James Lick Varsity 6-4 Combined after 3rd league meet

The James Lick Comets had their 3rd league meet of the season on Thursday October 11th at Montgomery Hill.  The team went into the meet 2-1 on the varsity girls side and 1-2 on the varsity boys side. The Comets faced off against Sobrato and Oak Grove, and the team took a huge step forward overall, despite several absences.

The frosh/soph boys race kicked off the day for the team. The team was lead by Omar Fimbres, fresh off of a massive PR a week ago, Omar took another 30 seconds off, running 18:05 for 5th place in the race. Jay Austria was the next Comet in, running a massive PR of 19:12. For a team that is somewhat lacking in your talent on the boys side, Jay is a huge brightspot. He ran 22:02 at the first league meet, then 20:59 at ST #2, before lowering his PR nearly2  minutes at St #3. Alberto Trejo ran a PR of over 2 minutes, stopping the clock at 21:25. Jo-Jo Bradley was just behind him, a rough race for Jo-Jo. Huu Thai and Joseu Gomez rounded out the team. The team defeated Oak Grove to earn their first win, but lost to Sobrato, giving the frosh/soph boys a record of 1-4 on the season.

The next race was the varsity girls. The team was without star runner Arlet Miranda,(who we held out for health maintenance)  but still managed a split on the day, defeating Oak Grove and losing to Sobrato. Yeimili Adame lead the Comets in a 30 second PR of 20:38. This is the 6th best time in school history at Montgomery Hill. It was also the highest finish if Yeimili’s career, as she came in 8th place. A trio of lady Comets came in together with PRs. Belen Sanchez (22:02) Jessica Cervantes (22:05) and Ashley Preciado (22:09).  All three ran PRs, and are now knocking on the door of the 22 minute barrier.

22 Minutes is a significant barrier for girls at Montgomery Hill. The girls finished 18th,19th and 20th out of 50 varsity girls, showing that 22 minutes is a quality varsity girl time in the ‘B’ division. Jenny Villagomez was the 5th girl in 23:39, missing her PR by just 6 seconds. Yesenia Martinez managed a big PR of 23:52, breaking the 25 and 24 minute barriers for the first time, as she continues to work towards full fitness. The girls move to 3-2 on the season, and will try to clinch their first winning record in the ‘B’ division since 2013 with a win next week. The team will also attempt to break the school record team time on the course. The team of 2014 ran 1:05:57 as a team, an average of just under 21:12 per girl. The team ran 1:10:36 without Arlet this week. If we plug Arlet into the meet and assume she matched her PR (not a stretch considering that 5/6 varsity girls ran PRS) our team time would have been 1:06:08, just barely off of the school record, giving us an excellent shot at it next week.

The Varsity boys were next, and they had a great race as a team, with 6 PRS and a big seasons best, combining for the 7th best team time in school history, and a pair of decisive wins.  The last time at Montgomery, Mark Orpia lead the team in a PR, running 17:09. He once again lead the team in a PR, this time running 16:25, moving him up to the 11 spot on the team’s all time list for the course. (This is the 18th year of James Lick racing at Montgomery Hill). Mark finished in 8th place, which is also the highest varsity finish he’s ever achieved.  Erik Olsvold ran 16:58 to be the 2nd Comet in. This was a big season’s best for Erik, who ran 18:13 at the first league meet. Jared Resendiz (17:07) Melvin Estrada (17:16) and Jerricho Habon (17:18) rounded out the top 5 all with PRs. Brandon Cruz and Nien Tran ran PRs as well, finishing in 17:34 and 17:55 respectively.

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Erik Olsvold during the first mile of the race, with Brandon Cruz and Jared Resendiz close behind. 

The varsity boys moved to 3-2 and will try to clinch a winning season next week. If both varsity sides succeed, it would be the first time that both the boys and girls for James Lick managed a winning season in the same year in the ‘B’ division.  The boys also managed a team time of 85:05. The 4th best team time in school history is the 84:20 clocking of the team of 2004, a mark that this year’s group can aim to top.

The reserve boys was the next race on the ledger. While reserve is technically non scoring, our boys would have handily beaten Sobrato and Oak Grove on the reserve side. Geovanny Campos lead the team in a PR of 18:47, cracking the 19 minute barrier for the first time. Gustavo Madrigal was the next Comet in, running under 20 minutes for the first time, stopping the clock at 19:39. Vincent Giglio and Rodolph Ocampo came in at 20:21 and 20:27, the later being a 1 minute PR for Rudolph. Hugo Marquez was close behind in a seasons best. Adrian DeLaRosa made his debut on the course, running 23:06. Josh Merin and Alexis Sarellano came in with PRs of 23:28 and 23:33. Rafael Yanez ripped another 2 minutes off of his personal record, running 25:10 as he continues to rapidly improve. Kevin Santacruz ended the boys day, running a tough race but failing to PR.

The JV girls have been the strongest Comet group (in terms of competition) all season and they continued that trend, moving to 5-0 on the year. Erika Camacho lead the Comets with a massive PR of 24:11 (previous best 25:46). Estefani Herrera was right behind her in 24:16 (previous best 25:39). Both girls have improved remarkably over the past year, and figure to be competitive varsity runners next year if they keep this up. As freshmen, neither girl was able to break the 30 minute barrier, and they are now knocking on the 24 minute barrier. Running under 24 minutes makes you a respectable varsity girl in the ‘B’ division. It’s a testament to the hard work of these two girls that they have made themselves into varsity caliber runners.

The PRs did not stop there. Mya Hammond and Emely Lopez finished in 25:25 and 25:45 respectively. Neither girl had run under 26 minutes for the course before. Jhesselyn Santos was the 5th girl in 26:33, a PR by nearly 2 minutes. Francine Estranero ended the Comets day with a PR of 27:29, shaving 50 seconds off of her personal best.

When all was said and done, the Comets had 25 PRs and a great day at ST division race #3.

The Comets will take on Leigh and Pioneer at ST race #4 on Thursday October 18th. Some of the most dedicated juniors and seniors will then compete at the Mt. Sac Invitational on Saturday October 20th. All that will remain after that is league finals.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

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Fun Run In Half Moon Bay: Lady Comets finish in 4th place at Artichoke Invitational

The Comets took to the historic Artichoke Invitational in Half Moon Bay High School on Saturday October 6th. This marked the 32nd time on record that the Comets participated in the Artichoke Invite. These days it is the favorite yearly invite for the majority of the team, and the short course (2.33 miles) yielded some great PRs and fast paces for the team.

The Comets day began with the frosh/soph girls race. Many of the Comet sophomores ran huge PRs, with some managing the best race pace of their XC careers. Mya Hammond was the first girl in with a PR of 19:13. Last year, Mya ran 20:30. The 8:15 mile pace was by far the best of Mya’s cross country career. Mariana Perez and Estefani Herrera would come in together at 19:40 and 19:43, both massive PRs. Mariana ran a PR by over 2 minutes, and Estefani ran a PR by nearly 5 minutes. Both girls ran under 8:30 pace for the first time. Erika Camacho was 4th in 20:19, with Emely Lopez close behind in  a PR of 20:22.  Francine Estranero ran a time of 21:27, shattering her previous PR of 23:06, and Araceli Mejia ran 22:44, breaking 10 minute pace for the first time in her career.

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The Frosh/Soph Girls on the starting line 

The frosh/soph boys were next. Omar Fimbres lead the group with a 26 second PR of 14:58. Jonathan Cortez ran 16:07 for his first time on the course. Alberto Trejo ran 17:27, for a race pace of 7:27, the best of his career so far. Josue Gomez and Kevin Santacruz ran 19:33 and 22:12 respectively. Both absolutely shattered their career best mile paces,

The Comets had only a handful of athletes in the JV races. Giulissa Correa ran 20:17 and Adriana Marcelino ran 24:55. This was an especially good race for Adriana who’s official mile PR is 11:02, yet she ran under 11 minute pace for the course. On the boys side, Rodolf Ocampo lead the team in 16:27, a PR by 1:10. Josh Merin ran 17:38, and Rafael Yanez ran 20:57. It was the best mile pace of both boys careers to this point.

The varsity races followed. The varsity girls team was spearheaded by Arlet Miranda. Arlet set the school record on the course in 2016 by running 15:37. She ran exactly the same time at the 2018 edition, running 15:37 for 8th place, the highest pacing Comet on the day. Ashley Preciado ran a huge PR 17:38, a PR by over 2 minutes which put her 12th on the school’s all time list for the course. Belen Sanchez ran a 10 second PR of 18:01. Jessica Cervantes made her debut on the course running 18:15 and Jenny Villagomez was the 5th girl in with a PR of 19:07. Yesenia Martinez ran 20:28 for her first time on the course.

The girls team combined for a team time of 88:38, the 2nd best team time in school history only to the team of 2014. Many teams were away at the Crystal Springs invite, but the girls team managed to place 4th as a team in the varsity race.

The varsity boys were lead by Mark Orpia in 13:40. A pack of Comets finished in the 14 minute range. Jerricho Habon ran 14:15 ( A PR by 2 minutes) and Jared Resendiz ran 14:19 for his first time on the course. Melvin Estrada and Brandon Cruz ran 14:38 and 14:40, both PRs, Brandon’s by over 2 minutes. Nien Tran rounded out the team’s day with a PR of 14:49.

It was a great day for the Comets who competed at the Artichoke Invitational. The team will turn their attention back to Montgomery Hill where they will face Sobrato and Oakgrove on October 11th in ST division race #3.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

Comets Run as a Pack at Crystal Springs Center Meet

The Comets participated in the Crystal Springs Center Meet on Wednesday October 3rd 2018. The Center Meets have dwindled in participation over the years, with only 10 schools in attendance at this version of the event. With the Artichoke Invitational coming up, the team used the Center Meet as a workout opportunity, and a chance for the newer runners to become acquainted with the Crystal Springs course.

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The Team’s Frosh/Soph boys on the start-line 

The meet began with the frosh/soph boys. We went in to the meet with an emphasis on running as a pack, and working the last half of the race. Fast times were not our priority on this day. Jo-Jo Bradley, Omar Fimbres and Jonathan Cortez packed together well for the first half of the race, running at an 80% effort. Over the last mile, Jo-Jo remarkably stormed home for a PR of 19:56, his first time under 20 minutes on the course. Omar also managed to run faster for the center meet than he did last year despite the less than full effort, clocking in at 21:37.

The rest of the Comets running were competing on the course for the first time.

Jay Austria- 22:47

Alberto Trejo- 23:18

Jordan Laguna- 23:53

Huu Thai – 25:49

Josue Gomez- 28:23

Kevin Santacruz- 31:58.

It was by far the best race of Alberto’s career to this point.

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The girls team lined up before the race 

The next race featured all of the lady athletes on the day. Arlet Miranda paced team #2 Yeimili Adame for the first 2 miles before dropping the hammer in final mile. She lead Yeimili to a small PR of 22:11, but even so, Arlet managed to open up a 40 second gap over the final stretch, showing strong finishing speed.

Jessica Cervantes, Belen Sanchez, Ashley Preciado, and Jenny Villagomez ran close together, all finishing in the mid 24s. The JV girls had a fantastic day overall. Mariana Perez (25:42) Erika Camacho (25:49) and Estefani Herrera (25:57) came in close together, all running huge PRs. Mariana’s previous best was 26:54, while the other two had never broken 28 minutes before. It was the best race any of these 3 have ever had.

Yesenia Martinez and Mya Hammond came in near each other in 26:40 and 26:54 respectively. Most of the remaining Comets were making their Crystal Springs debuts, though Francine Estranero and Araceli Mejia both ran faster at this year’s center meet than last year’s.

