James Lick Track Season Comes to a Close: A Reflection on 5 Years of Coaching

When Charli Chircop hurled the discus 100-10 at CCS Finals, she signaled the end of not only her career, but of the 2018 track season (as far as James Lick is concerned). The 2018 season ending was very significant for me personally. It signified the end of my 5th year coaching, and also the end of my first year as a teacher. This blog will be a reflection on my first 5 years as a coach, and the growth of the cross country and track programs over the past 5 seasons.

The team has improved a lot over the past 5 seasons, that is especially demonstrated in track. If this years team faced the team of 2014 in a dual meet, assuming everyone matched their seasons bests, this would be the result:

Boys 2018: 116             Girls 2018: 102

Boys 2014: 19               Girls 2014: 25

I began coaching in fall of 2013. Alex Ponik, one of my coaches at James Lick, was stepping down as head coach. He offered me a position as an assistant coach, a job I was happy to accept. The day before school began for James Lick however, I was informed that our intended head coach would be unable to coach after all. As a result, I was forced to take the helm along with John Quasarano at the last moment.

That first year was tough. As a 20-year old, I lacked confidence in  my own authority as a coach. Our top runner and team captain was Armando Aguilar. Armando and I were teammates just a few years before when I myself was team captain. We were also a very inexperienced team on the boys side. 5 of our 7 varsity boys had never run cross country before 2013. Only Armando had been a member of the varsity team before. This combined with our placement in the ‘B’ division, saw us finish with a 1-6 record on the varsity boys side. Honestly, we were lucky to even win 1 meet.

The huge bright side of that season was the varsity girls team. We pulled off a 4-3 season, the first winning season for the Lady Comet since 2009. Of the 24 BVAL teams, we finished in 15th place on the girls side at BVAL Finals. Our Combined team time was 117:28 (or 1:57:28). It was the first time the team had run under 2 hours at Crystal Springs in several years, giving us good hope for the future.

The boys however finished 20th. Our team was 97:09 (1:37:09). This was partly due to the fact that Armando was unable to finish the race, but in any case, a 20th place finish was not where we wanted to be. Seeing our BVAL places, and our inexperienced coaching staff, the BVAL moved us down to the ‘C’ division for the 2014 season.

That was my lowest moment as a coach so far, largely because I believed that we did not belong in the ‘C’ division. We were a young coaching staff and a young team, but I was very confident we could turn things around.

Track was a different season. I joined the track coaching staff along with Ricardo Flores, Juan Trejo and Ray Iniguez. At the time, James Lick track had not won a single dual meet in over 5 years. The Comets had not had a winning season since 2000, and the girls had not had one on record in school history (definitely not since 1996 when the BVAL began keeping records).

The setup that first year saw me in charge of the girls track team, while the other 3 coaches handled the boys team. We managed to eek out our first wins in years, which gave us cause to dream bigger for the future.

On a personal level, 2014 was my most important year as a coach. My goal has always been to help my athletes improve by as much as possible, and hope that wins and success will follow from great improvement. 2014 was when I first gained confidence in my ability to foster improvement in my athletes, thanks to the hard work of a few key athletes.

Daniela Camacho had run 5:49 for the 1600 as a freshmen, though she slowed down to 6:02 as a sophomore, (not an uncommon phenomenon among girl distance runners). That year as a junior, we managed to reverse that trend and Daniela ended the season at 5:43 for the 1600. She lowered her PR to 5:27 the next season, a mark which currently stands as our school record (though Arlet Miranda ran 5:31 this season so here’s hoping she will beat it next year).

Destiny Lopez was maybe the most important athlete towards helping me believe in my own training methods. Destiny had run track since freshmen year, and her PRs were 6:51 in the 1600 and 15:47 in the 3200. 2014 was her senior year, my only year coaching her. It was a trough process, but at division finals, she ran massive PRs, 6:31 for the 1600 and 14:11 for the 3200.

Our track team had 23 athletes in 2014 and we had our first wins in years. Most important to me personally, I felt that just like the James Lick teams of old, we could work hard and improve substantially in pursuit of bigger victories. Our goal for XC 2014 was simple, prove that it was a mistake to send us down to the ‘C’ division.

Our girls thrived in that goal. The team went 7-0 and won the division handily. At BVAL Finals, after placing 15th in 1:57:28 the year before, we finished in 8th place in 1:50:00. The 1:50:00 mark is the 2nd best team time in school history. The team of 1981 is the only team to have run faster, incidentally the only other girls championship team in school history. The boys team improved significantly as well, moving up from 20th place to 15th place, and running 6 minutes faster as a team.

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2014 Team at CCS Left to Right: Mila Perez, Maria Mendoza, Paloma Contreras, Julia Cruz, Evalilia Garcia, Daniela Camacho, Brianna Flores

The 2014 team will always be special to me because it was my first division championship as a coach. The more rapid improvement was in track and field. In 2015, we had our first winning season in over a decade. By 2016, a girls division title. In 2017 a 2nd girls title, followed by our move up the ‘B’ division. The success in track and field is in no small part thanks to the excellent coaches I’ve had the chance to work with. From Coach Vela who was by my side in track from the beginning, to coach Nichols, and Turner, and recently coach Raul Lopez. Every coach we’ve had in track has played a pivotal role in improving the team.

The most impressive team of my coaching career however was the 2016 XC team, my only boys title to date, and my only ‘B’ division championship team so far.

That team showed what the culmination of years of hard work could lead to. Team captain Nathan Bernardo did an exceptional job leading that team. Truth to be told, I had to miss many practices throughout the season but Nathan never let the team waver. He lead practice when I could not. All of the teams hard work paid off with the boys going 7-0 and placing 2nd at BVAL finals, only losing to the ‘A’ division champions Willow Glen.

Our team time of 1:25:19 was a respectable mark for James Lick in any era. While it is nowhere near the school record of 1:20:46, it was the 12th best team time in school history,  and the best ever JL time at BVAL Finals.

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2016 Championship team Left to right: Me, Gustavo Aguilera, Erik Olsvold, Nathan Bernardo, Inteus Castro-Lopez, Gustavo Parra, Azael Zamora

After 5 years, I feel pretty good about where the program is at. We are solidly in the ‘B’ division in both cross country and track, and we have a very young team on both sides. Long term, coach Raul Lopez and myself will be looking to help take the program to the next level, eventually being a member of the ‘A’ division.

I’m proud that we’ve been able to outperform many schools that are larger than us, and better funded. We are currently the 2nd smallest school in the BVAL with a tick over 1100 students. The schools that are still consistently better than us have a few things in common. Some are outside of our control, such as larger enrollment and greater funds to draw from.

The most difficult discrepancy to overcome for us in my opinion is the lack of experience many of our athletes have. Our primary feeder schools are Joseph George and Shepard Middle School . Neither school had a track team this year. They often do not have cross country and when they do, it is not a substantial program. Willow Glen is consistently the best cross country team in the BVAL. This is in large part due to the amazing work of Coach Victor Santamaria, but every year, Willow Glen Middle School churns out multiple boys in the low 5 minute range in the 1600 and sometimes even some sub 5 minute boys.

The same is true of many of the schools we struggle to beat. Many of the top athletes in the area have been training for a long time. Our athletes have a lot of catching up to do. Azael Zamora just graduated with HS personal bests of 4:33 in the 1600 and 9:55 in the 3200. He did not join cross country until his sophomore year, and to that point he had never broken 6 minutes for the mile.

Long term, we are aiming to help ensure  that some of our alumni will take on coaching positions at some our local middle schools to help athletics not just at James Lick, but throughout the east side as a whole.

I also hope to have more alumni join my coaching staff. Coach turnover has been an issue for us, and having a more consistent solidified coaching staff will help us improve.

We are not at the same level of James Lick’s greatest teams, but restoring the greatness of James Lick in XC and track has been my goal since I started coaching. We are not nearly there, but we are a lot closer than we were 5 years ago. I want to thank every Comet that has been apart of it, and everyone who actually reads my rambling with interest/support.

Best marks/times under me can all be found under the history section of the blog ^

The 2018 XC team will begin conditioning on June 18th at 9:30 A.M.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Comets Advance To CCS Trials From BVAL Finals

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Some of the Comets prepare for the meet while others pose for a picture 

 

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.)

Thanks for reading!

 

Comets break barriers at Quicksilver Classic

The Comets took a small group of athletes to the Quicksilver Classic at Leland High School on Saturday March 31st. Despite the small number of athletes that attended the meet, the Comets saw quite a few PRs and seasons bests. The first Comet to compete was Luis Escamilla in the 300 hurdles. Despite being sick, Luis managed a new PR of 50.77. Yesenia Martinez was next, running 31.74 for the 200, a massive improvement on her previous best of 33.16. Yeimili Adame ran a PR of 30.26, the 2nd best time by a Comet this season. Raven Alcantara rounded out the frosh/soph 200s with a PR of 25.11, smashing his previous best of 26.06. This is also the best time by a Comet this season.

Ashley Preciado managed a big PR in the girls 3200, taking her PR all the way down to 14:15, (previous best 14:49). Hugo Marquez broke the 12 minute barrier in the frosh/soph event, running 11:53. Brandon Cruz ran a PR of 12:05 as well.

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Jerricho Habon, Hugo Marquez and Brandon Cruz running the 3200

The Varsity session began in the early afternoon, and more improvements were had. Valeria Cortez, ran a 19.08 in the 100 hurdles, not a good time for her, but the race was actually a strong improvement in many ways. Valeria was the clear leader in her heat going into the final hurdle with a solid lead. She clipped the last hurdle badly and only barely managed to avoid falling, losing all momentum in the process. The girl who won the heat (who only passed her because of the final hurdle) ran 17.4, meaning Valeria was likely going to run a big seasons best, and potentially even threaten her PR.  Valeria would go on to place 3rd in the girls discus with a seasons best throw of 105-1. Alejandra Ceron took 8th in 93-3.The duo would be at it again in the girls Shot Put. Alejandra threw a big seasons best of 34-11 to take 2nd overall. Valeria threw a solid 30-8 for 9th place.

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Alejandra Ceron after her big throw.  Fun fact: Alejandra is famously picky about only throwing her favorite Shot Put. 

 

The biggest breakthrough of the day came in the varsity boys 300 hurdles. Cody Huoch had a great first track season as a junior, winning the WVAL division title in a PR of 44.32. He only narrowly missed making CCS with a mid 44 clocking at BVAL champs. Cody showed that he is ready for new heights with his performance at Quicksilver.

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Cody Huoch (center) hurdling the 7th hurdle of the 300 hurdles

Cody decimated his PR, running 43.20 to take 3rd place overall. This new PR puts Cody in strong contention for a CCS spot in the event.

Aliana Santos ran a PR of 32.27 in the 200 next. Aliana has been a dedicated track athlete for years, but has really broken through this season. Aliana had seasons bests of 34.32 as a sophomore, then 33.93 as a junior. In this week alone however, she lowered her PR massively, running 33.59 on Thursday, and then 32.27 on Saturday. A great reward for a hard working athlete, and evidence of the excellent job Coach Turner is doing with the teams sprinters.

Azael Zamora and Inteus Castro-Lopez ended the teams day with the varsity boys 3200. Despite both boys being sick, they nearly ran seasons bests. Azy ran 10:06, 1 second off his PR, and Inteus ran 11:17, 4 seconds off of his seasons best. Azael’s performance was good for 3rd place overall.

The team now heads into Spring break, a big training week for the team. After spring break the Comets will host Piedmont Hills on Thursday April 12th, before heading up to the Bearcat Invite.

As things currently stand, the comets are a combined 1-7 in varsity.

0-4 varsity girls, 1-3 varsity boys and 2-2 frosh/soph boys. As I discussed in my pre-season blog, our toughest opponents were our very first few meets. Our goal to prove that we belong in the ‘B’ division is unchanged. We will be working towards a strong finish, and our pre-season goal of a 6-8 combined varsity finish is still within reach.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

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

Comets Continue to Progress in 2nd Dual Meet

The James Lick Comets had their 2nd dual meet of the 2018 season against the Evergreen Valley High School Cougars on March 15th. It was the 2nd dual meet in the ‘B’ division for the team. The team lost in all 3 divisions to reigning Varsity Boys champ Pioneer in their first meet. The result was repeated against reigning girls Champ, Evergreen. The team continued to progress and gain valuable experience nonetheless.

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Lyndel Ventura at the start of the 4×100 

The meet began with the girl’s 4×100. The team of Lyndel Ventura, Yeimili Adame, Kirsten Yutuc and Natalie Rem ran 56.78, falling to the Cougars. The Frosh/Soph boys team of Salvador Lopez, Raven Alcantara, Luis Escamilla and Geovanny Campos ran a season’s best time of 49.21, narrowly losing to Evergreen partly due to a poor handoff. The varsity team of Adrian DeLaRosa, Cody Huoch, Misael Herrera and Chris Okoro ran 48.75.

Belen Sanchez ran a seasons best 6:34 in the girls 1600, and Krystal Tran ran a PR of 8:12, though Evergreen swept the event. The first points on the day came from the Varsity Boys 1600. Azael Zamora ran a seasons best 4:43, nearly running down Evergreen’s top runner to place 2nd. Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a seasons best 5:06 in the same race, as did Mark Orpia in 5:24. Joseph Benitez ran a big PR, running 5:43 compared to a previous best of 5:58.

The team saw their first win of the day in the next race. Valeria Cortez won the 100 hurdles in a seasons best time of 18.20. Susie Peterson scored her 1st point in the ‘B’ division by finishing 3rd in a seasons best 19.74. Yesenia Martinez ran a PR of 21.79. Cody Huoch scored a point in the boys 110 Hurdles with a seasons best time of 17.62. Jonathan Bradley scored a point in the Frosh/Soph version of the race with a new PR of 21.50.

The girls 400 saw an Evergreen Sweep, but Arlet Miranda ran 1:08.09 for her first go at the event this season, the best time by a Comet so far this year. Yeimili and Justine Austria were close behind, both in 1:11. The frosh/soph boys saw several solid performances in  the 400. Salvador placed 2nd in 58.27, a PR of nearly 1.5 seconds. Rudolf Ocampo ran a strong debut of 1:00.56 and Jerricho Habon ran a 3 second PR of 1:00.59. Misael took 2nd place in the 400 in a seasons best of 57.72. Azael took 3rd in a seasons best 58.66.

Evergreen would go on to sweep the 100 on both Varsity sides, though many Comets ran improvements on the week before (despite chilly/rainy conditions). Adrian DeLaRosa lead the team in 12.95 (previous seasons best 13.09). Chris Okoro and Austin Swank both ran 13.28 compared to times over 13.40 the week before. On the girl’s side, Natalie lead the team in 14.75, just missing scoring. Valeria ran 14.99 in her first 100m of the season. Lisbeth Galdamez ran a huge PR of 15.21, compared to a 15.84 previous best. Valeria Gonzalez ran 15.94 for her first try at the event. Kaylee Santos ran 17.19 for her personal debut. Lara Ventura ran a seasons best 19.51. The frosh/soph boys fared well, with Geo taking 2nd place in 12.52. Jojo ran a PR of 13.76 as did Josafar Gomez who ran the same time.

Arlet took the victory for the team in the 800. Arlet ran a commanding race where she remained in 4th place for most of the race, before storming to the win in a seasons best 2:36, winning by 4 seconds. Ashley Preciado ran a significant PR of 2:59.59 compared to her previous best of 3:08. Jenny Villagomez ran a small PR of 3:05. Mariana Perez ran a PR by nearly 10 seconds, clocking 3:24. The highlight of the boys 800 was Melvin Estrada running a PR of 2:21, a PR by 5 seconds. Hugo Marquez also ran a seasons best of 2:29.03.

Kirsten ran a PR in the 300 hurdles of 54.27 to take 3rd place. Yesenia ran another big PR, clocking 1:00.90 compared to a previous best of 1:03.94. The Frosh/Soph boys saw a solid debut from Rudolf Ocampo who ran 50.30. Jojo ran a PR of 51.38. The duo combined for 2nd and 3rd.

Justine Austria ran a PR of 31.67 in the 200 to lead the girls team, though she was unable to score for the team. Misael took 2nd in a seasons best 25.90. Hugo ran a PR of 28.75 and Chris Okoro ran a seasons best as well. Geo scored another point for the team with a 3rd place in the 200.

Azael took another 2nd place in the 3200 to wrap up the individual events for the team. The team would lose the 4×400 although the girls managed a seasons best of 4:46.

The field events saw a number of solid improvements as well. The varsity girls swept the Shot Put. Charli Chircop lead the way, matching her PR of 32-9. Adriana Marcelino threw a PR of 21-2 in the event, and Freshmen Lizbet Alonzo made her debut with a toss of 16-6. Daniel Medina scored 3rd place for the boys with a toss of 36-6. Daniel would also grab 3rd in the Discus with a seasons best 105-0 the 2nd best throw of his career. Jesus Venegas threw a PR of 84-0 as well.

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Daniel Medina, indicating his 3rd place standing 

Valeria and Charli combined to go 1-2 in the girls discus, though Evergreen was able to take 3rd place. Kiely Leal threw a PR of 53-9 and Keara Medina had a strong debut of 51-4.

The highlight of the jumps for the team was Sal winning the Frosh/Soph boys high jump with a clearance of 5-0. Geo and Joshua Merin both managed PRs of 4-10 as well.

The Cougars handed the Comets three loses, moving the varsity boys, varsity girls, and frosh/soph boys each to 0-2 so far. Next week however, the team will be going after the win against the Prospect Panthers.

Prospect was a middle of the pack team last year, going a combined 6-8 in varsity (4-3 girls, 2-5 boys, 2-5 frosh/soph). They defeated Sobrato to start their season, then fell to the same teams as the Comets, Evergreen and Pioneer.

The home dual meet against Prospect on Thursday March 22nd should be the teams best chance yet to claim its first ‘B’ division victory, and the team is resting up this weekend in preparation for it.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

Comets Take Huge Step Forward at TKA Invitational

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The Distance girls, headed by Distance Captain Arlet Miranda (Center) 

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.

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Left to right: Salvador Lopez, Jonathan (JoJo) Bradley and Joshua Merin before the High Jump 

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.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

James Lick hosts Pioneer in first ever ‘B’ division track meet

The James Lick Track season kicked off their league season on Thursday March 8th with a dual meet against Pioneer High School. Pioneer is the reigning STAL (‘B’) division champion on the Varsity Boys side, making them a tough test for the newly ascended Comets. Since the BVAL was formed in 1996, the Comets had spent every track season in the ‘C’ division. The move up to the ‘B’ division for the 2018 season presents new challenged to the team.  For example, the inclusion of the Frosh/Soph boys division in dual meets is new to the team, as the WVAL (‘C’ division) only contested varsity.

Nonetheless, the Comets acquitted themselves valiantly, and made the meet very competitive on the Frosh/Soph boys and Varsity girls sides. The meet began with the varsity girls 4×100. Pioneer did not run a team so the Comets took the first 5 points of the meet. The Pioneer boys 4×100 team defeated the Comets in both the frosh/soph and varsity divisions.

The varsity girls continued to show strong form with a victory in the 1600. Arlet Miranda stormed down the home stretch moving from 3rd to 1st place to claim the victory in 5:59. Belen Sanchez ran a seasons best 6:35, while Jenny Villagomez and Ashley Preciado ran PRs of 6:44 and 6:45 respectively. Emely Lopez and Mariana Perez ran PRs as well, with both girls clocking in at 7:32.

Melvin Estrada dominated the Frosh/Soph boys 1600 winning the race by 50 meters with a new PR of 5:12. Brandon Cruz ran a PR of 5:39 in the race as well. Azael Zamora recorded the varsity boys first points in the meet by finishing in 2nd place in the 1600.

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Melvin Estrada on his way to a victory in the Frosh/Soph 1600

Valeria Cortez won the girls 100 hurdles with a season’s best 18.55. Cody Huoch won the boys 110 hurdles in a seasons best 17.98 to give the varsity boys their first event win in the ‘B’ division.

Pioneer got their first event win on the girls side in the 400. Yeimili Adame and Justine Austria were 2nd and 3rd for the team, Justine clocked in with a new PR of 1:11.19. The Frosh/Soph 400 saw the impressive debut of Salvador Lopez. Sal ran 59.46, a very strong time for an athlete in his first ever meet. Dakota Castro-Lopez ran a PR of 1:09.00. The Pioneer boys swept the boys 400.  They would do the same thing in the girls 100. The meet did see many of the teams newcomers compete. Sophomore Lisbeth Galdamez ran 15.84 to lead the team, with fellow sophomore Azalea Galinato close behind in 15.87. Susie Peterson ran a seasons best 15.99. Araceli Mejia ran 16.26 in her debut, with Chantrea Thach close behind at 16.66. Yyana Guevara, Maria Sanchez and Regine Valecruz all made their debuts as well.

The Frosh.Soph boys saw an upset victory with sophomore Geovanny Campos winning the race in 12.76, a strong debut. Fellow sophomore Rudolf Ocampo took 3rd in 13.13. Josh Merin ran a PR of 13.46 as well. The Varsity boys saw another Pioneer sweep though Sophomore Raven Alcantara lead the team in a seasons best 12.70. Adrian DeLaRosa ran a 13.09 for a seasons best. Austin Swank and Isaak Herrera both ran seasons bests while Erik Olsvold and Josafar Gomez made their debuts in the event.

Halfway through the meet, the Pioneer Varsity boys had already built up a large lead. The Varsity girls and Frosh/Soph boys were still very much in competition however. The lady Comets performed quite well in the field events. The team’s strongest area from last year, girls throws, continued their dominance despite the move to the ‘B’ division. Charli Chircop, Alejandra Ceron and Valeria Cortez combined to sweep both throwing events, the highlight being a PR of 32-9 for Charli in the Shot Put. Adriana Marcelino threw a PR of 20-8 in Shot Put and Sandra Naranjo Prd in both throws.

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The Three Headed Throws Monster Left to Right: Charli Chircop, Valeria Cortez, Alejandra Ceron

Daniel Medina won the varsity boys Shot Put in 36-8. He also took 3rd in the boys discus with a seasons best toss of 96-8. The team did not have any Frosh/Soph throwers which allowed for a Pioneer sweep in the event.

The horizontal jumps also saw a Frosh/Soph boys sweep as no Comets competed in the FroshSoph long or triple jump. Cody Huoch took 2nd in the Varsity triple jump with a PR of 39-5. Lyndel Ventura went 14-6 in the girls long jump for 2nd place. Natalie Rem took 1st in the girls triple jump with a huge PR of 32-10. Kirsten Yutuc took 2nd for the Comets with a jump of 28-2.

Lisbeth and Yesenia Martinez both showed good potential in the girls high jump. Although neither girl scored points, they both cleared 4-2 in their first ever dual meet competition. Jonathan Bradley scored 1 point for the team in the Frosh/Soph boys high jump with a PR of 4-10. The 1 point in FS boys field events will need to be improved upon for the team to succeed in the division.

Back to the running events, Arlet got her 2nd event win on the day with a victory in the 800m. Hugo Marquez scored 2nd place for the team in the FS 800 with a seasons best 2:30. Brandon Cruz ran a PR of 2:34 in the event. The Varsity event saw Joseph Benitez run 2:33 in his debut, though Pioneer swept the event.

The girls 300 hurdles saw Valeria Cortez cross the finish line first, however she was disqualified for a lane violation caused by a fall at the final hurdle. As a result, Kirsten Yutuc was the winner of the race, with Pioneer 2nd and 3rd. Luis Escamilla ran a PR of 50.9 to take 2nd in the Frosh/Soph boys 300 hurdles, and Jonathan Bradley took 3rd. Cody took 2nd in the 300 hurdles, running 45.90 to start his season.

Yeimili took 3rd for the Comets in the 200 with the Mustangs taking 1st and 2nd. Lisbeth and Mya made their debuts in 32.59 and 33.77 respectively. Geovanny and Sal combined to take 2nd and 3rd in the 200 with times of 26.70 and 26.87. Jerricho Habon ran a PR of 27.20. Raven Alcantara ran a solid 26.14, though he was not able to score the varsity boys.

Azael Zamora scored the final points on the day for the varsity boys with a 2nd place finish in the 3200, running 10:27. Melvin and Daniel Portillo took 1st and 3rd in the Frosh/Soph boys 3200 with PRS of 11:34 and 12:57 respectively. Belen Sanchez took 2nd place for the girls in the 3200 with a strong PR of 14:19. Jenny and Ashley made strong debuts in the event with both girls breaking the 15 minute barrier.

The varsity 4x400s were both won by Pioneer, but the James Lick boys managed to capture the Frosh/Soph 4×400.

When all was said and done, Pioneer won all 3 divisions though the Varsity Girls was a very narrow 65-62 victory.

The Comets will head to The King’s Academy High School in Sunnyvale for the TKA Invitational on March 10th.. Then the team will head to Evergreen Valley High School for their 2nd dual meet on Thursday March 15th.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comet runners looking strong as meets approach

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The team’s fastest runners about to begin the North Rim Time trial 

The 2nd week of school just ended for James Lick, and the XC team is rapidly growing in strength. The summer training period saw a small but dedicated group of around 12 runners practicing regularly. On Friday 8/18 however, we had over 40 athletes at practice, and nearly 20 freshmen alone, always an encouraging sign.

We always start the year with a pair of time trials in the first 2 weeks, a timed mile (mainly to give the newcomers a starting point that is easy to understand) and a timed run over the North Rim trail. The version of north rim that we use for time trials is longer and harder than our league race version. At 3.03 miles, the difficult course takes longer to complete than any course the team will race on this year. This makes it an excellent time trial in my opinion.

Nobody looks stronger than co-team captain Azael Zamora. Azael had a tremendous base period in summer training and is looking to have a huge senior year if he can continue to carry and build on his current form. Azael ran a PR of 17:54 for the course. He is only the 2nd athlete to run under 18 minutes on the course in our 8 years of using it, and he is the first to do it at the beginning of the season time trial. Inteus Castro-Lopez was the 2nd runner in at 20:17, a solid time considering the last minute nature of this years trial.

On the varsity boys side, the 4th and 5th runners have been the need since we began summer training. A few young runners look ready to step up. Sophomore Mark Orpia was the next boy in at 22:06, a 30 second PR from his end of season time last year. Fellow sophomore Hugo Marquez came across in 22:15 for a 2 minute PR as well, 7 minutes better than his beginning of the year time trial as a freshmen. Sandwiched between them was junior Jose Limon in 22:10. Jose was our top sprinter in track, taking 2nd place in the frosh/soph division of the willow glen invitational in the 200m, before losing his season to a hamstring injury. He joined XC thus year to work on his strength and build towards a healthy season, and has moved himself into varsity contention.

Arlet Miranda was the 1st girl across in 23:06, the best beginning of the year time by any girl since we’ve used the course. Arlet is highly motivated after an injury plagued track season that nonetheless saw her make CCS for the first time.

Daniel Portillo came across the line in 23:12 a massive 4 minute PR for the hard working sophomore. Melvin Estrada took 40 seconds off his own PR running 23:19. Jesus Deloya ran a solid time of 25:17 despite missing all of summer training. Nien Tran would fight through cramps to run 25:56, more than a minute better than his time from a year ago. Kevin Bach came in faster than last year as well running 26:33 with Jared Resendiz right behind him in 26:34. Omar Fimbres was the lone freshmen boy to run the course, but opened up his JLXC career with a very promising time of 27:04. This is a faster starting time than Hugo, Melvin or Daniel.

Adrian DeLaRosa ran 28:26, following a similar path to Lemon, (Jose Limon’s preferred moniker) working on his strength with his first season of XC after 2 years of track. The 2nd girl to come in was Belen Sanchez in 33:41. It was Belen’s first practice after missing all of summer, and it will take time for her to return to the great shape she was in during track. Freshmen Jahna Kikhia ran a strong debut time of 34:07 and may factor into teh varsity conversation as well. Ashley Preciado was next, leaps and bounds ahead of where she was last year with a 4 minute PR of 34:12.

Kirsten Yutuc and Justine Austria, a pair of sprinters in track ran 37:07 and 37:12 for their first official XC practice as well. Aliana Santos and Susie Peterson both came across the line soon afterward. Erika Camacho was next in 37:40 for her first timed run. Elizabeth Perez narrowly edged out her sister Mariana, 38:04 to 38:08. A few more freshmen spilled across the line next, Emely Lopez in 39:05, Maya Hammond in 41:04 and Estefani Herrera in 44:06. On the boys side Gabriel Garcia and John Pham both finished in the 42 minute range with John Ramirez rounding out the group in 52 minutes. The girls side was done after Xoe Balgos and Siyun Zuo finished in 52:42.

Our initial mile time trial was done on the 2nd day of school, but we did a 2nd one yesterday with many new runners joining. Azael looked very strong in the time trial running 4:56 without any track specific work. Erik Olsvold also ran a decent 5:21 as he works himself into shape. Many of the freshmen showed strong base fitness with their times. Omar ran 6:55 for his first ever timed mile as a HS runner.

Freshmen Jonathan Bradley ran a strong starting time of 7:16 for his first ever day of practice. Brandon Cruz and Jose Ruiz also had very solid debut times of 7:40 and 7:47.

On the girls side the most impressive debut time was by freshmen Xochitl Godinez. Xochitl (pronounced So- Chi) ran 7:31, a time which indicates varsity potential in the short term. Xochitl is the younger sister of Ivan Godinez, a runner who was a rival of many recent Comet  athletes as the top distance runner for Yerba Buena High School and Independence High School as a senior.

Many of the freshmen girls ran mile times in the 9-10 minute range. The boys team is full of depth with a large group of dedicated FS runners and at long last the girls team is poised for the same breakout. If our large group of freshmen runners stay dedicated, from Omar, to Xochitl, to Jonathan to Emely, this team will set the Comets up for success for years to come.

The Alumni Race will take place on Friday September 1st in Alum Rock Park. The Race will begin at 6:00 P.M. Any alumni of the school are welcomed to attend and my thanks to anyone who spreads the word.

The teams first official meet will be on September 7th in Alum Rock Park. We’re just a few weeks away now, stay strong Comets.

I will try to post a season preview within the next week or so, as a first year full time teacher however I am still learning to balance things.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

James Track Moves Up To ‘B’ division for 2018 Season: 2017 Season Summary

The 2017 Track season was another step forward for the James Lick Comets. I am happy to announce that with the BVAL meetings having concluded, the James Lick track team will be officially be placed in the ‘B’ division for the 2018 season. The strength of the team’s past few seasons, especially  the 2017 season, is what catapulted the team out of the WVAL.

The old local leagues of the BVAL, the MHAL (Mount Hamilton Athletic League) the STAL (Santa Teresa Athletic League) and the WVAL (West Valley Athletic League) merged together in 1996 to form the BVAL (Blossom Valley Athletic League). The BVAL is a 24 team ‘power league’ with the 3 former leagues operating as an ‘A’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ division.

The BVAL formed at a point where James Lick was well past it’s heyday in most sports. The track team of James Lick for example, was placed in the ‘C’ division from the very beginning of the BVAL era (like most James Lick sports) and has remained there ever since. 20 seasons of the BVAL era have passed with James Lick in the ‘C’ division every single season. That is all set to change in the 2018 season.

James Lick will compete against the teams of the STAL, with Andrew Hill moving down to replace James Lick in the WVAL. The ‘B’ division was won by Pioneer on the boys side, and Evergreen on the girls side. Other teams in the STAL are: Prospect, Lincoln, Sobrato, Oak Grove, and Piedmont Hills. We will be fully focused on trying to prove we belong in the STAL division, by achieving a middle of the pack finish in our first year in the division.

Now a look back at the season that moved us up. With any luck, we will look back on the 2017 season as the last season James Lick was in the ‘C’ division for track and field.

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Some of the Track Team after the Team Banquet in Alum Rock Park

 

We began conditioning as a team in January. At this early stage we had a large number of boys out, but the majority of our girls were participating in Winter sports. We had the goal all season of trying to win the WVAL on both the boys and girls side.

We came close, going a combined 13-1 for a girls title, narrowly missing the boys.

Here is a breakdown of scoring by event for the 2017 season:

Boys : 

Event Group Average Points Per Dual Meet Points Available Per Meet Average Points as percentage of Available League Finals Points
Distance 24.31 27 90% 49
Hurdles 15.14 18 84% 22
Jumps 15 27 55% 17.5
Relays 5 10 50% 13
Sprints 13.14 27 48% 18
Throws 12.85 18 71% 8

Girls 

Event Group Average Points Per Dual Meet Points Available Per Meet Average Points as percentage of Available League Finals Points
Distance 16.41 27 60% 32
Hurdles 14.35 18 79% 26
Jumps 17.85 27 66% 28
Relays 3.5 10 35% 10
Sprints 8.56 27 32% 0
Throws 17.27 18 96% 45

Both hurdle squads, the girls throws teams and boys throws teams were very dominant in the WVAL. They will look to lead the team next season as the team takes on the STAL.

The team’s top point scorers were:

  1. Valeria Cortez: 130 points 
  2. Cody Huoch: 99 points
  3. Arlet Miranda: 99 points
  4. Erik Olsvold: 80 points
  5. Lyndel Ventura: 75 points
  6. Nathan Bernardo: 70 points
  7. Azael Zamora: 65 points
  8. Alejandra Ceron: 63 points
  9. Jonathan Rodriguez: 61 points
  10. Ace Medina: 53 points

As the team heads up a division, an encouraging note is that all 5 of the teams top point scorers are not seniors, as are 8 of the teams top 10. The team will need a good returning group of athletes in order to compete at the next level.

At the Willow Glen Invitational, many athletes competed for the team and things looked very promising. Jose Limon began the season with times of 11.97 and 24.40 for 100/200 both of which were top 5 finishes for the meet’s frosh/Soph division. This was a fantastic start to the year as no Comet had run under 12 seconds in 2016. Unfortunately, at the very first dual meet of the season, Jose aggravated his hamstring running the 4×100 and never fully recovered, effectively losing his very promising sophomore year.

One of the sprinter’s who stepped up the most in Jose’s absence was Misael Herrera, the team’s next best Sophomore sprinter. Misael opened the season at 12.80 for the 100 and 26.70 for the 200. Over the course of the season, he worked his way down to big PRS of 12.30 for the 100, 24.56 for the 200, and 56.48 for the 400. By the end of the season, Ace Medina would be the team leader in the 100/200 with PRS of 11.68 and 24.17, despite opening the season at 12.70. Cody Huoch would run 24.40 as well to give the team 4 boys under 25 seconds in the 200, a big improvement over the 1 athlete from 2016. The team scored points at WVAL finals in all 3 boys sprint events for the first time since I’ve been coaching.

In the girls sprint events, the team lost their #1, #2, and #3 sprinters from 2016, putting the team in a tough spot. Silvia Amaya emerged as the team’s top sprinter on the side. She opened the season at 15.20 at Willow Glen and worked her way down to 14.30 by seasons end, scoring points for the team in many dual meets along the way. Freshmen Yeimili Adame emerged mid-season as a potential standout athlete, demonstrating impressive range in the two meets she competed in before becoming academically ineligible. We hope she’ll return as a force next season.

This was the first season that the team’s jumpers were under the tutelage of coach Christopher Turner. In this one season, the future strength of the team’s jumpers was shown through massive improvement. Juan Gutierrez opened his season with jumps of 15-2 for the long jump and 31-1 for triple jump. He would end up with PRS of 17-8.50 and 36-3.  Freshmen Jamie Vong had the most encouraging improvement, going from 31-0 at our first dual meet in triple jump, to 37-6 at WVAL finals. He also went from 14-4 in the long jump to 16-10. Hadji Yono-Cruz lead the team in long jump with a leap of 18-3.  Cody Huoch lead the team with a triple jump of 39-4 at WVAL finals.

On the girls side, Lyndel Ventura finally broke the 15 foot barrier officially with help from coach Turner. She started the season at 13-3 and 25-2, and worked her way up to 15-3 and 28-10.50 by WVAL finals. Kirsten Yutuc joined the jumps crew late in the season, but in a very short amount of time went from 12-10 to 13-9 and from 27-7 to 29-10. I’m very excited about the future of these athletes under coach Turner, only bigger things are ahead.

The team also had a much improved season in the high jump. Elyse Elder achieved a PR of 4-8 to take 2nd at WVAL finals, the highest placing by a JL girl at WVAL finals ever. Jonathan Rodriguez went 5-6 and Ace went 5-8 to give the team two boys who scored pints at WVAL finals, after having none the year before.

The hurdles team also took a big step forward. Two boys ran 44 seconds for the 300 hurdles, and Cody Huoch won the team its first ever league title in the event at WVAL finals. Cody also ran the best 110 hurdles time in years for the Comets, clocking 17.16. Hadji also broke the 18 second barrier running 17.83. Jonathan and Gustavo Aguilera ran under 19 seconds to give the team 4 boys under that mark, compared to only two last year.

Valeria Cortez captured the WVAL title in the 100 hurdles with a PR of 16.75, good for #3 in school history. She also brought her 300 hurdles PR down significantly to 52.12. Susie Peterson did the same thing by running 58.99, and Kirsten Yutuc ran a strong freshmen time of 54.44 in the event, as well as running under 20 seconds for the 100 hurdles.

The girls distance team stared the season with some difficulties. Arlet Miranda opened her season at Willow Glen with two great performances, running 5:41 and 2:34, nearly PRs for both events. She suffered injuries the rest of the season which greatly impacted her training. She was eventually able to run a PR in the 800 however, qualifying for CCS by running 2:28.42 at BVAL championships. Belen Sanchez stepped up to be a contributor for the team. She began the year at 7:05 at our first dual meet, and worked her PR all the way down to 6:12 by the end of the season.

On the boys side, the team was lead by Erik Olsvold. Erik took his freshmen year PRs of 4:54 for the 1600 and 10:36 for the 3200 down to 4:37 and 10:20 despite missing time due to a few different issues. While he was able to capture the WVAL title in the 3200, to some extent this was a disappointing season that Erik will be looking to bounce back from in XC. Azael Zamora took his 1600m PR down to 4:40, even though he too struggled with injuries through most of the season.

The freshmen boys were a highlight of the distance team. Hugo Marquez, Melvin Estrada, Daniel Portillo, Nien Tran and Mark Orpia all finished a full year of distance training between XC and track with great results. Hugo’s ran the mile trial for us in August and ran 7:37. He ended track season with a PR of 5:21. Similarily Melvin started off at 6:50 (though he actually had summer training) and ended Track at 5:20. Daniel started off at 7:23 and worked his way down to 5:52.

Mark and Nien did not have as much training time as they both came out from Wrestling late, but they enjoyed big improvement as well. Mark worked his way down from 6;06 to 5:06 and Nien from 6:20 to 5:28. This young group of boys figures to be a strong FS team in XC.

The throws team was improved on the boys side, and exceptional on the girls side. 3 boys threw above 100 feet in discus on the same team for the first time under coach Vela. Alex Alonzo lead the group at 111-4, a 10 foot PR from 2016.

The girls side was the truly remarkable group for the team however. Alejandra Ceron improved her Shot Put PR from 31-9.50 to 35-8.75, a new school record. She also improved her Discus from 90-10 to 95-11. Valeria improved from 99-8.50 to 108-3 in discus, and from 31-1 in Shot Put to 33-4. Charli took her PRS up to a whole new level after missing her Sophomore season. She went from 29-10 to 32-5 in Shot Put, and from 79-0 to 109-4 for discus. With her throw of 109-4, she took the school record from Valeria and became made CCS finals. A  fitting end of the season for a strong team.

The team ends this season with a lot to be proud of, and a big season ahead in 2018 with the ‘B’ division on the horizon.

A few notes looking ahead

For the first time this summer, James Lick athletes who join the East Side running/track club will compete in all comers meets in preparation for the 2018 track season. My club is open to anyone who wants to join of any age group, and the only fee is the USATF registration fee.

Some of the team’s athletes will begin preparation for their fall sports in a few weeks time as well. Coach Turner is the JV girls volleyball coach, and Coach Vela is the JV boys football coach (and I think Coach Steve may join him as a positions coach this year).  I will begin cross country conditioning with the oh so lovable distance rascals in a few weeks, and am happy to say I will be joined by two new coaches this season who have served as volunteer coaches this past track season.

Lastly, I’m very happy to announce that I will be beginning my teaching career when the 2017/2018 school year begins (teaching world history). 90% of my students grades will be participation in cross country or track! (just kidding of course).

I’ll do a general recap of JL sports for the school year if there is an interest in one. This was the best year we’ve had as a school this decade in terms of championships/overall record. Please comment if you’d be interested in such a blog.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

4 Comets on to CCS Semi-Finals after BVAL Finals

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Girls 4×100 team left to right: Justine Austria, ELyse Elder, Susie Peterson, Lyndel Ventura

 

 

The 2017 BVAL Finals were held at Westmont High School on Thursday May 11th. All 3 BVAL divisions sent athletes to the meet, with all 24 schools being represented. The top 8 athletes in each event advance to CCS trials on Saturday May 20th, an accomplishment which is always worth striving for.

In 2016, the lone CCS qualification for the team was Valeria Cortez throwing 99-8 in the girls discus to place 6th place. The girls discus was again one of the first events, and the event did not disappoint for the team. Valeria threw a new PR (and school record) of  108-3, placing 3rd overall. Charli Chircop placed 4th in 106-0 a PR by almost 3 feet as well. Alejandra Ceron took 8th place in 94-4, giving the team 3 CCS qualifiers in just the girls discus.

Much of the school’s track/xc history is unavailable, but the section meet qualifiers are available virtually every year dating back to 1952. This is the 2nd time in school history that the Comets have had 3 CCS qualifiers in the same event. In 1975 the lady Comet throwers accomplished the same feet, sending 3 discus throwers to the CCS regional meet. This was just after girls competition became commonplace, and it was much easier to qualify back in those early years. Kathy Shelby was the team’s best thrower that year at 89 feet, while Alejandra was the final CCS qualifier this year at 94 feet.

Elyse Elder ended her high jump career for the Comets, clearing 4-3. It was a disappointing performance for Elyse who was battling illness, but nonetheles a very solid career for her as a Comet. Lyndel Ventura jumped a solid 14-2 in the long jump, and Cody Huoch went 38-9.50 in the boys triple jump, his 2nd best ever performance in the event.

The running events started with the girls 4×100. Despite the injuries and grade issues the girls sprint team battled this season, the team ran a seasons best of 56.32 to end their year. This is especially impressive given the loss of top sprinter Silvia Amaya to injury just minutes before the meet began.

 

The boys 4×100 had a very disappointing race. A collision on the first leg handoff due to missed timing resulted in the Comets being put out of the race early. The team went on to run 48.24, but looked to lose over 2 seconds due to the poor handoff (Youtube video will up soon).

Erik Olsvold ended his season strong by running a PR of 4:37.19 for the 1600. Azael Zamora ran 4:44.06 as well.

Valeria became the first Comet since Ruth Lebeau to qualify for CCS in two events by placing 6th in the girls 100 hurdles, running 17.19. Cody missed qualifying in the boys 110 hurdles by 1 place, taking 9th in 17.43. Gustavo Aguilera ran 55.27 to end his season in the 400, a solid performance as well.

Arlet fought through her injury plagued season to run 2:28.42 in the 800 for a new PR and a CCS qualification in a gritty performance. Arlet is the first outright CCS qualifier in a girls distance event in school history.  Nathan Bernardo ended his season with a small PR of 2:07.85.

Kirsten Yutuc managed a small PR of 54.44 to end her season on a strong note in the 300 hurdles. Cody ran 44.59 to place 10th, a better final hurdle may have put him in a CCS qualifying spot, but he had an outstanding season overall considering it was his first season of track.

Kirsten jumped a PR of 29-10 in the girls triple jump, giving her two PRs on the day. Alejandra and Valeria placed 5th and 6th in the girls Shot Put to qualify for CCS. Valeria did so with a PR  of 33-4. Charli threw 31-7 for 9th place. With her 6th place throw in Shot Put, Valeria is the first James Lick track athlete ever to qualify for CCS in 3 different individual events. She is rapidly building a case as one of he best Track athletes in school history on the girls side, if not overall.

Azael had a rough race in the 3200, running 10:45, well off of his PR. The girls 4×400 team ran a seasons best of 4:43 to end their season. The boys race was a let-down for the team. The team was in a position to compete for a CCS trials performance, but Gustavo suffered a calf cramp on the 2nd lap. This forced him to run a 60 second leg, 5 seconds off of his 55.27 open 400 from earlier in the meet. 3:41 was the last time in, meaning the team would have been very close to making CCS.

The team emerged from BVAL finals with a total of 7 CCS qualifications from 4 different athletes. These ladies will compete next week at Gilroy High School for CCS trials, in pursuit of some final PRs.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves