James Lick Goes 2-4 in first Quad Meet since 2007

For the first time since 2007 when they were a member of the West Valley Division (‘C’ division) James Lick contested a quad meet in their league season. The Santa Teresa Division (‘B’ division) quad meet was hosted at Lincoln High School on Thursday April 4th. Besides Lincoln, James Lick also competed against the Sobrato Bulldogs and the Piedmont Hills Pirates.

Even though 4 teams competed, each event was scored as a dual meet, similar to in cross country. For example, the 4×100 featured four teams competing at once, but would be scored James Lick Vs Lincoln, James Lick vs Sobrato and James Lick vs Piedmont.

With the wins/losses being determined on the single day, this was the most consequential league track meet (in terms of season record) for James Lick in my coaching career.

The meet began with the varsity girls 4×100. The Comet team of Lisbeth Galdamez, Jessica Cervantes, Mya Hammond and Natalie Rem ran 56.02, a seasons best time. The girls team managed to beat Sobrato in the event, though they fell to Piedmont and Lincoln respectively. The boys team of Raven Alcantara, Salvador Lopez, Rodolf Ocampo and Geo Campos also took 3rd in 46.16, beating Sobrato.

Next up on the track was the 1600. In the girls event, Arlet Miranda took 5th overall, losing to two Sobrato athletes and two Lincoln athletes as she continues to work back towards full health. Arlet managed to lead a sweep of Piedmont Hills however, with Ashley Preciado and Lizbeth Espana completing the sweep in season best times of 6:37 and 6:38. Melannie Sanchez ran a big PR of 7:42, breaking the 8 minute barrier for the first time. Jose Ruiz ran a seasons best 6:14 in the frosh/soph boys 1600.

Standout Lincoln athlete Omar Pina (who has run 4:27 for 1600 and 9:39 for 3200 this year) won all 3 distance events handily, but each time a Comet followed. In the 1600, Erik Olsvold was 2nd in a seasons best 4:51. Brandon Cruz ran 5:07 to complete a 1-2 punch against Piedmont.

The next event was the 100 hurdles. Valeria Cortez won overall with a seasons best 17.02. Yesenia Martinez had a very off race by her standards however, clipping a hurdle badly, resulting in a disqualification when she used her hand to clear the next hurdle. She was in 2nd place in the race before this moment.

Dekota Castro-Lopez won the frosh/soph boys 110 hurdles in a PR of 21.88. Rodolf Ocampo took 2nd overall in the varsity 110, running 17.18, the 2nd best time of his career. He only lost to Lincoln’s best athlete. Mark Orpia took 4th in a PR of 18.47, beating every athlete from Piedmont and Sobrato.

The team was without top 400 runner Yeimili Adame who was home sick. Without Yeimili there, the Comets had no in the event, however Yeimili’s season best would have been 2nd overall. This missed opportunity would loom large for the team. In the boys 400, Misael Herrera and scored points for the team, though neither had a particularly good race.

Sprint times across the board were not great on the day for the Comets. Natalie Rem lead the Comets in 8th overall (out of 42 athletes). She scored 3 points for the team against Sobrato and 1 against Lincoln with a time of 14.20, not near her PR or seasons best. Lisbeth Galdamez scored a point against Sobrato, running 14.36. Azalea Galinato ran 14.59, lowering her PR from 14.80. Many other Comets competed in the event. Standout performers include Krystal Tran who ran a PR of 16.23 and Emily De Dios who lowered her PR to 16.52.

Jordan Laguna ran 12.36 to win the boys frosh/soph 100 in a new PR. Jordan is really busting out as a potential star in future years, as arguably the most impressive freshmen boy we’ve seen in years. In the boys varsity 100, Raven Alcantara took 2nd overall in 11.77, the 2nd best time of his career. Geo Campos took 9th overall in 12.10, scoring a point against Sobrato in the process. Adrian DeLaRosa ran a seasons best 12.77 and Erik ran a PR of 13.16.

In the girls 800, Arlet had a strong racing, taking 2nd in 2:34 and defeating star runners such as Emily Minjares of Lincoln and Emily Harris of Sobrato. Mya ran a PR of 2:57 to score a point against Piedmont and Sobrato as well. Mariana Perez ran a seasons best 3:19.  In the varsity 800, Erik and Jerricho Habon managed a 2-3 overall finish, only losing to Omar of Lincoln. For Jerricho, the 2:10.75 clocking was a PR. Adrian ran 2:58 for the 800, as he pursues the unusual feet of achieving a mark in every single track event.

Meanwhile, the field events were well under way. In the girls Shot Put, Marquise Nelson took the win in a new PR of 32-0. Valeria was 3rd overall with a toss of 31-3, with a Sobrato athlete just 1 inch ahead of her for 2nd. Adriana Marcelino threw a PR of 22-3, as did Lizbet Alonzo who threw 20-1, breaking the 20 foot barrier for the first time.

In the boys Shot Put, Rodolf threw 34-2 to take 4th overall despite his small frame. Josh Merin managed a point in the boys discus against Sobrato, though it was not a good day by his standards. The girls version of the event was the best performance of the meet for the team. After an off day at the firebird relays, the gilrs throwers stepped up big. Valeria threw 109-9 to win the meet. Marquise threw 80-0 for 2nd and Adriana had a massive PR, throwing 74-7.50 for 3rd place.

It was overall a rough day in the horizontal jumps for every school, though the team did have a few standout performers. The first of which was Natalie, who triple jumped a PR of 33-4.25, missing winning the meet by only a half inch. She only lost to one athlete from Piedmont Hills. Even more impressive was Jordan in the frosh/soph triple jump. His previous PR was 34 feet, and he went off for a 37-9.50 jump. He easily won the frosh/soph event, and would have been 2nd in varsity on the day! Bryan Rodriguez also jumped a PR, going 30-5 for 2nd place. The varsity triple jump was an off day for the Comets, but Sal, Raven and Jamie Vong did go 2-3-4 overall.

In the long jump it was a similarly rough day. Jamie and Geo went 3-4 in the event overall, though neither was near their best marks. The girls scored only 1 point in long jump, against Sobrato.

Back to the running events, Valeria took 3rd overall in the 300 hurdles, with Arlet 4th. On the boys side, it was a 1-2 finish for the Comets between Rodolf and Mark.

The girls 200 continues to be a weakness for the team overall. Natalie lead the team with a time of 30.48. Mya Hammond was next with a big PR of 30.52. Azalea ran a second big PR on the day, stopping the clock at 30.80. The team was swept by Lincoln and Piedmont though they went 1-2 against Sobrato. Jordan took 3rd in the frosh/soph 200 with a new Pr of 25.94.

It was a similar result in the boys 200, with the Comets being swept by Lincoln and Piedmont but Josh and Geo forming a 1-2 against Sobrato. Jamie  ran a huge PR of 26.50 in the event as well.

In the girls 3200, Sobrato swept but the Comets and Lincoln had a 1st place. The team of Lizbeth Espana and Ruth Rodriguez managed a 1-2 against Piedmont however, with both girls running PRs of 14:14.08 and 14:48.21 respectively. On the boys side, Mark and Brandon managed a 2-3 overall finish, Brandon also ran a small PR of 11:23.

The final field event of the day was the high jump. Marquise and Yesenia went 4-4 ( a PR for Marquise) with both girls scoring against Lincoln and Sobrato. Sal won the boys high jump, matching his PR of 5-8. Josh went 5-0 to score as well.

The meet ended with the 4×400, though the Comets didn’t run their best team on either side. Lincoln did not have the pole vault set up, and we are the only school with vaulters. As a result we will contest the pole vault at our newly resurfaced track.

 

With Pole Vault Pending, 5/6 varsity matchups are decided. The scores are as follows:

Varsity Boys: 

        Lincoln   84.00     43.00 James Lick                    
                    James Lick   71.50     54.50 Piedmont Hills                
                    James Lick   90.50     36.50 Sobrato                       

 

Varsity Girls: 

     Lincoln   82.00     44.00 James Lick                    
                Piedmont Hills   71.00     55.00 James Lick                    
                       Sobrato   64.00     62.00 James Lick                    
                                          

 

If a James Lick girl clears height in pole vault, the Sobrato result would switch from a loss to a win.

The teams combined record with one dual meet left is 5-7. The varsity boys are 4-2 and the varsity girls (pending) are 1-5.

The team will head to the Quicksilver Classic on Saturday April 5th and then will host Oak Grove in their final dual meet of the season on April 11th.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

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Comets Split Dual against Piedmont Hills: Lady Comets Claim First Win

The Comets had their 5th dual meet of the season on Thursday April 12th. They hosted the Piedmont Hills Pirates, an old rivalry reignited. By the time the meet was over, the Comets would claim the victory on the girls side, as well as the frosh/soph boys side. The varsity boys endured a very narrow loss.

The first event contested by the team was the pole vault. This dual meet marked the first time that any James Lick Comets contested the pole vault. The minimum scoring height for varsity boys is 8 feet, and while no boy was able to score points, Sophomore Rudolf Ocampo came close, soaring over the bar at 7-6. The frosh/soph pole vault requirement is 7-0, so Rudolf is already at a competitive level for a sophomore.

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Rudolf Ocampo clearing 7 feet in the pole vault as coach Raul Lopez watches

Piedmont Hills began the meet by winning both 4×100 relays. Piedmont has a great history in sprint events, and they proved a difficult test for the Comets in sprint events all meet.

In the distance events however, it was the Comets who dominated. Belen Sanchez, Ashley Preciado and Jenny Villagomez combined to sweep the girls 1600. Azael Zamora, Melvin Estrada and Erik Olsvold did the same on the boys side. Melvin ran a PR of 5:05 in the porcess, despite 20 mpw winds on the home straight. Brandon Cruz, Hugo Marquez and Jose Ruiz swept the frosh/soph 1600, spearheaded by a PR for Brandon in 5:22. This marked the first time in the ‘B’ division that the Comets swept an event in all three divisions.

The Comets widened their lead in the hurdles. Valeria Cortez and Natalie Rem went 1-2 in the 100 hurdles. Jo-jo Bradley and Luis Escamilla went 1-2 in the frosh/soph boys 110 hurdles, while Cody Huoch won the varsity version of the event. The results were similar in the 300 hurdles. Kirsten Yutuc, Valeria, and Yesenia Martinez combined to sweep the 300 hurdles. Jo-Jo and Luis once again went 1-2 in the F/S boys, and Cody took the win home for the varsity boys.

Yeimili Adame ran an impressive 400 to take 2nd place for the team. Her time of 1:07.90 was only the 2nd best of her career, but it was very strong by her standards given the intensely gusty winds. Misael Herrera and Salvador Lopez took 2nd and 3rd for the team in the varsity boys 400.

Justine Austria managed a point for the Comets in the girls 100. Maria Sanchez managed a small PR of 18.27 despite the strong winds. Joshua Merin saw his FS 100 winning streak come to an end, settling for 2nd place in the event. The Piedmont varsity boys swept the Comets, though Josafar Gomez ran a solid PR of 13.58.

Arlet Miranda won the girls 800 in 2:36, and Belen took 3rd in a huge seasons best of 2:50.80, just a few tenths of a second off of her PR. Ashley ran a PR of 2:54 in 5th place. Brandon and Hugo combined for a 1-2 finish in the frosh/soph boys 800, and Azael, Jerricho Habon and Mark Orpia swept the varsity boys 800. Jerricho ran a small PR despite the wind.

Justine again scored for the girls in the 200 with a huge PR of 30.51, beating her previous best by over a second. Lisbeth Galdamez ran a PR of 31.18. Chantrea Thach, Yyana Guevara and Mariah Santos all ran PRs as well, Mariah’s was a PR by almost two full seconds. Misael scraped a point for the Comets in the boys 200. Joseph Benitez ran a PR of 28.47.

Ashley won the girls 3200 in 14:35, and was followed closely by Jenny in a PR of 14:42. Mya Hammond was 3rd in 15:16, beating her PR by nearly a minute. More PRs followed, with Mariana Perez: 15:49, Francine Estranero, 16:15 and Emely Lopez 16:33. Daniel Portillo and Hugo went 1-2 in the frosh/soph 3200. Azael, Melvin and Jerricho combined to sweep the varsity boys 3200.

The Piedmont team won both varsity 4x400s.

In the throwing events, the Comets showed their typical strong form in girls throws. Valeria won the Shot Put in a seasons best 31-11. Alejandra Ceron and Charli Chircop took 2nd and 3rd. Mariah threw a seasons best 24-3. Keara Medina threw a PR of 18-7, and Lizbet Alonzo threw a PR by a foot, with a toss of 19-2. Josh Garcia threw a massive PR of 40-11 to take 2nd in the varsity boys shot. Josh Merin took 2nd in frosh/soph boys shot put with a big PR of 33-9.

In the discus, Alejandra lead the group with a PR of 98-11. Charli and Valeria were close behind in 2nd and 3rd. Keara netted a second PR on the day, with a toss of 56-5 compared to a previous best of 53-0. Daniel Medina took 3rd place for the varsity boys with a throw just over 100 feet.

In the high jump, Erik took 2nd for the team by clearing 5-0. Jo-Jo and Josh went 1-2 in the FS high jump with leaps of 4-10 and 4-8. Yesenia matched her PR of 4-4 to take 2nd in the girls high jump. Lisbeth matched Yesenia, going 4-4 for the first time to take 3rd.

The horizontal jumps saw many PRs for the team (with a little help from the wind this time). Cody and Sal took 2nd and 3rd in the varsity boys long jump going 17-11 and 17-10 respectively. Both were big PRs. This duo went 1-2 in the triple jump as well. Cody went 39-2, and Sal, 37-7,  a huge improvement over his previous best of 35-5. On the girls side, Natalie Rem took the win in triple jump with a new PR of 33-1. Lyndel Ventura took 3rd with a small PR of 30-1. Lyndel won the long jump in 14-8. Kirsten and Natalie took 2nd and 3rd in 14-7 and 14-5, both sizable PRs.

When all was said and done, the Comets emerged with their first ‘B’ division victory on the girls side.

With two meets remaining, the team is  1-4 on both varsity sides, and 3-2 in frosh/soph boys.

The Comets will head to San Mateo HS for the Bearcat Invitational on Saturday April 14th. They will then head to Sobrato HS in Morgan Hill for their 6th dual meet of the season.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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

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

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

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

James Lick Track: Then

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Lick Track Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves