Comets Set New Team Record For Total Points Scored at ST Division Finals

The James Lick Track Team contested day 2 of the ST division finals(‘B’ division of the BVAL) on Saturday May 20th at Lincoln High School. It was the teams 2nd year in the ‘B’ division in the BVAL era (since 1996). In the teams first year, the Comets scored a grand total of 110 points at division finals. A respectable combined total. This year the team managed a total of 158 points, a strong improvement over the year before.

To make ST division finals, many of the events require the athletes to compete in prelims on Thursday, in order to advance to the final on Saturday.  The top 8 athletes in each event score points for their respective teams, while the top 5 in each event advance to BVAL Championships on May 2nd with the chance to advance to CCS Trials.

The meet began with the 4×100. The girls team of Chantrea Thach, Marquise Nelson, Yeimili Adame and Mya Hammond combined to run 56.32 and took 6th overall (3 points for the team). This ends a year for the girls sprint crew full of struggle, with injuries really taking a big hit on the teams depth.

The boys however performed very strongly. The 2018 team was the first Comet team since 2002 to run under 46 seconds for the 4×100. They did so at division finals last year, running 45.88, (5th place) and followed that up with a 45.51 at BVAL champs where we placed 11th, three places off a CCS berth. This years group improved upon the “best time since 2002 status” by running 45.27, only .05 off of the winners, Pioneer.

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Raven Alcantara handing the baton off to Rodolf Ocampo on the 1st exchange 

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this breakthrough time for the team of Raven Alcantara, Rodolf Ocampo, Salvador Lopez and Geovanny Campos is that every member of the squad is a junior. The team has their sights set on the 45 second barrier at BVAL champs.

The boys 1600 was next, and it was the only distance event where the Comets did not produce points. Nonetheless, both Mark Orpia and Brandon Cruz ran PRS, running 4:55 each, and Melvin Estrada ran a seasons best 5:05 as well. The girls 1600 took place on Thursday, so the next event on the track was the 100 hurdles.

Valeria Cortez won her 3rd consecutive title in the 100 hurdles with a seasons best (2nd best time of her career), 16.84. This was Valeria’s 5th individual championship for the Comets at BVAL division finals (she has 2 in girls discus). While it needs to be acknowledged that all of Valeria’s individual championships came within a division of a larger league, this accomplishment ties her with John Aguiar and Joe Amendt as the only Comets (on record) in school history to win 5 individual league/division titles for the school.

John Aguiar won the SCVAL league title in 100 yard dash from 1953-1955 and had 220 yard dash titles in 53′ and 54.’ Joe won 4 consecutive 800m titles in the MHAL (now the ‘A’ divsion of the BVAL) and won the mile title as a senior as well. The accomplishments/marks of John and Joe are objectively more impressive but is still a hallowed club that Valeria joins, and an achievement we are very proud of.

Yesenia Martinez also qualified for BVAL champs for the 2nd consecutive season with a seasons best 18.57 clocking for 2nd place.

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Valeria Cortez won the 100 hurdle final by a wide margin

In the boys 110 hurdles, the Comets saw a pair of breakthroughs as well. Rodolf Ocampo ran under 17 seconds for the first time, stopping the clock at 16.85 to advance to BVAl champs with a 3rd place performance. Rodolf took 3rd place in pole vault on Thursday as well, helping him become the boys teams highest point scorer at division finals. Joshua Merin in only his 3rd hurdle race ran 18.07, a massive PR for 6th place, just .02 away from a spot at BVALs.

We very much regret not having Josh try hurdling earlier. He ran 21.18 on his first try, then 2 weeks later ran 19.30, only 2 days before his 18.07 clocking today. As a junior, Josh figures to keep improving in the event next season as well.

After running a big PR of 1:05.65 on Thursday, Yeimili struggled in the 400m final, running 1:08 for 8th place. Misael Herrera placed 6th for the Comet boys in 54.88, a good improvement for a team that had no 400m runners make the division final a year ago.

The biggest PR of the day in terms of a major step forward was in the boys 100. Raven has been our best sprinter over the past 2 seasons. He capped off last season at 11.79, and narrowly missed making BVALS (he placed 6 at division finals). His primary goal this year was to advance to BVALS in the 100, but he had only lowered his PR to 11.72. Raven is  a masterful starter, but his weakness has been holding his speed at the end of races. This is evidenced by the fact that his 200m PR entering this season was 25.12 compared to a 100m best of 11.79. This season, he lowered his 200m best all the way down to 24.04 prior to the 100m final, which to me was a sure sign he finally had the strength he needed.

Raven delivered on all hopes, running a massive PR of 11.47 to place 3rd and punch his ticket to BVALS. While there was no wind gauge on what seemed to be a strong tailwind, Raven defeated runners who had run as fast as 11.51 and 11.58 in wind legal conditions this season, showing the legitimacy of his PR.

The girls 800 saw Arlet Miranda run a seasons best 2:30.01 for 2nd place, her best 800m time since her sophomore year when she made CCS in the event. This was especially impressive considering Arlet had to lead the chase pack with winner Hannah Gehrt of Lincoln more than 5 seconds clear of any other runner. Arlet was nearly 4 seconds ahead of 3rd place as well. Mya Hammond ran a PR of 2:48.81 for 9th place, just missing scoring.

Jerricho Habon coasted to a 3rd place finish in the boys 800 running 2:09, sealing his place at BVALS and extending the Comets streak of having at least 1 boy represent the team at BVALS in distance events to a 5th consecutive year, (the girls streak is at 7). Garret Hedlund of Pionerr (1:57 seasons best) and Omar Pina (4:27 1600 PR) were well clear of the field, but Jerricho impressively out-kicked the chase pack.

The Comets had some strong performances in field events as well. Marquise tied for 2nd place in girls Shot Put with a new PR of 33-0. Valeria took 4th in 32-9.5. Sal became the first Comet boy since 2014 to advance to BVAL champs in the long jump, placing 3rd with a leap of 19-4.75. Geo Campos also scored for the team with a jump of 18-5 for 7th place.

The girls 300 saw Valeria take 2nd in a PR of 52.08. Arlet placed 6th though her time was poor as she was fatigued from the 800m. Valeria’s 2nd place 300 hurdle saw her end the day with a total of 33 points at division finals. This is a school record at division finals, bettering her own record of 29 points at the ‘C’ division finals of 2017. As every athlete is allowed 4 events maximum, Valeria’s 33 point performance is very hard to top. She tied with Taylor Hohn of Lincoln (1st in triple jump, 2nd in long jump, 1st in 200m, 2nd in 100m) as the most valuable athlete of the meet.

I do not have records of points scored in league meets from before I was coaching. That being said, I am almost done with year 6 of coaching. In that time, the highest point total any athlete accumulated in a single season was Valeria’s 130 points in 2017, our last year in the ‘C’ division. This year Valeria shattered that mark, with her 33 points at division finals giving her 155 for the season. Considering the 2nd most scored in a season is 113, (by Karan Singh in 2015) I think Valeria’s unofficial record will stand for a long time. We are really going to miss her.

Rodolf and Mark both had off races in the 300 hurdles, but managed to add 4 points to the meet total between the two of them. Raven made it a 2nd PR on the day by running 23.94 in the boys 200 for 7th place. Next up was the girls 3200. Many of the girls were fatigued due to the short meet at the end of long week. This left the door open for Arlet to take 4th for the team, and Yeimili to place 5th in 13:59. Yeimili was only put in the 3200 because of the thin nature of the entries in the division, and because of her XC running proficiency. After qualifying for BVALs, her training will shift quite radically from 400 based to 3200 based for the remainder of the season.

Due to the lack of depth on the girls side, we opted to not contest the 4×400. The boys 4×400 was a very exciting race, with James Lick, Live Oak and Pioneer trading the lead throughout the race. The Comets were in 1st place with 150 left but both Pioneer and Live Oak pulled away in the final straight. Misael, Geo, Jerricho and Sal combined to run a seasons best 3:40.45, and the team will be looking to run faster at BVALS with a chance to qualify for CCS trials on the line.

When all was said and done, the scores for the meet were as follows.

Boys: 

  1. Pioneer: 234.5
  2. Lincoln: 91
  3. Live Oak: 81.75
  4. James Lick: 78
  5. Piedmont Hills: 53
  6. Prospect: 52.5
  7. Sobrato: 16.25
  8. Oak Grove: 11

Girls: 

  1. Lincon: 125
  2. Piedmont Hills: 117.50
  3. Pioneer: 82.50
  4. James Lick: 80
  5. Prospect: 78
  6. Sobrato: 64.50
  7. Oak Grove: 29.50
  8. Live Oak: 7

Of the girls 80 points, a vast majority were scored by seniors:

Valeria Cortez: 33 points

Arlet Miranda: 20 points

Marquise Nelson: 16.5

The team will need younger athletes to step up to remain competitive after some huge losses to come.

On the boys side however, things look good with all of the team’s top 5 point scorers being juniors:

Rodolf Ocampo: 16.5

Salvador Lopez: 11

Raven Alcantara: 10

Mark Orpia: 10

Jerricho Habon: 7.5

The Comets and other ESUHSD schools will have the benefit of Spring Break next week to train hard in preparation for BVAL finals on May 2nd at Westmont High School.

We have high hopes to send a handful of athletes on to CCS.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

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Comets Shake Off Rust at Los Gatos All Comers Meet

The James Lick Track team sent 24 members of its team to compete in the Los Gatos All Comers meet on Saturday February 23rd. The meet was a rustbuster for the team, providing a low-key setting for the athletes to get back in the groove of things before official meets begin.

The meet saw several encouraging early season results for the team. To begin, the Comets top two 100m sprinters competed in the long jump, each just taking two attempts. Raven Alcantara went 18-5, a PR by more than a foot, a great sign heading into the season. Geo Campos went 17-0 in his very first try at the event, a solid starting point.

 

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Geo Campos jumping a PR of 17-0 in long jump 

 

In the high jump, Yesenia Martinez cleared 4-2. Yesenia’s PR is 4-6, but last year she could not clear 4-0 at this point in the season so this is a solid result. Josh Merin cleared 5-0 for the first time in the event and Salvador Lopez went 5-4 to lead the Comets on an off-day by his standards.

The first track event for the Comets was the 800, where several distance running Comets tested their fitness. Brandon Cruz clocked in at 2:30 in a relatively relaxed effort, still just 5 seconds off of his PR. Jessica Cervantes lead the lady Comets in 3:00 with Ashley Preciado not far behind in 3:04. These two ladies will be asked to form a strong core of distance runners this season after coming off of a strong cross country season.

Erika Camacho managed a massive PR of 3:11, taking almost 20 seconds off of he previous best. Lizbeth Espana had a strong debut running 3:14 for the event in her first ever try. Estefani Herrera struggled to a 3:34 but this is still ahead of her best clocking from last year at this time.

The 60 meter hurdles were next. Yesenia Martinez clocked in at 12.18 a PR by nearly two seconds. They ran the boys event as the 60 meter hurdles as well, unlike the typical 65 meter run. Rodolf Ocampo clocked in at 9.97 for the event with Mark Orpia at 10.48. Even adjusting for the extra meters, this was a very solid debut for both boys, and they could go along way towards ensuring the loss of Cody Huoch does not sink the team in the hurdles.

The Comets had more to feel good about in the 100 meter dash. Raven stopped the clock at 12.02. Raven’s PR is 11.79 set last season at our final dual meet in late April. For reference however, he started last season at the Willow Glen Invite at 12.92 and did not run under 12.5 until April 19th. Raven is in a very good place heading into the season, poised to be a legitimate sprint presence for the team this season.

Geo also showed strong stuff, running 12.27. This is considerably better than Geo’s 12.85 season opener from last season. This duo of juniors will be heavily relied upon by the team. Misael Herrera made his season debut by running 13.02 despite tightening up, and Angel Guerrero made a solid debut for the team running 13.07 in his first ever track meet.  Krystal Tran made her debut in the event, running 16.95.

Sal lead the Comets in the 400 with a season opening time of 57.43. Sal’s PR is 56.02 and his season opener last year was 59.5, showing Sal is in a solid place as things stand. Josh made his 400m debut running 1:00.47. The Comets should have a number of options in the 4×400 this season.Mya Hammond and Jessica ran 1:16 and 1:17 respectively in the 400. Yesenia clocked in at 1:21.

Next up on the track was a heat of the 1500 followed by a heat of the mile. Brandon Cruz clocked in at 4:56 for the 1500, which translates to roughly a 5:14 1600m time, which would equal Brandon’s PR. In the mile (9 meters longer than the 1600 run in High School), Jerricho Habon ran 5:11 which would be a more than 5 second PR and Mark Opria stopped the clock at 5:16 after a rough final lap. These 3 Comet boys are in a good place to start the season, and all 3 figure to attack the 5 minute barrier very soon.

On the girls side, the Comets were lead by Ruth Rodriguez in 7:21, narrowly missing her PR. Emely Lopez and Jana Kikia had solid early season showings running 7:33 and 7:43 respectively.

The Comet sprinters took to the 60 metr dash next. The 60 is a great way to work on the drive phase/ block start for sprinters, and several Comets had already run it earlier this season to check their fitness. Raven again lead the team with a new PR of 7.41, considerably better than the 7.67 he clocked last month and the best 60 meter time of any Comet since I’ve bene coaching. Geo was next in at 7.60, his first time running the event. Sal managed a slight PR of 7.83, bettering his time of 7.85 from last month, impressive considering he didn’t run the 400 beforehand at his first try.

Josh lowered his PR form 8.20 to 7.93 and Angel made his debut in the event and clocked in at 8.12. Jessica and Mya are focused primarily on distance running, but they both lowered their PRS by more than a 10th of a second as well, running 9.29 and 9.34 respectively.

The final track event on the day for the Comets was the 200, and it was more encouragement for the boy sprinters. Geo managed a PR of 25.05, beating his previous best of 25.37 handily. Sal ran the 200 rarely last year, and managed a huge PR of 25.51 (previous best 26.37). Rodolf ran 25.98, a  PR by nearly a full second as well.  Angel had a solid debut of 26.44 and Jerricho ran a PR of 26.47 to end the Comets track day.

Ariana Marcelino threw the Discus 52 feet in her season opener, the only Comet to throw at the meet.

The Comets left the meet with a lot of things to feel good about especially on the boys side.  The Comets will be getting huge reinforcements on the girls side as Winter sports just ended this past week.

The girls basketball team made it to 2nd round of CCS, and the team’s top 2 returning sprinters, Natalie Rem and Lisbeth Galdamez should be out to join the team now that the season is over.

The team will get resident superstar Valeria Cortez as well. Valeria placed 3rd at CCS finals in wrestling and competed at the State meet this past weekend. Her addition will be a big boon for the team.

We are also navigating the fact that our track is under construction, the hope is it will be completed in a few weeks but currently we are doing the best we can to train without the use of our track.

The team will head to Independence for an all comers style scrimmage meet this Thursday February 28th. Some of the team will then take to the Willow Glen Invitational on Saturday March 2nd for the official season opener.

Track season is just about here!

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

Meet The Coaches of James Lick Track 2017

As we look ahead at 2017, I thought those of you who read this blog might be interested in a little background about the current coaching staff of James Lick Track.

 

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Left to right: Coach Nichols, Coach Vela, Coach Turner, Coach Reeves

A little background: 

As discussed at length, we are very much trying to build our program to the heights of JLTFs great programs of the past, and beyond. The earlier James Lick coaches such as Keith Antes, Carlos Saldivar, and George Carty, produced very successful athletes over their decades of coaching at James Lick.

Today we use their success as both an inspiration, and a bar to measure ourselves against. James Lick’s academics and athletics have fallen considerably from the school’s heyday, but I for one believe with enough dedication we can restore the school to its former glory, and give the east side a greater sense of pride in their local schools in general.

This is basically the 4th year that this staff has been in place with myself as the head coach since 2014. Coach Jonathan Vela came on in the same season to work with the throwers. We also had coach Juan Trejo and Ricardo Flores on that staff, working largely with the boys team. In this first year, I coached only the girls in all non throwing events.

In 2015, our staff consisted of Coach Vela in boys and girls throws, and myself in boys and girls everything else with the help of coach John Quasarano (now the head XC coach at Roberto Cruz Leadership Academy).

In 2016, Coach Steven Nichols replaced John Quasarano, and handled sprints, horizontal jumps, and hurdles for the team. This year we have added coach Christopher Turner to our staff, and he will be coaching horizontal jumps and working with Coach Steve who’ll focus on sprints and relays going forward.

Without further ado, in order of juniority:

Coach Christopher Turner Horizontal Jumps :

This is Coach Turner’s first year coaching track for the Comets. It is his 5th year coaching Track and Field, and his most recent experience was as the head coach of  Yuma HS in Arizona. He competed collegiately at Binghamton university, competing in the 400 and the horizontal jumps.

He sites his proudest achievement as coaching several athletes to the Arizona State Meet. Notably, he coached two separate athletes to 3rd place finishes in horizontal jumps at the State Meet.

David Stiles long jumped 21-10 as a senior at the State meet for Coach Turner, a huge improvement on a PR of 19-1 from his junior year. On the girls side, he coached Michelle Watson from a 32 foot triple jump best as a junior, to a 35 foot triple jump best as a senior.

Coach Turner’s jumps experience is something we’re very excited to add to our staff. Boys jumps managed only 1 point at WVAL finals in 2016, and we’ll need big improvement in that area if we are to achieve our goal of a WVAL title.

Coach Steven Nichols Sprints/Relays: 

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Coach Steve and Gustavo Parra coincidentally matching at practice

 

This is Coach Steve’s 2nd year coaching track for the Comets. Steve competed from Homestead High School in Cupertino, and graduated in 2002. He then competed at De Anza college, focusing on the 100/200 as well as long jump and relays.

Steve has been coaching sprints for 10 years now, and has experience coaching at some of the top schools in the area, most recently Adrian Wilcox High School.

In Steve’s first year coaching sprints for the Comets, we had a very young sprints team that accomplished a lot despite their inexperience. With any program, it takes time to build top level competitive athletes, but the team as a whole took a big step forward. 9 boys ran under 13 seconds for the 100m dash in Steve’s first year, nearly doubling the amount of boys who accomplished in the previous year. The same went for the 60 second barrier in the 400,  9 athletes cracked that number compared to only 5 in 2015.

The girls team also ran the 2nd best 4×100 time in school history, and earned a 2nd place finish at WVAL finals, their best finish in over a decade. Coach Steve has expressed enthusiasm in the potential of Sophomore Jose Limon, who ran 24.22 for the 200, and 55.28 for the 400 last season, despite not joining Track until April.

I feel confident that our sprints are well attended to thanks to Coach Steve.

Coach Jonathan Vela Throws : 

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Valeria and coach Vela after Valeria’s school record discus throw at BVAL championships 2016. 

 

 

This is Coach Velas 4th season coaching track for the Comets and he is also the Head coach  of the JV football team. Coach Vela graduated from Prospect High School and competed at Fresno State in both football and Track after that.

In the 35+ years of league finals records I’ve assembled prior to Coach Vela’s arrival, the Comets had only 2 league or division  titles in throws, both in the Shot Put.

(More championship history details here)

https://coachbennyreeves.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/james-lick-track-history-league-division-champions/

Coach Vela however, has coached a WVAL champion in each of his first 3 seasons coaching, including the first throws champion in school history on the girls side.

Robert Rios won back to back Shot Put titles for the boys in 2014 and 2015, throwing 43-2 which currently stands as the 8th best boys Shot Put mark on record for the team. He qualified for CCS trials in the Shot Put in 2015 as well.  In 2016, Alejandra Ceron won the WVAL title in the girls discus, with teammate Valeria Cortez finishing 2nd. Then at BVAL championships, Valeria threw 99-9.50 to qualify for CCS trials and establish a new school record in the girls discus.

While the boys history is very rich for the Comets despite the huge amount of missing data, the girls records are far less high quality. Coach Vela has already greatly improved the Comets throws achievements list in just 3 seasons. Girl athletes coached by coach Vela hold 3 of the Top 10 spots on both of James Lick’s all time throws list. This includes namely Valiera’s school record in the girls discus and Alejandra Ceron’s #2 Shot Put placing of 31-9.

Girls throws was the teams strongest area last year and very well may be again. In order to achieve this years goal of a double WVAL championship, the team will be leaning heavily on their girl throwers, and looking to the boys throwers to step up and provide a good chunk of points for the team. Coach Vela’s leadership will be huge towards this goal.

Coach Benny Reeves Distance/Hurdles/High Jump 

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Myself, Nathan Bernardo, Arlet Miranda, and Erik Olsvold after the trio all medaled at the TKA invitational 2016. 

 

 

 

I ran 4 years of cross country at James Lick and graduated in 2011. I then went on to run 2 years at De Anza College. I competed in a variety of distances and even ran a few 4x400s legs for the team, but my primary event was the 3000m steeplechase.

I’ve long been a student of distance running and this is my area of speciality, though I did work with the hurdlers several times a week as Steeple work.

I am the first coach in quite a few years to head both the XC team and track team at James Lick, and I think this year long consistency has gone a long way towards building the distance program.

I’m proud of a lot of the different strides forward that the distance team has taken since I’ve been here. Daniela Camacho breaking the school record in all 3 distance events in 2015 made for a standout season. I’m also very proud of the increased depth of the distance team. From 2004-2013, the 10 seasons before I came on as coach, only 5 Comet boys broke the 5 minute barrier in the 1600. Past Comet teams have had such strength that breaking 5 minutes would not even qualify you for the teams top 3 Frosh/Soph boys.

In 2014, I did not coach boys distance, and in all honesty the fact that James Lick’s fastest distance times at WVAL finals that season were 5:30 in the 1600 and 12:08 in the 3200 frustrated me immensely.

In 2016, we had 5 different boys run under 5 minutes for the 1600, and 4 run under 11 minutes for the 3200. The James Lick teams of the past continue inspire myself and my distance runners, and we continue to work towards emulating their success every season. This season we are aiming for the goal of having 3 different Comet boys under 4:40 for the 1600, a feat which would have been a solid accomplishment during virtually any James Lick track era.

Coming off a STAL championship and 2nd place finish at BVAL Finals in cross country, I expect the boys distance team to carry the team as much as possible towards our goal of a WVAL title. At many duals, we will be aiming to take home all 27 available points in distance events, to make up for some of our developing areas.

In hurdles the team has made improvements each year, and we do well in the event at dual meets because half of the WVAL teams have no hurdles coach. Replacing the void left by Andrea Ortiz will be huge to repeating as WVAL champions on the girls side.

On the boys side, hurdles will likely be a critical event in the struggle to claw a WVAL title away from reigning champion Independence HS, a team that dominated in hurdles last year thanks to standout senior Anthony Ho.

The Rebuild

This is year 4 of our program building for track. In the 5 years previous to myself and coach Vela coming on as coaches, the team went a combined 0-69-1.  In the 3 years since we have gone 2-12, 10-4, and then 12-2 for a combined 24-18 record.

The students are the #1 reason for the turn around in track. Their ability to commit themselves, recruit, and compete, is what has taken James Lick from the cellar of the WVAL, to the pinnacle of it. We as coaches will do the best we can to make sure that the Comets get more improvement from their hard work, than our rival schools foster in their athletes.