The Half Moon Bay High School Cross Country Course, site of the famous and historic Artichoke Invitational, is one of the Comet’s most raced courses. The 17 team Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) uses the course for some of its league meets, and many schools trek to it yearly for the Artichoke Invitational in the cool and scenic city. The Comets will do so on Saturday October 1st, so now is a good time to look back over the school’s history on the course.
James Lick first ran the Artichoke Invitational in 1979, and ran it every year through 1989. Those 10 years provided a strong foundation of the team’s all time lists for the course. After a hiatus, James Lick returned to the Artichoke Invitational in 1997, and has run the invite every year since. 2016 Will be the 29th time the Comets race the course, and the all time list for the course is very strong given all the years of history on it.
The Half Moon Bay HS course was 2.25 miles for most of it’s history. Construction on the baseball field which neighbors the starting line in 2006 made it so there was no invite that year, and in 2007 the invite returned with it’s current 2.33 mile course. The course is very similar to it’s original format, the only difference being that runners now run up a small hill to go around the baseball field before heading to the track, compared to early years where runners would run straight across the field to the track. The course is mostly flat, save for the famous “Cougar Hill” a short but steep excursion a little more than half way through the race.
Rather than have 2 separate all time lists, times from before 2007 have been converted to the 2.33 mile format. This has been done with the use of the XC stats course converter,basically taking the pace of runners form the shorter course, and calculating what that pace would achieve for the longer course, with a few seconds added to account for the small added hill.
Overall, the course is a great chance for athletes to go out and run fast paces on a fun short course with a great atmosphere. The fact that we now take the team to the beach following the meet has strangely down wonders for our meet attendance…
Here is a history of James Lick Cross Country at the Artichoke Invitational, collectively the team’s favorite invitational.
1979 was the first year the Comets ran the course, and it saw some of the earliest quality times on the course. Paul Simmons ran what equates to a converted 12:56 for the course, and teammate Jose Ruiz ran 13:12. The Team also won the small schools team title that year, with a team time of 1:04:35 (64:35) for the course. The Artichoke invite has always divided the meet into a small schools section and a large schools section, giving smaller schools like ours the chance to compete against fellow small schools directly.
1980 was perhaps the best year competitively in JLXC history. The team ran what stands as the team course record that year of 1:02:55 (62:55) to win the meet for the 2nd year in a row. That year the team had what stands as the #2 time in school history, Frank Munoz ran 11:44 which converts to 12:14 (and 5:15 mile pace) for the all time list. Ben Trujillo ran 12:36(c) and Gilbert Zaragosa ran 12:47 (c) for 8th and 11th on the school’s all time list. Adam Flores nailed down the 20th place on the school’s list as well by running 13:13 (c).
1981 saw the additions of strong times from Randy Pangelina, 12:22 (c) Rich Diaz 12:46 (c) and Jim Saldivar, 12:49 (c). Their team time of 1:02:57 (62:57) is the #2 team time in school history and gave the team their 3rd straight team title at the Artichoke Invitational, and no Comet team since has won the team title at the invite. The James Lick boys teams of the late 70s and earlier 80s were some of the school’s best, seeing MHAL league titles in 1978, 1980 and 1981.
1981 was also a good season for the girls team. The girl’s team would win their first ever league title in the season, their only MHAL title in school history and only the second championship in JLXC history on the girl’s side. Kim Willoughby ran a converted 16:02 that season, which stands as the #3 all time performance for the school to this point. her teammate, Silva, also ran 16:32 (c) for the #4 time on the course for JLXC. While the girls team has never had the competitive strength of their male counterparts, the early 80s and recent years have yielded quality times. Thanks to the abundance of years run at the Artichoke Invitational, the girls all time list for the course is one of the few in which all 20 members ran under 8 minute mile pace for the course.
As the 80’s rolled on, so did good times on both lists. 1982 saw Lisa Murphy run 17:54 (c) for #16 on the school’s all time list. 1984 saw Michelle Ruiz run 17:23 (c) which stands at the teams 7th best ever time. Greg Machado also ran the boys #7 time in this year, clocking in at 12:33 (c)
1986 saw Joe Amendt run 12:18 (c) for #3 all time, and teammate jim Strachan run 12:26 (c) for #6 all time in school history. The team clocked in with a combined team time of 1:05:41 (65:41) as well, for #4 in team history. in 1988 Lanoura Goulart ran 17:51 (c) for #14 on the girl’s list, and the year before the #20 entry of 18:06 (c) was made by Heather Haney.
Following the hiatus of the early 90s, where JLXC experienced a few down years as a team, the team came on strong with some quality times in the 90’s. in 1998, Will Crane ran what stands as the school record. His 11:43 converts to 12:13 (c) which I will use as the course record for the team at a blazing 5:14 mile pace.
The strongest team of the 2000s was the team of 2000, managing a team time of 1:05:39 (85:49) for the #5 combined team time in school history. The team was lead by Eric Santos at 12:22 (c). Teammates Ivan Navarro and Brent Nichols would run their PRS in 2001, with times of 12:50 (c) and 13:13 (c). In 2002 Jose Gutierrez ran 12:42 (c) and a few years later Erick Herrera ran 13:04 (c). No addition to the boys list would be made for a full decade, until Nathan Bernardo ran 13:12 in 2015.
The girl’s list by comparison saw many of it’s best times in the mid-current 2000s. Christina Avalos: 17:32 (c) Elizabeth Topete 17:33 (c) Joanna Rabano 17:34 (c) and Anita Castillo 17:43 (c) filled out the 9-12 all time performances during the early 2000s. The team of 2003 ran a team of 1:29:40 (89:40) for what stands as the #2 team time in school history, one of only 3 times that the team averaged under 18 for their top 5 girls. Kayla Matusda ran a then course record of 15:45 (c) in 2005, the only one of the 10 team course records she set during her career to have fallen since her graduation. Teammate Elsie Carillo, currently the XC coach at Shepherd middle school, ran 17:51 in 2007 for #15 on the school’s all time list as well.
2009 saw the 16:42 of Ana Tapia, but the 2014 season, where the girls won the WVAL, the second championship in school history in the girls side, yielded dramatic improvement to the list. Daniela Camacho set a new school record, running 15:38 for the course. Paloma Contreras at 17:25, Evalilia Garcia at 17:47 and Julie Cruz at 17:54 all added their names to the list this season as well. Maria Mendoza ran 17:55 to finish that teams combined time of 1:26:39 (86:39) a school record by 3 minutes. A year later, Maria would improve her time to 16:42, moving her to #6 all time and helping her team run 1:29:43 (89:43) for the 3rd best team time in school history.
What does this all mean for this year’s team?
The class of 2004 was a key turning point in JLXC history. While the program began gradually weakening in the late 80’s and 90’s, it still produced very competitive season through most of the late 90’s and early 2000s.The team of 2003 was very strong, lead by Jose Gutierrez, the team went 7-0 in the MHAL (A league of the BVAL) but failed to win the league championship, because they lost to two teams at BVAL finals. James Lick in it’s heyday would consistently run in the mid 80 minute range as a team at Crystal Springs (83 minutes to 87 minutes with 85 being very typical) and during the 80s, the team would consistently run in the mid 60 minuet range for Artichoke (after converting time to their current format). The team of 2003 ran a team time of 67:27, slightly better than the #10 team time of 1987 at 67:39.
A time in this range would represent the team truly having returned to the form it showed consistently throughout much of it’s history. The team would also likely have to run this time without aid of Erik Olsvold, one of the team’s top runners. If the Comets taking to the course this Saturday can combine to add their names to the top team times list, they ill be well poised to restore James Lick’s status as a leading school in distance running at bigger courses like Crystal Springs. The team is in a good place to see several additions, as Azael Zamora and Nathan Bernardo are likely to be the team’s first athletes under 13 minutes for the course since 2002.
On the girl’s side, the team will look to run a solid team time, with the goal being another sub 90 minute clocking. Arlet Miranda will go after the school record for the course, and runners like Daisy Nava and Milka Perez should have a good chance to add their names to the school’s all time list.
The Artichoke Invitational is just days away, and the Comets will have the benefit of 2 hard weeks of training in their legs since their last meet. Look for the invitational to be a great indicator of the team’s status and fitness. Recap will be up soon after the race, (either Saturday evening or Sunday morning).
Thank you for reading.