAL in 96′ MHAL took the place of the ‘A’ division of the BVAL,the STAL (Santa Teresa League) took on the role of the ‘B’ division, and the WVAL (West Valley League) took on the role of the ‘C’ division.
Following its foundation, the BVAL searched for an accessible area to use for its league meets. Alum Rock park, long used by the MHAL, was used for some races, as was Helyer Park and Santa Teresa park. In the year 2000 however, the BVAL created a race course at Montgomery Hill Park, right next to Evergreen Valley college. The park, as its name indicates, is extremely hilly for a cross country course and has no shade to offer. These factors combined with its loose dirt in places, makes it the slowest race course (in terms of mile pace) in the CCS central conference. The original course was 2.95 miles, and was used for several races in 2000. In 2001 and 2002, the course became almost exclusively the BVAL’s course of choice for league meets. In 2003, the course was modified to its current 2.74 mile format, and has been run by the BVAL every year since.
With the 2016 season approaching, Montgomery’s entering its 17th year of use. James Lick has 15 years of history on the course (In 2012 all of JL’s league meets were at Alum Rock). With a limited history compared to historic courses like Crystal Springs, and one which has taken place after most of JL’s greatest seasons, the Montgomery hill school all time lists are not amongst the school’s best performances. The teams of recent years however are heading solidly in the right direction.
The JL teams of the early 2000s were some of the best teams in the entire BVAL on the boys side. The 2001 team ran some of the first fast times on the course. The boy’s team’s 2nd best combined team time (calculated by adding the times of the top 5 runners together) on the course was run in 2001. The team ran a time of 82:47 (converted for the 2.74 mile course). Ivan Navarro ran a converted 15:52, one of only 2 sub 16 minute clockings at Montgomery in school history.
In 2003 the course was altered to its current format, and with it came the current school records on the course, both individually and as a team. Jose Gutierrez ran 15:05, an outstanding time and a school record for the course. This time helped the team to a combined time of 81:48, an average of 16:22 a runner. In the mid 2000s, (the weakest era of JLXC) the team consistently ran times in the high 80s or low 90s, with a few standout performances such as Erick Herrera’s 16:01 in 2005.
The team gradually fell from the top of the ‘A’ division in 2003, to the middle of the ‘C’ division a mere 4 years later. The team of 2009 however, began to spark some life into the program by winning the WVAL and moving up to the STAL. Even then however, the boys team only managed a team time of 90:02, a far cry from the mid 80 minute clockings of the early 2000s.
The rebirth of JLXC that the current program is striving to create has been a joy to witness. The team of 2013 (my first year as coach), ran a team time of 94:56, the slowest Montgomery Hill team time for James Lick on record. A year later however, then sophomore and current senior and team captain, Nathan Bernardo, helped the team take a huge step back towards respectability with a team time of 87:05.
In the now 16 years of course History,24 Comet boys have run under 17 minutes at Montgomery Hill (A common varsity boy time even in the ‘A’ division), but only 9 Comets have managed the feet since 2006. In 2014, Nathan added his name to the list along with teammate Karan Singh, making it the first season where two Comets simultaneously broke the barrier since 2010, when Ricardo Flores and myself combined to do so.
2015 witnessed yet another leap forward, as the team combined for a time of 84:40, despite not running their normal 4th runner at their best league race. This was the 4th best team time for JL (out of 15 total years) in history, and only 20 seconds off of the team of 2004. Nathan ran 16:10 to put himself #4 on the school’s all time list for the course, and the team also saw Hector Ramirez run under 17 minutes, with Inteus Castro-Lopez and Gustavo Aguilera at 17:00 and 17:09 respectively.
The team of 2016 is actively going after the school record of the 2001 team, and their first time trial of the season was a great indicator of their capability. More on that Below.
Even in the 2000s where the boys team was struggling compared to decades and even years past, the girls team was struggling mightily to be competitive, like throughout much of its history. JL was unable to field a full team in some of the early BVAL years, and 2003 was the first time the team managed to break 2 hours for the course, with a combined team time of 1:58:39 or 118:39.
In a few years however, the team was bolstered by the arrival of Kayla Matsuda, who currently stands as James Lick’s greatest ever girl Cross Country runner. Kayla’s PR and school record of 18:12 run in 2006, still stands as one of the top 20 Montgomery times for any school. It also lead the team to a big school record team time of 1:54:53. This time was bettered a year later by the team of 2007, running 1:49:51 to narrowly miss out on winning the ‘C’ division championship. That team also saw freshmen Aurora Lepe run 21:14, a 21 minute time is a decent varsity time in the ‘A’ division. After Kayla’ graduation in 2009, the girls team struggled to be competitive again, especially with the teams move into the ‘B’ division in 2010. From 2010-2012 the Varsity girls team went a combined 0-21, strong individual times such as the 20:03 clocking in 2010 by Ana Tapia (3rd best JL time ever) and the 21:25 of freshmen Daniela Camacho in 2011 not withstanding.
The team of 2013 however saw a surge in there group capability. Despite the boys struggles in 2013, the girls team ran 1:50:06, the then #2 team time in school history, and managed a winning record in the ‘B’ division as a result. Record keeping and political issues lead to the team of 2014 being placed in the ‘C’ divison for the 2014 season, and the 2014 team worked hard to correct that mistake. Daniela Camacho ran the #2 time in school history, with a 19:32 clocking, giving the Comets two girls (all time) under 20 at Montgomery to go with their 2 boys under 16. Thanks to strong runs from athletes like Paloma Contreras, Milka Perez, and Maria Mendoza, 2014 was the first season in school history where 4 girls ran under 22:00 in the same race. This resulted in a huge team record of 1:45:57, and arguably the greatest girls XC season in JL history.
Despite the loss of of 6/7 of the team’s varsity girls from the 2014 season, the 2015 season ran a solid team time of 1:49:58, breaking the 1:50:00 barrier at Montgomery for the 3rd time in the school’s 15 seasons on the course, despite a very inexperienced girls team. Maria lowered her PR to 20:31, giving her the #4 JL time in history for the course.
Montgomery hill is now the team’s most raced upon course. Generally the team has somewhere between 2-4 races their every season, and the all time lists for the course will continue to grow each season. With the team striving every day to rebuild a once tremendous XC program. Montgomery hill times will be an important barometer of success going forward.
More information on JLXC’s rich history can be found here:
Note: All historical data is based on actual archival data/ newspaper results. This is simply the all time lists I have been able to compile, if you have any information that I am missing please do not hesitate to send it my way!
It is my intention to write on a piece on the history of every course we will race this year, if coaching/ graduate studies/ student teaching allow me enough time.
In any case thank you for reading this summary, Blog 2 Below.
Blog 2: Time Trial Recap
The 2016 team showered their desire to take yet another step forward this season with a very strong time trial showing. Azael Zamora lead the group in a huge PR of 16:42, despite only giving an estimated 85% effort. Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a 1 second PR of 16:59, despite the earliness of the season and the fact that he was also treating the run as ,ore of a threshold run than a true time trial. Erik Olsvold did go all out, and ran a full minute PR of 17:18, showing the benefits of his strong track season. Nathan Bernardo did not even bring his racing shoes, but ran a time of 17:33, 17 second abetter than his time at the same time trial a year ago.
Gustavo Aguilera and Gustavo Parra ran 18:36 and 18:49 respectively, way ahead of their 19:04 and 21:37 clockings from last years Montgomery time trial. Jesus Deloya and Vincent Giglio also broke 20, running 19:36 and 19:53, putting both runners on track to break 18 minutes this season for the course.
The next Comet in was sophomore Arlet Miranda, fresh off of her breakout track season, looking to push away the memories of her injury plagued freshmen XC season. Her time of 20:47 puts her #5 on the all time list, and bodes well for her chances to move onto #2 on the school’s list by seasons end. Recent transfer, David Bejines finished with a time of 22:12, an experienced runner as a junior, David will look to factor into the teams plans as he rounds into shape. Freshmen Jericho Habon was next in a time of 22:19. Jericho is one of a number of extremely dedicated freshmen who have worked hard to turn themselves from runners who couldn’t run under 8 minutes for a mile, to strong ‘B’ division frosh-sops athletes. This is their goal with a few weeks before races begin. fellow dedicated freshmen, Kevin Bach came across the line in 24:48 in his first official James Lick clocking. Julia Cruz was the only girl besides Arlet to take part, and she ran a solid 25:05 after her first week back at practice. This is faster than Julia’s time from early October of last season, and she went on to run a solid 23:07 that season.
The Comets are hard at work, and have big time aspirations this season. Despite the fact that the top group of boys treated this run as only a hard practice run, they ran 1:27:07/87:07 , faster than 7 of the 15 seasons where James Lick has run at Montgomery Hill. The team record of 1:21:48/ 81:48 is on their mind, as is a ‘B’ division title.
The girls team spearheaded by Arlet has the aim of breaking 1:50:00 at Crystal Springs, which would be the best league finals time in school history for the girls. Despite the 2 girl showing on Saturday, the girls team is very much rounding together with athletes like Daisy Nava, Maria Mendoza, and Milka Perez hard at work.
The North Rim trail has been closed, but the Comets will look to run a time trial on it as soon as it opens if their schedule permits. In any case the Alumni Race will take place on Friday September 2nd beginning at 6:00 P.M. I recommend any alumni runners arrive at 5:30 if possible to allow time for warmups. The event is less than two weeks away, and the whole Comet team is gaining steam.