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.
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.
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.
For the first time in school history, James Lick attended the Dublin Distance Fiesta on Saturday March 16th of 2019. The meet is the biggest distance only invitational in the country, with nearly 4,000 entries between the 1600, 800 and 3200.
The Comets took a small group and focused on the 1600 and 800 primarily. Despite the small group, it was a very successful day for the Comet crew overall.
Jhesselyn Santos started the Comets day with a 7:42.09 clocking, the 2nd best time of her career. The very next heat saw 3 different PRS. Lizbeth Espana ran 6:41 (previous best 6:45) Ruth Rodriguez ran 6:54 (previous best 7:07). Mariana Perez ran a seasons best 7:08 and Emely Lopez ran a PR of 7:19 (previous best 7:26).
The highlight of the day for the lady milers was in the next heat. ONe of the appeals of the Dublin meet is that the top runners in every single heat win a t-shirt. Mya Hammond became the first Comet to do so running a massive PR of 6:30.70 (previous best 6:48) to place 2nd in her heat. Erika Camacho also ran a PR of 6:42 (previous best 6:50). Arlet Miranda didn’t have her best day, but ran a seasons best 5:49 in her heat.
On the boys side, the Comets only had 3 milers. Melvin Estrada ran 5:18, just missing his seasons best. Brandon Cruz lowered his PR to 5:01.45 (previous PR 5:08) and is now knocking on the door of the 5 minute barrier. Mark Orpia ran 4:58.41, a PR by 7 seconds to break the barrier for the first time. Mark is also the 10th boy I’ve coached to run under 5 minutes for the 1600.
Jhesselyn made her debut in the girls 800 with a time of 3:27. Ruth ran a new PR of 3:09 (previous best 3:15). Yesenia Martinez ran the 800 as strength work for her 300 hurdles and ran a solid 3:09 clocking as well. Erika lowered her PR form 3:08 to 3:00.34, a very strong performance for her.
On the boys side, Hugo Marquez ran a seasons best 2:43. Several of the Comet sprinters ran the 800 as strength work as well. Rodolf Ocampo made his 800m debut running 2:32. Geo Campos (the team’s 2nd best 100m runner) ran a 2:26 and placed 2nd in his heat. Melvin ran a seasons best 2:25 in the 800 as he continues to work his way back into shape. Josh Merin ran an impressive debut of 2:21. Josh was in a position to run even faster until he tied up badly with 50 meters to go. Brandon ran a PR of 2:21.36 as well.
Mark Orpia ran a small PR of 2:16.43. The highlight of the day Was Salvador Lopez in the 800. Currently the team’s leader in the High Jump, Long Jump, Triple Jump, 400 and 300 hurdles, Sal strengthened his case to one day be a decathlete by running 2:13. 13 in his very first try at the event. Sal ran the race very well and kicked to victory over the last 100 using his sprint speed.
It was a god day for the Comets and a welcome weekend of rest for much of the team. The team will now gear up for a dual meet at Pioneer on Thursday March 21st. The team will then head to the De Anza Invitational on Saturday March 23rd.
Pioneer will be a huge early matchup. With Evergreen now in the ‘A’ division (14-0 last season) the mantle for best track team figured to be between Pioneer and Lincoln (both 11-3 last season). Lincoln and Pioneer have already had their dual this season, with Pioneer winning both sides.
This may be the team’s toughest meet of the season, and a critical meet as the team attacks a division title on the girls side.
The James Lick cross country team contested their final league meet of the 2018 season on Thursday October 18th at Montgomery hill. The meet determined the final records for each team in the Santa Teresa division (‘B’ division) with only league finals left to affect team standings.
The frosh/soph boys had a rough race to end what was a rough year for the young Comets. The frosh/soph team had been thin all year, and we called Omar Fimbres, our top sophomore boy, up to varsity to shore up the varsity squad, making the frosh/soph team even thinner. This left Jonathan Bradley and Jay Austria to spearhead the team, though neither by had a good race by their standards. Alberto Trejo ran a PR of 21:02. Jordan Laguna ran a PR of 23:07 and Josue Gomez mustered a PR of 25:13. Despite these PRs, the frosh/soph team lost to both Pioneer and Leigh to end their season 1-6.
The varsity girls had a much better showing. Arlet Miranda rebounded from minor injury a week ago, to match her PR, running 19:10 for the second time in her career. Yeimili Adame shaved over 20 seconds off of her PR, running 20:13, the 5th best time in school history. As the #2 and #5 fastest Comets ever on the Montgomery hill course, Arlet and Yeimili form the best 1-2 combination the Comets have had in decades. This marked the first time that two lady Comets ran under 21 minutes at Montgomery in the same race.
This set the team up well to attack the school record team time of 2014, when the Comets clocked 1:45:57 ( an average of 21:11 per girl) to finish 7-0 in the West Valley division (‘C’ division). Belen Sanchez and Jessica Cervantes ran small PRs of 21:55 and 21:57 respectively. Both girls cracked the 22 minute barrier for the first time in their careers. Ashley Preciado had an off race, but was the all important 5th girl in at 22:27. This gave the team a combined team time of 1:45:43 (once times were rounded up) shaving 14 seconds off of the school record. Jenny Villagomez ran a huge PR of 22:45, and Yesenia Martinez rounded out the team.
As the team of 2018 attempts to claim the throne of the best James Lick team of the BVAL era (since 1996) here is a quick comparison, against the current #1, the team of 2014, at Montgomery Hill.
Daniela Camacho 19:32 1. Arlet Miranda 19:11
Paloma Contreras 21:02 2. Yeimili Adame 20:13
Milka Perez 21:12 3. Belen Sanchez 21:55
Maria Mendoza 21:30 4. Jessica Cervantes 21:57
Julia Cruz 22:41 5. Ashley Preciado 22:27
Brianna Flores 23:25 6. Jenny Villagomez 22:45
Alma Padilla 24:12 7. Yesenia Martinez 23:51
The team is now poised to try to seal their claim to “best team of the BVAL era” if they can beat the team time of the 2014 ladies at Crystal Springs. The team of 2014 ran 1:50:00 exactly, the 2nd best team time in school history only to the squad of 1981 (they ran 1:46:xx).
The girls defeated both Leigh and Pioneer to finish the season 5-2. This is the best record the James Lick girls have ever achieved in the ‘B’ division.
The varsity boys were next up, and they would need 1 victory to ensure a winning season. Mark Orpia lead the team running a small PR of 16:19. This moved Mark up to 8th on the school’s all time list for Montgomery Hill. Erik Olsvold was the #2 Comet in a seasons best of 16:50. Melvin Estrada ran a 1 second PR of 17:15. Jerricho Habon and Nien Tran streamed in together at 17:28 and 17:29 ( a 26 second PR for Nien). Brandon Cruz ran a small PR of 17:31. The team was without last week’s #3 runner, Jared Resendiz who was battling the flu this week. Omar Fimbres was the 7th boy in 18:07.
The Comets fell to a very strong pioneer team (pioneer missed beating Branham by 1 point, making them 6-1 and Branham 7-0). James Lick did defeat Leigh however to end the regular season 4-3 on the boys side. This is the first time that both the varsity boys and varsity girls for the Comets finished the season with winning records in the ‘B’ divsion in the same season. Branham has been the best team in the division, a combined 14-0. We are tied with Pioneer with combined records of 9-5 for the #2 overall team in the division.
The reserve boys continue to show improvement as a group as well. For the first time since 2010, the reserve team ran under 100 minutes as a team at Montgomery Hill, and they did it without a key reserve boy in Gustavo Madrigal. The team of 2010 managed to have 5 boys run under 20 minutes for the course. This year’s squad has had 4 boys accomplish this feet. Geo Campos lead the team running 18:48, 1 second off of his PR. Vincent Giglio ran a big seasons best of 19:37 as the 2nd Comet in. Daniel Portillo also cracked 20 minutes for the team. Hugo Marquez and Rodolf Ocampo made up the 4 and 5 in 20:19 and 20:32. Rafael Yanez and Kevin Santacruz rounded out the boys day by running 30 second PRs. Rafa stopped the clock at 24:41 while Kevin ran 28:54.
The final race on the day was the JV/ reserve girls race, the strength of the team this season. A Sobrato runner finished in first place. After that, 5 Comets streamed in before any other JV or reserve girl. Mariana Perez lead the team in 2nd place overall. She ran a massive PR of 23:34. Erika Camacho took 3rd place in 23:45 (PR by 26 seconds) . Estefani Herrera took 4th in 23:56 (PR by 20 seconds) . Mya Hammond and Ruth Rodriguez finished in 24:24 and 24:25 in 5th and 6th place. Emely Lopez and Jhesselyn Santos were the 6th and 7th Comets in 25:27 and 25:55, both girls running under 26 minutes for the first time.
The JV girls had perfect scores against both Leigh and Pioneer, moving them to 7-0 on the season. This team ran the fastest JV girls team time at Montgomery hill in school history, combing to run 2:00:06, just missing the 2 hour barrier. The previous best JV team at Montgomery hill was the team of 2014, who managed to run 2:03:47. That team managed a 6th place finish at BVAL finals out of all 24 BVAL teams. The potential for a high finish makes this team an exciting one heading into league finals. It is remarkable how far some of our girls have come in the past year.
The trio of Mariana, Erika and Estefani make us especially proud. Last year, Mariana was the fastest of the trio at 28:40. The other two could not break 30 minutes. They have come so far that Estefani, as the slowest of the three would have beaten 10 of the girls in the varsity race. All 3 girls could not run a mile under 9 minutes when they started running in fall of 2017 (Estefani couldn’t run a mile under 10 minutes.) Now all three can run under 9 minute course for even the very difficult Montgomery hill cross country course.
The remaining girls also had great performances. Francine Estranero ran a PR by 47 seconds, stopping the clock at 26:47. Araceli Mejia ran 28:04 despite never having run under 31 minutes previously. Angelina Guevara (28:10) and Ellie Castro (29:18) both broke the 30 minute barrier for the first time. Adriana Marcelino ended the Comets day with a 3 minute PR of 31:23.
It was a solid day for the team overall and a great one for the girls as a whole.
The team will now turn their attention to BVAL finals on Monday October 29th. It will be the final official race of the season for the majority of the team, while the varsity sides will try to extend their seasons to CCS with a strong showing.
The James Lick Comets opened their 2018 cross country season in Golden Gate Park with the Lowell Invitational on Saturday September 8th. This is just the 4th time the Comets have competed at the Lowell Invite, but this was the best showing the Comets have had on the girls side.
The Lowell invitational is a very competitive meet, and the first race that James Lick competed in was the frosh/soph girls race. It was the first time that the team had a complete frosh/soph girls team on the 2.13 mile course. Freshmen Ruth Rodriguez had an impressive debut running 17:35 to lead the group, the 2nd best time on the course in the 4 years of school history in Golden Gate Park. Erika Camacho was next in 18:18, the 8:36 pace being the best of her career for a cross country course. Mya Hammond and and Jessica Cervantes came in together at 18:32. It was a 1 minute PR for Mya despite the fact that she fell down during the race. Mia Hammond and Mariana Perez streamed in at 18:43 and 18:44, giving the Comets 6 girls under 19 minutes for the course, compared to only one last year. Jana Kikhia last year was the top Comet at 18:34. Jana went on to run 24:52 at Crystal Springs by league finals, placing 29th out of 97 JV girls. The fact that so many Comets are around Jana’s time at Lowell, indicates just how strong this year’s JV girls team could be.
Despite all of this, myself and coach Raul actually feel that several of our JV girls actually underperformed. We think big things are to come later this month. Francine Estranero ran 20:45, 1 PR by 1 minute, despite staying back to check on Jana, who was injured in the race.
The next race for the team was the JV boys race. The non frosh/soph races were contesting the 2.93 mile course. A fast course, very similar in distance to Crystal Springs. Gustavo Madrigal lead the group, running a time of 19:50. This shattered his PR of 21:58, and it was also the first time Gustavo has ever run under 7 minute mile pace (6:46 pace) for an XC course. Omar Fimbres was next in 20:06. Omar ran the 2.93 mile course in 6:53 pace, by comparison, he only ran 7:01 pace for the 2.13 mile course last year. Rodolf Ocampo, Alberto Trejo and Josue Gomez rounded out the team in 21:56, 22:24 and 26:59 respectively.
The JV girls race saw Giulissa Correa and Kirsten Yutuc compete for the team. Giulissa had a great race, running 26:05, 8:54 pace. Giulissa has really impressed with her work ethic in this, her first cross country season. Kirsten managed a small PR of 26:46 as well.
In the afternoon, both varsity races were run. On both sides, the team was missing a few members of their team, but the teams competed to the best of their abilities. On the girl’s side, we have sent the goal of chasing school records this year, and the Lowell invite was the first and easiest step. With only 4 years of history, the team was indeed able to set a new team record. The team time record before this season was 2:01:10. The team this year managed to run 11 minutes faster, a team time of 1:50:15.
The team was lead by Arlet Miranda in 19:42. Arlet wasn’t able to beat her own school record of 19:28 but it was a strong performance nonetheless. Yeimili Adame ran 21:09, for a 7:13 pace, the best pace of her young career. Belen Sanchez was the 3rd Comet in at 22:17, beating her PR of 23:09 quite handily. Ashley Preciado was close behind in 22:22, a PR by over 3 minutes, and by far the fastest pace of her career. Jenny Villagomez was the 5th girl in 24:43. The team was without Yesenia Martinez who had been the team’s 5th girl at the alumni race.Overall it was a great performance for the girls team, and one they will hope to build on going forward.
The final race of the day was the varsity boys. The team was without top runner Erik Olsvold, and team #5 at the alumni race, Jared Resendiz. Mark Orpia spearheaded the team with a 30 second PR of 17:15. Jerricho Habon was next in at 17:49. Jerricho’s PR on the 2.13 mile course was run at 6:48 pace, a far cry from the 6:05 pace he just ran on the 2.93 mile course. Nien Tran took a big step forward, running 18:32 as the 3rd boy in. Brandon Cruz and Geo Campos were close behind in 18:36 and 18:37.
The varsity team is still developing but there is good reason for optimism for the future. For one thing, all 5 of these boys are juniors. Geo is in his first season of cross country for the team and is improving rapidly. The other Comets are all improving from year to year as well. Last year Nien ran 6:59 pace for the 2.13 mile course. This year he ran 6:20 pace for the 2.93 mile course. Brandon has had an even more impressive development, from 7:51 pace on the 2.13 course, to 6:21 pace on the nearly 3 miles long course.
The boys team is going to face stiff competition this year. We were defeated handily at the Lowell invite by Branham, who will we face in our 2nd ST division meet. Prospect won the freshmen boys race, showing that they have an impressive future as well. The Comet boys will need to work hard to compete, but the team is up to the challenge.
The team will head to the Earlybird Invitational in Toro Park next Saturday before their first league meet on Thursday September 20th at Montgomery Hill. The team will face Prospect and local rival Independence.
The James Lick cross country team continued their recent (now 15 years in a row) tradition of taking a yearly trip down to Los Angeles to reward the most dedicated upper class men on the team. With the Mt. Sac course under construction, the team became the first CCS school ever to attend the Riverside Invitational. The Riverside course is going to be the home of the SS (Southern Section) finals. The SS is the strongest of the 10 California sections, with over 500 schools, it provides huge competition for a CCS school. Nonetheless, the Comets acquitted themselves well at the invite.
The Varsity boys race went first. The course was very flat, and we went in hoping for some big times. The weather had different ideas however, with sweltering heat by race time. Azael Zamora lead the team, running 16:25 for the 3 mile course. The 5:29 pace was the best of his career for a 3 mile course. He placed 10th overall in the “medium schools” division. Inteus Castro-Lopez had one of the best meets of his career, running 17:19 (5:46 pace). Jose Limon had undoubtedly the best race of his career. He ran 18:33, 6:11 pace, the best of his career by over 10 seconds. Cody Huoch and Jesus Deloya rounded out the scoring team running 21:00 and 21:01, not strong races by their standards. Austin Swank ran 21:32 to end the team’s day.
In the varsity girls race, Arlet Miranda continued her recent resurgence. Arlet ran 21:10 for 7:03 pace, her best pace of the season so far. Belen Sanchez ran 23:33, the 7:51 pace being the best of her career for a 3 mile race. Jenny Villagomez Analilia Regla and Ashley Preciado rounded out the team in 25:13, 25:40 and 25:41. It was the best career pace for a 3 mile course for both Ashley and Analilia.
Aliana Santos and Elizabeth Perez ran for the team in the JV race. Both girls earned medals against a small field, a nice reward for their years of dedication.
All 13 of our athletes were chosen because of their consistent dedication at practice, and their good example. I’m proud that we provide a trip for our athletes that no BVAL school can rival.
The team will run a mile time trial early next week before gearing up for BVAL Finals on 10/30. League finals is just a week away.
The James Lick cross country team took to Montgomery Hill on Wednesday October 4th for their 3rd league meet of the season. Montgomery Hill is 2.74 miles, shorter than the 2.85 mile course at Alum Rock Course. Do to the hilly nature of the course however, times between the two courses are quite comparable in terms of time. The first two meets saw the teams of record as follows.
Frosh/Soph Boys: 2-1 Varsity Boys: 1-2
JV Girls: 0-3 Varsity Girls: 0-3
The team took on Oak Grove and Sobrato for STAL 3.
The day began with the Frosh/Soph boys. The boys team was missing their top 2 runners from STAL 2. Nien Tran moved up to varsity for the meet and Jonthan Cortez sat out the meet with minor injury. Nonetheless, the frosh/soph boys competed well.
Jerricho Habon had the best race of his career. Jerricho came by the first mile in around 20th place. He moved his way up from there to finish 2nd place with a PR of 18:57. He became the first frosh/soph Comet of the year to go under 19 minutes for a STAL race. Freshmen Jonathan Bradley was close behind. Jonathan ran 19:10 for a huge STAL best after running 20:52 at Alum Rock Park. He placed 6th overall. No Frosh/Soph Comets had cracked the top 10 at STAL 1 or STAL 2 (and again, our 1-2 punch from those races did not run frosh/soph this time). Daniel Portillo ran a huge PR of 20:01 and Omar Fimbres ran 20:36 after running 20:59 at Alum Rock. The team’s 5th boy was Rudolf Ocampo, a newcomer to the team who ran 22:23. The Comets got wins over both Oak Grove and Sobrato to move to 4-1 on the Frosh/Soph side.
The next race up was varsity girls. After standing out in her one week of track, Yeimili Adame got to experience the first cross country race of her career. She acquitted herself well, placing 16th and running 22:07. Arlet Miranda and Belen Sanchez came in close togetehr at 23:21 and 23:29. Xochitl Godinez ran 23:54 for her first montgomery hill race. Jennifer Villagomez ran 24:06 and Justine Austria ran 24:26. Neither girl had run under 25 minutes for a STAL race before, (Jenny hadn’t run under 26 minutes before). The varsity girls have shown great improvement. After a team best time of 2:04:38 at STAL 2, the team ran under 1:58:00 at STAL 3. This lead the team to their first win of the season over Oak Grove, though they fell to an undefeated Sobrato team.
Azael Zamora continued to spearheaded the varsity boys just as Montgomery Hill continued to be the bane of his running career. He ran a PR of 16:01 to place 4th, a solid but underwhelming performance given some of the times he’s achieved this season. Inteus Castro-Lopez had his best STAL race of the season, placing 7th in 16:37. Mark Orpia had a PR by a full minute running 17:16 to be the 3rd man in. Jose Limon and Hugo Marquez rounded out the scoring team in 18:26 and 18:37. Melvin Estrada and Nien Tran came across with PRS of 19:04 and 19:08. The varsity boys picked up a pair of wins to move to 3-2 on the season.
The reserve boys was next and the team saw a number of strong performances. Cody Huoch and Isaac Veronica formed a strong 1-2 punch running 20:18 and 20:59. Austin Swank and Jose Ruiz were next in 21:24 and 21:56 (very strong race for Jose). Isaak Herrera (22:37) Jonathan Ergino (24:52) and Alvaro Fabian (27:46) finished off the boys day.
The JV girls also got their first win of the season, defeating Oak grove. They were lead by Ashley Preciado who ran a more than 5 minute PR, going under 30 minutes for the first time, running 25:25. Emely Lopez came across next with the best race of her career, running 27:22. Reserve girl Aliana Santos was right behind in 27:23. Mya Hammond and Emma Veronica came in together at 27:35 and 27:36. Kirsten Yutuc (28:24) and Mariana Perez (28:40) rounded out the JV girls team. Susie Peterson came in at 28:59.Francine Estranero ran a big STAL best of 29:07, running under 30 minutes for the first time, Erika Camacho narrowly missed doing the same thing running 30:01. Araceli Mejia, (31:08) Estefanie Herrera (31:44) and Maria Sanchez (35:43) finished up the day for the Comets.
It was a big step forward for the whole team. The Varsity teams improved their combined record from 1-5 to 4-6.
Many members of the team will head to the Artichoke Invitational on Saturday October 7th. The Comets will then run STAL 4 at Montgomery Hill on Thursday October 12th.
As we look ahead at 2017, I thought those of you who read this blog might be interested in a little background about the current coaching staff of James Lick Track.
A little background:
As discussed at length, we are very much trying to build our program to the heights of JLTFs great programs of the past, and beyond. The earlier James Lick coaches such as Keith Antes, Carlos Saldivar, and George Carty, produced very successful athletes over their decades of coaching at James Lick.
Today we use their success as both an inspiration, and a bar to measure ourselves against. James Lick’s academics and athletics have fallen considerably from the school’s heyday, but I for one believe with enough dedication we can restore the school to its former glory, and give the east side a greater sense of pride in their local schools in general.
This is basically the 4th year that this staff has been in place with myself as the head coach since 2014. Coach Jonathan Vela came on in the same season to work with the throwers. We also had coach Juan Trejo and Ricardo Flores on that staff, working largely with the boys team. In this first year, I coached only the girls in all non throwing events.
In 2015, our staff consisted of Coach Vela in boys and girls throws, and myself in boys and girls everything else with the help of coach John Quasarano (now the head XC coach at Roberto Cruz Leadership Academy).
In 2016, Coach Steven Nichols replaced John Quasarano, and handled sprints, horizontal jumps, and hurdles for the team. This year we have added coach Christopher Turner to our staff, and he will be coaching horizontal jumps and working with Coach Steve who’ll focus on sprints and relays going forward.
Without further ado, in order of juniority:
Coach Christopher Turner Horizontal Jumps :
This is Coach Turner’s first year coaching track for the Comets. It is his 5th year coaching Track and Field, and his most recent experience was as the head coach of Yuma HS in Arizona. He competed collegiately at Binghamton university, competing in the 400 and the horizontal jumps.
He sites his proudest achievement as coaching several athletes to the Arizona State Meet. Notably, he coached two separate athletes to 3rd place finishes in horizontal jumps at the State Meet.
David Stiles long jumped 21-10 as a senior at the State meet for Coach Turner, a huge improvement on a PR of 19-1 from his junior year. On the girls side, he coached Michelle Watson from a 32 foot triple jump best as a junior, to a 35 foot triple jump best as a senior.
Coach Turner’s jumps experience is something we’re very excited to add to our staff. Boys jumps managed only 1 point at WVAL finals in 2016, and we’ll need big improvement in that area if we are to achieve our goal of a WVAL title.
Coach Steven Nichols Sprints/Relays:
This is Coach Steve’s 2nd year coaching track for the Comets. Steve competed from Homestead High School in Cupertino, and graduated in 2002. He then competed at De Anza college, focusing on the 100/200 as well as long jump and relays.
Steve has been coaching sprints for 10 years now, and has experience coaching at some of the top schools in the area, most recently Adrian Wilcox High School.
In Steve’s first year coaching sprints for the Comets, we had a very young sprints team that accomplished a lot despite their inexperience. With any program, it takes time to build top level competitive athletes, but the team as a whole took a big step forward. 9 boys ran under 13 seconds for the 100m dash in Steve’s first year, nearly doubling the amount of boys who accomplished in the previous year. The same went for the 60 second barrier in the 400, 9 athletes cracked that number compared to only 5 in 2015.
The girls team also ran the 2nd best 4×100 time in school history, and earned a 2nd place finish at WVAL finals, their best finish in over a decade. Coach Steve has expressed enthusiasm in the potential of Sophomore Jose Limon, who ran 24.22 for the 200, and 55.28 for the 400 last season, despite not joining Track until April.
I feel confident that our sprints are well attended to thanks to Coach Steve.
Coach Jonathan VelaThrows :
This is Coach Velas 4th season coaching track for the Comets and he is also the Head coach of the JV football team. Coach Vela graduated from Prospect High School and competed at Fresno State in both football and Track after that.
In the 35+ years of league finals records I’ve assembled prior to Coach Vela’s arrival, the Comets had only 2 league or division titles in throws, both in the Shot Put.
Coach Vela however, has coached a WVAL champion in each of his first 3 seasons coaching, including the first throws champion in school history on the girls side.
Robert Rios won back to back Shot Put titles for the boys in 2014 and 2015, throwing 43-2 which currently stands as the 8th best boys Shot Put mark on record for the team. He qualified for CCS trials in the Shot Put in 2015 as well. In 2016, Alejandra Ceron won the WVAL title in the girls discus, with teammate Valeria Cortez finishing 2nd. Then at BVAL championships, Valeria threw 99-9.50 to qualify for CCS trials and establish a new school record in the girls discus.
While the boys history is very rich for the Comets despite the huge amount of missing data, the girls records are far less high quality. Coach Vela has already greatly improved the Comets throws achievements list in just 3 seasons. Girl athletes coached by coach Vela hold 3 of the Top 10 spots on both of James Lick’s all time throws list. This includes namely Valiera’s school record in the girls discus and Alejandra Ceron’s #2 Shot Put placing of 31-9.
Girls throws was the teams strongest area last year and very well may be again. In order to achieve this years goal of a double WVAL championship, the team will be leaning heavily on their girl throwers, and looking to the boys throwers to step up and provide a good chunk of points for the team. Coach Vela’s leadership will be huge towards this goal.
Coach Benny Reeves Distance/Hurdles/High Jump
I ran 4 years of cross country at James Lick and graduated in 2011. I then went on to run 2 years at De Anza College. I competed in a variety of distances and even ran a few 4x400s legs for the team, but my primary event was the 3000m steeplechase.
I’ve long been a student of distance running and this is my area of speciality, though I did work with the hurdlers several times a week as Steeple work.
I am the first coach in quite a few years to head both the XC team and track team at James Lick, and I think this year long consistency has gone a long way towards building the distance program.
I’m proud of a lot of the different strides forward that the distance team has taken since I’ve been here. Daniela Camacho breaking the school record in all 3 distance events in 2015 made for a standout season. I’m also very proud of the increased depth of the distance team. From 2004-2013, the 10 seasons before I came on as coach, only 5 Comet boys broke the 5 minute barrier in the 1600. Past Comet teams have had such strength that breaking 5 minutes would not even qualify you for the teams top 3 Frosh/Soph boys.
In 2014, I did not coach boys distance, and in all honesty the fact that James Lick’s fastest distance times at WVAL finals that season were 5:30 in the 1600 and 12:08 in the 3200 frustrated me immensely.
In 2016, we had 5 different boys run under 5 minutes for the 1600, and 4 run under 11 minutes for the 3200. The James Lick teams of the past continue inspire myself and my distance runners, and we continue to work towards emulating their success every season. This season we are aiming for the goal of having 3 different Comet boys under 4:40 for the 1600, a feat which would have been a solid accomplishment during virtually any James Lick track era.
Coming off a STAL championship and 2nd place finish at BVAL Finals in cross country, I expect the boys distance team to carry the team as much as possible towards our goal of a WVAL title. At many duals, we will be aiming to take home all 27 available points in distance events, to make up for some of our developing areas.
In hurdles the team has made improvements each year, and we do well in the event at dual meets because half of the WVAL teams have no hurdles coach. Replacing the void left by Andrea Ortiz will be huge to repeating as WVAL champions on the girls side.
On the boys side, hurdles will likely be a critical event in the struggle to claw a WVAL title away from reigning champion Independence HS, a team that dominated in hurdles last year thanks to standout senior Anthony Ho.
This is year 4 of our program building for track. In the 5 years previous to myself and coach Vela coming on as coaches, the team went a combined 0-69-1. In the 3 years since we have gone 2-12, 10-4, and then 12-2 for a combined 24-18 record.
The students are the #1 reason for the turn around in track. Their ability to commit themselves, recruit, and compete, is what has taken James Lick from the cellar of the WVAL, to the pinnacle of it. We as coaches will do the best we can to make sure that the Comets get more improvement from their hard work, than our rival schools foster in their athletes.