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The Comet boys on the start line

The final race of the day held all of the remaining boy athletes. The Varsity boys ran as one big back, taking the first two miles at a tempo pace.

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The Varsity boys passing the first mile as a pack 

They finished very strong, with some of the boys managing PRs despite the modest pace through 2 miles. Mark Orpia lead the group at 18:58. Melvin Estrada, Jerricho Habon and Nien Tran streamed in together at 19:10, 19:12 and 19:13. It was a 25 second PR for Jerricho. Jared Resendiz and Brandon Cruz ran 19:27 and 19:30 as the 5-6. It was a course debut for Jared whereas Brandon managed a 2 minute PR. Geovanny Campos was the 7th boy in 19:47 for his debut on the course.

Gustavo Madrigal and Vincent Giglio ran 21:00 and 21:40. Rodolf Ocampo and Josh Merin ran 22:39 and 24:12. Alexis Sarellano (26:12) and Rafael Yanez (27:31) rounded out the Comets day.

It was a good experience for the most of the team, getting valuable experience on the BVAL finals course with less than 4 weeks remaining before the big day.

Many members of the team will head to Half Moon Bay for the Artichoke Invitational on Saturday October 6th in pursuit of fast mile paces.

The entire team will compete in their 3rd league meet on Thursday October 11th at Montgomery Hill.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Big PRs at Earlybird Invitational for James Lick Runners

The Comets took to the Earlybird Invitational for the final time on Saturday September 15th 2018. Meet management announced that this years edition would be the final Earlybird Invitational. The Earlybird meet had become a favorite for CCS schools especially in years where CCS was being held at Toro Park.  The Comets went out with a strong showing, as every Comet who had run the course before managed a PR, and many of the younger Comets had the best performances of their careers as well.

The meet began with the freshmen girls race, with three young lady Comets competing.

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Left to right: Jhesselyn Santos, Angelina Guevara, Ruth Rodriguez 

Ruth Rodriguez was the first freshmen girl in at 25:52. Toro Park is a 3 mile course, and typically, runners run at least 1 minute faster on the 2.74 mile long Montgomery Hill course. This shows that Ruth is already in 24 minute shape for league meets, which is a lower-end varsity caliber time. Jhesselyn ran 28:46, the first time in her young career that she has cracked 10 minute mile pace. The same was true of Angelina Guevara who ran 29:22 to round out the freshmen girls race for the team.

The boys freshmen race was next. Jay Austria made his debut for the team, running a solid 22:32. This was an unremarkable time, but one that we are confident Jay can build on greatly. Josue Gomez has been running a few weeks now, and the improvement is starting to show. Josue ran 26:52, 8:57 mile pace. Two weeks ago at the alumni race he could only manage 10:08 pace for the 2.25 mile alumni race. Josue even managed to run faster than he did at the Lowell invite, despite the Lowell course being easier and shorter. Josue is just one example of what hardwork can do.  Kevin Santacruz made his debut for the team as well, running 33:10.

The sophomore girls were up next, one of only two complete teams for the team on the day. Jessica Cervantes lead the team in 26:23. Jessica is rapidly shaping into a strong runner for the team. She did not run cross country for the team last year, but made a solid impression in track. She was the #5 sophomore girl at the alumni race two weeks ago, #3 last week at lowell and now #1 at Earlybird. Erika Camacho was not far behind in 26:40. This was the first time that Erika managed to run under 9 minute pace for an entire 3 mile race.  Mya Hammond was next in at 26:49, giving the Comets 3 sophomores under 27 minutes, in addition to Ruth’s time under 26 minutes.

We have a lot of optimism this year regarding the girls JV team. Last year the team went 4-3 and came in 9th place at BVAL finals. That year’s team produced only 1 JV girl under 27 minutes at Montgomery Hill.The Earlybird results indicate that the team should have multiple girls under 26 minutes, likely even under 25. Esetfani Herrera and Emely Lopez rounded out the top 5 with times of 27:41 and 28:27 respectively. Araceli Mejia also competed, running 32:47.

The upperclassmen were up next, with several Comets who had run the course before. Ashley Preciado was the first of the junior girls to finish. Ashley ran 24:15, shattering her PR from a year ago of 27:02. Ashley is one of many examples of great improvement on the James Lick team. Last year in the sophomore race, Ashley finished in 155th place. As a junior, against largely the same runners, show moved up nearly 100 spots to 56th place.  Giulissa Correa ran 26:59 the strongest showing of her career to this point. Adriana Marcelino ran 35:34, the 11:51 pace being the best of her career this point.

The junior boys would be the Comets final boys race of the day. While the team was missing 3 of their top 4 boys from the alumni race, (Erik Olsvold, Melvin Estrada and Mark Orpia) the team put up a strong showing with most of their other varsity contenders in the race.

Brandon Cruz, the team’s most improved runner was the first Comet in. He ran 18:54, a massive PR by over 5  minutes. As a sophomore, Brandon was 349th place at the Earlybird Invite. Brandon’s colossal improvement saw him finish in 81st place this year. He was not the only Comet to move up the standings from the year before. Jerricho Habon finished in 19:13, a PR by over 2 minutes. Jerricho improved from 228th place last year, to 98th this year. Jared Resendiz ran 19:28, the 6:28 pace being by far the best of his career. Nien Tran was right behind in 19:33. Nien improved from 227th place to 111th place. Gustavo Madrigal was the 5th Comet in at 21:02. Rodolf Ocampo ran 23:29 to end the boys day.

The final race of the day for Comets was the senior girls race. Arlet Miranda had a great race, placing 13th overall in a PR of 20:46. This moves Arlet passed Daniela Camacho into 3rd on the school’s all time list at Toro Park. Belen Sanchez ran 23:55, beating her PR of 24:47 handily.

The team showed great improvement across the board. Hard work leading to huge improvement is the way that James Lick has stayed competitive in cross country despite being a much smaller school than the teams they will compete against.

The team will look to keep the improvement rolling on Thursday September 20th when their league season begins.

The Comets will be competing in the ST division’s first race of the year, and will be scoring directly against Prospect and Independence.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

Comets Looking Strong After First Week of School Time Trial

The 2018-2019 school year has begun and with it, the team completed their annual North Rim trail time trial. This has been a team tradition since 2009, with the team starting at the Alum Rock Park entrance, running the north rim trail and finishing at the entrance once again. The course is 3.03 miles, and it is a great indicator of where the team stands, because every course the team will race on should yield a faster time.

With this being the 10th year of our “North Rim Time Trial” to start the school year, we have a solid amount of data to make projections with.  We run the course again, later in the season to track progress. Our main goal is for each athlete to start the season faster than they started the previous year, putting them on track for PRs (personal records) as the season goes on.

Mark Orpia was the fastest Comet on the day, running 20:10. This is the first time since 2014 that no Comet ran under 20 minutes for the course at the beginning time trial. Despite this fact, there is a lot of reason for optimism. Last season, Mark began the season by running 22:06, nearly 2 minutes slower than his time this year. He was followed by Jerricho Habon in 20:25. Jerricho put a hard summer of work in, and the results show. Jerricho’s PR was 21:38, a mark he demolished despite it being the infancy of the season.

Erik Olsvold in 20:35 and Brandon Cruz in 20:59 rounded out the team’s top 4. While last year, Azael Zamora spearheaded the team by running 17:54 at this time trial, only one other boy (Inteus Lopez) ran under 21 minutes for the trial, compared to 4 this season. Inteus would go on to run 16:37 at Montgomery Hill and 17:30 at Crystal Springs, both high quality ‘B’ division times. If the team’s top 4 from today run anywhere near that, the team will be a force to be reckoned with.

The next boy in was Jared Resendiz in a 4 minute PR of 21:54. Geovanny Campos and Melvin Estrada were next in 22:15 and 22:27. While it was a bad day for Melvin, it was a very strong showing for Geo, one of the team’s top sprinters in track, who only joined cross country in late July. Daniel Portillo and Nien Tran were the next boys in 22:32 and 22:34, with Arlet Miranda finishing as the first girl just ahead of them. Nien and Daniel are both well ahead of last season, where both boys ran over 23 minutes for the course.  Arlet’s time of 22:32 is the best girls time to start the season of any Comet girl for the North Rim Course. The Previous best was 23:06 by Arlet last season. In her senior year, Arlet looks ready to lead the girls team to big accomplishments.

Gustavo Madrigal and Omar Fimbres came in together at 23:43 and 23:45 respectively, adding depth to the team. Jonathan Cortez came in at 24:41, not far ahead of the #2 girl on the team, Yeimili Adame who ran a 1 minute PR of 24:57. Alberto Trejo, Rodolf Ocampo and Adrian DeLaRosa finished in the 27 minute range, just ahead of a pack of lady Comets.

Ashley Preciado (28:10) Belen Sanchez (28:13) Yesenia Martinez (28:16) and Erika Camacho (28:26) ran the time trial as a pack. Last season, the girls team managed to run the 6th fastest James Lick team time ever at Crystal Springs, on their way to a middle of the pack finish at BVAL Finals (16th out of the 24 teams).  That years team saw Arlet run 23:06 at the time trial, followed by Belen in 33:41 and Ashley in 34:12 as the 2nd and 4th girls respectively. With all that the team of 2017 was able to manage, it’s clear that the team of 2018 has very high hopes indeed.

Jenny Villagomez was next in 30:18, with top freshmen Ruth Rodriguez not far behind in 30:27. a solid time to start the season. Mya Hammond and Emely Lopez both finished at 32:57, and Estefani Herrera ran 34:18. This trio has improved leaps and bounds since a year ago. To start last season, Emely ran 39:05, Mya ran 41:04 and Estefani ran 44:06.

Kirsten Yutuc ran 34:37 for a 3 minute PR, and Giulissa Correa came in at 35:14 as the next girl across. Josh Merin ran 31:21 for his first time on the course. Angel, Sebastian and Idan, 3 newcomers from the soccer team ran 32:10, 34:27 and 35:18 for their very first practice to round out the boys day.

Krystal Tran, Ellie Castro and Francine Estranero came in together at 37:50. Jessalyn Santos, sister of top thrower Mariah Santos, came across in 38:16 for her first time on the course. Fellow freshmen Mia Hammond and Angelina Guevara came through in 39:42. Adriana Marcelino and Araceli Mejia also cracked the 40 minute barrier, running 39:46 and 39:50 respectively. Morayma ended the Comets day by clocking 51:59 for the course.

When all was said and done, 43 Comets contested the time trial, a new high for the team to start the season. Many showed dramatic improvement, and the team can be very optimistic about what is to come.

The team will not race again until the Alumni Race on Friday August 31st. It will be in Alum Rock Park at 6 P.M. All former Comets are invited to come, whether they want to race or not.

I will probably do a season preview before that.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

Comparing Eras of James Lick Cross Country

This is a long post where I essentially try to divide up James Lick’s XC history into eras. If you’re into that sort of thing, read on at your own peril. 

It is never easy to compare across eras in sports. Many American sports have radically changed over time. Pitchers used to pitch 16 inning complete games, football teams hardly employed the passing game, Steph Curry could not have dominated in the days before the 3-point line.

One of the beauties of Cross Country and track is the relative lack of change over the years. Dirt and cinder tracks have evolved into rubber/synthetic tracks. Shoes have gotten better. Beliefs around training have changed and participation in the sport has only grown. Some events and courses have changed, but there is a lot of history around the Bay Area when it comes to Cross Country.

The ultimate example is the Crystal Springs 2.95 miles long cross country course. James Lick first raced there in 1973, and then every year since 1975 for a grand total of 44 years of history. This is enhanced by the fact that Crystal Springs has always hosted significant races. It is the site of BVAL Finals every year nowadays, and it has been the host site of CCS Finals more years than any other course (and it will be host again this year).

Remarkably, James Lick is approaching it’s 70th year of existence, the school has plenty of years to compare. This will be my attempt to compare James Lick’s various eras of XC. It is of course subjective, and damaged the difficulty finding complete information on James Lick’s older teams.

  1. The Early Years/ NCS Era    Years: 1950-1965     League Championships: 3  Highest Section Finish:  4th- 1956   Team Section qualifications: 3 (16 possible) 

James Lick was founded in 1950, the school predates the CCS. It was the first public school in East Side San Jose, and the first member of the East Side Union High School District. San Jose was a different city at by many measures. Today, San Jose ranks as the 10th biggest city in the country by population, with over 1 million residents. I can’t find data from 1950, but by 1960, San Jose was only the 57th biggest city in the country, with 200,000 people.

James Lick had a bigger school enrollment in the early years, seeing as it was the only school on the Eastside, there was no other school to compete with for students. Despite James Lick being a new school, it found success in cross country quickly.

James Lick was initially placed in the SCVAL (Santa Clara Valley Athletic League) and by 1954 they were the league championships on the 1.95 miles long, Stanford Golf Course. The Comets defeated runner up Santa Clara by almost 5 minutes. Keith Antes is listed as the winner of the race. Before the CCS was formed, Antes would become James Lick’s cross country coach.

The team managed to repeat as champs in 1955 and 1956, one of two different “three-peats” in James Lick’s cross country history. The fastest Comet in 1955 at SCVAL finals was Carlos Saldivar, who would go on to coach with Keith Antes for many years and then head the team himself when Antes retired.

After their 3-league championships, James Lick experienced a down-period where they did not qualify for NCS (North Coast Section) finals for several years. The end of their time in the NCS was fairly unremarkable. The 50s and early 60s saw the foundation of several other East Side Schools, including Overfelt, Mt. Pleasant, and Andrew Hill.

The Mt. Hamilton League and the CCS (Central Coast Section) were formed within a few years of one another, and by the time they were formed, the Comets had 3 titles to their name.

The level of competition in the bay area would see a big spike in the 60s and 70s.

2. The Early CCS Era  Years:  1965-1976        League Championships: 0                    Highest Section Finish: 1 (1 championship) Team Section qualification: 4 Var 3FS (12 possible) 

The MHAL formed in the mid 1960s and became competitive very quickly. James Lick was consistently competitive from the get go. The Comets were first represented at CCS finals by Mick Coyle in 1966. He ran on a shorter version of the current Crystal Springs course.  By 1970 the Comets had their first team qualify for CCS.

In the mid 1960s, the MHAL began using Alum Rock Park as it’s primary course. The 2.25 mile course was only slightly different than the course we use for our alumni race.

1970 was significant for a few reasons. It marked the first time that the CCS added divisions to CCS finals. They created a small schools division and a large schools division. The James Lick team of 1970 won the small schools division, claiming the only CCS championship in school history in any sport. Jim Sena claimed the individual CCS title in 12:39 for a 2.5 mile course (at least that’s what it’s listed at) in Golden Gate Park. Teammate Luis Sanchez was 2nd in 12:49.

Everything lined up for the team of 1970. A year later, the team failed to qualify for CCS. The teams of the early 80s ran more impressive times,  but the team of 1970 achieved what no other James Lick team ever has.

In the mid 70s, James Lick began making regular trips to Crystal Springs for Center meets, invitationals, and eventually CCS. While James Lick was a bigger school in the 70s, the Crystal Springs course is exactly the same as it was then, making comparisons easy.  The team of 1973 team ran a combined team time of 82:25, which still stands as the 3rd best Crystal Springs time in school history. Both the team of 1973 and the team of 1970 ran 61 minutes as a team at MHAL finals for an impressive average of 12:12 per runner at Alum Rock Park. This makes it a tough call to name the best James Lick team to this point.

In 1975 at CCS finals, Joe Salazar ran 15:21 at Crystal Springs, a time which no Comet has beaten to this day. To this point, we’ve only discussed boys teams because girls competition did not start until the mid 1970s.

3. The Golden Era   Years: 1976-1989     League Championships: 7

Highest CCS Finish: 4 1981     CCS Team Qualifications: 6 

In 1978 James Lick won it’s 4th league title, and the first one in the MHAL. By this time, the Comets also had girls competing. The greatest teams in James Lick history are the teams of 1980 and 1981 in my opinion. The Comet boys won the MHAL in both seasons, and the girls won the MHAL title in 1981 as well. This is the only time that both the boys and girls teams have been champions in the same year. The 3 titles in a 2 year span is also a James Lick best.

The girls team ran a record of 1:46:41, at Crystal Springs. This is still the only James Lick girls team to combine to finish the course under 1 hour and 50 minutes (something we’re trying to change this year).  The boys team of 1981 also ran what stands as our school team record time. Headed by Frank Munoz and Randy Pangelina, the team clocked in at 80:46, an average of 16:09 per boy. In some years this is good enough to win CCS, bad luck and tough competition stopped the Comets from claiming that prize. The teams of 80 and 81 also won the Artichoke Invitational two years in a row.

While the girls achieved great success early in the decade, they would struggle to consistently field competitive teams, an issue that would continue well into the 2000s.

The success I’ve  already described  is a enough to explain why I call this the golden era of James Lick Cross Country. The fact that the Comets would achieve their 2nd ever “three-peat” from 1985-1987 further proves the case.  James Lick has achieved 15 league/league-division championships in it’s long history. Nearly half come from this 14 year span.

As I’ve said, Crystal Springs is the course with the most complete history (44 years) for the Comets. The team of 1981 was the fastest Comet team ever on the course. The team of 1977 was 2nd, the team of 1987 was 4th, the team of 86 was 5th. In fact over the last 44 years, 8 of the fastest 10 James Lick teams at Crystal Springs ran in this golden era of James Lick cross country.

 

4. Transition Era/ Early BVAL Era   Years: 1990-2001       League/ Division Championships: 2                         

CCS Team Qualifications: 11                Highest CCS Finish:  5th – 1992 

This era marks the transition into the BVAL era, where the MHAL becomes a division of the larger BVAL. There were several changes during this time period. The CCS arrived at its modern format, a 5 division final with only varsity races. Qualification became easier as a result. At this point, James Lick’s academic reputation had fallen considerably, and its athletics suffered from a general decline of enrollment.  The 3 division format of the BVAL ( that we still use today).  Montgomery Hill and Toro Park were introduced as major courses, and finally, Coach Saldivar would retire shortly after this era ended.

While James Lick was in decline during this period by many measures, it still achieved considerable XC success. With the changes to CCS qualifications (with League finals taking the place of the CCS regional meets) the Comet boys made CCS as a team every single year from 1992 to 2001. In 1993, the lady Comets qualified for CCS as a team for the first time and they did so again in 2001.

The team captured two division titles, one in 1996 and another in 1999. Both times the Comets won the ST division (‘B’) division title. An impressive feet considering most James Lick sports had been relegated to the ‘C’ division by this time. The team also had 5 of their 7 State Meet qualifiers during this period. This is largely because of the fact that the State meet wasn’t held until 1987, when Joe Amendt became the team’s first ever qualifier.

5. BVAL/Modern Era       Years: 2002- Present         League/Division Championships: 3

CCS Team Qualifications: 13                                      Highest CCS Finish:  6th-    2014 

Finally we arrive at the modern era. The beginning of this era saw James Lick finish it’s decline. In 2003, though the school was struggling, the varsity boys were the 3rd best team in the entire BVAL. By 2007, the team time at Crystal Springs was 97:40. This is the slowest varsity boys team time on record for any James Lick team that ran at Crystal Springs. While the girls team was pretty strong, mainly because of the presence of Kayla Matsuda, they were not strong enough to win the WV division (‘C’ division). This was the low point in James Lick’s XC trajectory.

In 2009, the team rebounded to win the WV division on the boys side, the 12th title in school history. In 2014, the team won just their 2nd ever girls championship, and in 2016, the boys won the ST division, just the 1st ‘B’ division title for the school in any sport since 2004.

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2014 BVAL Champions -WV

In years to come, I may create a new dividing line around these past few years, because of a new notable changes. First and foremost, this is the greatest era of success the James Lick girls have ever achieved. While the #1 girls team time in school history is still the team of 1981, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th are the past 5 seasons. The 2014 team placed 6th at CCS, the highest finish for a Comet girls team at CCS in school history.

 

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2016 BVAL Champions – ST

This era could easily be called the Montgomery Hill era, as Montgomery Hill became the primary race course of the BVAL in 2001. We still had races at Alum Rock Park over the 2.85 mile course most seasons, but as of 2018, sadly there will be no more races at Alum Rock Park.

We will continue to run the alumni race on the old 2.25 mile course, but unfortunately, there might never be an official race in Alum Rock Park again. This might make 2018 and on the “post Alum Rock Park era.” Time will tell if there’s enough to distinguish it from past years.

Conclusion 

It’s difficult to know what we as a school could do now if we didn’t have to fight so many schools for student enrollment. It’s tough to say what runners of the past might have done with modern technology.  In any case, James Lick cross country has achieved some level of success in every era, and the Comets of today are dedicated to making sure that continues.

A season preview and/or Time trial recap will come soon. The first day of school is only 9 days away!

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

ST Division Finals Preview: Which Comets Have a Chance to Make BVAL Finals?

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.

Distance: 

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.

Hurdles: 

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.

Relays: 

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.

Sprints: 

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.

Throws: 

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.

 

Team Scores: 

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.

  1. 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.

Here is a link to the ‘ST” division finals.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/zzbvjhkxtmigylc/performance%20list%20bval%20stal.pdf?dl=0
Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

James Lick Track, Then And Now: The Rise and Fall and Rise (hopefully) of James Lick Track and Field

Forward: I have a profound love for James Lick High School. I have lived within a few minutes of the school my entire life. I learned how to swim there. I was raised next door to its most successful coach (who I will discuss later). I went to school there, as did my father and his sisters. Now I have the privilege of teaching and coaching at James Lick, and as a history teacher, I often find myself reflecting on the history of the school I hold so dear.

Through the hard work of my athletes, I’ve already experienced a lot of fortunate success as a coach as I approach the end of my 5th year coaching. I’ve been lucky enough to have coached 4 different division champion teams (2 in XC 2 in track). I have twice been awarded James Lick’s “Keith Antes Coach of the Year Award” (Undeservedly I might add, more on Keith Antes later). And above all, I’ve been pleased to have fostered a high rate of improvement among my student athletes. That is the only success that is really meaningful, because as I am about to detail, the competition my teams have beaten, pales in comparison to what the Comets of yesteryear had to face.

As I will discuss below, by many measures, James Lick “used to be a better school.” When I first started at James Lick in 2007, it had a very negative reputation, and that is still the case today (though to a slightly lesser extent). It is against this reputation and pervading negativity that we as a team fight today. For we as a team/school to continue to progress, I think it is important to draw pride, wisdom, and lessons from the past. As such, this is my best attempt to briefly compare James Lick (and the CCS as a whole) across eras. This is my attempt to summarize the track history of a school that is almost 70 years old, to the furthest degree possible by a 25 year old. To you kids reading this, understand the powerful tradition we are trying to reignite. To alumni reading this, thank you for setting the bar.

James Lick Track: Then

James Lick High School, like much of Eastside San Jose, contains a rich history that may easily be lost on a casual observer. James Lick opened its doors in 1950, as the first high school in the East Side Union High School district. James Lick track has such a history, that it predates the BVAL, the MHAL, and even the CCS.

When James Lick track began competing, it was a member of the SCVAL (Santa Clara Valley Athletic League) within the NCS (North Coast Section). James Lick had immediate success, winning three straight titles in the SCVAL, in 1954, 1955, 1956. While the Green and White has been a constant, much has changed at James Lick over the years, not just in terms of track and field.

Many of the athletes on the great teams of the 1950s would be just as competitive if they were competing today. Despite the faster track surfaces, (rubber instead of cinders) some of James Lick’s best times come from a long while back.

It is worth noting that most of my sources are from a combination of internet/newspaper archives, and first-hand word of former James Lick athletes and coaches. As such, our current all time lists and information are incomplete.  Anyone with any information about past teams/times, can feel free to contact me at: reevesb@esuhsd.org. I would very much appreciate any information.

The first James Lick track champion that I have on record, was a pole vaulter at the 1952 SCVAL championships. This vaulter (last name Guzman) cleared 11-0 to take the title. The pole vault is very symbolic of James Lick’s rise and fall. The Comets were once great in pole vault, and we are now beginning to try to emulate that greatness. By the mid ‘60s, the Comets had already had 3 different league champs in the pole vault. The best of them was Ray Clayton, an athlete who cleared 14-2.5 in 1964 to make the State Meet.  We are attempting to re-institute pole vault competition this year. If any vaulter clears a height in a meet, they will be the first Comet to do so this century.

James Lick was a very strong school by every measure by the 1960s, a time period that saw the foundation of both the CCS and the MHAL (Mt. Hamilton Athletic League). The football team had its best run of success with Jim Plunkett at quarterback, winning multiple MHAL titles. The swimming and waterpolo teams also had a remarkable run of success under coach Gene Nyquist. Coach Nyquist is by far James Lick’s winningest coach, having over 20 league titles to his name.

My dad attended James Lick in the late 1960s, and ran track and cross country under the legendary coach Keith Antes. Coach Antes and his longtime assistant coach/successor, Carlos Saldivar, were both James Lick alumni. This connection to the school might help to explain the tremendous success that both of these coaches had at James Lick. In 1967, the team achieved its only MHAL track title.

In some ways, the ‘60s were the glory days of James Lick Track, if not San Jose track as a whole. With San Jose dubbed “speed city” the area bore witness to tremendous High School track competition. The one MHAL title is a result of the stiff competition the Comets had to face. For example, the Comets had to contend with Lee Evans of Overfelt High School in the early ‘60s. Evans would of course go on to win the gold medal in the 400m in the 1968 Olympics, and become the first man to run under 44 seconds for the event. You can imagine how tough he would have been against the Comets in a dual meet.

But the Comets strength and depth in track was fantastic. The team consistently had multiple athletes in the 4:40 mile range. The team produced top-notch jumpers like Phil Passafuime, Chris Moulton and Dave Pike. Pike is in fact still the schools long jump record holder at 22-6.5. Towards the later part of the decade, James McGhee and Bill Pabst threw for the Comets. Their best discus marks of 159-5 and 149-7 respectively still rank 1-2 in school history. To even make the varsity team was a huge challenge.

It wasn’t uncommon for James Lick to have 3 different boys go over 40 feet in the triple jump in the same dual meet. By comparison, as I write this in April of 2018, only 4 boys have gone over 40 feet in the triple jump in the entire 24 team BVAL.

There is of course a natural ebb and flow to the quality of CCS track. Some eras are stronger than others. But in some areas, the extent to which modern marks/times pale in comparison to those of more than 30 years ago is jarring.  For example, I will compare the MHAL finals of 1975, to the MHAL finals of 2017.

The MHAL of 1976 was its own league, whereas the MHAL of 1996- present has been a division of the BVAL. Regardless, in both cases the MHAL has generally had 8 teams. The modern MHAL is the ‘A’ division of the BVAL so it should be the strongest in any given year. The MHAL of 1976 had 11 teams, so while it did have several more teams to add quality to the league, it was a geographical league, not a power league.

The 1976 MHAL 4×100 (Back then the 440 yard relay, which is actually a tiny bit longer than the 400m relay)  was won by Mt. Pleasant in 41.8. A new MHAL record at the time. Piedmont Hills ran 42.2 and Yerba Buena ran 42.5. Times in this era were still hand-timed, meaning they are likely off by roughly .25 seconds. Even accounting for this, the times are substantially stronger than the 44.78 winning time of Santa Teresa at the 2017 version of the event.  Santa Teresa would go on to run a very strong 43.24 at CCS Finals. Even with that strong time, a time which placed them 6th at CCS finals, they would have only placed 5th at the 1976 MHAL Finals.

Some events are still as strong/stronger than ever around the area. The Winner of the 880 (Which takes about a half second longer to run that the 800m) ran 1:55.8. The top athlete in the MHAL right now is Jason Gomez of Westmont, he ran 1:52 last year as a junior in the event. Similarly, the mile was won in 4:26.7 by Johnson from Overfelt. That equates to roughly a 4:25 1600. That would have placed him 3rd at the 2017 MHAL which was won in 4:18. Lick’s Joe Salazar placed 3rd in 1976 with a 4:30.1 (converted to 4:28.8 for 1600). Azael Zamora, our top distance runner today is at 4:35.20 with a month left in the season, so he isn’t totally put to shame by strong milers like Joe Salazar.

While distance is as competitive (maybe even a bit more competitive) as ever, many of the speed based events are lacking. The relay is the most glaring example, showing a lack of depth of top-notch sprinters compared to the ‘70s. The jumps are the next most extreme example.

The 2017 MHAL boys long jump was won with a jump of 21-0 by freshmen Jared Vasquez. While that is a great mark, especially for a freshmen, it would not have placed him in the top 5 at the 1976 MHAL finals.

Hunter Beck of Branham won the MHAL 300 hurdles, and ran just under 40 seconds to do so. Going under 40 in the event is an impressive feet, no other athlete did so at MHAL finals 2017. The entire top 5 of the 1976 MHAL finals ran under 40. The event was won by Andre Philips of Silver Creek in 36.4. This was only a few years after the CCS made the switch from the 180 low hurdles to the 330 yard intermediate hurdles (basically identical to the modern 300 hurdles). Andre Phillips would go on to win the gold medal at the Olympics in the 400 hurdles in 1988.

The depth of the BVAL in throws is also way down compared to earlier years. Bill Pabst was unable to make CCS in the discus throw with his career best heave of 149-7 in 1969. 133-3 was good enough to make CCS last year.

I do not draw this comparison to criticize or demean our current crop of athletes. Looking at the past strength of the CCS forces us to consider ways to reignite the strength of our track programs here in the Blossom Valley. That is certainly what I am trying to do at James Lick, a school that fell further than most from the great times of the ‘70s.

Most of James Lick’s top athletes showed up in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Pete Moreno went 50 feet in the triple jump. Henry Barba ran 10.69 in the 100, a school record which still stands. Randy Pangelina and Joe Amendt both won CCS titles in the 800, Randy running 1:52 and Joe running 1:50. These are the marks that I intend for James Lick athletes of today to aspire to. We are a long way off in most areas, but emulating the Comets of the past will only help our current athletes.

By the 1980s, the depth of James Lick track was beginning to wane. More and more schools began to populate San Jose, and take from James Lick’s attendance. The most significant of these was the foundation of Independence HS in 1976. Independence quickly grew into a power in the CCS, let alone the MHAL.

There was one especially large change during the ‘70s that would alter the CCS forever, the inclusion of girls sports. With the inclusion of girls sports officially happening after many of James Lick’s greatest teams, you have to wonder how many lady Comets missed their chance. And even with girls finally having the opportunity to compete on the same level as boys, it would take time for them to receive the same emphasis.  

Even so, some of our schools records on the girls side are from this era as well. Joan Jacobs running 12.26 for the 100, and Christine Smallwood running 25.1 are the most impressive Comet marks from the ‘70s. The girls all time list is much weaker than the boys one, and one of the joys of coaching the team right now is that the team is dramatically altering that list. For example, Kathy Shelby threw the shot put 34-0 in 1975. That remained the school record for over 40 years until Alejandra Ceron threw 35-8.5 last year.  

San Jose as a whole would dramatically shift over the next few decades. The rows of orchards became houses, and the blossom valley became silicon valley. Some things never change. Students still take every chance they get to swing by Peters Bakery before school for a slice of Burnt Almond cake. James Lick distance runners run right past the country club on their way to Alum Rock Park. James Lick’s sporting success in recent years however, is a far cry from what it once was.

The BVAL formed with its 3 division ‘power league’ structure in 1996. Since then, most James Lick sports have never been out of the WVAL (‘C’ division). In the late 90s and early 2000s, James Lick track was at its lowest point. They did win a title in track in 2000, and a few titles were won by other sports over the years, but overall JL suffered. From 2007-2013 the team did not win a single dual meet, despite being in the lowly WVAL. The girls team hadn’t managed a winning record in a single season from 1996 on. The WVAL in those years was far weaker than it has been lately. In many dual meets, all it would have taken were enough athletes  to fill up events to grab a win. The team hovered between 8-12 athletes (combined between boys and girls) during these years, and the program would have been cut if not for the intervention of soccer coach Ray Iniguez, (now our athletic director).

James Lick Track Now

In 2014 I was brought on to coach the team. While it is not standard practice to hire 20 year olds to head track programs, few 20 year olds are as obsessive as I was. More importantly, I had a very dedicated freshmen class, whose talent as athletes was fair, and whose caliber as people was exceptional. Nathan Bernardo, Gustavo Aguilera and Maria Mendoza to name a few. They would transform as athletes over the next few years. Nathan went from a 6:00 mile to a 4:47. Gustavo went from a 54 second 300 hurdles time to a 44. Maria went from 58 in the 300 hurdles to 51 seconds, setting a new school record until a teammate broke it.

Besides working hard themselves, they brought more athletes to the team. The team size grew from 12 in 2013, to 23 in 2014 where we grabbed our first wins. We went 1-6 on boys and 1-6 on girls. Those wins were important to our morale, we broke our losing streak and knew we were heading the right direction.

In 2015 came the big jump, our team size doubled to 45 athletes and we went a combined 10-4. 6-1 on girls and 4-3 on boys. The first winning season on record for the girls in school history.

For the first time in a long time, James Lick started to vaguely resemble its past. Davion Thomas ran 23.19 for the 200 and 11.44 for the 100. These times do not approach the school records of Henry Barba, or even the consistent low 11s of James Lick’s heyday, but James Lick had a sprinter at CCS. Karan Singh ran 4:39 for the 1600, becoming the first Comet to run under 4:40 in over a decade.

While we are still in the infancy of recapturing James Lick’s glory on the boys side, I am confident in saying that the girls team as a whole has never been better.

We won the WVAL in 2016 and 2017, propelling us to our first ‘B’ division season this year. The boys narrowly missed the WVAL title, losing to Independence by 5 points in our dual meet.

Now we sit in the ‘B’ division. We are moving upwards, but we are not yet near where we want to be. We are currently a combined 1-7 in the ‘B’ division, but mark my words, we will greatly improve on that record before the season is over (don’t rule out 7-7).

We are not the only James Lick sport showing an upwards trajectory. The girls volleyball team, and girls basketball team both won the WVAL this school year. Both teams made incredible improvements to earn their titles. The volleyball team went from 3-11 to 13-1, and the girls basketball team went from 2-11 to 10-0 (the WVAL is only 6 teams in basketball this season).

As a school, we are committed to improving the school, and I will encourage my team to use the past as a measuring stick.

If you’ve sorted through this convoluted mess, thank you sincerely. I appreciate your interest.

 

The 2nd half of the season kicks off this week. The Comets will be hosting Piedmont Hills, and then heading up to the Bearcat Invite in San Mateo.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves