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 Comets competed at BVAl Finals at Westmont High School on Thursday May 10th. The BVAL Finals is the BVALs CCS qualifying meet. The top 7 athletes of the MH (A’) division, top 5 from the ST (‘B’) division and top 4 from the WV (‘C’) division meet to compete for spots at CCS Trials. Athletes who achieve the BVAL Automatic qualifying mark also advance from division finals, but for the most part, 16 athletes compete in each event. The top 8 athletes at BVAL Finals advance to CCS Trials.
The very first event contested was the varsity boys pole vault. Mark Orpia and Rodolf Ocampo placed 12th and 13th, not bad for their first year Pole Vaulting. Mark managed a PR of 9-0, while Rodolf matched his PR of 8-6. This was a good end to the season for the Comet pole vaulters, the first in several decades for James Lick.
Several other field events kicked off soon after. Alejandra Ceron booked her ticket to CCS trials for the 2nd year in row in the girls Shot Put. Her throw of 33-2.5 took 7th place in a very competitive field. Valeria Cortez just missed out on making CCS in the event, taking 10th in 32-5.5. Charli Chircop threw 30-11.5 for the final Shot Put competition of her career.
Lyndel Ventura competed in girls long jump for the final time. Her best jump was 15-7.5, the 2nd best jump of her career, a solid final competition for Lyndel. In the girls triple jump, Natalie Rem placed 9th with the 2nd best jump of her career, 33-0.5. A post meet scratch moved Natlie into the 8th place spot, meaning that she will compete at CCS trials as a freshmen, the first Comet to do so since Valeria in discus as a freshmen.
In the boys Shot Put, Josh Garcia ended his career with a toss of 40-6.5. The Girls discus was the best event for the Comets on the day. Charli threw 116-3.5 the 2nd best throw of her career for 2nd place overall, the highest placing at BVAL Finals by any Comet this decade. Valeria took 3rd with a throw of 109-1. Alejandra threw 100-3 for 9th place.
In the girls 4×100, the Comets ran their 2nd best time of the season, clocking 54.04 despite a very poor final handoff. Valeria, Kirsten Yutuc, Yeimili Adame and Natalie Rem accomplished the mark. On the boys side, the team improced upon their “best mark of the decade” status. Cody Huoch, Jose Limon, Geovanny Campos and Raven Alcantara combined to run 45.50. The team placed 11th, and with 3/4ths of the team returning, the Comets have their minds set on trying to make CCS next year.
Arlet Miranda competed in the girls 1600, running 5:46. Arlet has always battled injury issues, and despite barely running over the past few weeks, she competed well.
The one running events with two athletes competing was the girls 100 hurdles. Valeria ran 17.22 and Yesenia Martinez ran 18.53. It was the 2nd best time of the season for both ladies. Valeria narrowly missed making CCS, placing 9th, only .05 off of 7th place.
Kirsten competed in the 300 hurdles, running the 2nd best time of her career, 52.30. Cody became the Comets 5th CCS qualifier on the day, running 42.62, a small PR in the boys version of the event. Azael Zamora competed for the Comets in the 3200. Like many other Comets, he ran the 2nd best time of his career, 9:59.49, he missed out on making CCS by less than 1 second.
The final event on the day was the 4×400. The girls team of Yesenia, Kirsten, Yeimili and Arlet competed hard, but did not run particularly fast. The boys team managed to break the 3:40 barrier for the first time in over a decade. Salvador Lopez, Erik Olsvold, Cody Huoch and Misael Herrera combined to run 3:39.
5 Athletes are left competing for the Comets.
Charli and Valeria in Girls Discus, Alejandra in Girls Shot Put, Natalie in Girls Triple Jump, and Cody in the boys 300 hurdles. These 5 will compete at CCS Trials on Saturday May 19th at Gilroy High School.
The Ryan/Oyama Awards will be held on Tuesday May 15th in the school gym. A number of XC/Track athletes should be honored. Also, brand new banners representing James Lick’s most recent championships will be unveiled. (This includes boys cross country 2016, and girls track 2016 and 2017.)
The Santa Teresa Division (‘B’ division) finals of the BVAL are almost here. Division finals factor in the final standings for the league, and also determine which athletes will advance to BVAL Finals next week. In each division final, the top 8 places score points for their team. The top 4 athletes in each event in the ‘C’ division, top 5 in the ‘B’ division, and top 7 in the ‘A’ division all advance to BVAL finals which is the leagues CCS qualifying meet.
Heading into division finals, the Comets are looking for a middle of the pack finish, and would like to send as many athletes as possible to BVALs. Here is a meet preview of the best athletes in the division, and how the Comets stand in regards to the meet program.
The Comets figure to have someone score in most of the distance events. Azael Zamora is ranked 2nd in the 3200, and 4th in the 1600. He has his sights on the victory in the 3200. His current PR is 10:05, while the favorite, Omar Pina sits atop the division rankings at 9:51. Amy’s longtime rival from Prospect, Dylan Ellis,is close behind at 10:08. No other athlete in the division has run under 10:20 in the 2 mile this season, so the final (which is this Wednesday) figures to be a 3 man race. Inteus Lopez and Melvin Estrada sit at 11th and 12th in the rankings. Many of the 3200 runners in the division will have to run the 800m prelims earlier in the meet Wednesday, so Melvin and Inteus will look to steal a point or two for the team there.
Azy is ranked 4th in the 1600 at 4:33.64. Omar Pina of Lincoln is ranked 1st at 4:32.84. Obviously, this looks to be a highly competitive final on Friday. Sophomores Melvin Estrada and Mark Orpia will look to PR and gain valuable race experience, though they are not serious threats to score.
In the boys 800, Jerricho Habon and Erik Olsvold are ranked 9th and 10th. Hugo Marquez is ranked 15th. The top 12 athletes from the prelims on Wednesday will advance to the final on Friday. With many athletes doubling up on the 1600/800, Jerricho and Erik are very well positioned to score points for the team if they can make the final.
On the girls side, Arlet Miranda is ranked 5th in the 1600 and 4th in the 800. She has battled injuries all season, but has maintained solid fitness throughout, running a PR in the 1600 only 2 weeks ago at the Bearcat Invitational. Belen Sanchez and Ashley Preciado will be going after PRs in the competitive atmosphere that is division finals. Both ladies are running the 1600 on Wednesday and the 3200 on Friday. Freshmen Mya Hammond and Mariana Perez will join Arlet in the 800.
Valeria Cortez is ranked #1 in the division in the 100 hurdle after going undefeated in dual meets this season. Yemeni Martinez is ranked 9th, and with a great race in the prelims on Wednesday could make it through to the final on Friday. Susie Peterson, in her 4th year competing for the Comets, will look to end her career on a high note in the race as well.
Cody Huoch is ranked 5th in the 110 Hurdles. He will have to hold off some stiff competition to punch his ticket to BVALs. Rodolf Ocampo and Luis Escamilla will also compete for the team.
Kirsten Yutuc is ranked 4th in the girls 300 hurdles.She will be looking to make BVAls for the 2nd year in a row. Yesenia and Susie will chase PRs behind her. Cody is ranked 3rd in the 300 hurdles, behind Evan Sablan of Evergreen, last years BVAL champion, and a second Evergreen Cougar.
Jumps: Natalie Rem and Cody are both threats to make BVALs in the triple jump. Cody is ranked 6th at 40-3, only one inch off of 5th place. Natalie is ranked 4th at 33-1, with 1st place entered only 3 inches ahead, Natalie could fight for a very high place indeed. Salvador Lopez, Raven Alcantara and Rudolf make up the rest of the boys jumpers, while Lyndel Ventura and Kirsten make up the ladies side. Lyndel is currently ranked 8th in long jump at 15-3.5, and this figures to be the final meet of her career as well.
Jo-Jo Bradley and Josh Merin will contest the boys high jump. Yesenia and Lisbeth Galdamez will contest the girls high jump for the team. Both are long-shot threats to score.
Rodolf and Maro Orpia are the 4th and 5th ranked pole vaulters in the division. Only 5 vaulters are entered, so if both boys clear height, they will make BVAL championships.
Both Comet 4×100 teams are ranked 6th place heading into finals. The boys team is well poised to pull an upset however. If Jose Limon is at full health, the team could run a big time seasons best, and they are only .70 away from 3rd place.
The girls 4×400 team is ranked 6th, but within a second of 5th place. The boys team sits at a competitive 5th, with 3rd place less than 2 seconds away in what figures to be a competitive final event of the meet.
The team’s sprint group is much improved this season, with two girls under 14 seconds in the 100 and two boys under 12 seconds in the 100, heading into finals (all are sophomores or freshmen.) Natalie is ranked 7th in the 100 at 13.49. If she makes the 100m final, she will be the first lady Comet to make division finals in the 100 in this decade. Lisbeth and Susie will join her in the event. Natalie, Yeimili and Lisbeth will contest the 200 as well. Yeimili, Justine and Aliana Santos will be the teams 400 athletes.
In the boys 100, Raven is the highest ranked Comet at 11.79. 11.61 is the 8th place rank, so he would need a great race to crack the top 8. Geo Campos at 11.97 joins him in the event, as does Chris Okoro, looking for one last PR before graduation. Misael Herrera, and Geo will run the 200 for the team. Misael, and Salvador Lopez will run the 400. The boys are not ranked close to scoring position in the 200/400.
The last hurrah for the 3 headed monster is near. Charli Chircop, Valeria and Alejandra Ceron are ranked 1-2-3 in girls discus, with Charli leading the way at 118-1. Mariah Santos is the Comets lone 4th entry in an event, ranked 11th in the event. The girls are ranked 3rd, 4th and 7th in the Shot Put as well.
On the boys side, Josh Garcia, Daniel Medina and Jesus Venegas make up the teams throwers. Josh is ranked 5th in the Shot Put at 42-9. In Discus, all three boys will be looking to PR.
Based on the current rankings, the James Lick girls would finish 4th out of the 8 teams at division finals, and the boys would finish 6th. Currently, the Comets sit in 5th place on both sides with a 3-4 record. The girls are likely to clinch 5th place however, there is intrigue on the boys side.
Prospect, Piedmont and James Lick are all 3-4 on the boys side, meaning whichever team finishes the highest at division finals will clinch 4th place behind 7-0 Evergreen, 6-1 Pioneer and 5-2 Lincoln.
Which Comets Have a Chance at Division Titles?
Several Comets have legitimate shots at becoming the ‘B’ division champions in their respective event.
The most likely champ for the team is Charli Chircop/ Valeria Cortez. Charli hows thrown 118-0 and Valeria has thrown 112-0. No other girl is close to these two in the rankings. It is likely whichever Comet has the better day will emerge as the Comets 1st ever ‘B’ division champion.
2. Valera in the 100 hurdles. She hasn’t lost all season and is poised to become division champ if she maintains her composure. At 17.39, her next closest competitor is Nelly Romo at 17.85.
3. Azael Zamora in the 1600/3200. As already detailed, Azy is ranked very highly in both events. Azy is the boys teams only realistic shot at a division championship this season.
This is one of the most exciting weeks of the season!
Tomorrow, May 1st, Rodolf and Mark will compete in the pole vault at Prospect High School.
Wednesday May 2nd, all lane events, as well as the 800 will contest their trials at Evergreen High School. Finals in the boys 3200 and girls 1600 will take place. Finals in the boys discus, boys triple jump, girls long jump and girls high jump will also take place.
All other finals will take place on Friday May 4th.
The James Lick Comets took 38 athletes to the TKA Invitational on March 10th. It ended up being a tremendous day for the team, with 29 Personal best times and many more seasons bests.
The meet began with field events. The Frosh/Soph boys high jumpers acquitted themselves well Jonathan Bradley taking 4th place, clearing 5 feet for the first time. Salvador Lopez went over 4-10 in his first try at the event, and Josh Merin matched his PR of 406.
Natalie Rem and Kirsten Yutuc placed 3rd and 4th in the frosh/soph triple jump though neither girl PRd. David Bejines also tripled jumped for the team. The trio of Valeria Cortez, Charli Chircop and Alejandra Ceron combined for a 1-2-3 sweep of the varsity girls discus. This gives the Comets their 2nd consecutive Invitational victory in the girls discus. While Charli won the Willow Glen Invite in 107-3, Valeria took the win at TKA with a season;s best 105-0. Alejandra also threw a seasons best 94 feet in discus for 3rd. She would go on to win the Shot Put in a seasons best 32-1. Charli would throw 31-7 for 2nd and Valeria had to settle for 4th in a seasons best 30-1. The lady throwers from James Lick are poised to have a special season. Daniel Medina competed in boys throws for the team.
The TKA Invite was originally a distance carnival, and while it has now expanded to include some other events, it keeps the lively atmosphere that makes it exciting, with music playing during the breaks and during the distance events.
The meet began with the 4×100 relay. The Frosh/Soph team of Yesenia Martinez, Kirsten Yutuc, Chantrea Thach and Natalie Rem combined for a 4th place finish in 58 seconds, just off of medal position. The F/S boys team of Geovanny Campos, Salvador, Josh and Raven Alcantara took 7th in a tick over 50 seconds, a seasons best for James Lick’s F/S side.
The meet then moved into the 1600. Arlet Miranda started the day off strong with a seasons best 5:38.59. This is Arlet’s 2nd best time ever, missing her PR by only .13. This was a very rewarding result for Arlet. After her great freshmen track season and Sophomore XC season, Arlet had suffered through injuries and even iron deficiency, but she never stopped working hard. She now looks poised for her best track season yet. Yeimili Adame ran 6:14.86, a PR which moves her onto the school’s top 10 list in the event. Ashley Preciado ran 6:33, a 12 second PR and Mya Hammond ran a 7 second PR of 6:48. Mariana Perez and Emely Lopez both broke 7:30 for the first time, and Francine Estranero, Estefani Herrera and Erika Camacho also ran PRs.
The strong performances on the girls side were replicated by the boys. Melvin Estrada ran a new PR of 5:07, and is now knocking on the door of the HS distance runner’s biggest barrier. Jerricho Habon ran a PR of 5:22, his first time under 5:30. Hugo Marquez was just behind in a season’s best 5:23. Brandon Cruz ran a PR of 5:30 and Jose Ruiz ran a massive PR of 5:40, breaking the 6 minute barrier for the first time.
The meet then took a break from distance events to run the sprint events. Kirsten and Natalie went 1-2 in their heat and ran big PRs in the 100. Kirsten took her PR from 14.70 to 14.23 and Natalie jumped from 14.50 to 14.24. Yesenia ran 15.81, compared to her previous PR of 16.66, and Chantrea managed a small PR as well, running 16.60.
On the boys side, Geovanny continued to impress as a sprinter. In his first ever track meet earlier in the week, Geo took the win in the F/S 100 with a time of 12.76, a solid debut time for a Sophomore. He followed that up with a PR of 12.47 at TKA, showing real potential. Raven matched his PR of 12.60, and Salvador made his debut in the 100 running 13.38 despite a slip in the blocks. All 3 sophomores ran PRs in the 200 as well. Geo ran 25.73 (compared to a 26.70 on Thursday) Raven ran 26.07 (compared to 26.14 on Thursday) and Sal ran 26.37 (compared to 26.87 on Thursday). Misael Herrera and David Bejines competed for the team in the varsity sprint events. David ran a seasons best 12.92 in the 100, while Misael ran a seasons best 25.92 in the 200.
Susie Peterson ran a 200m PR of 33.51 and Kirsten ripped off a huge PR of 29.86. She is just the 4th girl since I’ve been coaching at James Lick to run under 30 seconds for the 200.
Yeimili followed up her strong 1600 with a strong 800. She ran 2:46.22, which lands her 9th on the school’s all time list in the event. Krystal Tran ran a PR of 3:21 in a later heat. Dakota Castro-Lopez ran an 800m PR of 2:34, while Jose ran 2:35 for his own PR.
Arlet ran 12:55 for the 3200, her first sub-13 clocking since her freshman year. Many Comet 2 milers Prd. Jenny and Ashley ran 14:46 and 14:49 respectively, and Daniel Portillo ran 12:24. Two Prs stood out in particular however.
In the frosh/soph race, Melvin ran a very impressive 10:52. Melvin’s ascent this track season has been spectacular. He entered cross country as a freshmen unable to run under 7 minutes for 1 mile. With his sophomore track season only just beginning, he has shown he can now run 2 miles at under 5:30 pace per mile.
The single most impressive performance on the day however was Azael Zamora in the 3200. Azael was determined to attack the 10 minute barrier and did so with very little help. 800 Meters into the race, he was nearly 100 meters ahead of 2nd place. He lead from gun to tape and stopped the clock in a massive PR of 10:05.14. This moved him into 7th on the school’s all time list in the event.
Overall it was a fantastic day for the Comets. They will now head to Evergreen High School on Thursday 3/15 to face an exceptionally strong Cougar team. Evergreen looks to be the best overall team in the division. The Comets will look to improve their marks ahead of a tilt with Prospect on 3/22 that should be very competitive.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The James Lick Track team hosted the always competitive Yerba Buena Warriors on March 15th. The Comets had not beaten the Warriors on the boys side in years, and the lady Comets handed the lady Warriors their only defeat a year ago. Heading into the matchup, we anticipated the dual meet would be a big early test on both sides, with the girls team being especially challenged.
YB won both 4×100 relays to begin the meet and took an early lead. They won with times of 55.24 on the girls side, and 47.58 on the boys side. The Comets earned their first wins of the day in the 1600. Inteus Castro-Lopez got his first ever event win, taking the boys 1600 in 5:08. Erik Olsvold and Nathan Bernardo were right behind him in 5:09 and 5:11 to complete a Comet sweep in the 1600, their 2nd consecutive sweep of the event to start the season. Mark Orpia ran a seasons best 5:38 and Osman Lopez ran a PR of 6:14 in the event as well.
After sitting out last week with a minor injury, Arlet Miranda returned to win the 1600 for the girls in 6:08. Analilia Regla ran a big PR for 2nd place, clocking 7:00.55 to give the Comets two girls knocking on the 7:00 barrier for the 1600. The girls 100h was slightly disappointing for the team. Valeria Cortez got off to a great start and lead for 7 hurdles before a misstep cost her the victory. She ran a solid 18.78 for 2nd place to top YB hurdler Angelica Salvador. Susie Peterson had a seasons best of 20.30 for 3rd place and Yvette Arciga ran a full second PR in 5th. Hadji Yono-Cruz won the boys 110h despite an off race, and teammate Jonathan Rodriguez took 3rd in a seasons best 19.71.
Both 400 meter races saw the Comets taking 2nd place, with Warriors 1st and 3rd. Belen Sanchez knocked down 2nd place for the girls with a seasons best time of 1:12, while Misael Herrera ran a PR of 57.47 to take 2nd on the boys side.
Valeria took 2nd place in the 100 with a time of 14.63, and Kirsten Yutuc took 3rd in 14.90 to get the team 4 points in the 100m dash. On the boys side Cody Huoch scored 3rd place for the Comets in 12.43. A few Comet boys ran PRs, namely Raven Alcantara in 13.13 and Josue Marcelo in 13.15.
The 800m was a key swing event for the team. Arlet won the girls 800 comfortably but 2nd place was a battle all the way to the line. Daisy Nava held off YB’s top 800m runner, Evelyn Garibay, by only .02 taking 2nd place for James Lick in 2:54.11, a seasons best. Denisse Calixto and Analilia ran seasons bests of 3:06 and 3:13 respectively.
On the boys side, Nathan ran 2:16 to lead a sweep with the help of teammates Erik and Inteus. Mark ran a 10 second PR of 2:26. Osiris and Melvin Estrada both ran small PRs (2:29 and 2:33 respectively) as did Julian Delreal and Daniel Portillo (2:40 and 2:51). Osman ran the event for the very first time, opening up at 2:57.
The girls 300h was won by Angelica from YB, though Belen ran a seasons best of 57.62 for 2nd place. Kirsten also ran a huge PR of 59.50 in 3rd place. Yvette had strong debut time of 1:04.50 as well. The race of the day however was in the boys 300h. In only his 2nd ever race over the distance, Cody ran 44.87, a mark which stands as a 5 second PR and the 5th best 300 hurdles time in school history. Jonathan had a strong seasons best for of 47.55 as well, within a second of his PR to take 2nd place in the event.
Valeria took 2nd place in the girls 200, running 31.66 for her debut in the event. With the strength of the girls throws unit, we made the decision to have Valeria spend most of her time running against Yerba Buena. As the lone scorer for the team in the 200, this decision paid off handily. Irene Nava ran a big PR in the event to the tune of a 33.87 clocking.
The best distance girls on the team saved their energy for the 4×400. Even so, Raquel Rodriguez managed 3rd place for the team in the event. On the boys side, Azael Zamora and Nathan took 1st and 2nd place for the team. Osiris had a very strong debut in the event, running 12:38, and is showing good potential as a runner in general.
With all of the field events and running events save for the 4×400 determined, the score was 62 James Lick 60 Yerba Buena on the girls side, meaning the 4×400 would determine the meet. The team of Belen, Denisse, Kirsten and Arlet combined to run 4:48, a seasons best and good enough for the win. On the boys side, the team of Misael, Nathan, Azael and Eirk also ran a seasons best to earn the win, a 3:50.90 result.
The field events went a long way towards sealing the meet for the Comets. Alejandra won the girls Shot Put in 30-5, with Charli Chircop 2nd in 30-2.50. This was a big PR for Charli, and also the first time she has broke the 30 foot barrier. It’s early in the season, but so far based on Athletic-Net results, the Comets are the first team in the entire BVAL with 3 girls over 30 feet in the Shot Put. Valeria clinched 3rd for the team in 29-11. That wasn’t the end of the day’s excellence for the throwers however. Mariah Santos shattered her PR, throwing 23-0 despite never having thrown above 20 feet before. The same went for Ruth Rodriguez who threw 20-11 from a previous best of 19-5. Adriana Marcelino managed a small PR of 19-5, and Kiely Leal earned a massive new PR of 18-7 as well. Sandra Naranjo got a 1 inch PR as well.
The boys side saw equally strong results. After inching towards his PR of 36-7 (set last season) Josh Garcia busted out with a throw of 38-5 to win the boys Shot Put. Daniel Medina’s best had stood at 35-9 for a long time before he threw 35-9.50 last week. Against Yerba Buena however, Daniel threw 37-9. These heaves make the PR of Alex Alonzo (36-0 beating his best of 35-8 set a week ago as well) seem pedestrian by comparison. Alex’s brother Rogelio three 32-7 for more than a 1 foot PR as well, as did Nathan Rios, with a best toss of 29-0.
The girls took 1-2 in discus with Charli winning with a 90-1 toss,and Alejandra 2nd in 85-8. YB was able to net 3rd place. On the boys side Daniel won the Discus in 106-8, with Alex 2nd in 101-4. Josh took 3rd place. Nathan R also managed a he PR in discus, throwing 80-1.
Lyndel Ventura and Elyse Elder managed a 1-2 finish in the girls long jump with seasons bests of 13-5 and 13-0 respectively. They took 2nd and 3rd in the triple jump with more seasons bests, going 27-3 and 26-6.5. Elyse capped off her day by matching her high jump Pr of 4-6, taking 3rd place in the girls high jump for the team.
Hadji lead the boy jumpers with a 3rd place finish in both long and triple jump. Hadji matched his seasons best of 18-3 in the long jump, and went a seasons best 37-7 in the triple. Ace managed a strong PR of 17-5 in the long jump. Anthony Soto Prd in both horizontal jumps, going 15-10.50 and 33-5. Jamie Vong, Jose Garcia and Juan Gutierrez all PRd in triple jump as well, as they continue to get there feet wet in the low 30s.
Ybs best jumper won the boys high jump, but Jonathan placed 2nd with a jump of 5-4. Ace matched Jonathan’s 5-4 for a new PR as well, and Juan went 5-2 again to match his PR for the 3rd meet in a row.
When all was said and done the final scores were:
JL: 76 YB: 51
JL: 67 YB: 60.
Both teams are 2-0 now, and the team is stronger for having survived the meet with a very competitive opponent. Now the team will look ahead to a meet against the Live Oak Acorns on March 22nd, before heading to Fremont High School for the always fun “Firebird Relays.”
I think it is important to understand our leagues and their structures, and to at least think about issues in education that spill into athletics, so if you take the time to read this whole ugly mess, thank you very sincerely.
This blog will be interesting to you if you want to better understand the BVAL, the CCS, how qualification works, and how the different CCS leagues stack up against each other. I will also include a lot of sociological analysis of the different leagues, and breakdown in my opinion, why certain leagues are strong and detail exactly what the Comets need to overcome to succeed, and compete against more advantaged schools and leagues.
Often times when talking about goals, we discuss “making CCS.” For our newer athletes, and for casual readers, the significance of this goal is unclear. This blog will serve as an explanation of what the CCS is, how it works, and how competitive it is.
All high schools in California operate under National and State rules. Our state governing body is the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation). Here is an explanation of the highest level of competition an athlete can advance to in high school cross country.
The Footlocker/Nike National Meets. There are two national meets these days, athletes may qualify for both/either and choose between them. The best athletes in the country are split between these two national meets. Generally speaking, Footlocker is the individual race, and Nike is the team race, but there is overlap. It is a strange system to say the least, having two separate same day national championships meet.
To qualify for the National meets, athletes compete at their Regional Meet. There are four regions, West, Midwest, Northeast and South. We of course find ourselves in the Western Region with 11 other States.
Only the very best athletes from the State Meet proceed to the regional meet. The State meet brings together competitors from each of the CIF’s 5 cross country divisions. In Cross Country, every team has a CIF (State) division based on population. Therefore, nowadays there is a CCS and State champion in each division, so 5 boys champs and 5 girls champs, both for teams and individuals.
The CCS is one of 10 sections in California. The CCS (Central Coast Section) covers schools from San Francisco to King City, roughly 150 total schools. Division 1 schools are the largest schools, with over 2,000 students, whereas Division 5 schools have less than 500 students. We are currently a division 3 school, though we are on the smaller end of D3. For division 3, the top 3 teams at CCS advance to the State Meet, as well as the top 5 individuals who are not on those 3 teams, provided these 5 individuals were in the top 14 overall. If you place 15th or lower in CCS D3 finals, your only chance to make State is as a team.
Only 8 Comet Athletes have ever made it to the State Meet (all boys). The State Meet was founded in 1987, and Joe Amendt was the first athlete to run at State for the Comets that very same year. No Comet has made State since 2005 when Erick Herrera qualified (James Lick was a D4 school that year).
James Lick has one CCS Cross Country team championship. The team of 1971 won the small schools race, the first year that CCS had divisions (just large schools and small schools). A few years later the CCS would move into 3 different divisions, and gradually grew into it’s 5 division format of today. Other sports have various numbers of divisions. In short, in cross country both CCS Finals and CIF (State) Finals both have 5 champions for each gender, one for each division.
In terms of the 10 State Sections, the CCS is among the upper middle of the pack in competitive success. The SS (Southern Section) is by far the best section, though it should be considering it consists of over 500 schools, while The SDS (San Diego Section) is the 2nd largest at roughly 200 schools. The CCS, SJS (Sac-Joaquin Section) NCS (North Coast Section) and CS (Central Section) are all very comparable in size, ranging from 140-170 schools. As logic dictates, there is a direct correlation between the size of a section and it’s competitive success. The Oakland and San Francisco Sections are the two smallest sections in the CIF, both comprising less than 20 schools. As a result they are virtually always the two weakest sections competitively by far.
Originally, James Lick was a member of the NCS. By the 1960s however, the CCS was formed, largely composed of schools in the Santa Clara Valley area. As the CCS grew, and more and more schools popped up under its jurisdiction, it moved to structure things more formally. The CCS now has a total of 3 Conferences (which don’t actually mean anything) and 3 ‘Power Leagues’ within each conference.
The strongest conference of the CCS in cross country and track is the Central Conference. The 3 leagues here in the Central Conference (Morgan Hill to Palo Alto) are:
WCAL (West Catholic Athletic League) a 9 team private school league.
SCVAL (Santa Clara Valley Athletic League) a 14 team public school league made up of schools from West-Side San Jose to Palo Alto, including Los Gatos and Saratoga. They use 2 divisions or smaller leagues, the ECAL (El Camino League, their ‘A’ division) and the DAL (De Anza League, their ‘B’ division).
BVAL (Blossom Valley Athletic League) 24 teams including Campbell, Central, South, and East Side San Jose, as well as Morgan Hill. It is the largest league in the CCS, and is the only one to use a 3 division format, MHAL/STAL/WVAL as discussed in other blogs.
The other 6 leagues include:
The PAL (17 school Peninsula Athletic League)
WBAL (13 school West Bay Athletic league) and the
PSAL (15 team Private School Athletic League, mainly small private or charter schools). These leagues make up the Norther Conference of the CCS.
The Southern Conference includes
The SCCAL (8 team Santa Cruz Athletic League)
The MBL (15 team Monterey Bay league). The MBL uses two smaller leagues, the “Gabilan” as an ‘A’ division and “Pacific” as a ‘B’ division
The MTAL (16 team Mission Trails Athletic League). This league is geographical with an Mission Trails Division division and a Coastal division, but has most of it’s strong teams in the Mission Trails Division.
In Track and Field for 2016, it was clear that the 3 strongest leagues were the SCVAL, WCAL, and the BVAL. While the BVAL lags far behind the far richer schools of the SCVAL and WCAL, it is considerably stronger than any of the other CCS leagues in regards to competitive times and marks, in large part because it has more schools than the other leagues. Just for comparison, the 10th fastest boy in the 100m dash in the WCAL and SCVAL ran under 11.30. The 10th fastest boy in the BVAL ran under 11.45. In no other league was the 10th fastest boy under 11.65.
In cross country things are a bit more spread out. The SCCAL (Santa Cruz County Athletic League) has some extremely strong runners. In particular, Aptos, San Lorenzo Valley, Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley, produce top tier CCS runners every year. The Aptos’ girls team is the reigning D3 State Champion, and under coach Dan Gruber (arguably the best coach in the CCS) they may well win State again. CCS is essentially already locked up.
There are also strong runners in other leagues, King City in the MTAL has produced some outstanding runners over the past few seasons, though the WCAL and SCVAL are dominant overall. I often compare the BVAL, and James Lick specifically, against the SCVAL. The SCVAL being a public school league right next to us, but a highly competitive one at that, makes for interesting comparisons.
James Lick last season placed 13th in the BVAL on the boys side and 14th on the girls side. Considering we were the 2nd smallest school in the BVAL, and the 2nd poorest (based on percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch) this was a solid accomplishment, placing solidly in the middle of the 24 team league despite disadvantage. The majority of the school’s sports have losing records in the ‘C’ division by comparison.
In the SCVAL however, the teams would have finished 13th/14. Despite only being a 14 team public school league, the SCVAL is extremely strong, putting many other public school leagues to shame.
For example, in 2016 Kaylah Grant of Live Oak won the BVAL Championship meet in the 1600m run, in a very strong time of 5:11. 6th Place in the BVAL was 5:19, also a very high quality time. 6th Place in the SCVAL however was 5:08, faster than the BVAL winning time of Kaylah Grant.
Here is an article that my dad wrote for the Mercury News about the strength of the SCVAL in cross country.
As discussed in the article, the SCVAL has several advantages, one is large schools. The smallest school in the SCVAL, Saratoga, outnumbers James Lick by several hundred, and is the only D3 school in the SCVAL.
The SCVAL also has the benefit of a highly motivated student body in a good area to train. Many parks, such as Fremont Older and Rancho San Antonio are in close proximity to the SCVAL schools, and their highly driven students are very determined to stand out to colleges and take both academics and athletics seriously. Monta Vista, a top SCVAL school, ranked 11th in the entire State in academic rankings done by “U.S. News Best High School Rankings,” in 2015.
Lastly the SCVAL has the benefit of extremely capable and intelligent coaches. Gunn High School in Palo Alto’s current head coach is Patti Sue Plumer, Stanford Alumni and former American record holder in the 5000m run. Patti Sue has already coached several runners to huge success, last year Gillian Meeks of Gunn won the State Meet for division 2 in XC, and yet, the case could be made that she is not even the best coach in the SCVAL.
This area also has a number of very strong middle school programs. Students getting a head start on training can be very helpful. The primary feeder schools of James Lick are George and Shepherd, and this is the first time in the past decade that they both even had a cross country team in the same season, (no runners form either school advanced to the County meet however, the middle school equivalent of CCS). Evan Franco of Branham won the first three STAL meets of the 2016 season despite being a freshmen. Last year at Price Middle School, he ran 4:41 for the 1600m as an 8th grader. A middle school which develops athletes like Evan, helps schools that they feed like Branham to a large degree. Erik Olsvold, our top sophomore won STAL #4 in a fantastic time of 15:27, finally defeating Evan. The difference is Erik came in un-trained from Joseph George, running only 6:19 for the 1,600 as an 8th grader. Evan was able to run 16:13 in his very first STAL meet. As a freshman, Erik ran 18:14 and that was after a summer of training. The SCVAL schools have many schools like Price, sending already experienced athletes to high school, ready to be a factor from day one.
The last big factor contributing to SCVAL success is their financial status, despite being a public school league. It makes sense that private schools have a huge advantage in this regard. Bellarmine has its own private buses, enabling the team to run in awesome locations whenever they want, whereas the only bus we get all season is for our league finals meet. This advantage is also significant at wealthy public schools such as those in the SCVAL.
In my dad’s original article,he mentioned the fact that having financial flexibility affords one greater ability to succeed. This acknowledgement was ultimately deleted by the Mercury News.
It may be uncomfortable to acknowledge the systemic issues that affect academic and athletic success in our schools, but the simple reality is that they are present. I would make the case that this issue colors all others.
A student who is fortunate enough to not have to worry about money at home can afford to train and get enough sleep every night, without needing to work a job. Standing around for several hour shifts is not ideal for a distance runner’s recovery, nor is getting home late and having to do homework until 3 AM when they should be sleeping.
A recurring issue in James Lick athletics is students not being eligible to compete due to failure to “make grades.” Some of these students simply did not work hard enough or take agency of their education. Some of these students had no interest in taking their schooling seriously. Many however, had family issues which are not conducive to achievement, or need to work long hours to simply help make ends meet. The student who works until 9 PM, gets home at 10 PM, does homework until 1PM wakes up at 6PM and has to skip breakfast to walk to school for ‘0’ period on time, is necessarily going to have a hard time succeeding in school compared to someone who has less responsibility. Provided this student makes grades, they are then at disadvantage because of their tiring lifestyle and inadequate rest/nourishment. If this student fails to make grades, they will be lumped in as “another statistic” or a “screwup” just the same as the students who are genuinely unengaged or disinterested in school. It is also wrong in my opinion to label students who are “failing” as failures. Many students who are unengaged in school are uninterested due to a lack of guidance or inability to cope with difficult situations. This is true of students of all socio-economic backgrounds.
Some schools in our league have the luxury of a training room, with an athletic trainer and facilities designed to help athletes grow stronger and recover from injuries. I have nothing but anecdotal evidence to support this, but I suspect virtually every school in the SCVAL has this advantage. Comparatively I’m not sure if we even have a school nurse.
Through academic struggles, James Lick has received labels such as “at risk” and in my 4 years coaching, I’ve heard young Comet athletes relay this type of message from 8th graders more times than I can count: “they said James Lick sucks, so they didn’t want to come here.” Through economic flexibility, a parent can spend time helping their student excel in pursuits such as cross country. The number of (expensive) running/track clubs on the West Side reflect this. Many parents at James Lick do not have the time to be invested in their students academic or athletic success. Using Maria Mendoza as an example, Maria qualified for CCS last year with a strong Crystal Springs time of 20:35. I’ve had to send letters home convincing her parents to let her continue running, because her family needs her to work two jobs to help make ends meet. Despite her status as a CCS qualifier in XC and a BVAL qualifier in Track, her family has never seen her compete. Not because they don’t care, but simply because they don’t have time with their own busy work schedules to make time for what they see as a luxury, but what could be for students like Maria, an outlet for success.
A student whose family is struggling is unlikely to have the ability to eat the healthy diet that a runner should ideally eat. It is far cheaper and less time consuming to simply buy a big mac, than it is to head to the store, buy meat, rice, vegetables, pasta etc. and prepare them each day.
When comparing the BVAL and SCVAL, a total of 38 schools, in the 2014/2015 school year, James Lick tied for 2nd most students that qualify for free and reduced lunch as a percentage of total students. At James Lick 78% of students qualified for free and reduced lunch.Only 9/38 schools had more than 50% of students in this category, all 9 were BVAL schools. 8/9 were East Side schools.
15 schools had less than 20% of their students in this category, 9/14 total SCVAL schools are in this group however. There are only 4 schools in the SCVAL where more than 30% of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch. These 4 schools finished 10th, 11th, 13th and 14th last year at SCVAL’s finals (again out of 14 teams) on the boys side. On the girls side they finished 9th, 10th, 12th and 13th. On the girls side Saratoga finished in 14th, though one of the wealthiest schools in the SCVAL by a measure of free and reduced lunch percentile, they have 400 less students than any other SCVAL school.
A great way of comparing the schools and leagues of the CCS is through the “league finals combined results” provided by former Lynbrook coach Hank Lawson. Using a course conversion formula, he combines every ‘league finals’ meet from the CCS. Course conversions are done to equalize times to Crystal Springs. Course conversions are never fully accurate, but they give one a rough idea of where everyone stands.
Last year under the format, with 115 total boys teams combined, 5 of the top 10 schools in the CCS at league finals were from the WCAL. Bellarmine in 1st, and St. Francis in 2nd. 4 of the top 10 were from the SCVAL. The lone exception was top BVAL school Willow Glen, a perennial powerhouse under coach Santa Maria. The 2nd BVAL school was Lincoln at 31st. James Lick came in at 60th, solidly in the middle of the pack.
Contrary to the perception of some, struggles in communities like the East Side are not born out of a lack of work ethic, rather, they are the product of a system which is not entirely receptive to upward mobility. The majority of funding for public schools in California comes from property taxes of the surrounding area. A poor area necessarily produces less money in property taxes, and less funding for schools as a result.So while many students at James Lick struggle with the hardships that relative poverty create at home, they also receive less funding at school to help them rise above their circumstances. The case could be made that the students who need more school programs and strong school funding the most, receive the least of it. A poorer school cannot pay teachers and coaches as much as a wealthier school could.
I made less as a varsity head coach my first year at James Lick than a colleague of mine did as a JV assistant coach at Cupertino High School in the SCVAL. Teachers and coaches who accumulate a good reputation, are more likely to coach at the already successful SCVAL schools, where they can count on the already strong programs to provide them with a plethora of motivated student-athletes.
Students are asked to work hard and earn a better life for themselves. It is very possible to achieve success with enough hard work in our current education system, but the idea that everyone has an equal opportunity at attending a top college for example is inaccurate . The notion that our education system is a meritocracy is at best a false claim. I would call it a farce.
Schools like James Lick which have gained negative reputations, see a high percentage of potentially high-achieving students flee to other local schools or private schools as a an alternative. This phenomenon only drives school performance down further. Teacher turnover is a nationwide issue, and one that plagues poor schools to a far greater degree. When schools like James Lick perform poorly, they are subject to intervention, which only makes teachers desire to transfer greater. If teachers do not stay long enough to establish a rapport at a school to effectively teach students, students will not be educated as well as they could be. If students who are already struggling at home, do not have teachers who can teach them as well as students at richer schools, is it in any way surprising that rich schools would perform better academically than poor schools? That’s only one contributing factor. If top colleges heavily weigh AP (advanced placement) participation, and schools like James Lick cannot offer even close to the same number of AP classes as a school like Los Gatos, is it fair to tell students that if they work hard they will succeed? A Comet who wants to go to Stanford University does not have to work as hard as a typical student at Palo Alto high school, they have to work significantly harder (not even taking the potential of legacy enrollments into account.)
There are plenty of Comet success stories over the past few decades. Students who despite difficult living stations, worked hard, earned scholarships and achieved immense success in post high school life. Shawn Herrera, CEO of Mazda technologies is a good example of this type of former JLXC athlete. So is Paloma Contreras, currently attending Santa Clara University on a full academic scholarship (she could also run track for them if she chose).
It is very possible for a JLXC athlete to succeed in this system, but this system is not made for JLXC athletes. The fact that Paloma “made it” should be an inspiration to her fellow Comets who are striving to do the same. It should not however be an indictment of those who don’t “make it.”
Just this year, we had a strong JLXC athlete transfer to Piedmont Hills High School because their parents felt that Piedmont was simply a better school. No blame can be placed on a parent trying to do what is best for their child, and in this parent’s mind, what was best for their child wasn’t James Lick.
The reality is James Lick is not nearly as disadvantaged as some schools across the country. I myself was fortunate enough not to have to worry about having food on the table every day, and I was always allowed the unconditional support of my parents. These were huge factors on the moderate amount of XC success I achieved. We have many high achieving students on the team, cross country tends to produce mentally strong athletes after all. I have no doubt that students like Nathan Bernardo, and Azael Zamora (both have very high GPAs) will go on to college and be successful in whatever they pursue. I’m worried about athletes like Maria who have to fight so hard just to make it in our current system.
In a few days the James Lick Comets will run at BVAL Finals, and will work to run as fast as they can, earn PRs, and high places.
Come what may however, it bears remembering that when the Comets toe the line and tear up hills at league finals, they will carry more than simply the pain of cross country with them.
This blog will detail the Comets final two meets of the regular season. All that remains now is league finals on Monday October 31st, where all 3 divisions of the BVAL will compete together.
On Thursday October 20th, the Comets had STAL # 5, their final meet of the year at Montgomery Hill. The fact that the meet was run with higher temperatures than any of the other Montgomery meets this year hurt the ability for athletes to run huge PRs, but the team competed well nonetheless.
Vincent Giglio and Mark Orpia started the team’s day off very strong, with a 1-2 overall finish in the Frosh/Soph Boys race. Vincent’s time of 17:49 was a small PR and Mark’s time of 18:15 was a 20 second PR. Mark’s time as a freshmen is better than the freshmen PRS of top runners such as Nathan Bernardo and Erik Olsvold, making his future very bright indeed. Rudy Peterson ran a sizable PR of 20:00 to be the 3rd boy in for the Comets. Nine Tran and Jerricho Habon had off days, running 20:02 and 20:09 after both boys ran under 20 minutes a week ago. Hugo Marquez ran a PR of 20:32 and Melvin Estrada ran a solid 21:16 to be the 7th boy. The Frosh/Soph Boys defeated Independence and finish their season 4-3. They head into league finals 4th in the STAL, but a win over Branham at league finals would likely have them finish in 3rd place in the division. The Frosh/Soph Boys group has rallied strongly over the second half of the season. After having no boys under 20 minutes and only 2 boys under 21 minutes at STAL 1 and 2, the team ended with 4 boys under 20 and a 5th at 20:00, and a 6th boy solidly under 21 minutes. The Frosh/Soph boys represent the depth the boys are building and the likely strength of the program for years to come.
The Varsity girls also defeated Independence, giving them a 2-5 record for the season. This means the girls will likely finish 6th place in the STAL as a team, a respectable showing considering the lack of depth on the girls side. For the girls to be as successful as the boys have been, recruiting more athletes and eliminating athlete turnover need to be focal points going forward. Despite the lower finish on the girls side, it needs to be acknowledged that the girls cross country team is the only James Lick girls team in any sport that is not in the WVAL (c division). Last year the team beat every team from the WVAL by several minutes and is likely to do the same this year. Arlet Miranda lead the team at STAL 5, though she missed her PR running 19:23. Maria Mendoza ran 21:51 and Milka Perez ran a small seasons best of 22:12 to be the 3rd girl in. Daisy Nava ran 22:26, missing her PR by a few seconds. The big breakthrough for the team was Belen Sanchez finishing in 23:37. This huge PR helped close the gap between the team’s 4th and 5th runner, and gave the team a team time of 1:49:29 (109:29) the 2nd best team in school history, only to the team of 2014. Denisse Calixto and Analilia Regla rounded out the team’s scoring.
Despite the absence of Erik Olsvold, the varsity boys were victorious again,finishing their season 7-0 with the win over Independence. Nathan Bernardo lead the group though he had an off race running 16:08. Azael Zamora ran a small PR of 16:13 as did Gustavo Parra who ran 16:45. Gustavo Aguilera, Inteus Castro-Lopez and Jesus Deloya helped finish off the team, though none of them had good races. With their 7-0 record, the Varsity Boys had the chance to get the team their first XC boys championship since 2009 and the school’s first non ‘C’ league championship since the turn of the century. The boys XC team of 1999 won the STAL (and were 1st at BVAL finals overall) to be the last James Lick team in any sport to win a championship in anything higher than the WVAL. The varsity boys team of 2016 will need to finish 1st among STAL schools at BVAL finals to clinch their title.
The JV girls were missing members and unable to field a full team in STAL 5. As a result, they finish 3-4 on the season, though several athletes showed big improvement throughout the season. Chief among them was Camila Hernandez, who ran a PR of 24:06 to place 8th in the JV race overall. Camila’s time is promising for a freshmen girl, and she could be a factor on the varsity side as soon as this track season if she maintains her current level of dedication. Susie Peterson and Aliana Santos both competed as well, and though they missed their PRS, he duo has given the team a solid base all season long. Both girls started the STAL season in the 28 minute range, and have worked their way down to the 26’s. Valerie Flores and Brittany Salazar competed on the reserve side and ended the lady Comets day.
The Reserve boys had one of their best showings of the season, with two boys breaking the 20 minute barrier in the same race. David Bejines lead the group in 19:27, a small PR. Isaak Herrera ran a huge PR of 19:31 to place 5th overall. Isaak has improved by leaps and bounds each season, from a league meet best of 28:22 as a freshmen, to 19:31 as a junior. Only last year he was running in the 22 minute range. The drastic improvement of athletes like Isaak is what has us excited about the number of freshmen boys running under 21 minutes this season. Austin Swank ran 20:16 a narrow miss on a PR. Manuel Villalobos, Daniel Portillo and Jesse Friaz rounded out the Comets day at STAL 5.
The next day, a group of 7 boys and 7 girls headed down to Mt. San Antonio College near Los Angeles for the Mt. Sac Invitational. This trip has been a James Lick tradition since the year 2000, and the team was looking to run fast times in preparation for league finals. The team’s schedule necessitated that they would compete against Division 1 schools (2500 or more students) despite James Lick’s status as a Division 3 school with only 1240 students.
The girls raced first, and battled heat and fatigue to run a solid result. Arlet Miranda ran 20:36 for the 2nd best time in school history. Maria Mendoza was the next girl in for the Comets at 23:08. Milka Perez ran 23:51, and Daisy Nava ran a sizable PR of 24:02. Denisse Calixto ran 25:46 to be the 5th girl and Analilia Regla ran 26:16 to finish off the girls team.The team time of 1:57:23 was the 5th best team time in school history. The team also defeated 3 of the 20 division 3 schools in the race.
On the boys side, Nathan Bernardo lead the team with a PR of 16:54. Nathan’s time places him 4th on the school’s all time list at Mt. Sac. Azael Zamora ran 17:16 to move onto 8th on the school’s all time list, and Inteus Castro-Lopez moved into 14th with a time of 17:25. Gustavo Parra was the 4th boy in 17:48, a huge PR for 18th on the school’s all time list. Gustavo Aguilera was the teams 5th boy in a very poor race for him of 18:27. Jesus Deloya and Austin Swank also competed at Mt. Sac for the first time, running 19:44 and 21:40 respectively.
Considering the long drive, short night sleep etc, the Comets competed well, though based on the team’s times I’d say the team underperformed considerably at Mt. Sac. Even so, the team placed well on the boys side finishing 9th/20 D1 schools. Their team time of 1:27:50 (87:50) is 4th in school history, and the first sub 90 minute clocking at mt. sac since 2003. The team raced in the same race as fellow BVAL school: Evergreen, a team which recently finished the MHAL (A’ division) season with a 6-1 record. The Comets beat the Cougars by nearly 5 minutes. It should be acknowledged that Evergreen was missing several members of the their varsity team, but their consistent #1 runner was in attendance, and the Comets and 3 boys in before a single Evergreen boy.
The team is now busy at work for league finals, only one week away as I write this now. BVAL finals is the biggest day of the season for most of the team. The top 12 varsity teams at BVAL finals will advance to CCS (assuming that all 24 teams run a full team). After the top 12 teams are determined, the runners from these 12 teams are omitted, and the remaining top 9 individuals advance to CCS as well.
“At Large” marks are given in the CCS as well. These are times that guarantee a spot at CCS if achieved at league finals, regardless of place. These marks exist so that worthy runners are not excluded from CCS in the case of an extremely competitive league. Generally, it is easier to make it to CCS via place than it is to hit the at large marks. In any case, the CCS at large marks for Crystal Springs for a division 3 school are:
86:31 as a team, and 17:34 as an individual on the boys side. In short, any individual varsity boy who runs 17:35 or faster at BVAL finals will go to CCS regardless of place. The same goes for any team who runs a team time of 86:31. On the girls side, the team standard is 106:41 and the individual standard is 21:36.
This week is all about getting the team primed and ready for league finals. We are looking for every athlete, from boys varsity to girls reserve to end the season with a strong performance. Most athletes are training to peak for league finals, though the Varsity Boys and Arlet are training to peak at CCS. Today the team will run a mile time trial to track the team’s progress from the beginning of the season.
The season is nearly over and it is go time for the team as a whole. Be ready Comets.
The 2016 addition of the Artichoke Invitational took place on Saturday October 3rd. A group of 30 Comet athletes headed up to Half Moon Bay for the historic run, looking to leave a strong mark. This is the 29th time the team has run the Artichoke Invite, and as a result, the team’s times are significant, with so many years of history to compare against.
The day got under way with the freshmen boys. Mark Orpia and Jerricho Habon ran 15:41 and 15:52 to lead the team. Next in was Melvin Estrada at 16:31. Hugo Marquez was the 4th guy at 17:03, the 7:19 mile a pace being a new career best for an XC course, and Nien Tran rounded out the scoring team at 17: 25. Kevin Bach and Daniel Portillo came in close together at 17:58 and 18:05. Joseph Allen finished off the race for the team at 26:37, running much faster than his pace from a week ago. This was a bit of an underperformance form the group as a whole, but valuable race experience for each member of the team.
The Frosh/Soph girls race was next, and it saw a breakout performance from Camilla Hernandez in 20:30, 8:37 mile pace. Camilla’s time is considerably faster than the times that (current varsity athletes) Denisse Calixto and Analilia Regla ran a year ago. After a strong debut at STAL 2, Camilla is rapidly working her way into future team plans. Ashley Preciado ran 23:46, and Jocelyn Rios ran 27:22. All 3 girls ran their fastest ever mile pace for an XC course. In the Frosh/Soph Boys, Vincnet Giglio ran 15:03, an dis gradually working his way back into shape.
In the JV girls race, Valerie Flores lead the team with a solid 22:17 clocking. Aliana Santos was behind her in 22:29. Elizabeth Perez rounded out the team in 24:01. On the boys side, Isaak Herrera lead the team in 16:30, Isaak continues to progress strongly in his junior year. Esteban Garcia-Gomez ran 16:52 for 7;14 mile pace, and Manuel Villalobos ran 17:14 for 7:24 mile pace, for both runners by far the fastest mile pace of their XC career.
The day finished with the two varsity races. Arlet Miranda ran a new school record for the course to place 4th overall in the small school’s race. Milka Perez ran a solid 18:07, and Daisy Nava battled through cramps to run 18:24. This was the first time under 8 minute mile pace this season for both Daisy and Milka. Belen Sanchez continues to show tremendous potential, running 19:10, with Denisse Calixto right behind her in 19:12. The girls ran 8:13 and 8:14 mile pace, the best of their careers respectively. The same was true of Analilia who ran 19:58 for 8:35 pace. The girl’s had a combined team time of 1:30:30 (90:30) good for the 4th best team time in school history, despite not having #2 runner Maria Mendoza. The girls finished solidly in the middle of the pack in combined team scoring. When the day was done, between both the small schools and large schools races, every team’s top 5 athletes were added up to calculate combined team places. The Lady Comets finished 34th out of 57 total teams, a solid placing.
The Varsity Boys ran well as a team, finishing 5th/19 schools in the small schools division, and 14th/69 teams overall, their best placing in years. Azael Zamora and Nathan Bernardo came in together at 13:04, with Azael adding his name to the school’s all time list, and Nathan moving up it slightly with the 9 second PR. Inteus Castro-Lopez is still struggling to find his form, but ran a PR of 13:49 nonetheless. Gustavo Parra did the same in13:55, a more than 40 second PR, and Gustavo Aguilera ran a small PR of 13:58. Both Gustavo’s ran under the 6 minute mile pace barrier for the first time in their careers. Jesus Deloya ran a 2o second PR of 15:03 to finish the team’s day. The team’s combined time was 1:07:48 (67:48) missing the team’s top 10 team times list by 10 seconds. While several BVAL schools took their varsity teams to the Stanford Invitational, the Comets were able to compete directly against several schools from each division and see their standing.
The only school that the boys lost to from the BVAL was Evergreen, who ran 67:05 to the Comets 67:48, although Erik Olsvold’s presence would help offset this difference greatly. Evergreen is currently undefeated in the MHAL (A division) and in my estimation, are the #2 team in the MHAL, likely to lose to perennial MHAL champion Willow Glen and no other A league school. Despite not having Erik, (somewhere between our #1 and #3 runner depending on the day) the Comets were able to beat several MHAL schools, Piedmont Hills by 1 minute, as well as Silver Creek and Leland by several minutes (though those schools were also notably missing members). The team also beat Lincoln high school, last year’s WVAL (C division) champions. Despite their status as a WVAL team, Lincoln was the #2 school at BVAL finals in 2015, only losing to Willow Glen. Lincoln like Leland and Silver Creek was missing some of their top runners, but the more than 2 minute gap, combined with Erik’s absence, gives the Comets a good shot at defeating these teams come league finals.
The team now looks ahead to STAL #3 on Wednesday October 5th at Montgomery Hill. This is highly anticipated matchup, with the team taking on Pioneer high school. This pits the STAL’s two undefeated Varsity Boys teams against each other, and the Comets will do their best to come out on top.
Feel free to come out and support the team in this important meet.
The Comets took a record number of athletes to the BVAL Championship meet at Sliver Creek high School on May 12th. In total 16 Comets competed. The meet held such strong results for the team, though it was not a great showing for the team overall. The team will look to emphasize this meet to a greater extent in future seasons, with more and more Comets advancing from WVAL finals with ease.
The BVAL Championship meet is contested between all three BVAl divisions (A, B and C). A total of 16 automatic qualifiers advance to BVAL Championships, based on their divisional meets. The top 8 Athletes in each event at BVAL champs advance to CCS trials.
The girls 4×100 team of Lyndel Ventura, Maria Mendoza, Karen Montes and Elyse Elder ran 54.68 to end their season. Arlet Miranda got valuable big-race experience in the girls 1600. She placed 10th in a time of 5:41, the fast first lap of the race costing her in the later half. As a freshmen however, Arlet will look to build on her performance in future seasons, coming within 2 places of making CCS. In the boys 1600, Azael Zamora and Nathan Bernardo competed, though they did not perform well, running 4:54 and 4:58 respectively.
Andrea Ortiz had a strong final 100h race of her high school career, running 17.68 for 10th place after not even making BVAL champs in the event the year before. Valeria Cortez competed as well, though she had a poor race. Hadji Yono-Cruz ended his season on a high note, running a PR of 18.27. Hadji will look to break through next year.
The girls 400 had Maria running 1:08.91, while Jose Limon ran the boys 400 in 55.99. The girls 800 had another solid race for Arlet, coming home in a high 2:31. Daisy Nava competed as well running 2:46. Erik Olsvold ran a small PR in the boys 800 of 2:08.14. Nathan ended his season with a 2:10 following his 1600. The girls 300h had Andrea placing 10th in 50.96. Andrea’s injury plagued season limited her potential in the event. Her knee pain was so bad she was on the verge of dropping out 100m into the race, but decided to finish at a lessened effort level. She ran a time which only missed qualifying for CCS by .3 seconds, despite being hampered by injury causing her to hold back. Andrea’s toughness is a lesson in perseverance, as well as illustrating the fact that things don’t always go smoothly just because you work hard. While we dearly wish she could have run to her full potential, she has a bright future ahead of her and will be competing at De Anza college next year. Gustavo Aguilera competed in the boys 300h, running 46.80.
The team finished the running events with the 4x400s. The boys team of Jose, Gustavo, Misael Herrera and Nathan ran a seasons best of 3:45. The girls team of Maria, Daisy, Andrea and Arlet ran a solid 4:34. In the field events, Elyse Elder placed 11th in girls high jump at 4-4. Lyndel Ventura jumped 14-4.5 for 12th place in girls long jump.
In the girls Shot Put, Alejandra Ceron threw a PR of 31-9 for 10th place. Valeria threw a solid 30-0. The event of the day for the team however was the girls discus. Alejandra struggled, throwing 82-0, but Valeria had a huge day throwing a new PR of 99-9.50. This was good enough for 6th place and a CCS berth. This also makes Valeria the school record holder in the girls discus, beating the 96 foot throw of Ward in 2002. Valeria has had a tremendous season. At her first ever high school competition, Valeria competed in her 3 primary events. At the Willow Glen Invitational she threw 25-5.50 in the Shot Put, 65-10 in Discus and ran 22.94 in the 100 hurdles. Valeria worked hard all season under Coach Vela in the throws and myself in the hurdles, and drastically improved her marks. She ended up throwing 31-1 in the Shot Put, 99-9.50 in Discus and 17.80 in the 100 hurdles. Valeria should be a huge factor in the WVAL, and the entire BVAL for years to come.
Valera will head to Gilroy High school next Saturday for the CCS Trials, while some members of the team will contest the Stanford Cardinal All Comers Meet at Gunn high School in the same day.