Comets Leap Forward at Firebird Relays

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Cody Huoch contesting the triple jump 

32 Members of the James Lick track team competed on Saturday March 24th at the Firebird Relays.  The meet features combination relays as well as a few seldom run relays such as the DMR (Distance Medley Relay) and SMR (Speed Medley Relay).

The meet kicked off with the hurdles. Valeria Cortez and Susie Peterson ran 18.03 and 20.12 in the varsity girls 100 hurdles. Valeria Gonzalez ran 23.61 in her first try at the event. Yesenia Martinez had a huge breakthrough, running 19.63, shattering her previous best of 21.75. In the boys event, Cody Huoch matched his PR of 17.16 and Luis Escamilla ran a PR in the 65m hurdles, running 12.64.

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Left to right: Yesenia Martinez, Valeria Cortez, Susie Peterson, Valeria Gonzalez, Luis Escamilla 

Several  Comets would run PRs in the open 1600m next. Estefani Herrera ran a 7:18, beating her previous PR by 14 seconds. Estefani has had remarkable improvement throughout her freshmen year. She began Cross country as an 11 minute miler, and is now moving towards the 7 minute barrier. Brandon Cruz took his PR from 5:30 to 5:23, and Daniel Portillo lowered his from 5:48 to 5:37. Belen Sanchez ran a PR of 6:11.61, putting her in position to attack the 6 minute barrier soon. The most impressive PR on the day was Azael Zamora running 4:35.20. This marks the best James Lick time in the 1600 since Jose Gutierrez ran 4:28 in 2003. Azy will look to keep chipping away seconds to try to make the school’s top 10 list in the event.

The Comets ran a girls team and a boys team in the frosh/soph 4×100. The girls frosh/soph 4×100 team of Justine Austria, Kirsten Yutuc, Lisbeth Galdamez and Natalie Rem ran 56.80. This is the fastest frosh/soph 4×100 time that James Lick has run in the past decade at least. The same would prove true of the team of Rudolf Ocampo, Raven Alcantara, Salvador Lopez and Geovanny Campos. The boys ran 48.39. They will aim to run under 48 seconds soon and try to earn a spot at the CCS top 8 meet.

The team also ran frosh/soph DMR teams. The girls team of Jenny Villagomez, Valeria Gonzalez, Mya Hammond and Ashley Preciado placed 4th in 15:55. The boys team of Mark Orpia, Jerricho Habon, Hugo Marquez and Melvin Estrada ran 12:23, a solid time, earning then 5th place. They missed medaling by only 4 seconds. The same team would narrowly miss medaling in the 4×800 with a time of 9:37 as well.

Misael Herrera ran a seasons best in the 400. He clocked 56.55, missing his PR by only .07. Aliana Santos ran a massive seasons best of 15.71, missing her PR by only .04. Adrian DeLaRosa had a similar strong performance, running 12.67 compared to a previous seasons best of 12.95.

Azael ran a seasons best 2:10.35 in the 800, as did Arlet Miranda who ran 2:34.35. Ashley managed a 2 second PR of 2:57 as well.

One of the highlights of the firebird relays has always been the combined event relay.s Every team with 3 athletes in a field event has their marks added up. The team with the highest combined marks wins, and top 3 teams medaled. The Varsity Girls team took 3rd in the Shot Put relay, with several of the girls having an off day. They did however win the discus relay with a combined total of 297-0. They missed the meet record by 4 feet. The girls were lead by Charli Chircop who threw a seasons best 108-5, only a foot off of her PR. Mariah Santos threw a seasons best 73-0 in the event as well.

The James Lick girls also earned medals in the frosh/soph triple jump (2nd as a team) and the frosh/soph high jump (3rd as a team). Valeria Gonzalez managed a PR of 4-2 in the high jump. Most impressive in the jumps was the debut of Yesenia Martinez. The team simply needed a 3rd girl to make the minimum of 22 feet, and the strong tandem of Kirsten Yutuc and Natalie Rem would lead the team to a medal. Yesenia managed to go 27-7.50 in her very first try at the event, and she is proving to be a versatile athlete for the team.

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Valeria Gonzalez, Yesenia Martinez and Lisbeth Galdamez combined to medal in the high jump. 

The frosh/soph boys team of Sal, Raven and Geo missed medaling in the triple jump by only a foot. Sal and Raven both achieved PRs with Sal going 35-5.50 and Raven 34-1.

There were only two running events left with field events concluded, the 300 hurdles and the SMR. Yesenia netted yet another strong showing on the day, running 58.85 for a 2 second PR. Cody Huoch ran 45.53 for a solid seasons best time.

Both SMRs proved to be thrilling races and the team only narrowly missed medaling. Natalie and Lisbeth put the team in 6th place in the FS race through the two 100 meter legs. Justine moved the team into 5th on the 400 leg. Kirsten battled the whole 400 but could not move the team up any more. The Comets combined to run 2:09.98. This is the first time the Comets have contested the event, meaning it is the James Lick school record.

The boys race was even more exciting. After missing so narrowly in the triple jump, the Comets were determined to grab some hardware in the SMR. Rudolf started the team fast out of the blocks, and had a very smooth handoff with Raven. The team was in 2nd place as they approached the next handoff, but a poor handoff knocked the team into 7th place. Geo recovered from the poor handoff to move the team back into 5th place on the 200 meter leg before handing off to Sal. Sal immediately moved the team into 4th place to start the 400m leg, and then moved into 3rd down the backstretch. He battled Santa Clara’s anchor leg the entire race, but got run down in the final 100m. The Comets finished in 4th with a time of 1:47.61, with 3rd place finishing in 1:47.60.

The Comets had a number of performances to feel good about, and the Firebird relays only reinforced the teams youth. The team will take on the Lincoln Lions on Thursday March 29th before heading to the Quicksilver Classic on Saturday March 31st. The Lincoln Girls are 3-0 while both the Frosh/Soph and Varsity boys are 2-1 making the team a challenging matchup. The Comets will then have some hard training over spring break.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

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James Lick Throwers Shine at Firebird Relays

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The Varsity Girls Throws Team (Charli Chircop, Alejanda Ceron and Valeria Cortez) with their coaches and teammate Daniel Medina

The Firebird Relays at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale have been one of the team’s favorite invites for several years now because of the variety relays available. In addition to the standard 4×100 and 4×400, the meet holds the Distance Medley Relay and 4×800, as well as combination relays in all field events and the 300 hurdles.

To qualify for combination relays, a teams top 3 athletes have their best marks/times added up and compared across the top 3 of others teams. The team with the 3 best relays in each event received medals. This makes the Firebird Relays a great meet for the team to compare its depth against other teams.

The meet started off strong for the team. Susie Peterson ran a huge seasons best in the 100h, running 19.63 to go under 20 seconds for the first time this season. Kirsten Yutuc ran 21.15 for a PR in the 100h despite a fall on the final hurdle of the race.

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Left to right: Susie Peterson, Valeria Cortez and Kirsten Yutuc before contesting the 100 hurdles

Jonathan Rodriguez also ran a PR in the 100 hurdles, clocking a time of 19.16 for his race. Soon afterwards field events got under way.

Lyndel Ventura went 12-11.50 for the team in the long jump, though she was jumping from a board 2 feet behind the board the meet was using to measure from. This shows that Lyndel is near her 15 foot long jump PR.

The team sent 3 triple jumpers on the boys side to compete as a relay team. Ace Medina led the team with a new PR of 37-3. Cody Huoch was 2nd in a PR of 36-7.50 and Hadji Yono-Cruz was rd in 35-9. The team placed 5th in the triple jump relay, only missing 3rd place by a  combined 5 inches.

Arlet Miranda ran a 5:49 1600, well off the 5:41 she ran a few weeks earlier at the Willow Glen Invite as she continues to battle through minor injury. Daniel Portillo had an excellent race, breaking the 6 minute mile barrier for the first time to the tune of a 15 second PR of 5:54.

The Comets ran a Frosh/Soph Boys team of Raven Alcantara, Misael Herrera, AdrianDeLaRosa and Bryan Cuevas who combined for a solid 49.31. The Varsity team of Cody, Hadji, Ace and Chris Okoro competed as well but were Disqualified for a lane violation.

 

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Raven Alcantara handing off the baton to Misael Herrera in the 4×100 relay.

Both the Varsity Boys and Frosh/Soph Boys competed in the 4000m Distance Medley Relay or DMR. The Varsity Boys team placed 6th despite the absence of top runner Erik Olsvold and missed the school record by less than 1 second, running 11:30.81. Inteus Castro-Lopez started the team off with a 1200m leg of 3:38. Gustavo Aguilera ran a 57 second 400m split, followed by a 2:07 800m leg by Nathan Bernardo. Azael Zamora anchored the team home with a 4:47 1600m. On the FS side, Melvin Estrada, Misael Herrera, Hugo Marquez and Mark Orpia combined to run 13:01.

Meanwhile, the strong Lady Comet throwers were strutting their stuff. In 2016, Alejandra, Charli and Valeria took 3rd in the Frosh/Soph Discus relay, and first in the Shot Put relay. Their combination relay mark of 83-8 gave them the win. Alejandra was the team’s leading thrower on the day with a  toss of 28-2.5. This year, with Charli and Alejandra being juniors, the team stepped up to compete at the varsity level and showed just how far they’ve come by winning the Varsity Shot Put relay with a combo of 96-5.5.

It was the first time in school history that 3 Comet girls cracked 30 feet for Shot Put in the same meet. All 3 girls PRd. Alejandra threw 32-7, Charli threw 32-5 and Valeria threw 31-5 to seal the deal.

The team had similar success in the discus Throw, taking 2nd as a team in that as well.  In 2016, the team’s combination mark was 214-10. This year the three-headed monster combined for a total of 287- 5.5. Valeria led the team with a throw of 99-2, Charli threw 96-5.5 and Alejandra threw a PR of 91-11, the first time 3 lady Comets have cracked 90 feet in the discus throw in the same meet.

As if the throws of the varsity girls were not impressive enough, freshmen Mariah Santos took 5th in the Frosh/Soph girls discus witha  huge PR of 74-1.50. For comparison sake, at the 2016 Firebird Relays, Aleajndra led the team in discus with a throw of 74-11. She backed up this impressive PR with a throw of 22-9 in the Shot Put. Adriana Marcelino also competed for the team.

The Comet throwers on the girls side are as impressive a group as the team as seen in decades. They have anchored the girls team all season and are probably the team’s strongest overall event group (the only possible competition being the boys distance crew).  With the rapid improvement he’s fostered in the team’s throwers, in my mind Coach Vela is the best throws coach in the WVAL by a wide margin, if not the entire BVAL.

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Alejandra Ceron throwing the Shot Put

The boys throwers saw a huge PR as well. Both Daniel Medina and Rogelio Alonzo competed. Roger threw a massive PR in the discus, hitting a mark of 97-11 after setting a PR of 89-0 just days earlier.

The team of Cody, Ace, and Hadji in the long jumped all jumped roughly 17 feet to end their day in the horizontal jumps. In the vertical jumps, the team took 2nd in the varsity boys high jump relay. 5 Different teams had 3 jumpers clear a height. Juan Gutierrez and Ace both went 5-0 for the team,and Jonathan went 5-4 to clinch the medal for the team.

The distance teams took both to the track in the 4×800 relay. The Varsity boys team only missed a medal by 5 seconds despite missing two of the team’s top 3 800m runners in Erik Olsvold and Gustavo Parra. The team’s time of 9:03 is the best time the Comest have run for the 4×800 on record. The Frosh/Soph boys clocked a time of 10:27 as well. Arlet Miranda ran a strong 800, but was caught on the line to finish 2nd overall to a San Jose High runner in 2:35. This sets up a  good WVAL rivalry going forward.

The Frosh/Soph boys 100m dash saw Raven go under 13 seconds for the first time, crossing the line in 12.91. Kirsten made her 400m debut in 1:15 as did Chris in 1:05.

The final event the team competed in was the 300 hurdles. Cody ran a strong time of 44.98, just a tenth of a second off his PR. Gustavo A ran a huge PR of 44.71, taking more than a full second off his PR from last season. Jonathan coasted home to a 49.28. The team was a combined 2 seconds away from a medal.

Overall the meet was a huge success for the team. Many athletes received medals, and the team competed well against some of the best teams in the CCS. The team placed 13th overall out of  more than 40 competing teams, giving them a confidence boost as they look ahead at the 2nd half of the season.

The team will take on the Gunderson Grizzlies at Gunderson on Wedensday March 29th, then they will head to Overfelt  on Saturday April 1st for the first ever Royal Relays.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves.