James Lick Cross Country Season Preview 2019

The 2019 school year is under way and with it, another cross country season for the James Lick Comets. This marks a significant milestone, as the 2019 iteration of the team will mark the 70th year of James Lick’s existence.

In the nearly 70 years of James Lick cross country, the school has managed 15 league/ division championships, (13 boys, 2 girls) more than any other James Lick sport. It is also the only James Lick sport I know of that has achieved a CIF section title, winning a CCS boys title in 1970.

As we head into the school year, James Lick stands as the smallest school in the entire 24 team BVAL. Despite this fact, in 2018 the team managed a combined 9-5 record in the ‘B’ division, placing 10th of the 24 teams at league finals on the boys side, and 12th on the girls.

By any measure we were a middle of the pack team, despite being at a huge disadvantage in terms of sheer enrollment to draft talent from. The 2019 team is aiming to build on this status, and take steps towards an even better year this season.

With these goals in mind, we completed our annual time trial of the 3.03 mile north rim course from the park entrance. We’ve used this course to track our athletes fitness since 2009, and I am personally a big fan of the course for the sheer fact that it is a slower course than any the team will run this year. Typically, a varsity boy will run 2 minutes faster at our league races at Montgomery hill, and 1 minute faster at Crystal Springs (our league finals and CCS course) than they can run for our north rim time trial course.

Obviously our team is not in their peak shape with 11 weeks until league finals, but we go in with the hope that our returning runners will be ahead of where they were a year ago at this time of year.

Our top boy runner immediately achieved more than this. Last year, Mark Orpia ran 20:10 to lead the team at our pre-season time trial. He would go on to run 16:19 at Montgomery Hill (8th all time in the 18 year school-history of the course) and spearhead a top 10 BVAL team at Crystal Springs with a time of 17:36.

Mark opened the season with a time of 18:14, the 3rd best time any Comet has recorded on the course, and the 2nd fastest early season time next to only the 17:53 clocking of Azael Zamora in 2017, a year that would see Azael get on the school’s all time-list at Crystal springs with a time of 16:17. This goes to show that Mark is in phenomenal shape, and he should be one of the best James Lick runners of the BVAL era if he can continue to improve on his current form.

As stated, Mark had a very strong 2018 after starting off at 20:10 for this time trial.This makes us very pleased with the 19:31 time by Nien Tran and the 19:43 time of Brandon Cruz as the 2nd and 3rd boys. Both boys are more than a minute ahead of their times from last year. It was even a 5 second PR for Brandon. Jerricho Habon had an off race but was still near his time from last year, stopping the clock at 20:45. The 5th boy on the team was a close race between Omar Fimbres, 23:17 Melvin Estrada, 23:25, and Hugo Marquez 23:31.  Hugo is working his way back to health after an injury plagued 2018, while Omar and Melvin are coming in off of a summer where they were not training with the team. These boys will need to narrow the gap between themselves and the top 4 to help the team reach it’s potential, which I see as a top 8 BVAL team.

The first girl across was Jessica Cervantes who has looked like a breakout runner all summer long. Jessica finished in 24:51, 3 seconds off of her PR but way ahead of where she was at to start last season. With the graduation of Arlet Miranda (2nd best female  XC runner in school history) just months ago, the team will need athletes like Jessica to step up.

Josh Merin ran 25:42 compared to a 31 minute clocking a year ago, and Rodolf Ocampo was more than a minute up on last year’s time as well. The next boys in were Luis Escamilla in 27:14, Jay Austria 27:16, Abraham Benitez in 27:40 and Josue Gomez in 27:43. These boys were sandwiched between a stream of rapidly improving lady Comets.

Mya Hammond ran 27:07, Ashley Preciado ran 27:32. Ruth Rodriguez (27:45) Emely Lopez (27:48) Estefani Herrera (27:50) and Alexa Rodriguez (28:14) came in close together, displaying the team’s formidable depth on the girls side. Depth will absolutely be the strength of a team full of girls who have transformed themselves into varsity caliber runners through sheer hard work and dedication.

When they began their careers, Mya, Emely and Estefani ran North Rim in 39:05, 41:04 and 44:06 respectively. I can’t say enough about these 3 who helped form the core of an undefeated JV girls team last year. None of them broke the 30 minute barrier to start least season’s trial, nor did Ruth. The addition of Ruth’s sister Alexa only makes this group stronger. The same goes for the knowledge that Yeimili Adame, Mariana Perez, and Erika Camacho all had very rough days by their standards. Even with those girls struggling, (The #1, #4 and #5 returning girls on the team based on last year’s times) the team has never produced more girls under the 30 minute barrier to start the year than the 9 the team managed this year. Yesenia Martinez (28:54) and Lizbeth Espana (29:10) both accomplished the feet as well.

Some of the younger boys on the team came across the line around this time as well. Navbir Kahlon, Ronaldo, and Justin Nguyen came across in 28:41, 28:52 and 29:00 as the 2nd 3rd and 4th  frosh/soph boys. Huu Thai ran 29: 14 not far behind. Two more freshmen, Carlos Nava and Omar Sanchez finished in 30:06 to give the team 6 frosh/soph boys at or under 30 minutes.

These times might not be particularly fast yet, but we have a great recent track record of rapidly improving frosh/soph boys around those times. Gustavo Aguilera for example, ran 31:50 in his first try on the course as freshmen. As a senior, he would run 19:10 and was the 5th boy on the school’s 2016 ‘B’ division championship team.

The team can look at similar examples like Nien Tran and Omar Fimbres. Both boys failed to run under 27 minutes at their first time as freshmen, but both boys were CCS caliber runners by the end of their sophomore years. In short, if these boys are dedicated, we have great confidence that they will improve by leaps and bounds.

Melanny Sanchez and Caylena Gil finished in 30:51 and 31:00 adding yet more depth to the girls team. It’s crazy to think that just 2 years ago only 1 girl on the entire team ran under 33 minutes at this time trial to start the season.

Emily De Dios and Jayson Garcia finished in 36:47 and 37:45. Alex Rios and Marisol Carlos rounded out the group in the 47 minute range.

As the team looks ahead at the season, the depth of the girls team should give the team a good shot at a 2nd consecutive winning season in the ‘B’ division. It should also produce an absolutely lethal JV girls team. Last year at the final division race our JV girls achieved a perfect score against every team except Sobrato, as our girls finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th overall. This year’s JV girls team should be even better as no girl on the JV squad has aged out of it.

On the boys side, the focus will be on having a strong top 5, and on developing the freshmen boys to be ready to replace our senior heavy group next season. Especially if Melvin Estrada can find his form, the boys team will be a force to be reckoned with.

The team will contest the Alumni Race on August 30th  in Alum Rock Park at 6:00 P.M. Any alumni, fans of James Lick, or runners in the area are welcome.

After that the team will have it’s first league meet of the season on the early date of September 4th at Montgomery Hill.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

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The team after the time trial. 

 

Both Boys Relays Teams, 3 More Individuals Advance to CCS Trials

Counting the relay athletes, the Comets had 9 CCS qualifiers from the BVAL Finals meet on Thursday May 2nd at Westmont High School. This is the most athletes the team has seen qualify for CCS in the entire BVAL era (since 1996). That being said, the team only produced 3 individual qualifiers, compared to 4 the year before.

The meet features the top 7 athletes from the ‘A’ division finals, the top 5 athletes from the ‘B’ division finals and the top 4 from the ‘C’ division finals. In some events, additional athletes competed in the case that the “At-large” mark was reached. For example if the 5th place time in the ‘C’ division final was high quality enough, they would also advance to BVAL finals.

For the most part, every event has 16 entries and the top 8 in each event advance to CCS Trials.

The meet began with the pole vault. Last year at BVAL finals, both Mark Orpia and Rodolf Ocampo competed, representing the Comets at the meet in Pole Vault for the first time in school history. They went 9-0 and 8-6 respectively, both PRs at the time. The duo has come a long way, with the pair achieving PRS of 10-8 and 10-2 respectively at this years addition. They placed 10th and 12th.

Next up was the girls discus. Valeria Cortez took 2nd overall with a toss of 111-1, sealing her 4th consecutive CCS appearance in the girls discus. Joe Amendt and Ruth Lebeau are the only other Comets (on record) to make CCS four times in a single event. Marquise Nelson managed a PR in the event though she came in 10th, ending her career with a best of 94- 4.5, the 5th best mark in school history in the discus.

The running events began at 5:00 PM with the 4×100. This years squad has established themselves as the best 4×100 team from James Lick in many years and they backed it up, becoming the first 4×100 team from James Lick to make CCS trials in the BVAL era. The squad of Raven Alcantara, Rodolf Ocampo, Salvador Lopez and Geovanny Campos combined to run a seasons best 45.06 to place 7th, clinching their spot at CCS.

The next event with Comet competitors was the hurdles. Valeria ended her career in the event with a 17.28, finishing 10th place. Valeria’s PR of 16.75 in the event is currently the #3 all-time mark in school history (on record).It was an off race for her, where many times were hampered by a headwind. Yesenia Martinez was racing well until she clipped a hurdle and stumbled, losing her balance. She recovered but it was a poor time by her standards.

The performance of the day in my opinion, and perhaps the performance of my entire coaching tenure was Rodolf in the 110 hurdles. Last year, Rodolf began hurdling late in the season and ended the year with a PR of 19.01, not advancing to BVAL finals. This year, he improved dramatically, lowering his PR all the way down to 16.85 at ‘B’ division finals to place 3rd and qualify for BVALS. He went into BVAL finals ranked 11th, meaning he would need a big day to make CCS. Rodolf had more than a big day, he had an absolute breakthrough. He placed 5th in a massive PR of 15.97, making CCS by a wide margin. After “four-stepping” all year, it was Rodolf’s first time “Three-stepping” a race and it lead to the huge PR. Rodolf is the first boy to make CCS in the 110 hurdles in the BVAL era.

The Comets did not have any more competitors in the meet until the boys 100. Raven ran 11.63, the 2nd best time of his career in the event, placing 14th. Next up was the girls 800. After years of ups and downs, Arlet Miranda went out with the best time of her career, 2:28.08. This PR was not enough to get her to CCS however, as she finished 9th, one spot out of qualification. Arlet nonetheless ends her career #2 in school history in all 3 distance events.

Jerricho Habon competed in the boys 800 but had a poor race, gaining experience for next years addition. The final field events were going on at this time. Marquise Nelson threw 32-4.5 for 7th place in the girls Shot Put, punching her ticket to CCS trials. In the long jump, Sal barely missed his PR, going 20-3.5 but sadly finishing in 9th place. Even so, Sal had a great season as last year his best long jump was 17-10. Yeimili Adame contested the girls 3200 for the Comets, running 13:27, a PR by more than 30 seconds, moving her to #7 on the schools all time list in the event.

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Arlet Miranda in the final (and fastest) 800m of her HS career

The final event of the day was the boys 4×400. The Comets went in ranked 11th, needing a great performance and some good luck to make it through to CCS. The team of Sal, Erik Olsvold, Jerricho and Misael Herrera combined to run 3:36.78, the best time by any JL 4×400 team since the 3:35 clocking of 2002. Initially, it looked like the Comets were 10th, but disqualifications to Willow Glen and Pioneer moved the Comets up to 8th place.

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Left to right: Salvador Lopez, Jerricho Habon, Misael Herrera and Erik Olsvold after the 4×400 

The Comets who advanced to CCS trials will be competing on Saturday May 11th at Westmont High School with the chance to end the season with some good marks, and to potentially make CCS finals. The 9 total qualifiers is the highest number the Comets have ever produced at BVAL finals.

CCS Trials begins at 10 AM at Gilroy High School.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

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

 

 

With Division Finals Looming, Comets show up big time at Bearcat Invitational: Varsity Girls Place 4th out of 50 Teams

The Comets took to San Mateo High School for the 2019 edition of the Bearcat Invitational on Saturday April 14th. This has been one of my personal favorite invitationals over the past 6 years. Usually it comes after a hard week of spring break training, which results in big PRS for our competing athletes. This year, spring break is yet to come, but with division finals next Thursday and Saturday, this would be the final meet of the year for many of the teams athletes, and a final tuneup for our Comets competing at finals.

The meet began with the boys 4×100. Raven Alcantara, Rodolf Ocampo, Salvador Lopez and Jordan Laguna combined to run 45.79 for 6th place overall, the 2nd best time the Comets have run this season.

Valeria Cortez took 3rd place overall with a 17.44 in the 100 hurdles. This is the best time she’s run at the Bearcat Invite. Yesenia Martinez narrowly missed a medal, finishing 7th in an off race of 19.22. The medals go 6-deep at the Bearcat invite, a nice incentive for athletes. Rodolf Ocampo finished 5th in 17.66 despite a messy race, showing how much potential he still has in the event.

At this same time, the varsity long jump was going on. Salvador Lopez just missed medaling, taking 7th place in a new PR of 20-4. This was achieved on a slightly descended pit (the sand is not as high as the runway) but is a strong PR nonetheless. Geo Campos also managed a PR going 19-2. Jamie Vong missed his PR by a fraction, going 18-4 compared to a best of 18-6. In the frosh/soph version of the event, Jordan Laguna managed a huge PR of 18-0.

In the girls discus, Valeria managed the win in 108-3. This is the 2nd time this season she has been an invitational champion in the girls discus, adding with her 7 dual meet wins, she has 9 total meet victories in the event. She will aim to make it 10 at division finals next week. Marquise Nelson managed 6th place with a throw of 85-1, the 2nd best mark of her career. Adriana Marcelino had an off day, throwing 67-4 and 21-11 in the shot put. Valeria took 3rd overall in shot put with a best of 30-9 and Marquise won the meet overall with a toss of 32-0. A strong day for the lady Comet throwers to win both throwing events at an invitational with 50 total registered teams.

The distance events have always gone very well for us at the Bearcat invite, and today was some of the same. Arlet Miranda ran a seasons best 5:42.11 in the girls 1600 despite a poorly paced race. Jessica Cervantes ended her season with a PR of 6:24.56. Mya Hammond and Jessica continue their rivalry as despite being in separate heats, they ran nearly identical times with Mya lowering her PR from 6:30 to 6:24.68. Ashley Preciado ran a seasons best 6:29.42 as well. Ruth Rodriguez lowerred her PR from 6:37 to 6:38, and Emely Lopez took a huge chunk out of her PR, running 7:03 compared to a previous best of 7:19. Jhesselyn Santos rounded out the lady Comet milers with a time of 7:24, compared to a previous best of 7:36.

On the boys side, Mark Orpia lowered his PR to 4:56, while Brandon Cruz ran the 2nd best time of his career, clocking in at 5:03. Better things were ahead in the 800 for the team as well.

Our sole 400m runner of the day was Misael Herrera. Considering it was his final HS invitational AND it was his birthday, his might have been the performance of the day. Misael was never the most talented runner. When we first timed his as a freshmen, he ran 1:04 for the 400 on natural ability. His sprint speed is not killer, as this season he’s only run 12.52 for the 100. He’s always worked hard to chip away at times, making himself more and more valuable to the team. As a freshmen, his PR at division finals was 57.72. Sophomore year he lowered it to 56.48 at none other than the Bearcat Invite. Last year, his PR came at division trials when he ran 55.61 finishing 10th, just shy of making the final. At the Bearcat invite, he went into the meet with a seasons best of 56.41 and absolutely went off to run 54.51, a PR by over a second and the best 400m time any Comet has run since I’ve been coaching.

54 seconds is not blazing fast for a 40m runner. We have Comet alum who could have managed it comfortably for the first lap of an 800. It means alot to see an athlete consistently work hard and improve, so athletes like Misael achieving times like this is truly the most rewarding aspect of coaching. He will look to go even faster at division finals.

The 100m dash at bearcat is never particularly fast. The track usually produced better distance times than sprint ones. That being said, the Comets had a few strong marks. Raven Alcantara ran 11.81, the fastest time he’s ever clocked at an invitational. Valeria ran the 2nd best 100m dash of her career, running 14.26. Most impressive was Mya running a huge PR in the event. Mya has shwon great improvement to her speed this year and this was her first meet ever wearing spikes. Her previous best was 15.48 and she ran 14.27 for a massive PR. (THis was after a PR in the 1600 mind you). We think long term she is a 400/800 runner but she has struggled to execute a race utilizing her good speed and balance it with her solid endurance. Emily De Dios ran a big PR of 16.04, compared to a previous best of 16.48. A great way to end her season.

Arlet ran her best 800m of the season, despite it being a negative split (first lap slower than the second) to clocking in at 2:31.84 for 2nd place. It is also the 2nd best time she’s ever run after a 1600, showing she is back in good shape heading into division finals.  Emely managed a 2nd big PR on the day, lowering her best from 3:20 to 3:10.

One of the very best breakthroughs of the day came in the boys 800. Jerricho Habon lowered his PR from 2:10.75 to 2:06.52, a huge PR that saw him just miss a medal. Jerricho is rounding in to shape at the right time, and figures to go even faster at division finals. Most of my best runners to this point have been 3200 runners rather than 800 runners, so Jerricho’s time is the best any Comet has achieved under me. I trust he will improve upon it soon. Mark also took 4 seconds off his PR, lowering his PR from 2:16 to 2:12.88 a solid PR to end his season in the event.

Yesenia ran a seasons best in the 300 hurdles, clocking in at 58 seconds. She also cleared 5-0 in pole vault, the first time she’s competed at an invitational. On the boys side of this event, Rodolf cleared 10-0 for the 2nd time in his career, equalling his PR. He also just missed a PR in the 300 hurdles, running 45.60, .01 seconds off his best. Sal lowered his PR to 45.13 in the event, and he still has tone of room for improvement as he is very new at hurdling,

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As seen here, Sal does not yet have a full feel for hurdling, clearing the hurdle way higher than is necessary. 

The final event the Comets competed in on the day was the 200. Estefani Herrera lowered her PR in the event 34.31 and Emely Lopez ran 38.26 for a new PR as well. Raven ran a big PR of 24.19, taking a full half second off his best best in the event. Misael just missed his seasons best, running 24.76 the 3rd best time of his career. Angel Guerrero ran a new PR of 25.58 taking 3 tenths of a second off his best.

It was a great confidence building meet for the team as they head towards division finals. There were 22 PRS on the day and the varsity girls finished 4th place overall out of 50 listed registered teams. It should be acknowledged that the CCS top 8 meet was the same day, so many of the top athletes in the area headed to that. That being said, many strong athletes from other sections were present, and the team will prepare for division finals ready to show their stuff.

The team will compete at BVAL – ST (‘B’)- division finals on Thursday April 18th and Saturday April 20th at Lincoln High School. All trials for lane events and the 800 will take place on Thursday April 18th, as well as finals in the following events:

Boys 3200, Girls 1600, Boys Long Jump, Boys High Jump, Girls Triple Jump, Girls Discus, Boys Shot Put. The Pole Vault competition will likely take place on Wednesday April 17th at Prospect High School.

ST division finals are significant in a few ways. The meet will determine the final standings for each team in the division. The top 8 athletes in each event score for their teams and the top 5 in each advance advance to BVAL Finals (CCS qualifying meet)  on Thursday May 2nd.

The big meets are ahead and I for one could not be more excited.

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

 

 

Lady Comets set school record at Montgomery Hill: Comets End Regular Season 9-5

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The team after their final league meet of the season

The James Lick cross country team contested their final league meet of the 2018 season on Thursday October 18th at Montgomery hill. The meet determined the final records for each team in the Santa Teresa division (‘B’ division) with only league finals left to affect team standings.

The frosh/soph boys had a rough race to end what was a rough year for the young Comets. The frosh/soph team had been thin all year, and we called Omar Fimbres, our top sophomore boy, up to varsity to shore up the varsity squad, making the frosh/soph team even thinner. This left Jonathan Bradley and Jay Austria to spearhead the team, though neither by had a good race by their standards. Alberto Trejo ran a PR of 21:02. Jordan Laguna ran a PR of 23:07 and Josue Gomez mustered a PR of 25:13. Despite these PRs, the frosh/soph team lost to both Pioneer and Leigh to end their season 1-6.

The varsity girls had a much better showing. Arlet Miranda rebounded from minor injury a week ago, to match her PR, running 19:10 for the second time in her career. Yeimili Adame shaved over 20 seconds off of her PR, running 20:13, the 5th best time in school history. As the #2 and #5 fastest Comets ever on the Montgomery hill course, Arlet and Yeimili form the best 1-2 combination the Comets have had in decades. This marked the first time that two lady Comets ran under 21 minutes at Montgomery in the same race.

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Arlet Miranda (left) and Yeimili Adame (right) in the first mile of the race

This set the team up well to attack the school record team time of 2014, when the Comets clocked 1:45:57 ( an average of 21:11 per girl) to finish 7-0 in the West Valley division (‘C’ division). Belen Sanchez and Jessica Cervantes ran small PRs of 21:55 and 21:57 respectively. Both girls cracked the 22 minute barrier for the first time in their careers. Ashley Preciado had an off race, but was the all important 5th girl in at 22:27. This gave the team a combined team time of 1:45:43 (once times were rounded up) shaving 14 seconds off of the school record. Jenny Villagomez ran a huge PR of 22:45, and Yesenia Martinez rounded out the team.

As the team of 2018 attempts to claim the throne of the best James Lick team of the BVAL era (since 1996) here is a quick comparison, against the current #1, the team of 2014, at Montgomery Hill.

               

                            2014                                                             2018

  1. Daniela Camacho 19:32                                      1. Arlet Miranda 19:11
  2.  Paloma Contreras 21:02                                    2. Yeimili Adame 20:13
  3.  Milka Perez         21:12                                       3. Belen Sanchez  21:55
  4.  Maria Mendoza  21:30                                       4. Jessica Cervantes 21:57
  5.  Julia Cruz            22:41                                       5. Ashley Preciado  22:27
  6.  Brianna Flores  23:25                                        6.  Jenny Villagomez  22:45
  7.  Alma Padilla 24:12                                            7. Yesenia Martinez  23:51

 

The team is now poised to try to seal their claim to “best team of the BVAL era” if they can beat the team time of the 2014 ladies at Crystal Springs. The team of 2014 ran 1:50:00 exactly, the 2nd best team time in school history only to the squad of 1981 (they ran 1:46:xx).

The girls defeated both Leigh and Pioneer to finish the season 5-2. This is the best record the James Lick girls have ever achieved in the ‘B’ division.

The varsity boys were next up, and they would need 1 victory to ensure a winning season. Mark Orpia lead the team running a small PR of 16:19. This moved Mark up to 8th on the school’s all time list for Montgomery Hill. Erik Olsvold was the #2 Comet in a seasons best of 16:50.  Melvin Estrada ran a 1 second PR of 17:15. Jerricho Habon and Nien Tran streamed in together at 17:28 and 17:29 ( a 26 second PR for Nien). Brandon Cruz ran a small PR of 17:31. The team was without last week’s #3 runner, Jared Resendiz who was battling the flu this week. Omar Fimbres was the 7th boy in 18:07.

The Comets fell to a very strong pioneer team (pioneer missed beating Branham by 1 point, making them 6-1 and Branham 7-0). James Lick did defeat Leigh however to end the regular season 4-3 on the boys side. This is the first time that both the varsity boys and varsity girls for the Comets finished the season with winning records in the ‘B’ divsion in the same season. Branham has been the best team in the division, a combined 14-0. We are tied with Pioneer with combined records of 9-5 for the #2 overall team in the division.

The reserve boys continue to show improvement as a group as well. For the first time since 2010, the reserve team ran under 100 minutes as a team at Montgomery Hill, and they did it without a key reserve boy in Gustavo Madrigal. The team of 2010 managed to have 5 boys run under 20 minutes for the course. This year’s squad has had 4 boys accomplish this feet. Geo Campos lead the team running 18:48, 1 second off of his PR. Vincent Giglio ran a big seasons best of 19:37 as the 2nd Comet in. Daniel Portillo also cracked 20 minutes for the team. Hugo Marquez and Rodolf Ocampo made up the 4 and 5 in 20:19 and 20:32. Rafael Yanez and Kevin Santacruz rounded out the boys day by running 30 second PRs. Rafa stopped the clock at 24:41 while Kevin ran 28:54.

The final race on the day was the JV/ reserve girls race, the strength of the team this season. A Sobrato runner finished in first place. After that, 5 Comets streamed in before any other JV or reserve girl. Mariana Perez lead the team in 2nd place overall. She ran a massive PR of 23:34. Erika Camacho took 3rd place in 23:45 (PR by 26 seconds) . Estefani Herrera took 4th in 23:56 (PR by 20 seconds) . Mya Hammond and Ruth Rodriguez finished in 24:24 and 24:25 in 5th and 6th place. Emely Lopez and Jhesselyn Santos were the 6th and 7th Comets in 25:27 and 25:55, both girls running under 26 minutes for the first time.

The JV girls had perfect scores against both Leigh and Pioneer, moving them to 7-0 on the season. This team ran the fastest JV girls team time at Montgomery hill in school history, combing to run 2:00:06, just missing the 2 hour barrier. The previous best JV team at Montgomery hill was the team of 2014, who managed to run 2:03:47. That team managed a 6th place finish at BVAL finals out of all 24 BVAL teams. The potential for a high finish makes this team an exciting one heading into league finals. It is remarkable how far some of our girls have come in the past year.

The trio of Mariana, Erika and Estefani make us especially proud. Last year, Mariana was the fastest of the trio at 28:40. The other two could not break 30 minutes. They have come so far that Estefani, as the slowest of the three would have beaten 10 of the girls in the varsity race.  All 3 girls could not run a mile under 9 minutes when they started running in fall of 2017 (Estefani couldn’t run a mile under 10 minutes.) Now all three can run under 9 minute course for even the very difficult Montgomery hill cross country course.

The remaining girls also had great performances. Francine Estranero ran a PR by 47 seconds, stopping the clock at 26:47. Araceli Mejia ran 28:04 despite never having run under 31 minutes previously. Angelina Guevara (28:10) and Ellie Castro (29:18) both broke the 30 minute barrier for the first time. Adriana Marcelino ended the Comets day with a 3 minute PR of 31:23.

It was a solid day for the team overall and a great one for the girls as a whole.

The team will now turn their attention to BVAL finals on Monday October 29th. It will be the final official race of the season for the majority of the team, while the varsity sides will try to extend their seasons to CCS with a strong showing.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

James Lick hosts Pioneer in first ever ‘B’ division track meet

The James Lick Track season kicked off their league season on Thursday March 8th with a dual meet against Pioneer High School. Pioneer is the reigning STAL (‘B’) division champion on the Varsity Boys side, making them a tough test for the newly ascended Comets. Since the BVAL was formed in 1996, the Comets had spent every track season in the ‘C’ division. The move up to the ‘B’ division for the 2018 season presents new challenged to the team.  For example, the inclusion of the Frosh/Soph boys division in dual meets is new to the team, as the WVAL (‘C’ division) only contested varsity.

Nonetheless, the Comets acquitted themselves valiantly, and made the meet very competitive on the Frosh/Soph boys and Varsity girls sides. The meet began with the varsity girls 4×100. Pioneer did not run a team so the Comets took the first 5 points of the meet. The Pioneer boys 4×100 team defeated the Comets in both the frosh/soph and varsity divisions.

The varsity girls continued to show strong form with a victory in the 1600. Arlet Miranda stormed down the home stretch moving from 3rd to 1st place to claim the victory in 5:59. Belen Sanchez ran a seasons best 6:35, while Jenny Villagomez and Ashley Preciado ran PRs of 6:44 and 6:45 respectively. Emely Lopez and Mariana Perez ran PRs as well, with both girls clocking in at 7:32.

Melvin Estrada dominated the Frosh/Soph boys 1600 winning the race by 50 meters with a new PR of 5:12. Brandon Cruz ran a PR of 5:39 in the race as well. Azael Zamora recorded the varsity boys first points in the meet by finishing in 2nd place in the 1600.

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Melvin Estrada on his way to a victory in the Frosh/Soph 1600

Valeria Cortez won the girls 100 hurdles with a season’s best 18.55. Cody Huoch won the boys 110 hurdles in a seasons best 17.98 to give the varsity boys their first event win in the ‘B’ division.

Pioneer got their first event win on the girls side in the 400. Yeimili Adame and Justine Austria were 2nd and 3rd for the team, Justine clocked in with a new PR of 1:11.19. The Frosh/Soph 400 saw the impressive debut of Salvador Lopez. Sal ran 59.46, a very strong time for an athlete in his first ever meet. Dakota Castro-Lopez ran a PR of 1:09.00. The Pioneer boys swept the boys 400.  They would do the same thing in the girls 100. The meet did see many of the teams newcomers compete. Sophomore Lisbeth Galdamez ran 15.84 to lead the team, with fellow sophomore Azalea Galinato close behind in 15.87. Susie Peterson ran a seasons best 15.99. Araceli Mejia ran 16.26 in her debut, with Chantrea Thach close behind at 16.66. Yyana Guevara, Maria Sanchez and Regine Valecruz all made their debuts as well.

The Frosh.Soph boys saw an upset victory with sophomore Geovanny Campos winning the race in 12.76, a strong debut. Fellow sophomore Rudolf Ocampo took 3rd in 13.13. Josh Merin ran a PR of 13.46 as well. The Varsity boys saw another Pioneer sweep though Sophomore Raven Alcantara lead the team in a seasons best 12.70. Adrian DeLaRosa ran a 13.09 for a seasons best. Austin Swank and Isaak Herrera both ran seasons bests while Erik Olsvold and Josafar Gomez made their debuts in the event.

Halfway through the meet, the Pioneer Varsity boys had already built up a large lead. The Varsity girls and Frosh/Soph boys were still very much in competition however. The lady Comets performed quite well in the field events. The team’s strongest area from last year, girls throws, continued their dominance despite the move to the ‘B’ division. Charli Chircop, Alejandra Ceron and Valeria Cortez combined to sweep both throwing events, the highlight being a PR of 32-9 for Charli in the Shot Put. Adriana Marcelino threw a PR of 20-8 in Shot Put and Sandra Naranjo Prd in both throws.

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The Three Headed Throws Monster Left to Right: Charli Chircop, Valeria Cortez, Alejandra Ceron

Daniel Medina won the varsity boys Shot Put in 36-8. He also took 3rd in the boys discus with a seasons best toss of 96-8. The team did not have any Frosh/Soph throwers which allowed for a Pioneer sweep in the event.

The horizontal jumps also saw a Frosh/Soph boys sweep as no Comets competed in the FroshSoph long or triple jump. Cody Huoch took 2nd in the Varsity triple jump with a PR of 39-5. Lyndel Ventura went 14-6 in the girls long jump for 2nd place. Natalie Rem took 1st in the girls triple jump with a huge PR of 32-10. Kirsten Yutuc took 2nd for the Comets with a jump of 28-2.

Lisbeth and Yesenia Martinez both showed good potential in the girls high jump. Although neither girl scored points, they both cleared 4-2 in their first ever dual meet competition. Jonathan Bradley scored 1 point for the team in the Frosh/Soph boys high jump with a PR of 4-10. The 1 point in FS boys field events will need to be improved upon for the team to succeed in the division.

Back to the running events, Arlet got her 2nd event win on the day with a victory in the 800m. Hugo Marquez scored 2nd place for the team in the FS 800 with a seasons best 2:30. Brandon Cruz ran a PR of 2:34 in the event. The Varsity event saw Joseph Benitez run 2:33 in his debut, though Pioneer swept the event.

The girls 300 hurdles saw Valeria Cortez cross the finish line first, however she was disqualified for a lane violation caused by a fall at the final hurdle. As a result, Kirsten Yutuc was the winner of the race, with Pioneer 2nd and 3rd. Luis Escamilla ran a PR of 50.9 to take 2nd in the Frosh/Soph boys 300 hurdles, and Jonathan Bradley took 3rd. Cody took 2nd in the 300 hurdles, running 45.90 to start his season.

Yeimili took 3rd for the Comets in the 200 with the Mustangs taking 1st and 2nd. Lisbeth and Mya made their debuts in 32.59 and 33.77 respectively. Geovanny and Sal combined to take 2nd and 3rd in the 200 with times of 26.70 and 26.87. Jerricho Habon ran a PR of 27.20. Raven Alcantara ran a solid 26.14, though he was not able to score the varsity boys.

Azael Zamora scored the final points on the day for the varsity boys with a 2nd place finish in the 3200, running 10:27. Melvin and Daniel Portillo took 1st and 3rd in the Frosh/Soph boys 3200 with PRS of 11:34 and 12:57 respectively. Belen Sanchez took 2nd place for the girls in the 3200 with a strong PR of 14:19. Jenny and Ashley made strong debuts in the event with both girls breaking the 15 minute barrier.

The varsity 4x400s were both won by Pioneer, but the James Lick boys managed to capture the Frosh/Soph 4×400.

When all was said and done, Pioneer won all 3 divisions though the Varsity Girls was a very narrow 65-62 victory.

The Comets will head to The King’s Academy High School in Sunnyvale for the TKA Invitational on March 10th.. Then the team will head to Evergreen Valley High School for their 2nd dual meet on Thursday March 15th.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comets prepare for season with Los Gatos All Comers Meet

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Cody Huoch racing the 65m Hurdles

The Comets are just a few practices away from opening their season officially at the Willow Glen Invitational on March 3rd. A few of the team’s athletes took to the Los Gatos All Comers meet on February 24th to test their readiness for the season.

Two young runners began the day for the team competing in the 800m. Brandon Cruz ran a 2:40 for his first try at the event after a solid Sophomore XC season. Francine Estranero ran 3:20 for her first ever track competition.

A large number of Comets competed in the 60m hurdles for girls and 65m high hurdles for the boys. Valeria Cortez lowered her school record in the seldom run event to 11.08, compared to the 11.30 she ran at the same meet a year ago. Susie Peterson and Kirsten Yutuc ran solid times of 11.77 and 12.15.

Cody Huoch lead the boys in the 65 hurdles with a time of 10.26. This puts Cody 4th on the school’s all time list. Jonathan Bradley made his debut in 12.24 and Dakota Castro-Lopez ran 16.16 despite a fall.

Jose Limon opened his season in the 400 with a clocking of 56.42. Many of the team’s distance runners tested their speed with the 400m as well. Azael Zamora ran 59.48. Jerricho Habon had an impressive debut time of 1:03.04. Melvin Estrada opened his season with a small PR of 1:05.67. Jonathan Bradley ran a debut time of 1:07.75. On the girls side, Ashely Preciado and Mariana Perez ran 1:24.32 and 1:26.90 respectively.

In the throwing events, the team was represented by some of the team’s best athletes. Alejandra Ceron and Valeria threw 30-10 and 29-11 for the Shot Put, both girls are ahead of where they were at in the event at this time a year ago. Adriana Marcelino threw 19-1, nearly a PR in her first meet.

Overall it was a solid day for the team as it looks ahead to the start of the season.

The team will head to the Willow Glen Invitational on March 3rd before hosting Pioneer HS on March 8th in James Lick’s first ever ‘B’ division track meet.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

James Track Moves Up To ‘B’ division for 2018 Season: 2017 Season Summary

The 2017 Track season was another step forward for the James Lick Comets. I am happy to announce that with the BVAL meetings having concluded, the James Lick track team will be officially be placed in the ‘B’ division for the 2018 season. The strength of the team’s past few seasons, especially  the 2017 season, is what catapulted the team out of the WVAL.

The old local leagues of the BVAL, the MHAL (Mount Hamilton Athletic League) the STAL (Santa Teresa Athletic League) and the WVAL (West Valley Athletic League) merged together in 1996 to form the BVAL (Blossom Valley Athletic League). The BVAL is a 24 team ‘power league’ with the 3 former leagues operating as an ‘A’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ division.

The BVAL formed at a point where James Lick was well past it’s heyday in most sports. The track team of James Lick for example, was placed in the ‘C’ division from the very beginning of the BVAL era (like most James Lick sports) and has remained there ever since. 20 seasons of the BVAL era have passed with James Lick in the ‘C’ division every single season. That is all set to change in the 2018 season.

James Lick will compete against the teams of the STAL, with Andrew Hill moving down to replace James Lick in the WVAL. The ‘B’ division was won by Pioneer on the boys side, and Evergreen on the girls side. Other teams in the STAL are: Prospect, Lincoln, Sobrato, Oak Grove, and Piedmont Hills. We will be fully focused on trying to prove we belong in the STAL division, by achieving a middle of the pack finish in our first year in the division.

Now a look back at the season that moved us up. With any luck, we will look back on the 2017 season as the last season James Lick was in the ‘C’ division for track and field.

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Some of the Track Team after the Team Banquet in Alum Rock Park

 

We began conditioning as a team in January. At this early stage we had a large number of boys out, but the majority of our girls were participating in Winter sports. We had the goal all season of trying to win the WVAL on both the boys and girls side.

We came close, going a combined 13-1 for a girls title, narrowly missing the boys.

Here is a breakdown of scoring by event for the 2017 season:

Boys : 

Event Group Average Points Per Dual Meet Points Available Per Meet Average Points as percentage of Available League Finals Points
Distance 24.31 27 90% 49
Hurdles 15.14 18 84% 22
Jumps 15 27 55% 17.5
Relays 5 10 50% 13
Sprints 13.14 27 48% 18
Throws 12.85 18 71% 8

Girls 

Event Group Average Points Per Dual Meet Points Available Per Meet Average Points as percentage of Available League Finals Points
Distance 16.41 27 60% 32
Hurdles 14.35 18 79% 26
Jumps 17.85 27 66% 28
Relays 3.5 10 35% 10
Sprints 8.56 27 32% 0
Throws 17.27 18 96% 45

Both hurdle squads, the girls throws teams and boys throws teams were very dominant in the WVAL. They will look to lead the team next season as the team takes on the STAL.

The team’s top point scorers were:

  1. Valeria Cortez: 130 points 
  2. Cody Huoch: 99 points
  3. Arlet Miranda: 99 points
  4. Erik Olsvold: 80 points
  5. Lyndel Ventura: 75 points
  6. Nathan Bernardo: 70 points
  7. Azael Zamora: 65 points
  8. Alejandra Ceron: 63 points
  9. Jonathan Rodriguez: 61 points
  10. Ace Medina: 53 points

As the team heads up a division, an encouraging note is that all 5 of the teams top point scorers are not seniors, as are 8 of the teams top 10. The team will need a good returning group of athletes in order to compete at the next level.

At the Willow Glen Invitational, many athletes competed for the team and things looked very promising. Jose Limon began the season with times of 11.97 and 24.40 for 100/200 both of which were top 5 finishes for the meet’s frosh/Soph division. This was a fantastic start to the year as no Comet had run under 12 seconds in 2016. Unfortunately, at the very first dual meet of the season, Jose aggravated his hamstring running the 4×100 and never fully recovered, effectively losing his very promising sophomore year.

One of the sprinter’s who stepped up the most in Jose’s absence was Misael Herrera, the team’s next best Sophomore sprinter. Misael opened the season at 12.80 for the 100 and 26.70 for the 200. Over the course of the season, he worked his way down to big PRS of 12.30 for the 100, 24.56 for the 200, and 56.48 for the 400. By the end of the season, Ace Medina would be the team leader in the 100/200 with PRS of 11.68 and 24.17, despite opening the season at 12.70. Cody Huoch would run 24.40 as well to give the team 4 boys under 25 seconds in the 200, a big improvement over the 1 athlete from 2016. The team scored points at WVAL finals in all 3 boys sprint events for the first time since I’ve been coaching.

In the girls sprint events, the team lost their #1, #2, and #3 sprinters from 2016, putting the team in a tough spot. Silvia Amaya emerged as the team’s top sprinter on the side. She opened the season at 15.20 at Willow Glen and worked her way down to 14.30 by seasons end, scoring points for the team in many dual meets along the way. Freshmen Yeimili Adame emerged mid-season as a potential standout athlete, demonstrating impressive range in the two meets she competed in before becoming academically ineligible. We hope she’ll return as a force next season.

This was the first season that the team’s jumpers were under the tutelage of coach Christopher Turner. In this one season, the future strength of the team’s jumpers was shown through massive improvement. Juan Gutierrez opened his season with jumps of 15-2 for the long jump and 31-1 for triple jump. He would end up with PRS of 17-8.50 and 36-3.  Freshmen Jamie Vong had the most encouraging improvement, going from 31-0 at our first dual meet in triple jump, to 37-6 at WVAL finals. He also went from 14-4 in the long jump to 16-10. Hadji Yono-Cruz lead the team in long jump with a leap of 18-3.  Cody Huoch lead the team with a triple jump of 39-4 at WVAL finals.

On the girls side, Lyndel Ventura finally broke the 15 foot barrier officially with help from coach Turner. She started the season at 13-3 and 25-2, and worked her way up to 15-3 and 28-10.50 by WVAL finals. Kirsten Yutuc joined the jumps crew late in the season, but in a very short amount of time went from 12-10 to 13-9 and from 27-7 to 29-10. I’m very excited about the future of these athletes under coach Turner, only bigger things are ahead.

The team also had a much improved season in the high jump. Elyse Elder achieved a PR of 4-8 to take 2nd at WVAL finals, the highest placing by a JL girl at WVAL finals ever. Jonathan Rodriguez went 5-6 and Ace went 5-8 to give the team two boys who scored pints at WVAL finals, after having none the year before.

The hurdles team also took a big step forward. Two boys ran 44 seconds for the 300 hurdles, and Cody Huoch won the team its first ever league title in the event at WVAL finals. Cody also ran the best 110 hurdles time in years for the Comets, clocking 17.16. Hadji also broke the 18 second barrier running 17.83. Jonathan and Gustavo Aguilera ran under 19 seconds to give the team 4 boys under that mark, compared to only two last year.

Valeria Cortez captured the WVAL title in the 100 hurdles with a PR of 16.75, good for #3 in school history. She also brought her 300 hurdles PR down significantly to 52.12. Susie Peterson did the same thing by running 58.99, and Kirsten Yutuc ran a strong freshmen time of 54.44 in the event, as well as running under 20 seconds for the 100 hurdles.

The girls distance team stared the season with some difficulties. Arlet Miranda opened her season at Willow Glen with two great performances, running 5:41 and 2:34, nearly PRs for both events. She suffered injuries the rest of the season which greatly impacted her training. She was eventually able to run a PR in the 800 however, qualifying for CCS by running 2:28.42 at BVAL championships. Belen Sanchez stepped up to be a contributor for the team. She began the year at 7:05 at our first dual meet, and worked her PR all the way down to 6:12 by the end of the season.

On the boys side, the team was lead by Erik Olsvold. Erik took his freshmen year PRs of 4:54 for the 1600 and 10:36 for the 3200 down to 4:37 and 10:20 despite missing time due to a few different issues. While he was able to capture the WVAL title in the 3200, to some extent this was a disappointing season that Erik will be looking to bounce back from in XC. Azael Zamora took his 1600m PR down to 4:40, even though he too struggled with injuries through most of the season.

The freshmen boys were a highlight of the distance team. Hugo Marquez, Melvin Estrada, Daniel Portillo, Nien Tran and Mark Orpia all finished a full year of distance training between XC and track with great results. Hugo’s ran the mile trial for us in August and ran 7:37. He ended track season with a PR of 5:21. Similarily Melvin started off at 6:50 (though he actually had summer training) and ended Track at 5:20. Daniel started off at 7:23 and worked his way down to 5:52.

Mark and Nien did not have as much training time as they both came out from Wrestling late, but they enjoyed big improvement as well. Mark worked his way down from 6;06 to 5:06 and Nien from 6:20 to 5:28. This young group of boys figures to be a strong FS team in XC.

The throws team was improved on the boys side, and exceptional on the girls side. 3 boys threw above 100 feet in discus on the same team for the first time under coach Vela. Alex Alonzo lead the group at 111-4, a 10 foot PR from 2016.

The girls side was the truly remarkable group for the team however. Alejandra Ceron improved her Shot Put PR from 31-9.50 to 35-8.75, a new school record. She also improved her Discus from 90-10 to 95-11. Valeria improved from 99-8.50 to 108-3 in discus, and from 31-1 in Shot Put to 33-4. Charli took her PRS up to a whole new level after missing her Sophomore season. She went from 29-10 to 32-5 in Shot Put, and from 79-0 to 109-4 for discus. With her throw of 109-4, she took the school record from Valeria and became made CCS finals. A  fitting end of the season for a strong team.

The team ends this season with a lot to be proud of, and a big season ahead in 2018 with the ‘B’ division on the horizon.

A few notes looking ahead

For the first time this summer, James Lick athletes who join the East Side running/track club will compete in all comers meets in preparation for the 2018 track season. My club is open to anyone who wants to join of any age group, and the only fee is the USATF registration fee.

Some of the team’s athletes will begin preparation for their fall sports in a few weeks time as well. Coach Turner is the JV girls volleyball coach, and Coach Vela is the JV boys football coach (and I think Coach Steve may join him as a positions coach this year).  I will begin cross country conditioning with the oh so lovable distance rascals in a few weeks, and am happy to say I will be joined by two new coaches this season who have served as volunteer coaches this past track season.

Lastly, I’m very happy to announce that I will be beginning my teaching career when the 2017/2018 school year begins (teaching world history). 90% of my students grades will be participation in cross country or track! (just kidding of course).

I’ll do a general recap of JL sports for the school year if there is an interest in one. This was the best year we’ve had as a school this decade in terms of championships/overall record. Please comment if you’d be interested in such a blog.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

James Lick Cross Country 2016 Season Summary

The 2016 season started with some big goals for the James Lick Comets. The team set competitive goals of winning the STAL on the boys side, and improving on a 2-5 record from 2015 on the girls side. The team was hoping to also place within the Top 5 teams at BVAL finals on the boys side, and the top 12 on the girls side. The team also set the time goals of running 86:30 (1:26:30) on the boys side at BVAL finals and 112:30 (1:52:30) on the girls side. The team wanted to do this while representing and performing well in the non-varsity races as well.

From the first days of summer training in early June, the likely group of varsity boys showed how much they wanted to achieve their goals. Based on the PRS of the team’s top 5 returners, Nathan Bernardo 17:02, Inteus Castro-Lopez 17:55, Gustavo Aguilera 18:00, Azael Zamora 18:13 and Erik Olsvold 18:14, the team would run  team time of 89:24. While Track season showed dramatic development, especially from Azael and Erik, the team would have to improve quite a bit to hit their ambitious goal. 2015 marked the first seasons since 2003 that the team had run under 90 minutes at Crystal Springs, and a time in the mid 80s would show the team was back to being a tough local team consistent with the teams of James Lick’s glory years.

As these boys worked hard in the early days of summer, more and more freshmen boys joined the team. Athletes like Jerricho Habon, Melvin Estrada, Kevin Bach and Daniel Portillo followed the lead of their veteran leaders working their way into good shape. These boys are very admirable for the fact that they lacked natural running ability, but worked hard all season to better themselves and turn themselves into strong Frosh/Soph runners. The Frosh/Soph team was made especially strong with the addition of more freshmen boys: Mark Orpia and Nien Tran once school started, along with sophomore Rudy Peterson. The team became so rich in young boy runners, that by the final league meets of the year, the team consistently had 3-4 potential Frosh/Soph boys run reserve who would have been scoring members of half of the other Frosh/Soph teams in the league.

The depth of hard working athletes that the boys team saw, the fruition of 4 years of hard program building lead by team captain Nathan, never developed to the same degree on the girls side. After a breakout track season, Arlet Miranda was a weapon at the front of the team all season, but top returners Maria Mendoza and Daisy Nava both worked various jobs throughout the season in addition to taking numerous AP classes, cutting into their practice time and curtailing their improvements despite their best efforts. This coupled with the fact that 3 of the girls teams top 6 returners, did not in fact return for the 2016 season. The team did gain Milka Perez, who was a team star in the 2014 season, fresh off a 2015 season that she missed due to a torn ACL. Her addition and gradual improvement is a bright spot for the team going forward. While the boys team experienced a large group of incoming freshmen with future varsity potential, the girls team did not receive the sam boom. They gained several hard working freshmen like Ally Floreza and Ashley Preciado, and one clear future varsity runner in Camila Hernandez. The hard work of Analilai Regla, Denisse Calixto, and Belen Sanchez saw them help out as varsity runners despite being well behind the speed of a ‘B’ division varsity runner when the season started.

In the early part of the season, the team struggled with inconsistency but showed they had the potential to achieve their goals. The Alumni Race was a strong performance for the team,  Azael lead the team with a  time of 12:57, the first JL athlete to break 13 for the course in many years. The boys team in general ran well, and had the privilege of meeting JLXC all time greats Joe Amendt and Greg Machado.

Despite a great performance at the Alumni Race, the team did not perform as well at STAL 1 and STAL 2, their only two Alum Rock Park meets of the year. Erik, Azael and Nathan did move into 7th, 9th and 11th on the 2.85 mile course JL all time list, but the team was unable to achieve their league race goal of having 5 boys under 17 minutes. In any case, the Varsity Boys emerged from STAL 2 4-0, with a  win over Prospect, one of two STAL teams to beat them at BVAL finals in 2015.

The team did have some success at their first 2 invitationals, setting school records at both the Lowell Invitational and the Delasalle Invitational. In both cases, Azael lead the team, finishing narrowly ahead of Nathan both times. This was only the 2nd time the comets have run at the Lowell Invitational and the 8th time they have competed at DLS. In any case, both team time records were set by huge margins. The teams consistency issues continued at these invites, while Azael and Nathan performed exceptionally well, Inteus struggled as did Gustavo A. Gustavo P however, began to show huge progress, running 18:31 at the DLS invitational for a new PR by over 1 minute. The Lowell invitational was significant for the team however as they defeated both Santa Teresa and Evergreen, two of the top teams in the MHAL (‘A’ division). The team began the 2015 season looking like a solid ‘A’ league team only to finish 13th at BVALs and the team was determined to not repeat that type of placing.

The team worked very hard over a 2 week hiatus, showing improvement at the 2016 edition of the watermelon run. Nathan became the first Comet athlete to run under 18 minutes for the 3.03 mile version of North Rim, a course which should take longer to run than any other course we race on. The team was very much motivated for a big performance at STAL 3, where they would take on 2 time defending champion Pioneer, at Montgomery hill. The team put it all together at this race, Nathan lead the group as a captain should, running a PR of 15:52 to become the first Comet under 16 at Montgomery Hill since 2003, and only the 3rd ever to do so. The Comets managed to have 6 athletes under 17 minutes at STAL 3, with Gustavo Parra as the 6th boy in, beating the #3 runner from every other school. Even Jesus Deloya as the teams 7th boy  ran 18:22 beating the 5th boy on 4 of the teams in league.

In coming weeks more PRS were set, with the team’s top 4 all achieving PRS under 16:20. Erik Olsvold would go on to run 15:27, the 2nd best James Lick time ever at Montgomery and the best by a Sophomore by far.

The boys extended their record to 7-0 with strong times achieved at the Crystal Springs Invite and Mt. Sac invite as well. Nathan lead the team at Mt. Sac as the first Comet under 17 minutes for the course in a decade.

The team ramped up their focus once more BVAL finals knowing that a good performance would see them achieve their goals. They did all that and more, running a team time of 85:19, and finishing 2nd in the BVAL overall. They were spearheaded by Erik once again, in a time of 16:22. Erik’s times as a freshmen were quite good, his track season was more impressive and this cross country season more impressive still. Erik has truly broken out as a force within the BVAL. Nathan and Azael both run under 17 minutes as well. Inteus had a slightly off race by his standards, but the team saw all 6 competing boys run 17:40 or faster.

The team competed 2 weeks later at CCS without Erik (who cannot compete on Saturdays due to religious commitments) and while their performance was poor at CCS compared to BVAL Finals, the season was overall a huge victory for the varsity boys. The 2016 season saw many milestones for the team, including team course records at Golden Gate Park, Newhall Park, and most significantly Montgomery Hill.

Just as they set out to do, the 2016 JLXC boys team ended the season as STAL champions. This is the 15th cross country league/division championship in school history. It is the 13th league title for the boys, the 5th JLXC title in the BVAL era (1996 and on) and the first ‘B’ division championship for JLXC in the BVAL era, (the first since 1999). This victory is significant for the school as a whole. Since the BVAL went to its power league structure, (1996)  James Lick has only won 17 league/division championships counting this one. This is only the 4th ‘B’ league championship, and the first since Wrestling in 2004.

These varsity boys will now take a break and look ahead to track, where they hope to continue their winning ways.

The Varsity Girls struggled with numbers and finding the time to train as described earlier, but managed to repeat their placings of 2015. The team went 2-5 and placed 14th at BVAL Finals. They also defeated every team in the WVAL (‘C’) league one again, indicating that the time would have won 3 straight championships had we elected to stay down in the WVAL after our 2014 championship. We as a program would much rather move up and push ourselves with greater competition than simply strive for as many titles as possible.

Arlet ran a myriad of good times as the teams leading girl runner. She broke the 20 minute barrier at Alum Rock park and Montgomery hill. Over the course of the season she set school records at Golden Gate Park and at Half Moon Bay HS. She moved up to #2 on virtually every other all time course list, behind only Kayla Matusda. As only a sophomore, Arlet’s future is very bright. At CCS finals she ran 20:02, missing making the State meet by only 7 seconds, the closest any Lady Comet has ever come to qualifying for the State cross country meet.

Arlet helped lead the team to their middle of the pack finish at BVAL finals. Despite the season being slightly disappointing overall for the girls, the team still competed well and had several bright spots. At STAL 5, the girls ran a team time of 109:29, the 2nd best team time at Montgomery Hill in school history. Maria, Daisy and Milka were all quality varsity girls despite difficulties in other areas. Denisse and Analilia stepped up from 2015 and embodied true Comet spirit to become varsity girls. At BVAL final Denisse and Analilia ran 24:26 and 25:08, compared to times of 25:25 and 26:57 in 2015. Belen Sanchez showed great dedication in the 2nd half of the season and looks to be a potential star going forward as well.

The JV and reserve girls suffered from the same lack of numbers that hit the varsity girls,  but they nonetheless had a large group of hard working athletes. Chief among them was Camila Hernandez, the team’s top JV runner. Camila began her season at Alum Rock park, running 27:25 for a 9:37 mile pace. She worked her way all the way down to 24:34 at Crystal Springs, running 8:20 mile pace. Susie Peterson had her best season so far, and teammate Aliana Santos had a very quality JV season as well. Fellow hard working athletes like Ashley Preciado, Diana Romero, and Ally Floreza also helped the JV team to a 3-4 placing in the STAL and a 12th place finish at BVAL Finals.

The Frosh/Soph boys had an exceptional season much like their varsity counterparts. The team started slow, with the top boys at STAL 1 being Melvin Estrada in 20:43 and Mark ropier in 20:46. The FS team time at STAL 1 was 105:35, (1:45:35). By STAL #4 however, the team would run almost 10 minutes faster, recording a team time of 96:12 (1:36:12), a new school Frosh/Soph team record at Montgomery hill.They were aided by Vincent Giglio running 17:49, a new FS race record for the Comets at Montgomery Hill. After starting the season in the high 20s, Mark worked his way all the way down to 18:15 at STAL 5. Nien Tran and Jerricho Habon also ran under 20 minutes, with Rudy Peterson running exactly 20 seconds for his PR. This group of boys, along with Melvin and Hugo Marquez, went on to run a team time of 1:40:17 (100:17) at league finals, the best Frosh/Soph team time of the BVAL era. This hard working group  of athletes makes the upcoming track season even more excitement.

It’s very easy to focus on the scoring teams, and to especially hone in on the fastest varsity athletes. This sport truly is about improvement, and the fact that an athlete is willing to put themselves through miles and miles of effort in the cause of bettering themselves is a fact wort admiring regardless of the athletes competitive level. Valerie Flores exemplified this, starting the season with times consistently in the 29-30 minute range before working her way all the way down to 27:09 at league finals. Brittany Salazar also ran huge improvement throughout the season as the only other reserve girl on the team.

The reserve boys were the team’s biggest group and several athletes had seasons to remember. David Bejines lead the team all season, running quality reserve times of 20:14 at Crystal Springs and 19:23 at Montgomery hill. Isaak Herrera had a breakout season, running under 20 minutes at Montgomery hill as well,a dramatic improvement from a year ago when such courses took him over 23 minutes. Austin Swank, Esteban Garcia-Gomez,  Kevin Bach and Daniel Portillo consistently helped fill out the team along with Jesse Friaz. Kevin and Daniel in particular, as freshmen runners, made great strides over the course of the season.

The 2016 XC season has come to a close for the Comets. All that stands left is the team banquet in December. Many athletes have moved on to Winter Sports, while many more take a break to focus on school. Beginning in December several of the teams athletes will come together to begin training, and on January 1st 2017, the preparation for Track 2017 will begin in earnest. JLXCTF will look to continue the momentum from a very successful XC season into an equally strong track season.

Thank you for reading and a happy Thanksgiving to you all.

-Benny Reeves