Comets Open Season at Lowell Invitational: Lady Comets Break School Record

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The Team at the beginning of the day

The James Lick Comets opened their 2018 cross country season in Golden Gate Park with the Lowell Invitational on Saturday September 8th. This is just the 4th time the Comets have competed at the Lowell Invite, but this was the best showing the Comets have had on the girls side.

The Lowell invitational is a very competitive meet, and the first race that James Lick competed in was the frosh/soph girls race. It was the first time that the team had a complete frosh/soph girls team on the 2.13 mile course. Freshmen Ruth Rodriguez had an impressive debut running 17:35 to lead the group, the 2nd best time on the course in the 4 years of school history in Golden Gate Park. Erika Camacho was next in 18:18, the 8:36 pace being the best of her career for a cross country course. Mya Hammond and and Jessica Cervantes came in together at 18:32. It was a 1 minute PR for Mya despite the fact that she fell down during the race. Mia Hammond and Mariana Perez streamed in at 18:43 and 18:44, giving the Comets 6 girls under 19 minutes for the course, compared to only one last year. Jana Kikhia last year was the top Comet at 18:34. Jana went on to run 24:52 at Crystal Springs by league finals, placing 29th out of 97 JV girls. The fact that so many Comets are around Jana’s time at Lowell, indicates just how strong this year’s JV girls team could be.

Despite all of this, myself and coach Raul actually feel that several of our JV girls actually underperformed. We think big things are to come later this month. Francine Estranero ran 20:45, 1 PR by 1 minute, despite staying back to check on Jana, who was injured in the race.

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The frosh/soph girls team before the race

The next race for the team was the JV boys race. The non frosh/soph races were contesting the 2.93 mile course. A fast course, very similar in distance to Crystal Springs.  Gustavo Madrigal lead the group, running a time of 19:50. This shattered his PR of 21:58, and it was also the first time Gustavo has ever run under 7 minute mile pace (6:46 pace) for an XC course. Omar Fimbres was next in 20:06. Omar ran the 2.93 mile course in 6:53 pace, by comparison, he only ran 7:01 pace for the 2.13 mile course last year. Rodolf Ocampo, Alberto Trejo and Josue Gomez rounded out the team in 21:56, 22:24 and 26:59 respectively.

The JV girls race saw Giulissa Correa and Kirsten Yutuc compete for the team. Giulissa had a great race, running 26:05, 8:54 pace. Giulissa has really impressed with her work ethic in this, her first cross country season. Kirsten managed a small PR of 26:46 as well.

In the afternoon, both  varsity races were run. On both sides, the team was missing a few members of their team, but the teams competed to the best of their abilities. On the girl’s side, we have sent the goal of chasing school records this year, and the Lowell invite was the first and easiest step. With only 4 years of history, the team was indeed able to set a new team record. The team time record before this season was 2:01:10. The team this year managed to run 11 minutes faster, a team time of 1:50:15.

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Varsity Girls Left to right: Arlet Miranda, Jenny Villagomez, Ashley Preciado, Yeimili Adame (the one crouching) Belen Sanchez

The team was lead by Arlet Miranda in 19:42. Arlet wasn’t able to beat her own school record of 19:28 but it was a strong performance nonetheless. Yeimili Adame ran 21:09, for a 7:13 pace, the best pace of her young career. Belen Sanchez was the 3rd Comet in at 22:17, beating her PR of 23:09 quite handily. Ashley Preciado was close behind in 22:22, a PR by over 3 minutes, and by far the fastest pace of her career. Jenny Villagomez was the 5th girl in 24:43. The team was without Yesenia Martinez who had been the team’s 5th girl at the alumni race.Overall it was a great performance for the girls team, and one they will hope to build on going forward.

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Varsity Boys left to right: Jerricho Habon, Nien Tran, Geo Campos, Brandon Cruz, Mark Orpia

The final race of the day was the varsity boys. The team was without top runner Erik Olsvold, and team #5 at the alumni race, Jared Resendiz. Mark Orpia spearheaded the team with a 30 second PR of 17:15. Jerricho Habon was next in at 17:49. Jerricho’s PR on the 2.13 mile course was run at 6:48 pace, a far cry from the 6:05 pace he just ran on the 2.93 mile course. Nien Tran took a big step forward, running 18:32 as the 3rd boy in. Brandon Cruz and Geo Campos were close behind in 18:36 and 18:37.

The varsity team is still developing but there is good reason for optimism for the future. For one thing, all 5 of these boys are juniors. Geo is in his first season of cross country for the team and is improving rapidly. The other Comets are all improving from year to year as well. Last year Nien ran 6:59 pace for the 2.13 mile course. This year he ran 6:20 pace for the 2.93 mile course. Brandon has had an even more impressive development, from 7:51 pace on the 2.13 course, to 6:21 pace on the nearly 3 miles long course.

The boys team is going to face stiff competition this year. We were defeated handily at the Lowell invite by Branham, who will we face in our 2nd ST division meet. Prospect won the freshmen boys race, showing that they have an impressive future as well. The Comet boys will need to work hard to compete, but the team is up to the challenge.

The team will head to the Earlybird Invitational in Toro Park next Saturday before their first league meet on Thursday September 20th at Montgomery Hill. The team will face Prospect and local rival Independence.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

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Comets open season with STAL 1 and Lowell Invitational

The first race of the season for the Comets got underway on Thursday October 7th in Alum Rock Park. The team entered the season as reigning STAL (‘B’) division champions on the Varsity Boys side. 2016 Was a tremendous year for the team, with the team setting school records for combined team time at Montgomery Hill and at BVAL finals where the Comets placed 2nd overall, beating out every BVAL team except for the ‘A’ division champs, Willow Glen.

This years team looks to be headed for a much different season in what looks to be a rebuilding year for the team. 46 Athletes ran at STAL 1, the most athletes to run in a single race for James Lick since 2011. Of those 46 athletes, 30 were either freshmen or sophomores. Our team is very young this year, but very dedicated as well, which points to some strong seasons down the road for the team.

The Frosh/Soph boys got the meet started for the team on a day where all JL teams were facing Prospect and Independence. The Frosh/Soph boys came away 1-1 defeating Prospect but losing to Indy. Melvin Estrada lead the team in 19:28, a 2 minute PR. Last season the Comets best FS boy only managed to ru  20:46 at the first race. Nien Tran and Daniel Portillo both ran sizable PRS of 20:16 (21:17 last year) and 20:22 (24:03 last year), and talented freshmen Jonathan Cortez was close behind in 20:26. Jerricho Habon sealed off the top 5 with a time of 21:03. Freshmen Omar Fimbres ran 21:27 for a solid opening race, and Kevin Bach rounded out the team in 22:48.

Arlet Miranda has been dealing with the flu, but pushed through it to lead the Varsity Girls in 21:52. Nowhere near her best but good enough to be a competitive time. Belen Sanchez was the next Comet in at 23:59,  a 40 second PR. Freshmen Xochitl Godinez was the 3rd girl in at 25:32, a solid debut. Next was freshmen Jana Kikhia in 27:12, followed by Analilia Regla in 27:31. Sophomore Jennifer Villagomez and freshmen Mya Hammond rounded out the team in 28:17 and 28:47. More than half of the varsity girls team were running their first ever cross country race.

The Varsity boys team was unable to score a victory a year after going undefeated. They did see the best time by a Comet on the Alum Rock course in over a decade however. Azael Zamora placed 4th in 15:41, (the winner ran 15:34). This places him 5th on the school’s all time list for the course. Sophomore Mark Orpia ran 18:16, smashing his PR of 20:45 from last season,though we feel he could have done even better. Inteus Castro-Lopez has a very rough race by his standards, running 18:28. Jesus Deloya was the 4th boy in 19:24 and Jose Limon rounded out the team’s scoring in 19:46 for his first ever XC meet. Hugo Marquez ran 19:51 to take apart his previous PR of 21:44 as well.

The JV and reserve girls teams showed great signs of future success as well. The first JV girl across the line was Ashley Preciado in 27:32. Every other girl in the race for the team was running her first XC race. Justine Austria and Emma Veronica came across the line together in 28:07 and 28:08. Kirsten Yutuc and Mariana Perez finished in 29:14 and 29:36, with Emely Lopez and Erika Camacho rounding out the group in 29:46 and 30:15. Aliana Santos, Francien Estranero, Susie Peterson, Anahi Santos and Maria Sanchez competed for the team on the reserve side as well.

The Reserve boys was the largest group for the team and had some of the best performances as well. Freshmen Jonathan Bradley ran 20:52 to earn a spot on the Frosh/Soph team for next week. The majority of the boys in the race were running their first ever XC race, and overall the team competed well.

The team is young which makes the 0-2 start of the varsity teams a little bit easier to take. If you’ve read this blog regularly, you’ll know I’ve been saying for months that I felt we just needed a group of young dedicated girls (similar to the young group of boys we have) to really turn the team around. The group of freshmen/sophomore girls we have now are not otherworldly talents (most of the freshmen ran over 9 minutes at our August time trial) but their dedication is leading to rapid improvement. Our hope is that we can build this group into high quality varsity runners with a few seasons of work. Both STAL 1, and the Lowell invite showed the potential is there.

Lowell Invitational

The Lowell invitational in Golden Gate Park is a great experience for the team. The flat/fast courses are a great confidence builder for the team going forward. With this being the team’s 3rd time attending the meet, a number of team records fell.

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Freshmen Omar Fimbres (Left) and Jonathan Cortez (right) warmup at the Lowell Invitational 

Starting with the freshmen boys race, Jonathan Cortez had a great performance, running 14:09 to shatter the team record of the 2.13 mile course. Last year Jerricho Habon ran 14:28 for the course. Jonathan ran 6:39 mile pace for the course, a very encouraging fact. Omar also had a great race running 14:56 for 7:01 pace. His August time trial saw him run barely faster than that for one mile at 6:55.

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Left to right: Freshmen Francine Estranero, Jana Kikhia and Mya Hammond before the Frosh/Soph girls race. 

Jana Kikiha was one of the team’s top freshmen at the mile time trial when she ran 9:14. At the Lowell invite however, she ran 18:35 which comes out to 8:43 mile race, a stellar improvement. Mya Hammond had a similariliy impressive performance. After running 9:39 for the mile time trial a month ago, she ran 9:11 pace for the 2.13 mile Lowell Invite course.  Francine Estranero ran 10:13 pace for the course, approaching her PR of 9:59 for a single mile as well.

The Sophomore race saw the record of Jonathan Cortez fall just hours after it was set. Melvin Estrada ran 14:05 for a 29 second PR. Hugo Marquez was next in 14:24, a nearly 2 minute PR. Nien Tran ran 14:52 for a 25 second PR. and Daniel Portillo ran 15:23 for a 90 second PR as well. Brandon Cruz rounded out the team in 16:43. Despite the PRs across the board by the Sophomore boys, we actually feel this was an underperformance by the team, and one we hope they will bounce back from next week.

The non-Varsity race had only 2 Comet boys, Gustavo Madrigal and Adrian DeLaRosa. Both ran very impressive races. Gustavo ran 21:58 for the 2.93 mile course and Adrian ran 22:26. They ran 7:30 pace and 7:40 pace respectively, after both ran well over 8:00 pace on Thursday for STAL 1.

The Varsity girls team as a whole took a big step forward as well. On Thursday only two girls managed to run under 9:00 pace, Belen and Arlet. At the Lowell invite, 5 girls managed the feat, with two others close behind. Arlet lead the team in 21:23, still awaiting her breakout race. Belen had one of the best races of her career, running 23:09 for 7:54 pace, her first time under 8:00 pace. Ashley Preciado was the next girl in at 25:26. Ashley’s improvement has been remarkable. Last year she managed only one race under 10:00 pace, and with the Lowell invite she ran a new lifetime best XC pace of 8:41. Right behind Ashley was Justine Austria in 25:28 and not far behind her was Analilia Regla in 25:42. Kirsten Yutuc ran 26:46 and Aliana Santos ran a PR of 26:57 to finish the girl’s day. While the 2.93 course at Lowell is easier than Alum Rock’s it is also over 100 meters longer. The fact that many of our varsity girls ran 2 minutes faster at the Lowell invite shows we are ready for a much better showing next Thursday.

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The Varsity Girls After the race

 

The final race of the day was the Varsity Boys. The team was looking to bounce back from Thursday’s disappointing performance. Azael lead the team in 15:50, beating his own course record (set last year) by 33 seconds. After a poor race Thursday, Inteus bounced back in a big way running 16:47 for a 30 second PR. This equates to 5:43 pace, by far the best of his career to this point. He wasn’t the only one either. Mark Orpia ran 17:42 for 6:02 pace, a huge performance for him as well. Jose Limon ran 18:40 for 6:22 pace. These 4 boys now look poised to go get their first win next Thursday when the team takes on Branham.

 

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Sophomore Mark Orpia in the final 100 meters of his race

The first week of racing is done and the team is headed in the right direction. The youth of the team makes for a very exciting season in terms of progression. Next Thursday the team will take on Branham in Alum Rock Park before heading to Toro Park in Salinas next Saturday for the Earlybird Invitational.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Comet news!

-Benny Reeves

 

Comets Rolling After Lowell Invitational

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The Freshmen Boys Left to Right: Hugo Marquez, Jerricho Haobn, Nien Tran, Melvin Estrada and Daniel Portillo

 

The James Lick Comets took to the Lowell Invitational in Golden Gate Park this Saturday for only the 2nd time in school history. The event went so well however, that it may become a yearly one for the Comets. The Lowell Course is clearly a fast one, with the  2.13 mile FS Course, and 2.93 mile JV/Varsity Course both being overall very flat. The 61 degree weather at race time, also made for great distance running conditions. Overall the Comets capitalized on these factors, running very encouraging times, though the lack of JL history at Lowell makes contextualizing these results a bit tricky.

A relatively small group attended the meet, with the Comets only forming two full racing teams. The first race of the day saw one, where 5 Comet Boys ran the Freshmen race. Jerricho Habon and Melvin Estrada lead the group, finishing in 14:28 and 14:33. Both runners broke the 7 minute mile pace barrier for an XC course for the first time. Both boys worked hard all summer as incoming freshmen, and neither had broken 8 minutes for a single mile before this season. Nien Tran was the next Comet in at 15:17. Nien’s pace of 7:11, was also by far the fastest pace of his young XC career. Hugo Marquez clocked in at 16:08, 7:35 pace and Daniel Portillo finished the Comets race with a  16:53, also breaking the 8 minute mile pace barrier for the first time. With this being the Comets second year ever at Lowell, Jerrichio’s time establishes a new 2.13 mile course record for the team.

The next race for the team was the JV Boys, shortly followed by the JV girls. Isaak Herrera continues to build on a strong start to his season, running  time of 20:37 for the 2.93 mile course. Isaak had never run under 7:30 pace for an XC race before, but at Lowell he nearly broke 7:00 pace. Alfonso Farias’ time of 23:09, meant that every boy on the team ran under 8:00 mile pace for the day.

The JV girls race also saw improvements for the team. Aliana Santos built on a solid XC debut on Thursday, with a 27: 42 showing at the Lowell Invite. Aliana’s kick was something to behold (see video) where she passed over 20 girls in the final 500 meters of the race. Elizabeth Perez broke 30 minutes for the first time on a course longer than 2.5 miles. Her time of 29:43, was nearly the best XC pace of her career. Ally Floreza ran 33:21, all 3 girls ran faster for the Lowell invite than they did on the shorter Alum Rock Course on Thursday.

The Varsity Girls saw some very strong performances as well. Following her breakout run of 7:03 mile pace on Thursday, our goal for Arlet was to break the 7 minute mile pace barrier for he first time. Arlet’s time of 19:27 had her shattering that goal, with a mile pace of 6:38, and the establishment of her very first JLXC Course record (and hopefully not the last). Maria Mendoza rebounded from an off race on Thursday, running 21:19 and 7:16 pace compared to an 8:01 pace on Thursday. Her race, along with the strong time of Denisse Calixto (1:30 faster than she ran on Thursday) is a good sign for a girls team that started their STAL season 0-2. Denisse ran 24:16, her pace of 8:16 being the fastest of her career to this point.

The final race of the day, and the most anticipated with it being the team’s best group this year, was the Varsity Boys. Religious commitments prevent rising star Erik Olsvold from competing on Saturdays, but the team was eager to prove they could excel without the team’s #2 runner from Thursday (as they will likely need to do at CCS the year). The team has been hoping to not only win the STAL, but to break into the top 8 overall at BVAL Finals and beat some MHAL (‘A’ Division) teams in the process. No JL team since 2004 has finished in the top 10 at BVAL finals. The fact that the team had two MHAL teams in their race at Lowell was very motivating for them. Comparing themselves against two MHAL teams in the same race is a great way to asses their fitness against tough competition.  Evergreen (last year’s 6th team at BVAL Finals, and the #1 Frosh/Soph team) and Santa Teresa (last year’s #9 team at BVAL finals) both toed the line with the Comets. The sustained success of these two programs, both being in the MHAL for over 8 years in a row now, combined with student bodies which more than double James Lick’s in number, make the Comets a clear underdog against the two teams. It should also be noted that with MHAL #1 taking place last Thursday, both Evergreen and Santa Teresa’s Varsity boys teams showed their strength, starting off undefeated in the ‘A’ division.

At the Lowell Invitational however, the Comets defeated them both. The team will need to work extremely hard to stay up with these top teams, and will try to take them on at BVAL Finals where it counts. While Invitationals are more about experience and times than they are competition, this was a huge confidence building victory for the team. The team was spearheaded by the 1-2 punch of Azael Zamora and Nathan Bernardo, running 16:22 and 16:23 respectively despite running very different races. Azael ran a very fast first mile and may have exerted himself too much, he had to fight to hold off Evergreen’s best boy who ran 16:23. Nathan on the other hand, was well behind Evergreen’s best boy and Santa Teresa’s best boy (who ran 16:27), with only 200 meters to go, but managed to run them both down, finishing just behind Azael in the placings. Both boys ran under 5:40 pace for the first time in their XC careers.

Inteus Casto-Lopez was the team’s 3rd boy in 17:19, running under 6 minute pace for the first time this year and the second time in his career. This was a solid rebound from his 17:55 on Thursday. Gustavo Aguilera ran 17:34, breaking the 6 minute mile pace barrier for the first time in his XC career. Gustavo Parra nearly did the same as the team’s 5th boy, running 17:45 for 6:03 pace. Jesus Deloya rounded out the group with a time of 18:34 for 6:19 pace, the first time Jesus has broken 6:30 pace for any XC course. Their team time of 1:25:27 (85:27) is in line with the Comets goal of running in the Mid 80s as a team for 3 mile/near 3 mile courses this season.

Overall the race was a fantastic day for the team. Some of the paces/times the team achieved at Lowell were almost too good to believe. The Comets will look to build on their performance at Lowell, and the athletes who managed to run faster times at Lowell than they did for STAL 1, will look ahead to next Thursday’s matchup with Prospect to end their Alum Rock racing season strong.

Things are looking bright for the Comets.

Thank you for reading,

-Benny Reeves