Comets To Be Represented at CCS Finals For 3rd Consecutive Year

The Comets took to Gilroy High School on Saturday May 11th 2019 for CCS trials. A total of 6 Comets competed in the meet, the most for James Lick in over a decade. The meet saw a few strong results for the team, and for the 3rd consecutive season, James Lick will have an athlete competing at CCS Finals in the girls discus.

The meet began with the boys 4×100. Geovanny Campos, Raven Alcantara, Rodolf Ocampo and Salvador Lopez combined to run 46.04, an off race due to a poor first exchange. This saw them place 28th in the meet. They are nonetheless the first 4×100 team for James Lick to compete at CCS since 2002. With an all junior quartet, the Comets will hope to be back at the event next season.

Marquise Nelson ended her track career with a PR in the Shot Put. She threw 33-8, a PR by 8 inches and moved up to #3 on the schools all-time list in the event. Marquise didn’t join track until this, her senior season. She showed great talent to finish 16th at CCS trials, despite her inexperience in the event.

Rodolf became the first Comet to contest the 110 hurdles at CCS in over a decade as well. Rodolf had alot go wrong with his race. He took 9 steps to the first hudle (All season we’ve used an 8 step takeoff) and this forced him to hurdle on his right leg for the race instead of his left. Rodolf can use both legs effectively because he spent most of the season “four-stepping” (alternating legs) but his left leg is his stronger lead led. He lost momentum and almost crashed into the final hurdle narrowly avoiding it. Despite all this, he ran 16.57, the 2nd best time of his career. He placed 19th and I am very excited about his chances to produce even greater results next season.

The final Comet to compete on the day has been our ringer for the past four seasons, Valeria Cortez. As detailed in past posts, Valeria has been our MVP for 3 straight seasons, and has represented James Lick to a very high caliber both on and off the track.  Because she has been such a strong athlete for such a long time, PRS have not been easy to come by for Valeria.

She entered the meet with a PR of 112-8, 2nd in school history, a mark that had not been improved upon since April of 2018. Both she, and throws coach Raul Lopez have worked hard all season with the goal of making CCS Finals, and finally achieving a PR in the girls discus. This involved weeks of fine-tuning and minor tweaks to her form, all with the hope of squeezing a last few inches out of Valeria’s arm before the end of her High School career.

Only the top 12 athletes advance to CCS Finals in field events, and Valeria was ranked to do so. That being said, the field was very strong.

Valeria’s first throw was a 95 foot mark. Well off her best. Her 2nd was a 108 foot toss with a very high release. The mark put her safely into the top 12, but it looked as if she had more in her on the day. Throw number three looked to be very strong, but Valeria was not able to maintain controlling, she stepped outside the ring for a foul.

On her final throw, Valeria had the same strong rotation, but the release still seemed a little too high. The discus wobbled in the air due to this, but the momentum was there. The throw measured at 116-10, a PR by over 2 feet to send her to CCS Finals as the #6 seed. This is the highest ranking for any James Lick athlete at CCS finals since Ruth Lebeau in 2007.

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Valeria Cortez taking a warmup throw before the meet

Valeria will represent the Comets next Friday at the Gilroy venue. Charli Chircop made CCS finals two years in a row in this event, and now Valeria will take her turn at representing the team at the CCS’ most hallowed event. According to my records, she will be the 26th Comet to compete at CCS Finals.

She and the other 11 ladies in the event will receive 3 throws. The top 8 at that point will be re-seeded and receive an additional 3 throws. The top 8 athletes will score points for their teams. The top 6 athletes make the CCS podium (and I think they get medals) and the top 3 athletes will advance to the State Meet.

Based on the standings, 3rd place is a difficult proposition (124-1 is the 3rd seed). That being said, Valeria is ranked to make the CCS podium. For an athlete who has racked up more medals than any other Comet in recent years, it would be a great one to end on. The competition will be fierce. the #4 seed is less than a foot ahead of Valeria. The #7 seed has a PR over 120′.

It is sure to be an exciting day on Friday May 17th, when Valeria Cortez will represent James Lick for what is likely the final time in a marvelous career that has defined what I affectionately think of as our attempt at a James Lick Track renaissance.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

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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

 

 

Comets Rack Up Medals at Firebird Relays: Varsity Girls Finish 3rd Out of 42 Teams.

The James Lick Comets took to Fremont High School on Saturday March 31st for arguably the teams favorite invitational, the Firebird Relays. The meet features combination relays in the field events and hurdles. Every team with 3 athletes in an event, 3 varsity girl long jumpers for example, will have their marks added up. The 3 best teams in each event based on this format receive medals and score points for their teams.

Every year we gear up to field combination relays here, taking a small break from striving for individual PRs, to go for team accomplishments. It means alot for athletes who are new at track or are usually nowhere near the top of their event to be able to pursue medals. Overall on this day, the Comets netted 32 medals as a team.

The meet however did start with the individual hurdle events. Valeria Cortez just missed medaling, taking 5th overall in a seasons best 17.04 (3rd was 16.96). Yesenia Martinez won her heat in 18.99, her 2nd best time of the season despite a bad stumble on the 8th hurdle. Rodolf Ocampo ran 17.38 in the boys 110, a solid performance, though just off of his wind legal PR of 17.29.

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Yesenia Martinez on her way to a victory in her heat

The boys 4×100 team of Raven Alcantara, Rodolf Ocampo, Misael Herrera and Geovanny Campos ran 46.14 for 8th place in the varsity boys 100. Last year at Firebird an almost identical team (Salvador Lopez instead of Misael Herrera) ran 48.39 at this event. This team continues to improve by leaps and bounds, and with our 5 fastest sprinters being juniors, it makes the future very exciting indeed.

The field event relays got under way with the Varsity Boys triple jump. Sal lead the team with a small PR of 38-2.50. Jamie Vong achieved a new seasons best of 36-10.50. Angel Guerrero went 32-8. The team was hampered by the fact that Raven was not able to achieve a mark. Raven has been having major issues with scratches of late in the horizontal jumps, an issue we will be working to fix this week.  The team just missed medaling, placing 4th as a unit.

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Angel Guerrero in the last phase of his triple jump

 

In the girls long jump, Natalie Rem went a seasons best 14-4 and Lisbeth Galdamez jumped 13-6. The Comets did not have a 3rd athlete to complete the relay however.

The first medals of the day came in the varsity girls shot put relay. Valeria Cortez (31-5.25) Marquise Nelson (30-11.50) and Natalie with a very strong debut of 25-8.50 completed the relay. The Comets placed 2nd overall in the event, out of 14 teams with athletes competing in the event. Adriana Marcelino also threw for the team. She threw 21-10.75, a seasons best and only a quarter inch off of her PR.

Three frosh/soph girls competed in the 1600 with great results as well. Ruth Rodriguez lead the freshmen in a new PR of 6:47.57. Estefani Herrera broke the 7 minute barrier for the first time, clocking in at 6:52.20. Mariana Perez ran a seasons best 7:02.75 as well.

The next event was the DMR (Distance Medley Relay). The first leg runs 1200 meters,  2nd runs 400, 3rd runs an 800 and the anchor runs a 1600. There are only a few results in the event (on record) in school history, but the Comets added a few more at Firebird. The varsity girls team of Belen Sanchez, Arlet Miranda, Ashley Preciado and Yeimili Adame ran 15:02.87 to place 2nd and win themselves medals. The frosh/soph team of Mya Hammond, Jana Kikia, Jessica Cervantes and Lizbeth Espana ran 15:45.86, 10 seconds better than last years frosh/soph team.

On the boys side, the team was Melvin Estrada, Misael Herrera, Jerricho Habon and Mark Orpia. The team stopped the clock at 11:53.48, the 4th best mark on record in school history out of 10 total marks.

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The Comet DMR and 4×800 team, left to right: Ashley Preciado, Belen Sanchez, Arlet Miranda, Yeimili Adame 

The distance crew was at it again later in the 4×800. The varsity girls team again took 2nd, finishing in 11:41. The frosh/soph team took 3rd place between the team of Estefani, Jana, Mya and Jessica. The varsity boys were unable to medal in a competitive race, but ran a 9:23.71, 11 seconds better than last year between Melvin, Josh Merin, Mark and Jerricho.

A few Comets contested the open 100, though none quite achieved PRs. Lis ran 14.10, and Chnatrea Thach clocked in at 15.58. Krystal Tran ran 16.35 in the frosh/soph version of the event. Angel was the only boy to run the 100, running a 12.82.

The field events marched on with the boys long jump. Sal went 19-1.50, the 2nd best jump of his career to lead the team. Jamie went 18-5 to miss his PR by 1 inch. Geo did not have his best day, going 17-7 with Raven also struggling at 17-4. Nonetheless, the team did manage to medal between Sal, Jamie and Geo, placing 3rd, just inches off of 2nd.

The girls discus throwers just missed medaling, placing 4th. Valeria and Marquise had off days, throwing 95 feet and 69 feet respectively. Adriana broke through with a PR of 66-7 however. This had been a long time coming for Adriana, whose previous best of 65-0 had stood for over 2 full years. It was a big moment for her and throws coach Raul Lopez.

It was a different story in the girls triple jump however. Natalie took 3rd overall with a leap of 31-8.25. Marquise made her triple jump debut and went 28-6.5. Yesenia went 26-6 an off day by her standards. Nonetheless, the girls won the triple jump replay!

The boys also got medals in the high jump. Geo Campos cleared 4-10, while Josh cleared 5-0. Sal completed his best ever jumps day (PR in triple, 2nd best mark in long jump) with a PR in the high jump of 5-8, tying him for 3rd overall.The girl high jumpers also took 2nd as a team. Marquise went 4-0, with Yesenia and Lisbeth both going 4-2.

 

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Sal’s takeoff in the long jump 

With the field events completed, the Comets had two running events left. In the girls 300 hurdles, the team of Valeria, Arlet and Yesenia managed to take 2nd as a team for the combination relay. The boys managed the same feet with some big PRS.

Sal went 45.74 for his 2nd try at the event, a very strong mark when one considers how bad his form was in the race. Mark managed a huge PR of 46.02 as well, beating his previous best by over 2 seconds. Rodolf had an off race, but did enough to ensure a 2nd place for the team in the combo relay.

The final event for the Comets on the day was the SMR (Sprint Medley Relay). It consists of two 100 meter legs, a 200 meter leg, and a 400 meter leg. This was only the 2nd time (on record) that the team contested this version of the event.

The girls team of Lisbeth, Natalie, Yeimili and Arlet ran 2:07.47, shaving two seconds off of last years time for a new school record. The frosh/soph team of Araceli Mejia, Krystal, Mya and Jessica ran 2:18.85.

On the boys side, Raven, Geo, Misael and Jerricho combined to run 1:45.00, 2 seconds better than last years mark for a new school record again. The ‘B’ team of  Mark, Jamie, Angel and Josh ran 1:49.15 to end the Comets day.

When all was said and done, the Comets were 10th out of 42 teams with all 4 divisions combined (no Comets competed in frosh/soph boys). The team was a very strong 3rd place on the girls side.

With the confidence gained from the Firebird Relays, the team will head to Lincoln on Thursday April 4th for a quad meet against Lincoln, Piedmont and Sobrato. This meet will go a long way towards determining the Comets’ season record.

The team will then head to Leland High School on Saturday April 6th for the Quicksilver Classic.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

Comets Suffer First Loss of Season at Pioneer

The James Lick Track team suffered its first loss of the season in all 3 divisions against the Pioneer Mustangs on Thursday March 21st 2019. The Mustangs are undefeated so far, and seem to be the likeliest division champion on both the boys and girls side.

Despite the defeat, there was a lot to feel good about in the meet, including 23 PRS and several strong performances.

One of the great early performances was the boys 4×100 team. Raven Alcantara, Josh Merin, Misael Herrera and Geovanny Campos combined to run 46.01. This is a seasons best time, and the fastest time any James Lick team has run in March in over a decade. Last years 4×100 team made BVAL Championships for the first time in many years with a time of 45.88. That was done in May of last year, as was the 45.50 clocking at BVAL finals. That 45.50 stands as the best James Lick 4×100 time since 2002. This years team is well on pace to beat it, and may well crack the 45 second barrier by the end of the season, a time which may advance them to CCS.

Arlet Miranda scored the first points of the meet for the girls with a seasons best 5:44 1600 for 2nd place. Arlet did this despite battling stomach pain prior to and during the race. On the boys side, Jerricho Habon scored the first boys point of the day with a 3rd place finish in a PR of 5:02.00.

The girls 100 hurdles was a victory for Valeria Cortez in 17.08, a huge seasons best for her first of what would be 4 victories on the day. This is the 5th best time of Valeria’s career (PR of 16.75) but it is the fastest time she has ever run in March or April. Her best times have always come in May when she is in peak condition. Yesenia Martinez was 2nd in 18.73 a seasons best as well. On the boys side, Rodolf Ocampo scored the Comet boys only victory of the day in a PR of 17.29.

In the girls 400, Yeimili Adame ran a seasons best 1:07.43 for the 2nd best time of her career. This netted her 3rd place on the day. The Pioneer boys swept the 400, but the Comets had a number of solid performances. Salvador Lopez ran a seasons best 57.18 to lead the Comets. Geo Campos made his debut in 57.45 a very solid first cocking in the evnt. Josh Merin ran more than a 2 second PR to stop the clock in 57.86 and Misael ran 58.35 for a seasons best time. Angel Guerrero made his debut in the event, running 59.33 to end the Comets day in the event.

The girls 100 was won by Pioneer, with Comets taking 2nd and 3rd. Natalie Rem and Lisbeth Galdamez both ran 13.90, narrowly edging out a Pioneer runner. This was a .04 second PR for Lisbeth.

In the boys 100, Raven Alcantara backed up his 11.72 PR last week with a time of 11.78. Despite this solid time, Pioneer swept the boys 100. Joran Laguna ran a PR of 12.53 and Jerricho lowered his PR to 12.57. Bryan Rodriguez made his debut, running 14.23.

Pioneer swept the girls 800, though Mya Hammond ran a seasons best 3:00.16 and Emely Lopez ran a PR of 3:19. Jessica Cervantes also made her return to racing after injury in February. In the boys 800, Erik Olsvold took 3rd with a seasons best 2:09.98, the first Comet to break 2:10 this season. Brandon Cruz ran a PR of 2:19 as well.

Valeria took 1st in the 300 hurdles in a big seasons best of 53.80, putting her ranked #1 in the division so far. Yeimili ran a PR of 57.12 for 3rd place in the race as well. On the boys side, Rodolf took 2nd in a PR of 46.40.

Only two lady Comets ran the 200, though both ran PRS. Mya clocked in at 30.97 in 4th place, a PR by 3 tenths of a second. Araceli mejia lowered her PR nearly a second, running 32.73. On the boys side, Misael ran a seasons best 25.03 and Rodolf ran a big PR of 25.58 despite having the hurdles right before.

Belen Sanchez won the girls 3200 with a season opening time of 14:20. Lizbeth Espana made a very strong debut in the event, running 14:36 for 2nd. Erika Camacho ran a massive 2 minute PR of 14:51, and Ashley ran 14:55 to start her season. Melvin Estrada ran a seasons best 11:14 to take 2nd in the boys 3200. Jerricho took 4th in a new PR of 11:23.

Pioneer was victorious in both 4x400s. The Pioneer boys had a massive lead after the running events were added up, while the Pioneer girls held an advantage as well.

The field events were slightly better for the Comets. Rodolf scored a point in the pole vault by clearing 9-0. Sal scored a point in the high jump clearing 5-4. On the girls side, Lisbeth and Yesenia went 2-3 with jumps of 4-4 and 4-2. Natalie took 2nd in both horizontal jumps,  going 31-4 in triple jump and 13-9 in long jump respectively. Geo Campos went 19 feet in long jump for the first time to take 3rd. Sal and Raven took 2nd and 3rd in the boys triple jump.

The throwing events had several meet highlights for the Comets. Chief among them was Valeria throwing 111-8, a seasons best just 1 foot off of her PR to win the meet. Marquise Nelson stepped up and threw 83-8 for her first time in discus as well. In the shot put, they formed a 1-2 punch. Valeria threw 33-2.5, a seasons best only 6 inches off her PR, while Marquise threw a PR of 28-10.

Valeria stood out all meet, despite the team losing, she scored 20 points (the maximum possible) with 4 seasons bests.

The Comets lost the meet, but gained valuable meet experience against a very tough opponent.

The team will head to the De Anza Invitational on Saturday March 23rd before facing off against Prospect High School in another tough matchup.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

Comets Begin Season with Willow Glen Invitational

As has become tradition over the past few seasons, the James Lick track team began their season with competition at the Willow Glen Invitational. Another tradition continued as for the 4th consecutive year, athletes had to compete through some amount of rain and wet conditions at the invite. The morning rain yielded to fair conditions in the afternoon, and when the dust settled, 34 Comets opened their seasons.

The conditions and early season status of the meet kept the competition numbers lower than normal, and it also weakened the marks/times achieved across the board. Nonetheless, overall the team competed very well, placing highly in a number of areas.

The meet began with the 4×100. The varsity team of Geo Campos, Salvador Lopez, Misael Herrera and Raven Alcantara clocked in at 47.71 to place 4th overall and win their heat. While the time isn’t extremely fast, not many fast times were produced in the 4×100 in general, and the team competed well against some consistently good teams. This 47 second opening time is also the fastest season opening 4×100 time the team ahs achieved since I’ve been coaching. For reference, last year at Willow Glen the team ran 49.25 and by the end of the season ran 45.50. With that in mind, the 47.71 in the rain is very encouraging.

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Misael Herrera hands off the baton to Raven Alcantara on the final leg of the 4×100

The next event on the track was the 1600. The Comets sent a large group of frosh/soph girls to compete, fresh off their JV undefeated season in cross country. Erika Camacho lead the group in 6:50, a PR by 12 seconds, her first time cracking the 7 minute barrier (always a big moment). Ruth Rodriguez ran a 12 second PR as well, clocking in at 7:07. Newcomer Lizbeth Espana ran a very solid 1600 debut of 7:09 just behind Ruth. Estefani Herrera, Mariana Perez, Emely Lopez and Francine Estranero also competed but are still working themselves into shape.

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The frosh/soph girls before the race

Ashley Preciado made her season debut running 6:56. While this is not near her PR of 6:09, it actually is 2 seconds ahead of her time from last year. The varsity boys 1600 saw two strong early season performances. Mark Orpia ran a 1 second PR of 5:05.62 and Brandon Cruz ran a 6 second PR of 5:08.81. Both boys are way ahead of where they were a year ago and are poised to break the 5 minute barrier very soon.

Around this time the rain broke, allowing for better conditions for the hurdles. Valeria Cortez and Yesenia Martinez both competed, though not with great results. On the boys side, both Rodolf Ocampo and Mark (fresh off of his mile PR) ran under 19 seconds for the first time in the 110 hurdles.

Several Comets competed in field events during this time as well. Josh Merin cleared 5-0 in high jump for the first time in an official meet. A year ago at this time, Josh only managed to go 4-6. Sal cleared 5-4, much better than the 4-10 he managed a year ago. Both boys medaled in the shallow high jump field. Raven lead the team in the triple jump, with a leap of 36-9.5 Sal was next in 35-9.5 and Jamie Vong went 35-6. For reference, last season Raven and Sal opened the season at 33 feet each, so they are well ahead of where they were a year ago.

The 100m dash saw several strong showings from Comets as well. Raven won his heat in a time of 12.02 matching his seasons best. The next heat, Geo ran 12.13 a seasons best and the 2nd best time of his career. Sal won his heat in a big PR of 12.41 (Sal rarely runs the 100 but had never run under 13 before). Rodolf also netted a sizable PR, stopping the clock at 12.54 ( his first time under 13 as well). Josh Merin ran 12.64, a PR by nearly 2 tenths of a second. Adrian DeLaRosa ran a seasons debut of 13.04 and Angel Guerrero ran 13.06 for a small PR. The Comet Sprint corps are looking much better than they did at this time last year.  Last year only two Comets ran under 13 seconds at the WG invite, compared to a full 5 this year with two more under 13.1.

On the girls side, Jenny Fimbres made her debut running a solid 15.67. Krissy Aguja ran 17.50 for her first time at the event. Emily De Dios made her debut running 17.22. Marquise Nelson made her debut for the team and ran 16.12. Valeria lead the lady sprinters in 15.07. Marquise is the school’s star basketball and volleyball player, and we are excited to see what she can do in track (she played softball before this year).

The 800m was next and with it, the large group of frosh/soph girls took to the track again. Mya Hammond ran 3:05, 3 seconds better than her clocking here a year ago. Erika was not far behind, running a 3 second PR of 3:08. Lizbeth just missed her PR running 3:15 and Ruth ran 3:16 in her debut in the event. Mariana Perez and Estefani Herrera came in at 3:25 and 3:26 (both girls are about 10 seconds better than they were at this time a year ago). Emely Lopez stopped the clock at 3:28 and Francine at 3:34.

Ashley Preciado ran 3:05 for the 800, 5 seconds ahead of what she ran last year at this time. Arlet Miranda took 3rd place overall, the highest finish of the day for any Comet in a running event. She ran 2:33.76, her fastest ever season debut in the 800 and she did it as a negative split.

On the boys side, Jerricho Habon ran 2:13.10 to lead the Comets. He missed his PR by only .2, but last year he did not run 2:13 until mid April. Mark managed his 3rd PR on the day, running 2:16 to lop a second off his personal best. Melvin Estrada and Brandon ran 2:26 and 2:27 respectively. Hugo Marquez rounded out the team in 2:43.

More field events continued during this time. Rodolf managed a new PR in the pole vault, going 9-6. This is the best mark by any Comet since we re-established pole vault last year. Mark matched his PR of 9-0 as well. In the long jump, Jamie Vong managed a massive PR of 18-0. This was a PR by over a foot and he was one of only 5 boys to jump 18 feet on the chilly day. Raven, Josh, Geo and Angel also competed in the long jump.

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Jamie on his big PR jump 

In the girls high jump, Yesenia cleared 4-4, much better than last year when she did not make a height. Marquise went 4-0 on her first go at the event. In the throwing events, Adriana Marcelino threw 18-6 in Shot Put and 58-10 in Discus. The discus throw is 6 feet better than her willow glen mark from last year. Marquise had an impressive debut in the shot put throwing  26-9.5, placing 8th overall. Valeria placed 4th with a throw of 30 feet even.

The highlight of the field events was Valeria throwing 108-11 in girls discus. This is by far the best she’s ever thrown to start the season, and the mark was good to make her the meet champion in girls discus.

The final two events with Comets competing were the 300 hurdles and the 200. Arlet ran a PR of 55.82 in the 300 hurdles. Yesenia ran 1:03.28, slightly better than last year even though her block gave out and she slipped at the beginning of the race. On the boys side, Rodolf managed a 4th PR on the day by running 48.47 for the 300 hurdles. Luis also competed in the event.

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Valeria releasing the discus on her meet winning throw. 

The long day finally ended with the 200. Jenny and Emily made their debuts running 34.28 and 36.87 respectively. Natalie Rem opened her season with a 30.93 clocking. On the boys side, Geo lead the group in 25.99. Misael was not far behind in 26.23, faster than his 26.5 season opener from last year. Jerricho ran 26.13 taking a big chunk off of his PR. He is much faster than he was at this time a year ago when he ran 27.20 for the 200.

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Jerricho during his 200m PR

It was a successful first meet for the Comets. The team netted 20 PRS, The team finished in 7th place on the varsity boys side and 8th place on the varsity girls side out of the 31 teams in attendance. Not bad considering we still don’t have a track to practice on.

Some of the Comets may head to Westmont HS on Saturday March 9th for the K-bell invitational depending on training and weather this week. Either way the Comets will open their league season on March 14th against Live Oak HS. This is scheduled as a home meet, but will likely be at Live Oak as construction on our track is still ongoing.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

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

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

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

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The Frosh/Soph Girls on the starting line 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

Big PRs at Earlybird Invitational for James Lick Runners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

Comets Looking Strong After First Week of School Time Trial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will probably do a season preview before that.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

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

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

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

Boys 2018: 116             Girls 2018: 102

Boys 2014: 19               Girls 2014: 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comets Leap Forward at Firebird Relays

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Cody Huoch contesting the triple jump 

32 Members of the James Lick track team competed on Saturday March 24th at the Firebird Relays.  The meet features combination relays as well as a few seldom run relays such as the DMR (Distance Medley Relay) and SMR (Speed Medley Relay).

The meet kicked off with the hurdles. Valeria Cortez and Susie Peterson ran 18.03 and 20.12 in the varsity girls 100 hurdles. Valeria Gonzalez ran 23.61 in her first try at the event. Yesenia Martinez had a huge breakthrough, running 19.63, shattering her previous best of 21.75. In the boys event, Cody Huoch matched his PR of 17.16 and Luis Escamilla ran a PR in the 65m hurdles, running 12.64.

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Left to right: Yesenia Martinez, Valeria Cortez, Susie Peterson, Valeria Gonzalez, Luis Escamilla 

Several  Comets would run PRs in the open 1600m next. Estefani Herrera ran a 7:18, beating her previous PR by 14 seconds. Estefani has had remarkable improvement throughout her freshmen year. She began Cross country as an 11 minute miler, and is now moving towards the 7 minute barrier. Brandon Cruz took his PR from 5:30 to 5:23, and Daniel Portillo lowered his from 5:48 to 5:37. Belen Sanchez ran a PR of 6:11.61, putting her in position to attack the 6 minute barrier soon. The most impressive PR on the day was Azael Zamora running 4:35.20. This marks the best James Lick time in the 1600 since Jose Gutierrez ran 4:28 in 2003. Azy will look to keep chipping away seconds to try to make the school’s top 10 list in the event.

The Comets ran a girls team and a boys team in the frosh/soph 4×100. The girls frosh/soph 4×100 team of Justine Austria, Kirsten Yutuc, Lisbeth Galdamez and Natalie Rem ran 56.80. This is the fastest frosh/soph 4×100 time that James Lick has run in the past decade at least. The same would prove true of the team of Rudolf Ocampo, Raven Alcantara, Salvador Lopez and Geovanny Campos. The boys ran 48.39. They will aim to run under 48 seconds soon and try to earn a spot at the CCS top 8 meet.

The team also ran frosh/soph DMR teams. The girls team of Jenny Villagomez, Valeria Gonzalez, Mya Hammond and Ashley Preciado placed 4th in 15:55. The boys team of Mark Orpia, Jerricho Habon, Hugo Marquez and Melvin Estrada ran 12:23, a solid time, earning then 5th place. They missed medaling by only 4 seconds. The same team would narrowly miss medaling in the 4×800 with a time of 9:37 as well.

Misael Herrera ran a seasons best in the 400. He clocked 56.55, missing his PR by only .07. Aliana Santos ran a massive seasons best of 15.71, missing her PR by only .04. Adrian DeLaRosa had a similar strong performance, running 12.67 compared to a previous seasons best of 12.95.

Azael ran a seasons best 2:10.35 in the 800, as did Arlet Miranda who ran 2:34.35. Ashley managed a 2 second PR of 2:57 as well.

One of the highlights of the firebird relays has always been the combined event relay.s Every team with 3 athletes in a field event has their marks added up. The team with the highest combined marks wins, and top 3 teams medaled. The Varsity Girls team took 3rd in the Shot Put relay, with several of the girls having an off day. They did however win the discus relay with a combined total of 297-0. They missed the meet record by 4 feet. The girls were lead by Charli Chircop who threw a seasons best 108-5, only a foot off of her PR. Mariah Santos threw a seasons best 73-0 in the event as well.

The James Lick girls also earned medals in the frosh/soph triple jump (2nd as a team) and the frosh/soph high jump (3rd as a team). Valeria Gonzalez managed a PR of 4-2 in the high jump. Most impressive in the jumps was the debut of Yesenia Martinez. The team simply needed a 3rd girl to make the minimum of 22 feet, and the strong tandem of Kirsten Yutuc and Natalie Rem would lead the team to a medal. Yesenia managed to go 27-7.50 in her very first try at the event, and she is proving to be a versatile athlete for the team.

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Valeria Gonzalez, Yesenia Martinez and Lisbeth Galdamez combined to medal in the high jump. 

The frosh/soph boys team of Sal, Raven and Geo missed medaling in the triple jump by only a foot. Sal and Raven both achieved PRs with Sal going 35-5.50 and Raven 34-1.

There were only two running events left with field events concluded, the 300 hurdles and the SMR. Yesenia netted yet another strong showing on the day, running 58.85 for a 2 second PR. Cody Huoch ran 45.53 for a solid seasons best time.

Both SMRs proved to be thrilling races and the team only narrowly missed medaling. Natalie and Lisbeth put the team in 6th place in the FS race through the two 100 meter legs. Justine moved the team into 5th on the 400 leg. Kirsten battled the whole 400 but could not move the team up any more. The Comets combined to run 2:09.98. This is the first time the Comets have contested the event, meaning it is the James Lick school record.

The boys race was even more exciting. After missing so narrowly in the triple jump, the Comets were determined to grab some hardware in the SMR. Rudolf started the team fast out of the blocks, and had a very smooth handoff with Raven. The team was in 2nd place as they approached the next handoff, but a poor handoff knocked the team into 7th place. Geo recovered from the poor handoff to move the team back into 5th place on the 200 meter leg before handing off to Sal. Sal immediately moved the team into 4th place to start the 400m leg, and then moved into 3rd down the backstretch. He battled Santa Clara’s anchor leg the entire race, but got run down in the final 100m. The Comets finished in 4th with a time of 1:47.61, with 3rd place finishing in 1:47.60.

The Comets had a number of performances to feel good about, and the Firebird relays only reinforced the teams youth. The team will take on the Lincoln Lions on Thursday March 29th before heading to the Quicksilver Classic on Saturday March 31st. The Lincoln Girls are 3-0 while both the Frosh/Soph and Varsity boys are 2-1 making the team a challenging matchup. The Comets will then have some hard training over spring break.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves