5 Comets competed at CCS Trials on Saturday May 19th at Gilroy High School. CCS Trials sees the 32 best athletes from the CCS, competing for spots at CCS Finals. Only 8 athletes advance to finals in lane events, and 12 advance to finals in field events.
For the 2nd year in a row, Charli Chircop advanced to CCS Finals in the girls discus. Her best throw was 107-6, which earned her entrance into CCS Finals as the 12th and final qualifier in the event. Valeria Cortez competed in the girls discus as well, placing 19th with a throw of 103-2.
In the girls Shot Put, Alejandra Ceron placed 20th with a throw of 33-3. With that final competition completed, Alejandra’s career at James Lick is over. She leaves the school with much to be proud of, namely the school record in the Shot Put, a mark of 35-8.75.
Natalie Rem placed 25th in the girls triple jump with a best of 32-10. Natalie was the 3rd best freshmen girl at CCS Trials and in fact, of the 24 girls to beat her, 12 were seniors. Natalie is poised to do big things for the Comets for years to come.
The career of Cody Huoch ended with a 20th place finish at CCS in the 300 hurdles. Cody ran 42.84. Cody had an exceptional career for James Lick especially considering he did not join track until his junior year. Cody ends his career as the #3 300 hurdler in school history and the only one on record to compete at CCS.
Alejandra will be competing for De Anza college in track and field next season while Cody will compete at San Jose City College.
Charli gets one final competition at CCS Finals on May 25th.
The 2017/2018 School year is just days from ending. This school year was a standout year for James Lick sports. I’ve written in the past about the struggles James Lick has experienced over recent years, both academically and athletically.
Our teachers, coaching staff, and administration have been working hard for a long time to try to help James Lick through these struggles and I think that we are starting to see the fruits of that labor.
For the 2017/2018 school year, James Lick Sports had a combined record of:
I have totaled up James Lick’s records the past 5 years, and this is the first time in that span that James Lick Sports have had a combined winning record (And by quite a margin as well). While I haven’t added up the years before 2012, I think there’s a good chance this is the first winning season for James Lick sports combined in well over a decade.
A Few sports contributed to this success in particular. The girls volleyball team claimed the first ever title for James Lick in the sport. The team worked hard for a 13-1 record, a dramatic turn-around for a team that was 3-11 the year before. Girls Basketball won their first division title since 1997 as well. They went undefeated in league play to the tune of a 10-0 record, and they also won their 1st round CCS game.
Over the past 5 years, James Lick has a total of 8 division championships. James Lick had 12 championships in the previous 18 years combined. The hard work of school AD Ray Iniguez has been a huge factor. Mr. Iniguez had worked hard to change the fortunes of James Lick sports, and many of the athletes responsible for the schools success were honored at the Ryan/Oyama awards on Tuesday May 15th.
The Ryan/Oyama Awards is the biggest athletics event of the year for James Lick. The Ryan Award is given to the senior who most exemplified the qualities of a James Lick student/athlete over their 4 year career. The Oyama award is the female equivalent. Class awards and more are also distributed at the awards ceremony.
Every sport gets to give two awards per team. The Cross Country Awards were as follows:
Most Valuable Runner: Azael Zamora
Award for Leadership: Inteus Castro-Lopez
Most Valuable Runner: Arlet Miranda
Award for Leadership: Analilia Regla
Most dedicated runner: Daniel Portillo
Most improved runner: Hugo Marquez
Most improved runner: Ashley preciado
Most dedicated runner: Emely Lopez
For Track and Field the awards were as follows
Most dedicated athlete: Austin Swank
Most Valuable Athlete: Cody Huoch
Most valuable athlete: Valeria cortez
most dedicated athlete: Aliana Santos
Most improved athlete: Melvin Estrada
Most valuable athlete: Salvador Lopez
Most valuable athlete: Kirsten Yutuc
Most improved Athlete: Yesenia Martinez
Several XC/ Track athletes also featured in the class awards.
Emely Lopez took home the Freshmen of year honors for the girls, and Omar Fimbres claimed the title on the boys side. Omar played baseball in addition to running cross country.
Nien Tran won sophomore of the year on the boys side. In addition to making CCS in Cross Country, Nien was also a CCS qualifier in wrestling.
Valera took home junior of the year on the strength of her entire year. She helped the volleyball team to a division title, placed 4th at CCS in wrestling, and was a division champion in 2 events in track. She beat out Marquise Nelson, a girl who was the MVP of both the champion basketball team, and champion volleyball teams. Marquise and Valeria have traded off their class awards every year since they were freshmen, and both girls have GPAs over 3.5. The competition for the Oyama award figures to be tight next year.
Misael Herrera took home junior of the year, he had previously been named sophomore of the year and freshmen of the year. In addition to track, Misael also played football and wrestled.
Finally the stage was set for the senior class awards. Alejandra Ceron was named senior of the year, and the runner up for the Oyama Award. The Award went to Miranda Sanchez. Miranda played volleyball, basketball and softball for multiple seasons. She was the starting point guard on this years championship team.
On the boys side, Josh Garcia was the 2nd runner up for the Ryan Award. Josh played football, Basketball and Track for the past few seasons. Inteus took home the Senior of the year award and was the 1st runner up for the Ryan Award. Azael Zamora took home the Ryan Award, the 2nd year in a row that the Ryan Award has gone to an athlete who participated in both XC and Track and Field. Azael’s 3.8 GPA was a decisive factor in him winning the award. Azy was also a 2 time CCS qualifier in Cross Country and placed 12th at CCS this past season. He is also a 3 time BVAL qualifier in track, he ended his career 10th on the schools all time list in the 1600 and 7th in the 3200.
Coach Oliphant, the schools volleyball coach, took home the Keith Antes Coach of The Year Award for the dramatic turnaround achieved by the girls volleyball team.
The Ryan/Oyama awards are always a great day to be a Comet.
5 Comets will take to CCS Trials at Gilroy High School on Saturday May 19th.
The Comets took on long time rival Overfelt High School on Wednesday April 12th. It was the 6th dual meet of the season, and the team entered a combined 9-1, with a 4-1 record on the boys side and a 5-0 record on the girls side. In a rare occurence these days, the wind was blowing hard as a tailwind, aiding sprinters instead of hampering them. As a result, many of the sprinters on the team blew their PRs out of the water, finally having the wind at their back instead of in their face.
The meet began with the lady Royals winning the 4×100 in 56.59. The Comet boys captured the boys 4×100 however, running a huge seasons best of 46.68. This is the first time this season that we put the team of Cody Huoch, Hadji Yono-Cruz, Misael Herrera and Ace Medina together and the results were immediate. That would not be the only big performance for the sprint group on the day.
Arlet Miranda won the 1600 in a comfortable 6:15 as she continues to work towards full fitness. Daisy Nava ran a huge seasons best of 6:21.33 for 3rd place. The boys side was hurt by the absence of Erik Olsvold. Nonetheless, Azael Zamora won the 1600 coasting home in 4:56 to win the event for the team for the 6th time this season. Inteus Lopez took 3rd. Jose Limon ran his first race since injuring his hamstring at San Jose High to begin the season. The top sprinter to start the season, Jose contested the 1600 to work on his conditioning and test his hamstring. The event went well for him, with Jose running a 5:55 and not feeling any pain from his injury. Osman Lopez also ran a PR of 6:11.
The girls 100 hurdles saw a showdown of middle school friends and rivals Valeria Cortez of James Lick and Chrizna Milanes of Overfelt. Both competed at Ocala Middle School and achieved great success as freshmen last season. Chrizna was the WVAL champion in both hurdles events. The race was somewhat anti-climactic as Chrizna unfortunately fell on the 4th hurdle. She still managed to place 3rd, but Valeria took the race in 17.51. Susie Peterson took 2nd for the Comets in 19.30 Kirsten Yutuc ran the 1st of her 4 PRS on the day with a 19.90 in the event.
The boys side saw 3 PRS as well. Cody Huoch won the 110 Hurdles in 17.71, a small PR. Gustavo Aguilera placed 2nd and Jonathan Rodriguez 3rd, cracking the 19 second barrier for the first time, running 18.88. Luis Escamilla also ran a PR, clocking 22.18.
Arlet won the girls 400 in 1:12 and Analilia Regla took 3rd in 1:18. Valerie Flores ran a PR of 1:20 in the event as well. Nathan Bernardo was narrowly edged out in the boys 400, coming in 2nd with a seasons best time of 55.71. Mark Orpia ran an impressive debut time of 1:00.71 for the event. Hugo Marquez ran a 4 second PR of 1:04.41. Nien Tran, Melvin Estrada and Daniel Portillo all Prd as well, running 1:05.05, 1:07.48 and 1:13.66 respectively.
Silvia Amaya ran a new PR of 14.30 for the 100 to take 2nd place for the Comets. Only 3 girls ran the 100 however for a girls team that was thinned following the last grading period results. The boys side was an explosion of improvement.
Ace Medina took 2nd place in the 100, shattering his PR with a time of 11.68. Ace had never run under 12.2 prior to this race. Hadji was 3rd in a PR of 12.26. Misael was 4th in 12.30, a huge PR as well. David Bejines ran a massive PR of 12.71, as did Chris Okoro who ran 12.73. Hugo Pedrazza (13.00) , Austin Swank (13.18) and Jaime Gomez (13.50) all ran PRs as well.
Arlet took the girls 800, giving her 3 victories on the day. Belen Sanchez took 3rd in a new PR of 2:52.11 Justine Austria made her debut in the event, running 3:09.08. Nathan won the boys 800 for the 3rd consecutive meet, cruising to a time of 2:18. Jesus Deloya scored his first point of the season in a seasons best 2:27.54.
The girls 300 hurdles saw a rematch of Chrizna and Valeria. Chrizna won the race in a seasons best 50.96. Valeria was pushed to a huge PR of 52.12 along the way. Kirsten ran 57.21 for a big PR and 3rd place, and Susie broke the 1 minute barrier for the 2nd time in her career as well. Gustavo and Jonathan combined to take 1st and 2nd in the boys 300, and Mark scored his first point for the team with a solid 50.65 clocking. Luis ran a PR of 53.41 as well.
Silvia took 3rd place for the girls with a big PR of 30.86 in the girls 200. Justine ran a PR of 31.82 as well. On the boys side, Cody ran a PR of 24.40, the best time by a Comet this season. Misael also succeeded in breaking 25 for the first time, running 24.94. David ran 25.95 to run under 26 for the first time as well. Austin (27.64) Osiris (29.26) and Jaime (29.33) also ran PRs.
Belen ran a PR to win the 3200 in 14:31.26 Daisy took 2nd in a seasons best 14:46.50. Denisse also ran a PR of 15:58.26. The boys swept the 3200 behind Azael (11:24) Nathan (11:32) and Inteus (11:35).
The Overfelt girls narrowly won the 4×400, while the Comet boys won the 4×400 in 3:52, an impressive team considering the fact that 2 ‘A’ team members were missing.
Lyndel Ventura and Kirsten took 2nd and 3rd in the girls long jump. Kirsten jumped a PR of 12-10. Hadji took 3rd for the team in the boys long jump. Lyndel won the girls triple jump with Kirsten taking 2nd in a big debut of 27-7. Cody PRd to win the boys triple jump in 37-2.50. Juan Gutierrez placed 3rd in a PR of 34-3. The Comets scored 1 point in both sides in the high jump. Justine and Jonathan were the scoring Comets.
Alejandra won the Shot Put going over 33 feet for the first time. Her toss of 33-4 inches her closer to the school record of 34-0. Valeria took 3rd in the event. Kiely Leal also PRd in the event. On the boys side, Josh Garcia won the Shot Put with a new PR of 38-11. Daniel medina took 2nd.
Valeria took her school record back from Charli Chircop with a new PR of 106-2. Alejandra took 2nd in a new PR of 93-5, and Charli took 3rd. Audrey Nguy and Kiely both threw over 50 feet for the first time.
On the boys side, Daniel took 2nd in 103-2, and Roger Alonzo scored his first point for the team with a toss of 102-2.
Overall it was a great day for the Comets with a total of 48 PRs, the most of any JL dual meet of the past 20 years. The girls won by a score of 69-58 and the boys won 80-47. The team will head up to San Mateo for their final invitational of the season this Saturday, before a hard week of training during Spring break next week.
The Firebird Relays at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale have been one of the team’s favorite invites for several years now because of the variety relays available. In addition to the standard 4×100 and 4×400, the meet holds the Distance Medley Relay and 4×800, as well as combination relays in all field events and the 300 hurdles.
To qualify for combination relays, a teams top 3 athletes have their best marks/times added up and compared across the top 3 of others teams. The team with the 3 best relays in each event received medals. This makes the Firebird Relays a great meet for the team to compare its depth against other teams.
The meet started off strong for the team. Susie Peterson ran a huge seasons best in the 100h, running 19.63 to go under 20 seconds for the first time this season. Kirsten Yutuc ran 21.15 for a PR in the 100h despite a fall on the final hurdle of the race.
Jonathan Rodriguez also ran a PR in the 100 hurdles, clocking a time of 19.16 for his race. Soon afterwards field events got under way.
Lyndel Ventura went 12-11.50 for the team in the long jump, though she was jumping from a board 2 feet behind the board the meet was using to measure from. This shows that Lyndel is near her 15 foot long jump PR.
The team sent 3 triple jumpers on the boys side to compete as a relay team. Ace Medina led the team with a new PR of 37-3. Cody Huoch was 2nd in a PR of 36-7.50 and Hadji Yono-Cruz was rd in 35-9. The team placed 5th in the triple jump relay, only missing 3rd place by a combined 5 inches.
Arlet Miranda ran a 5:49 1600, well off the 5:41 she ran a few weeks earlier at the Willow Glen Invite as she continues to battle through minor injury. Daniel Portillo had an excellent race, breaking the 6 minute mile barrier for the first time to the tune of a 15 second PR of 5:54.
The Comets ran a Frosh/Soph Boys team of Raven Alcantara, Misael Herrera, AdrianDeLaRosa and Bryan Cuevas who combined for a solid 49.31. The Varsity team of Cody, Hadji, Ace and Chris Okoro competed as well but were Disqualified for a lane violation.
Both the Varsity Boys and Frosh/Soph Boys competed in the 4000m Distance Medley Relay or DMR. The Varsity Boys team placed 6th despite the absence of top runner Erik Olsvold and missed the school record by less than 1 second, running 11:30.81. Inteus Castro-Lopez started the team off with a 1200m leg of 3:38. Gustavo Aguilera ran a 57 second 400m split, followed by a 2:07 800m leg by Nathan Bernardo. Azael Zamora anchored the team home with a 4:47 1600m. On the FS side, Melvin Estrada, Misael Herrera, Hugo Marquez and Mark Orpia combined to run 13:01.
Meanwhile, the strong Lady Comet throwers were strutting their stuff. In 2016, Alejandra, Charli and Valeria took 3rd in the Frosh/Soph Discus relay, and first in the Shot Put relay. Their combination relay mark of 83-8 gave them the win. Alejandra was the team’s leading thrower on the day with a toss of 28-2.5. This year, with Charli and Alejandra being juniors, the team stepped up to compete at the varsity level and showed just how far they’ve come by winning the Varsity Shot Put relay with a combo of 96-5.5.
It was the first time in school history that 3 Comet girls cracked 30 feet for Shot Put in the same meet. All 3 girls PRd. Alejandra threw 32-7, Charli threw 32-5 and Valeria threw 31-5 to seal the deal.
The team had similar success in the discus Throw, taking 2nd as a team in that as well. In 2016, the team’s combination mark was 214-10. This year the three-headed monster combined for a total of 287- 5.5. Valeria led the team with a throw of 99-2, Charli threw 96-5.5 and Alejandra threw a PR of 91-11, the first time 3 lady Comets have cracked 90 feet in the discus throw in the same meet.
As if the throws of the varsity girls were not impressive enough, freshmen Mariah Santos took 5th in the Frosh/Soph girls discus witha huge PR of 74-1.50. For comparison sake, at the 2016 Firebird Relays, Aleajndra led the team in discus with a throw of 74-11. She backed up this impressive PR with a throw of 22-9 in the Shot Put. Adriana Marcelino also competed for the team.
The Comet throwers on the girls side are as impressive a group as the team as seen in decades. They have anchored the girls team all season and are probably the team’s strongest overall event group (the only possible competition being the boys distance crew). With the rapid improvement he’s fostered in the team’s throwers, in my mind Coach Vela is the best throws coach in the WVAL by a wide margin, if not the entire BVAL.
The boys throwers saw a huge PR as well. Both Daniel Medina and Rogelio Alonzo competed. Roger threw a massive PR in the discus, hitting a mark of 97-11 after setting a PR of 89-0 just days earlier.
The team of Cody, Ace, and Hadji in the long jumped all jumped roughly 17 feet to end their day in the horizontal jumps. In the vertical jumps, the team took 2nd in the varsity boys high jump relay. 5 Different teams had 3 jumpers clear a height. Juan Gutierrez and Ace both went 5-0 for the team,and Jonathan went 5-4 to clinch the medal for the team.
The distance teams took both to the track in the 4×800 relay. The Varsity boys team only missed a medal by 5 seconds despite missing two of the team’s top 3 800m runners in Erik Olsvold and Gustavo Parra. The team’s time of 9:03 is the best time the Comest have run for the 4×800 on record. The Frosh/Soph boys clocked a time of 10:27 as well. Arlet Miranda ran a strong 800, but was caught on the line to finish 2nd overall to a San Jose High runner in 2:35. This sets up a good WVAL rivalry going forward.
The Frosh/Soph boys 100m dash saw Raven go under 13 seconds for the first time, crossing the line in 12.91. Kirsten made her 400m debut in 1:15 as did Chris in 1:05.
The final event the team competed in was the 300 hurdles. Cody ran a strong time of 44.98, just a tenth of a second off his PR. Gustavo A ran a huge PR of 44.71, taking more than a full second off his PR from last season. Jonathan coasted home to a 49.28. The team was a combined 2 seconds away from a medal.
Overall the meet was a huge success for the team. Many athletes received medals, and the team competed well against some of the best teams in the CCS. The team placed 13th overall out of more than 40 competing teams, giving them a confidence boost as they look ahead at the 2nd half of the season.
The team will take on the Gunderson Grizzlies at Gunderson on Wedensday March 29th, then they will head to Overfelt on Saturday April 1st for the first ever Royal Relays.
The James Lick Comets opened their WVAL season at San Jose High on Wednesday March 8th. It was the first major step for the Comets in pursuit of their goal of a 14-0 (between boys and girls) season.
The 4×100 got off to a very somber start for the Comets. The boys team rocketed into an early league but on the 2nd leg of the relay, the team’s top sprinter, sophomore Jose Limon, pulled up limping badly with what we think is a puled hamstring. The bulldogs would go on to win both the varsity boys and varsity girls 4×100 as a result. We can only hope that Jose makes as speedy a recovery as possible, and it was up to other Comets to pick up the slack.
The team saw a similar theme on the girls side. Star runner Arlet Miranda did not run due to minor injury. San Jose High took the win in the 1600, with Milka Perez and Daisy Nava coming in 2nd and 3rd for the Comets. Milk’s time of 6:31 is a strong start to her season. Several other Comets in the race ran very well. Belen Sanchez came in at 7:05, and both Analilia Regla and Valerie Flores ran Prs, clocking in at 7:15 and 7:17 respectively.
Coming off of their STAL championship in cross country, it wasn’t a surprise to see the distance boys comfortably sweep the 1600. Azael Zamora took the win, with teammates Nathan Bernardo and Inteus Castro-Lopez close behind. Julian Delreal ran a sizable PR of 5:57 and Mark Orpia opened his season with a 5:50 as well.
The girls 100h was swept by the Comets to give the team a lead in the meet for the first time. Valeria Cortez, 18.65, Susie Peterson, 20.77 and Silvia Amaya, 22.64 completed the sweep. Freshmen Yvette Arciga competed for the first time as well, running 24 seconds for the event. On the boys side, Hadji Yono-Cruz netted a small PR in the 110 hurdles, finishing in 18.15. Jonathan Rodriguez cam in 2nd to complete a JL 1-2. A strong group of San Jose girls swept the girls 400, but the boys saw yielded a sweep for the Comet boys, lead by Erik Olsvold and Misael Herrera.
The San Jose girls showed strength in the sprints all day, but freshmen Kirsten Yutuc managed a point in the girls 100 with her first official sub 15 second clocking. Silvia also ran a PR of 15.13. On the boys side, Ace Medina took 2nd in a PR of 12.39. Cody Hucoh took 3rd in 12.48. Raven Alcantara, Jaime Gomez, Joseph Benitez and Jesus Deloya all ran solid PRs in the 100 as well.
Milka showed her talent again in the 800 with a time of 2:51.92 for 2nd place once again. Daisy ran a seasons best of 2:55 for 4th. Valerie Flores PRd again to run 3:09. The boys saw another distance sweep behind Nathan, Erik and Inteus. Inteus even ran a small PR of 2:20.9 despite only running hard enough for the 3rd point due to his general dislike of the 800.
The girls completed another hurdles sweep in the 300h. Belen Sanchez lead the team with a sub 60 second clocking. Silvia and Susie picked up the remaining points for the team. Jonathan lead another 1-2 finish on the boys side, running a seasons best 48.94, just ahead of teammate Cody in a new PR of 49.64.
In the girls 200, San Jose claimed their 3rd girls sprint win of the day. Kirsten took 2nd for the Comets, and Aliana took 3rd narrowly missing a PR and scoring a point for the first With Jose out, Misael stepped up to win an event for the first time in his career. He matched his 200m PR of 25.70 en route to a 1st place finish. Josue went under 27 seconds for the first time, running 26.87, and Jesus Prd by nearly 2 seconds running 27.51. Chris Okoro also managed a PR of 28.16.
Analilia and Denisse Calixto ran the 3200 together to knock down eight points for the Comets against the Bulldogs. Azael, Inteus, and Nathan combined to sweep the 3200 and earn the team it’s 3rd distance sweep of the day on the boys side, taking all 27 distance points in the meet. The Comets won the boys 4×400 and San Jose won the girls.
The boys were comfortably ahead after the results of the running events came in, but with field events yet to be scored, the Bulldogs lead the Comets 43-38 on the girls side. The team would dominate the field events on both sides however ensuring a victory for the Comets.
Both boys and girls long jump held 1-2 finishes for the Comets. Hadji and Cody both went over 17 feet to knock their points down on the boys side. Lyndel Ventura and Elyse Elder both went over 13 feet for the first time this season in the long jump. Both Juan Gutierrez and Anthony Sotto Prd in the long jump, going 15-5 each.
The girls triple jump was swept by both teams. Lyndel spearheaded the girls team, while Alejandra Ceron and Charli Chircop both triple jumped for the first time simply to secure more points for the team. Ace won the triple jump for the boys, and Cody and Ace followed him to complete the sweep.
The Comets ended the jumps with sweeps in the high jump. Elyse opened her season at 4-4 and Yvette debuted at 4-0. On the boys side, Jonathan won the high jump in 5-4, Juan went 5-2, and Ace went 5-0. Jonathan’s 13 points made him the leading scorer on the boys side for the meet.
The team’s best performance of the day very well may have come form the last group to finish competing, the throwers. After ending last year with a school record of 99-9.5, Valeria finally cracked the barrier, throwing 100-6 inches for the discus throw to win the event. Alejandra and Charli made throws in the mid 80s to sweep the event. Mariah Santos threw a PR of 59-1 for the discus as well. Kiely Leal also had a 4 foot PR in the event.
Alex Alonzo has been one of the hardest working athletes on the team for years. He gained his first ever dual meet win with a PR of 109-9. Teammate Daniel Medina was just behind him however, with a 15 foot PR of 108-6. Josh Garcia also Prd throwing 96-0. The Comets are poised to have 3 boys over 100 feet, (And 2 over 110) for the first time in over a decade. Rogelio Alonzo threw a PR of 87-0 as well.
Valeria won the Shot Put to complete a triple victory, throwing above 30 feet for the first time this season. Alejandra also threw above 30 for 2nd place, and Charli threw 29-2 for a new PR in 3rd. This trio has the very ambitious goal of taking EVERY dual meet throws point this season. An 18 point throws sweep vs. San Jose was the first step towards establishing a finish that the team hopes to repeat 6 more times and then again at WVAL finals.
Josh took the team lead in the boys Shot Put with a win in 36-4, just off his PR. Daniel just missed his PR throwing 35-9, and Alex threw 35-8 for a new PR in 3rd.
When all was said and done, the final scores were:
James Lick: 81
San Jose: 44
James Lick: 110
San Jose: 17
The Comets started their season with 40 total PRS and a pair of victories. As the team’s quest to go 14-0 and move up to the STAL (‘B’ league) continues, the Comets will take on the Yerba Buena Warriors in their first home meet of the season next week.
The boys suffered one of their two losses in 2016 at the hands of YB and have not beaten the Warriors in years. The meet will be a true test of the teams ability to achieve their goals.
The distance crew will head to Sunnyvale for the TKA Invitational this Saturday in pursuit of some fast times.
The team will have some strong WVAL teams to battle if it is to win a double WVAL title, and move up to the STAL for the 2018 season, and the teams/ athletes of the WVAL will be the focus of this blog.
The Comets have their eyes set on a 14-0 season in the WVAL, and a double championship as a result. The West Valley Athletic League, is admittedly , the weakest division (‘C’ division) of the BVAL. Even so, a boys title would be the 1st WVAL championship for the team since the year 2000, and only the 6th title in the more than 60 year history of boys track at James Lick. A girls title would be the 2nd title in school history on the girls side after we claimed the first one in 2016.
We as coaches preach that Track is all about progress. Whether you are an 11 second 100m runner or a 19 second 100m runner, all we can do is work within our ability to improve ourselves. There’s nothing more worth doing than working to make yourself better. As recently as 2014, the team was in the middle of a combined 74 meet losing streak, so finishing 12-2 in 2016 was a huge turnaround for us. This speaks to tremendous team-wide improvement. Progress is what is worth being proud of because progress takes dedication and willpower, regardless of talent level or competition. This focus on improvement has moved us to a more and more competitive position, to the point that we can now add the goal of WVAL championships alongside our chief goal of the improvement of every athlete on the team.
Given the nature of High School sports, it’s possible for any team in any league to have a sudden down year, or to receive an outstanding class of athletes that propel them to new heights. Time will tell what new athletes will burst on to the scene in 2017, but here are the top returning athlete from last season in each event.
Only one of the top 5 point scorers on the girls side in 2016 was a senior, meaning the girls are in an excellent place to repeat as WVAL champions. Currently the team has a small number of girls practicing, but with the winter sports season now over , the team will hopefully add many more athletes on both sides.
Here is the teams breakdown of points scored by event group last season:
Average Points Per Dual Meet
Points Available Per Meet
Average Points as percentage of Available
League Finals Points
Last season, the Comet girls team lead all teams in the WVAL in distance, throws, and hurdles points at WVAL finals. Distance and throws on the girls side are poised to repeat this feat. Arlet Miranda and Daisy Nava were the teams top distance scorers last season, with Arlet finishing 2nd in both the 800 and 1600, and Daisy finishing 4th and 7th respectively. With both athletes back, the team can aim for even more points in the distance events this season.
Similarly in throws, the girls had a 1-2 finish in discus, a 2-3 finish in Shot Put. The throws team scored a whopping 86% of available dual meet points over the course of last season. The girls throwing group is growing in numbers as well, with 8 Lady Comets poised to throw for the team, including Charli Chircop returning from injury. The ability of Coach Vela’s top 3 throwers, Valeria Cortez, Alejandra Ceron and Charli, make throws a source of strength for the team. We can aim for all 18 available throws points, in virtually any dual meet we contest this season.
Keys to the team will be the development of the team in jumps, sprints and hurdles. Last seasons relay teams peaked very well for WVAL finals, finishing 2nd in the 4×100 in a minor upset, and 3rd in a tightly contested 4×400. The relay teams lost two members however, meaning new athletes will need to step up. Maria Mendoza figures to lead the sprint team, and time will tell how many athletes she brings with her from a girls soccer team that took a big step forward this season. Newcomers like freshmen Kirsten Yutuc give the team reason to be hopeful in these events.
Lyndel Ventura and Elyse Elder figure to continue leading the team in jumps. Both athletes had strong seasons last year, but struggled a bit at the very end of the season including WVAL finals. The team will be counting on them to rack up points in the horizontal jumps both at dual meets and at WVAL finals.
The hurdle events will also need athletes to step up with Andrea Ortiz (2nd in both hurdle events at WVAL last year) having graduated. The team does have 3 returning scorers from WVAL finals though, with 100h 4th place Valeria Cortez, 6th place Susie Peterson and 300 hurdles 6th place Belen Sanchez all returning. The void in the 300h is particularly concerning, as the team has no true 300 hurdler with Andrea gone. This is an event the team will be looking to new talent to fill.
Rival teams/athletes to watch
Every team in the WVAL will be treated with due respect and seriousness, but naturally some teams are more threatening than others.We won’t know more about the new athletes in the league until the season is underway, but based on last years results, here are the teams that I expect to pose the most competitive dual meets for the Comets this season on the girls side.
The 2nd place WVAL team last year was Yerba Buena.
They had a strong group of athletes in the hurdle races, and in sprints. Margarita Kirilenko in particular was one of the top 100/200 runners in the WVAL, and will be tough for any Comet runner to take down. Vanessa Ta in the 1600/3200 was also a BVAL championships qualifier and Arlet will be keying on her in the 3200 where Vanessa was able to beat Arlet both times they raced in 2016. There are 127 available points in a WVAL dual meet, meaning that 64 points is our magic number. Last year against Yerba Buena, the lady Comets scored 76, a solid victory, but our lowest margin of victory of the season. Many of Yerba Buena’s best athletes are returning, and the Comets will need to be wary of allowing victory to go the Warriors way this season. Head coach Jesus Pineda is no stranger to WVAL titles either. His boys teams won 3 straight WVAL titles in track from 2013-2015, and his girls won the 2015 WVAL title in cross country as well.
Live Oak: The Acorns were the team with the 2nd most points at WVAL finals last season. They boast the best distance runner in the entire BVAL in Kaylah Grant, making the dual with Live Oak the one dual where Arlet is unlikely to win the 1600 or 3200. Live Oak’s signature over the past few years has been a strong sprint group, winning the WVAL 4×100 title the last 3 years in a row and often advancing all the way to CCS. While their best sprinter and WVAL champion from 2016 graduated, they have two girls returning who scored in both the 100 and 200 at WVAL finals (No lady Comet scored in the 100 or 200 at WVAL finals last season by comparison).
The Comets will need to combat Live Oak’s strength in sprints with points in hurdles and throws. The dual should be god competition for both teams. As with most teams, Coach Vela’s throwing group should net the Comets many points in girls throws. Live Oak’s head coach Alberto Suarez is a throws coach as well however, and if his girls begin to follow the success of his boys (more on that later) the dual meet will be even more intense.
As the largest school in the entire CCS, Independence has a tremendous tradition in track and field. Similar to James Lick, Independence fell far from the success of its heyday in the 2000s. Current coaches head coaches, Don Barber and Khoi Tran are working hard to build their program as well. Khoi and myself especially have a bit of a friendly rivalry as we graduated only a year apart and are both back heading our former schools against each other. (We’ve also both been lucky enough to coach athletes who’ve become much faster than we were in HS).
The size of Independence, (3300 students compared to James Lick’s 1200) make it so that the 76ers can pull strong athletes out of seemingly nowhere. Last year the WVAL champion in the girls Shot Put emerged in the form of a senior who had never done track before. In terms of returners, Independence has the top returning 400m runner in the WVAL in Stephanie Justo, and the top returning 800 runner in Lydia Ma. (Lydia is a great rival for Arlet who may not compete this season due to other commitments but I for one hope she does in order to push Arlet). Based on the depth of returners on each team, the Comets should have an edge but the program in place at Independence, along with their number of students to draw from, make them a school to be wary of.
Gunderson: Gunderson head coach Joseph Miclette has built a strong program of jumpers and throwers. He has the WVAL champion in girls long jump, as well as 2nd and 3rd in triple jump all returning. He also has high scoring athletes returning in the 100, 200, 800, 1600 and 3200. Relative weakness in hurdles and Throws give the Comets and edge, though Gunderson is definitely another team to be wary of.
Others: As any team striving for success knows, every opponent needs to be taken seriously. It’s entirely possible for Overfelt, Del Mar, or San Jose to explode onto the scene with a strong team (we went from 1-6 in 2014 to 6-1 in 2015 after all). Overfelt has one of the top returning athletes in the WVAL in double hurdles champion Chrizna Milanes. Del Mar has had some strong teams in recent seasons when they get a good amount of athletes out for track, and San Jose High finally has a coach who knows track well and who will work to develop the talent that is already present on the team.
Boys Team Preview
Last year’s boys team placed 3rd in the WVAL with a 5-2 record, suffering losses to Independence and Yerba Buena. The team finished 4th in points at WVAK finals, losing to the two already mentioned teams and Live Oak. The boys team only lost one scoring athlete from WVAL finals however (Hector Ramirez who scored in both the 1600/3200) and should be much stronger this season with another hard years work in for an overall young team.
Here is the teams breakdown of points scored by event group last season:
Average Points Per Dual Meet
Points Available Per Meet
Average Points as percentage of Available
League Finals Points
Last season the teams strongest areas were distance and hurdles. If the team is to pursue a WVAL title, points in these areas will be even more essential. At WVAL finals the Comet distance boys scored a whopping 38 points. The only event group from any team to yield a higher point total were boys jumps from Independence, scoring 41. The team has the top 2 returning finishers in the 1600 last season in Azael Zamora and Nathan Bernardo. This duo coupled with rising star Erik Olsvold make the team a very formidable force this season, and I expect the distance team to score in excess of 50 points this season at WVAL finals. The distance team will be aiming not just for WVAL titles, but for sweeps. The proscenia of strong runners like Jesse Cruz form Overfelt, and Quinlan Daley from Del Mar, make victory alone far from a certainty, but the Comets have great ambition in distance this season. We’ll be aiming for all 27 distance points at most dual meets this season.
In hurdles, the Comets had top 4 finishes in WVAL from Hadji Yono-Cruz in the 110h, and Gustavo Aguilera in the 300h. Hadji will be focusing on jumps this season however, meaning that athletes like Gustavo and Jonathan Rodriguez will need to step up to fill the teams void.
The jumps team struggled at WVAL finals and this will be a focus for the team this season. In addition to Hadji, the team has a host of newcomers who look to be ready to help the team to greater heights this season. Coach Turner is hopeful that the team will have several boys go farther than 20 feet in the Long Jump fro the first time in years.
Sprints and Throws are also key to the team being able to run the table. While coach Vela’s throwers have been dominant the past few seasons, the boys team has lacked a top level athlete since Robert Rios graduated. Alex Alonzo figures to lead the team. His discus PR of 102-0 makes it so that this is the first season that coach Vela has a returning athlete over 100 feet in the discus. Josh Garcia was recovering from injury in his last track season, but managed to score for the team at WVAL finals in the Shot Put after only one month of work. He’ll figure to combine with Alex and Daniel medina to try to earn the critical throws points the boys will need this season.
In Coach Steve’s 2nd year working with the sprinters, we’re hoping for na explosion of ability. Top returners Jose Limon and Misael Herrera figure to lead the team. After placing 4th in the 400 and 6th in the 200 at WVAL finals as a freshmen, we’re hopeful Jose will be able to spearhead a much more developed sprint corp.
We’ll need every group to come together to replicate the success of the girls team last season, and to overcome some very daunting opponents.
Rival teams/athletes to watch
The reigning WVAL champion. Independence blew everyone out of the water last season in a dominating performance. They scored 160 points last season at WVAL finals. 2nd Place Yerba Buena scored 119, and we scored 76 points in 4th. When we faced them head to head last season, we lost 86-38. This added with what I’ve already said about the school, and their ability to pull new athletes from their student body, makes them a fearsome opponent. Last year senior Devin Ary competed despite not doing track in previous years, he placed 4th in the 100, 2nd in the triple jump and 1st in the long jump at WVAL finals.
The 76ers did lose some very strong athletes however. Ivan Godinez was one athlete the Comets couldn’t beat last season. With him gone, Indy’s best runners Isiah Tulio, a sub 5 miler in his own right. Nonetheless, all 21 distance points Independence scored at WVAL finals last season were Ivan’s. Devin Ary’s 23 points are also gone. As are Anthony Ho’s 20 points from winning both the 110h and 300h. With Anthony gone, hurdles will be a critical event. The Comets will badly need to take victories there against a still strong Independence hurdles crew.
Independence is a balanced team up and down. In short, I think this will be the most competitive dual meet of my career so far as a coach, and it will have a good chance of determining the 2017 WVAL champion.
To get to the Independence dual meet undefeated however, we’ll first have to go through Yerba Buena first. Yerba Buena was the WVAL boys champion 3 years in a row before Indy unseated them last year. We fell to them in a close dual meet, 69-58, last season. 11 Points may sound like a comfortable victory, but just a switch in the 4×400 from a YB to a JL victory would make the score 64-63.
Yerba Buena was strong in sprints and jumps as well, tallying up the 2nd most points at WVAL finals. They lost the best sprinter in the BVAL in Anthony Richard to graduation however, and this loss alone could tip the scaled in the Comets favor. They have the top returning 300 hurdler in the WVAL, and have strong returners in the jumps and 400 as well. A weakness in throws makes them a bit vulnerable. Their recent track record shows they can also dig up strong athletes from nowhere, and this early season dual meet (2nd of the season) will be a huge test for the Comets. It’s been at least 10 years since James Lick beat YB in a dual meet on the boys side.
Live Oak: Live Oak has a very strong group of throwers which helped them to 92 points at WVAL finals last season. In particular, Brendan White is the reigning Shot Put champion, and finished 3rd in discus last year as well. Our dual meet against them last season was a very slim 67-59 victory. In addition to a strong returning group of throwers, Live Oak usually has a strong group of sprinters as well. The reigning WVAL champion in the 400, Damien Vasquez, is a senior now.
A weakness in distance and horizontal jumps held the team back last year, but their strong sprint corp mean they could find then athletes they need in jumps at any points. Live Oak is another strong team to watch.
Gunderson: Last year we opened the season against the Grizzlies and won by only 1 point. Gunderson typically boasts strong sprinters, and they also have a solid group of distance runners and throwers as well. Jose Alvarez returns as the WVAL champion in the 800, a title the Comets hope to win from him this season.
A lack of hurdlers gives the Comets a good area of focus against when they face Gunderson. Gunderson tallied a slightly higher point total than the Comets at WVAL finals last season, and if the team is to climb form a 4th place finish at WVAL finals, to a 1st place finish this season, they’ll need to beat out teams like Gunderson.
Others: The biggest threats to the Comets dominance in the distance events come from Del Mar and Overfelt in the form of Quinlan Daley, Chris Solorzano and Jesse Cruz. For reference, the only 3 runners of any WVAL track schools to run under 17 minutes at BVAL finals in Cross Country were Erik, Nathan, and Azael for James Lick. Quinlan from Del Mar ran 17:04 and Jesse from Overfelt ran 17:14.
As competition approaches, the Comets are gearing up to make a run at these ambitious goals, with their minds focused on training.
The team will participate in its first meet of the year with many athletes heading to the Los Gatos All comers meet this Saturday (unless it gets rained out). Rain or shine the team will see its first official competion on March 4th at the Willow Glen invitational.
A very good question my athletes sometimes ask is :who is the GOAT (Greatest of all time) of James Lick Track?
With over 60 years of history on the boys side, and over 40 years on the girls side, any school with James Lick’s history can expect to produce a number of top notch athletes. James Lick’s track history may not be as rich depth-wise as fellow East side schools like Mt. Pleasant and Independence (both have multiple CCS team titles), but the Comets have produced several athletes whose marks are on par with the best High School athletes in the State (if not the country) even today.
Marks/Times vs titles.
A big debate in the world of Track is what matters more: World records or gold medals? Time/marks or wins?
At the high school level, I would argue that striving for the best possible marks/times is a much higher calling than winning championships. There is a lot to be said for going out and competing against the athletes before you, and it makes sense to go for wins and titles whenever possible. With High School sports however, there is variation in the strength of various event groups from year to year. Exceptional athletes can fail to place highly because it is simply a deep year in their event group. Similarly, an athlete can claim titles in an event in part because of the relative weakness of an event in a given year.
One of the top athletes in James Lick history for example is Pete Moreno, a jumper in the mid 70s. Moreno is one of only 4 athletes in the entire history of the CCS (50 years) to go over 50 feet in the Triple Jump. Despite having the 3rd best Triple jump mark in CCS history, Moreno won only one league championship, and never won a CCS title. At MHAL Finals his junior year, Moreno had an off meet going only 43 feet, and coming in 4th. He would go 48 feet at CCS Finals, Comparatively, in 1954 the Comet jumper Lawrence went 42-7 to win a SCVAL title.
In short, I weigh marks/times far more heavily than titles and qualifications when considering who the best athletes are, because the later two are totally dependent on the competition of the given year and area. Times and marks however, (especially when Fully Automatic Timing is present) can be compared across era.
It should be noted that a 4:35 mile time in 1955 is more impressive than a 4:35 mile now, as shoes, track surfaces, and knowledge about training have all improved greatly over time.
My Top 5
This will necessarily be opinion, but given the full body of work that I’ve been able to find on James Lick Track’s history, this is my top 5 list of James Lick’s best ever track athletes.
5. Ruth Lebeau: Class of 2008 Triple Jump: 37-5.50 Long jump: 17-5.50
I put Ruth as the number 5 track athlete in school history, and the #1 girl in school history as well. It’s hard to make a case against the #1 girl status. Ruth is the only lady Comet to ever compete at the State Meet. Her 2nd place finish at CCS in the Triple Jump in 2008 is the only top 5 finish at CCS Finals on the girls side as well. Her Triple Jump PR of 37-5.50 is the only James Lick girls mark on the CCS top 100 list (60th place). She is one of only 6 Comet athletes of either gender to make the CCS top 100 list in general.
Ruth holds school records in all 3 jump events, with marks of 17-5 in the long jump and 4-10 in the high jump to go along with her outstanding triple jump mark. She won 4 WVAL titles in her career, 2 in the long jump and 2 in the triple. Again, Ruth suffers from having a very tough class to compete against that prevented her from winning bigger titles. In 2008, her second place finish at CCS Finals saw her lose to only Mt. Pleasant’s Vashti Thomas, the CCS record holder in the event. Because of Vashti’s presence, Ruth was never able to win a BVAL championship either, despite her outstanding prowess as jumper.
Ruth is only the 4th fastest Comet ever in the 200 and 400, and 6th fastest in the 100 completing a very impressive resume.
4. Randy Pangelina: Class of 1982 800m: 1:53.94 1600: 4:22
Randy Pangelina is one of just 3 Comets to win a CCS Championship, accomplishing the feet in 1982 with an outstanding time of 1:53.94. Randy would likely still stand as the best middle distance runner the school has ever seen, if not for the proscenia of Joe Amendt a few years later. During his tenure at James Lick, Randy set school records in both the 800 and 1600, and his 800m PR still stands at #67 on the CCS all time list. Any also holds the distinction of being the Comets first ever CCS champion, and the 2nd sectional champion in school history (Russ Ray won the NCS 880 yard run in 1957). His CCS title and membership on the CCS top 100 list put him at #4 on my ranking of best Comet athletes.
3. Henry Barba: Class of 1985 100:10.69 200: 21.57
This is probably the most difficult call on the list. Barba personally won 3 of the Comets 6 CCS titles. He won his first CCS title in 1984 in the 100, became the only James Lick athlete ever to win 2 CCS titles in the same year winning the 100/200 double in 1985. Barba is the school record holder in both the 100 and 200, with times of 10.69 and 21.57 respectively. Both of these times are still on the CCS Top 100 list, with his highest rank being 57th all time in the 100.
Barba won 4 league championships as well, wining the double at MHAL finals in both 1984 and 1985, the only Comet in school history to repeat as a double champion. His 4 league titles ties him with John Aguiar and Ruth Lebeau for the 2nd most league titles in school history behind Joe Amendt.
2. Pete Moreno: Class of 1976 Triple Jump: 50-1 Long Jump: 22-2
It’s difficult in my opinion to determine who should be ranked higher between Barba and Moreno. Pete Moreno holds claim to the 3rd best triple jump mark in CCS history. He is therefore the James Lick athlete with the highest ranking time/mark in CCS history. Moreno also holds one of the Comets best ever marks in the Long Jump at 22-2 (best I’ve found for him). His 3rd place finish at the State Meet in 1976 is the highest placing a Comet has ever achieved in the State Meet, with an outstanding mark of 50-0.75.
Moreno was jumping at an extremely competitive time in terms of jumps within the CCS. Despite his remarkable achievement of going over 50 feet on his best day, Moreno was unable to capture a CCS title due to the remarkable strength of the CCS in jumps at the time. Both as a junior and senior, Moreno placed 3rd at CCS finals with a best jump of 48-4 in 1975. That CCS mark would have won the CCS title any of the last 3 years, but again, only netted Moreno a 3rd place finish.
Moreno’s triple jump prowess puts him very high on the list, and the strength of his ability puts him just above Barba despite Barba’s better competitive success. Both athletes however are a step below the #1 athlete on my list.
1. Joe Amendt: Class of 1988 800: 1:50.75 1600: 4:18.49
Joe Amendt ran 1:50.75 for the 800m run in High School, which still stands as the 4th best 800m time in the history of the CCS. He is also one of only two Comet athletes to ever repeat as a CCS champion, winning the 800m CCS championship in 1987 and 1988 with times of 1:53 both years. He is also the only Comet on record to make it all the way to CCS Finals in each of his 4 High School seasons. He placed 4th at the State meet in 1988 for the 2nd highest placing at the State meet in school history. He’s one of only two Comet athletes to make the podium (top 8) at the State Meet.
Joe also has the most league titles of any Comet athlete, winning 5 MHAL titles, the 800 all 4 years and the 1600 as a senior to complete a distance double. In addition to his outstanding 800m school record, Joe also holds the school record in the 1600 with a converted time of 4:18. I also haven’t found any Comet athlete with a faster 400 than his 49.74 (converted) giving him the schools top 400m time on record as well. (If you know of a faster Comet time please pass it on to me).
Given his standing as the 4th fastest 800m runner in CCS history, his back to back CCS titles, his 5 league titles including 4 in a row in the 800, and his multiple school records, I think Joe Amendt deserves the status of the greatest Comet Track athlete of all time.
The Comets of today will continue to use the example of these great athletes as a point of inspiration, and strive to emulate their excellence.
On October 31st, all 24 teams of the BVAL took to the Crystal Springs cross country course for BVAL Finals. The meet determines the final standings for all 3 BVAL divisions, the WVAL (‘C’ division) STAL (‘B’ division) and the MHAL (‘A’ division).
The WVAL, STAL, and MHAL, were all their own individual leagues, but in 1996 they came under the governance of the 24 team ‘super league’ called the BVAL. This re-structing (which happened throughout the CCS during this era) occurred after the glory days of James Lick sports. With teams moving up and down in the BVAL based on strength of program, where a school has it’s teams places is a good indicator of how strong the school’s programs are.
The fact that the BVAL came into existence at the same time that James Lick was achieving the makeup that it has today, helps us to analyze James Lick teams over the past 20 years as part of the “modern era.”
Since the BVAL’s foundation (1996) , James Lick entered the 2016-2017 school year with a total of 16 championships across all sports. Only 3 of these 16 championships were in the STAL (‘B’ league of the BVAL) with the Wrestling team of 2004 being the last JL team to win a title in the B division. Just being placed in the B division is a victory for a James Lick sport these days. Since the BVAl era, James Lick has offered 16 sports, (considering Cross Country, Swimming, and Track as 1 sport each, since boys and girls teams score separately, but cannot move divisions independently). Only 8 of these 16 sports at James Lick however have ever competed in any division other than the WVAL (‘C’ league of the BVAL). In addition, 2 of those 8 competed in the B division while there was no C division due to a shortage of BVAL teams offering the sport. This means only 6/16 JL sports in the BVAL era have ever been out of the lowest division of the BVAL.
While some teams commonly have most of their teams in the A and B divisions, James Lick currently only has 3, Cross Country, Boys Soccer, and Boys volleyball (though there is no ‘C’ division for boys volleyball). In 20 years now in the BVAL era, with at least 13 sports offered a year, James Lick has never had more than 4 teams in the same year be placed in the ‘B’ division or higher. As such, the cross country team continues to strive to represent the school as a legitimate ‘B’ league team.
BVAL finals in cross country is a great way to prove this strength of program, with all 24 teams in the same race, theoretically a perfectly formatted league would have the MHAL teams place 1-8, STAL place 9-16 and WVAL place 17-24. Any placing higher than 16th in a race legitimatizes the Comets standing and gives the team a sense of pride. As the 4th smallest school in the BVAl, and the 2nd poorest as measured by % of students who receive free/reduced lunch, overcoming this disadvantages to beat schools in a better place to succeed is something to be proud of.
The day started well, with the team’s two reserve girls racing for the Comets. After running 29:24 at the Crystal Spring’s invite, Valerie Flores ran 27:09 to place 17th in the reserve race, a huge PR for Valerie. The 9:12 mile pace is by far the best of her career, ending with a very strong peak performance. Brittany Salazar had a similarly huge PR, after running 34:49 at the invitational, she ran 32:41 at league finals. Her 11:05 mile pace was also by far the best of her career. A very strong ending for the two seniors.
The JV girls race was next, as the first scoring race of the day, the team looked for a top 16 team performance. The JV girls is the easiest race to score highly in, as many programs struggle to field a full team. In any case, the Comet girls came in 12th in the BVAL a solid performance. Camila Hernandez lead the group with a very strong time of 24:34. Camila looks poised to have a big track season, and be a key member of the girls team in future seasons. The 8:20 mile pace at league finals was the best of her career. The same was true of Aliana Santos, running 9:01 pace for a time of 26:36. At the CS invite, Aliana ran 29:27, making her league finals PR another outstanding performance. Susie Peterson was next in, while her time of 28:14 was an off race compared to other races this season, it was a solid 30 second PR at Crystal Springs. Ashley Preciado also had the best race of her career, running 29:06 and breaking the 10 minute mile pace barrier for the very first time. Diana Romero ran 31:20 to seal off the team, and Ally Floreza battled through an ankle injury to finish her race and show a warrior spirit in the process.
The Frosh/Soph Boys were next, and they improved their league standing by placing 2nd amongst B division teams at league finals. While final team results are not yet up of FS, I believe that the team managed to finish 8th overall, beating several ‘A’ division teams. Similarly, I do not know the records of the other teams in the ‘B’ division, but this performance may have moved the FS team as high as 2nd place in the STAL.
Vincent Giglio lead the team with a strong PR of 18:22, placing 1st in the STAL to give the team the STAL F/S boys individual champion 2 years in a row. Mark Orpia gave the team a 2nd boy under 20 minutes, running 19:34. The 6:38 mile pace for Mark was the best of his career, though I think it was actually a bit of an off-race for him after he ran 6:40 mile pace at Montgomery Hill a few weeks back. Nien Tran ran 20:18 to manage a 6:53 pace, the first time Nien has run under 7 minute mile pace for an XC race. Rudy Peterson and Melvin Estrada completed the scoring team with times of 21:00 and 21:03, the first the fastest paces of both boys career for a course longer than 2.1 miles. Hugo Marquez was close behind at 21:16, the 7:13 pace being the best of his career as well. Jerricho Habon rounded out the team in 21:25, battling the hip injury that has troubled him throughout much of the season. The team’s 8th place finish saw them defeating 2 teams from the MHAL and running the best James Lick frosh/soph team time in the BVAL era. Their team time of 1:40:25 (100:25) beats the FS team of 2010 (101:06) for a new BVAL Finals FS record. Our goal of breaking the 100 minute barrier was narrowly missed.
Next up were the varsity girls. Arlet Miranda ran a small PR of 20:12, running a very productive race in which she experimented with running a very hard 2nd mile in preparation for CCS. The Varsity girls team has struggled with finding time to train this season, but the pack of Maria Mendoza in 22:44, Milka Perez in 22:50 and Daisy Nava in 23:02 helped solidify the team’s placing. Denisse Calixto ran 24:28 the best race of her career to come through as the 5th girl. Belen Sanchez had a bit of an off-race running 25:03, though Analilia Regla ran 25:08, the best mile pace of her career as well. The teams time of 1:53:16 (113:16) is the 4th best team time in school history.
Skipping ahead to the reserve race, David Bejines lead the Comets with a strong reserve time of 20:14. Isaak Herrera came in next at 20:31 and Austin Swank was 3rd in 20:50, giving the team 3 athletes solidly under 21 minutes. Both David and Isaak ran under 7 minute mile pace for the first time on a near 3 mile course. Manuel Villalobos ran 21:42 and Esteban Garcia-Gomez ran 22:08 to seal off the top 5. Kevin Bach ran 22:34 and Daniel Portillo was not far behind in 23:00 a big PR from the Crystal Springs invite. Jesse Friaz finished off the team’s day with a time of 24:26. All 8 reserve boys ran the best mile pace of their career for a new 3 mile course.
The Varsity boys team went in highly motivated, knowing that a good race would clinch championship. In order to seal the victory, the team would have to hold off a very strong Pioneer team. Erik Olsvold lead the group, displaying his signature strong finish, Erik moved from 15th to 9th place in the last 200 meters of the race. His time of 16:22 is the best time by any James Lick boy in over 10 years, and puts him tied for 20th on the school’s al time list as only a Sophomore. Narrowly holding off Evan Franco of Branham who ran 16:24, Erik also ends the season as the STAL individual champion on the boys side, one year after being the FS champion. Erik’s remarkable improvement, from 18:14 a year ago, speaks to the immense work ethic of the varsity team. Nathan Bernardo and Azael Zamora both missed their PRS, but competed well running 16:47 and 16:59, giving the team 3 boys under 16 minutes in the same race at Crystal Springs for the first time in over a decade. All 3 boys finished in the top 20 overall. Inteus Castro-Lopez had a rough race, but showed his toughness, gritting out a time of 17:33 for a 22 second PR. Gustavo Aguilera also ran a 20 second PR of 17:39, with Gustavo Parra right behind in 17:40.
Pioneer ran a very strong race as well, and ended up placing 5th in the entire BVAL, beating half of the ‘A’ division teams. The Comets nonetheless were able to clinch their STAL championship, placing 2nd out of all 24 BVAL teams, only losing to Willow Glen, the ‘A’ league champs. The fact that the team was able to jump from a disappointing 13th place finish last year, to 2nd this year is truly remarkable. Their team time of 1:25:20 (85:20) is the best James Lick time at BVAL Finals in school history.
When Nathan and Gustavo A were freshmen, they ran 20:36 and 22:34 at BVAL finals. Nathan was the 7th boy on a varsity team where the #1 runner ran 18:29. That James Lick team placed 20th at BVAL Finals. The work ethic of Nathan and Gustavo, taking minutes off of their starting times, has helped foster a culture of hard work that has inspired their teammate around them, and drawn in athletes like Inteus and Gustavo P. In their 4 year careers, they saw the varsity boys team move from 20th in the BVAL to 2nd, and from a team time of 97:09 at league finals, to the 85:20 of today.
In the now 38 years of school history (on record) at the Crystal Springs cross country course, the team of 2016 ranks 11th in team time, showing that in 4 short years, the Comets were able to take a team from its 2nd slowest time, back to the times of James Lick’s heyday. It is up to the returning and future members of the team, to keep James Lick where it belongs an to keep driving the team upwards towards greater success. While the varsity and Frosh/Soph boys teams could have committed in the MHAL this year, the girls team has a ways to go before they are able to do the same.
Willow Glen has won 12 of the last 13 BVAL finals meets, and there is no sham in losing to the highly formidable team. The varsity boys team of 2016 showed that the Comets are still capable of competing with the best however, and every year we will try to reach greater and greater heights. The varsity boys, and fellow CCS qualifier Arlet Miranda now look ahead to CCS Finals on November 12th, where they will compete against fellow D3 runners from the CCS. To better understand CCS qualification you can read here:
The team will unfortunately be without top runner Erik Olsvold at CCS, making a top 3 finish, and a better team time difficult, but the Comets will do their best to try to get a State Qualifier for the first time in 2005.
The 2016 Track Season has come to an end for the Comets. It was another very successful step forward in the rebirth of James Lick Track and Field. After 5 straight years of going a combined 0-14 in the West valley Division, the weakest division of the BVAL, the team of 2014 started to change things by managing a 2-12 record. A necessary step forward. The 2015 Team made more of a huge leap, going 10-4 and the team of 2016 finished their season 12-2 with the girls winning the first championship in school history with a 7-0 record and a 1st place finish at WVAL finals.
The 2016 season suffered the loss of steady coach John Quasarano, but this was offset by the addition of experienced Sprints/Jumps coach Steve Nichols. Steve joined Coach Vela in the throws and myself in Distance and Hurdles to give the team 3 coaches who competed at the collegiate level in Track and Field.
With Coach Vela and myself having worked with our athletes for years now, it’s no surprise that Distance and Throws were the team’s most consistent areas. In a few seasons, once Coach Steve has established his sprints program here at James Lick, our young group of sprinters will follow suit and we will look to move up into the Santa Teresa Division, ready tot make on a higher level of competition.
Boys scoring by Event 2016
Average Points Per Dual Meet
Points Available Per Meet
Average Points as percentage of Available
League Finals Points
On the boys side, the team won the majority of their points in Jumps, Distance and Hurdles. While the team was weaker in Sprints, Throws and Relays, these are all events where the team is very young. The team’s best sprinter, Jose Limon, as well as 4 out of the team’s top 5 sprinters are freshmen. As they develop and mature, the team can expect big things from the entire group.
While the team netted the highest percentage of points available in the hurdles, it should be acknowledged this in part due to the relatively weak nature of hurdles in the West Valley division. Many teams have no true hurdles coach, and some of the team’s high point totals were racked up against teams with no hurdlers at all. Hadji Yono-Cruz in the 110h, and Gustavo Aguilera in the 300h both made huge strides to improve the team this season. Hadji ended his season at 18.27 compared to 19.32 last year, and Gustavo ran 45.78 compared to 48.93 last year, to move the team towards greater responsibility. Gustavo and Jonathan Rodriguez ran 19.11 and 19.30 respectively, giving the team 3 hurdlers faster than their best hurdler a year ago.
The most contested areas in Track are Sprints and Distance, for their simplicity. This makes them the most telling events in terms of a team’s standing. The boys team this year had 5 boys under the 5 minute barrier. While the team does not yet have the top level talent of many other BVAL teams, with Azael Zamora 4:48.60 and Nathan Bernardo 4:49.06 leading the team, only 3 teams in the entire BVAL had more athletes break the 5 minute barrier (Willow Glen, Evergreen and Lincoln). The team was similarly successful at 3200, with 5 athletes breaking the 11 minute barrier this season, with only 2 BVAL teams having more sub 11 athletes. Nathan and Erik lead the team, both running 10:36 at WVAL finals. Lastly in the 800, last year’s team had only 2 athletes run under 2:16 for the race, this season 6 athletes accomplished the feat, with Erik leading the group at 2:08.14 despite being a freshmen. No team scored more points in distance than the JL boys, this being the only event group which JL lead at WVAL finals.
Building depth has been what the team is striving for across the board. In terms of sprinters, the team did not have any top level sprinters, but the team had more boys under 13 seconds for the 100, and more boys under 60 seconds for the 400, than in any other year in the 2000s. Jose lead the team with times of 12.31, 24.22 and 55.28. Jesse Chircop, Adrian DeLaRosa, Danny Nguyen, Misael Herrera, Chris Okoro, Jonathan and Gustavo A all broke the 13 second barrier this season. The 8 comets under 13 barrier, betters the total of 5 from last season, and with Jose, Adrian, Danny and Misael all as freshmen, the team has high hopes to have 4 sub 12 sprinters on the same team very soon. In the 400, Jose, Nathan, Gustavo A, Misael, Azael, Erik, Vincent Giglio , Jesse and Gustavo P all broke 60 seconds, for a total of 9 boys under the barrier. Only one of those 9 athletes is graduating.
Hadji took some big strides forward as the team’s leading jumper with PRS of 18-5 in Long jump and 38-10 in Triple. Promising youngsters like Josue Marcelo and Manuel Villalobos will look to be factors for the team in coming seasons. The team had 2 boys clear 5 feet in high jump this season, with Jonathan leading the team with a PR of 5-4. With both he and Josh Garcia returning, the team will look to have two boys score in high jump at finals next season.
In the throws, the team’s top throwers two sophomores, Josh Garcia and Daniel Medina. Josh threw 36-7 in his first track season, better than the 35-10 throw by Robert Rios as a sophomore, with Rios going on to throw 43-02 by his senior year to win the WVAL. Alex Alonzo threw 102 feet in the discus this season despite having his year cut short by grades. He’ll look to bounce back next year as the team’s leading discus thrower.
Girls Scoring by Event 2016
Average Points Per Dual Meet
Points Available Per Meet
Average Points as percentage of Available
League Finals Points
As should be expected of a championship team, the girls were strong across the board. Relays were the only area where the team did not win the majority of dual meet points for the season, and this is in part due to the team not emphasizing the “A” team running every meet. At finals when both “A” teams ran, the 4×400 team paced 3rd and the 4×100 team 2nd.
The team’s best event on the girl’s side was the throwing events. Alejandra Ceron and Valeria Cortez were a fantastic duo, helping the team towards winning 86% of dual meet points, a truly dominant showing. The team did this despite the absence of Charli Chircop due to knee surgery. Charli and Alejandra were the team’s top throwers as freshmen, but Charli was only able to compete for one week this season. In that week, she threw marks which would have placed her in the top 4 at WVAL finals in both throws, making next year;s three-headed monster a formidable force. Alejandra won the discus at WVAL finals, becoming the girl’s first ever champion in the event with a PR of 90-10. She also placed 2nd in the Shot Put and ended her season with a PR of 31-9.50 the 2nd bets Shot thrower in JL history. Valeria three 31-4 a fantastic mark, but her most impressive heave was in the girl’s discus. Valeria threw 99-9.50 at BVAL champs to set a new school record in the girls discus. She was the only freshmen competing in girl’s discus at CCS, throwing 99-5 for 22nd place to end the team’s season.
The next best event for the team was the girls hurdles. Three athletes scored at finals for the team this season in both the 100h and 300h. Andrea Ortiz lead the group and battled knee issue all season. By WVAL finals, she could not sprint at 100% or even 90%. The fact that she continued to run 50 seconds for the 300h despite having to hold back, speaks to the capability of running several seconds faster. Her huge PR of 17.10 in the girls 100h is the schools 3rd best time in history. Valeria’s 17.80 is a very impressive freshmen time as well. Andrea will attend De Anza College and run Track next season, and her PRs of 1:10.91 in the 400h (run one time) and 17.10 would have already scored her points at De Anza’s coast conference meet. In the 300h she lowered her school record slightly to 50.19. Belen Sanchez and Valeria helped improve the all time list with strong freshmen times of 54.84 and 57.10 respectively.
Girl’s distance was very strong as well despite the loss of multiple school record holder Daniela Camacho. Arlet Miranda spearheaded the group with a fantastic freshmen season. Arlet took her middle school PR of 6:17 for 1600, down to 5:38.46 this season. She ran 2:30.66 for 800 for the 2nd best 800 in school history, and 12:36.40 in the 3200 for the 3rd best time in school history. Maria Mendoza’s seasons best of 5:58 in the 1600, makes this the first year in school history that James Lick had 2 girls under 6 minutes for the 1600. This is despite a difficult season in which Maria was hardly able to practice due to family issues. Daisy Nava running 6:11.20 and Elizabeth Guevara running 6:13.24 give the team 4 girls under 6:15 in the same season for the first time in school history. Sadly Eli was unable to run at league final sin the 3200, where her PR of 13:23.07 (5th in school history) would have given her 3rd place. Maria, Andrea and Daisy ran 800m times of 2:40, and 2:41 improving the top 10 list as well. The girl’s team lead lead the league in distance points, as well as hurdles and throws points.
In the jumps, the team had two 15 foot long jumpers for the first time in recent years, with Lyndel Ventura going 15-4 and Elyse Elder 15-0 even. The girl’s struggled a bit in the last part of the season, but both girls scored points for the team at finals. Lyndel also broke the 30 foot barrier in the triple jump, just the 3rd girl in school history to do so. The girl’s high jump had 2 girls score points at finals, with Elyse going 4-5 and Brecia Dagio going a solid 4-3 as a freshmen. Many of these girls helped the team by vastly improving their sprints times as well. In 2015 only one girl, Maria, broke 14.3 for the 100. This year, Maria, Andrea, Karen, Lyndel and Elyse all accomplished the feat however, helping the relay team to a 54.14 clocking at finals, for the teams 2nd best time on record.
The team is very much in program building mode with 2016 being a very successful year towards that goal. The team will miss strong athletes and seniors in Hector Ramirez, Jesse Chircop, Andrea Ortiz, Karen Montes and Elizabeth Guevara. Even so, with only 5/54 total athletes graduating, the team can look ahead towards a better season in 2017 with their young athletes another year stronger. All 5 seniors will be graduating next week and attending college.
We are hoping as many athletes as possible from the team will join either Coach Vela in football, or myself in Cross Country for the 2016 season when next school year kicks off. We are very proud of our Comet Track team this season, and the JLTF season will now give way to graduation, summer break and JLXC summer training.
Any Comets interested in doing summer training for Cross Country can join us on June 6th at 2:00 p.m. by the student parking lot.