The James Lick cross country team competed at the 2019 edition of BVAL Finals on Monday November 4th at the historic Crystal Springs cross country course. BVAL finals is significant as the final race of the year for most runners, and the final determinant of team standings for the league season. It is also the CCS qualifying meet, with the top half of teams (24 total teams in the league so top 12 as long as full teams are run) qualify for CCS. Each of the CIF divisions are also guaranteed 1 representative team. With only 3 division schools in the BVAL, that meant the Comets just needed to beat San Jose and Gunderson to clinch a CCS berth, a feat the team managed to achieve.
Conditions were warm and many runners across the league struggled as a result, though we as a team competed quite well despite the heat.
The meet began with the varsity boys race. The varsity boys team has struggled this season with the loss of 1-2 runners Mark Orpia and Jerricho Habon since early in the season. The top trio of Nien Tran (18:20) Brandon Cruz (18:35) and Omar Fimbres (18:40) competed quite well with Nien and Brandon both breaking the 19 minute barrier for the first time. After that, the team’s lack of depth really stung with Geo Campos (20:30) and Jo-Jo Bradley (21:25) coming in next. Melvin Estrada rounded out the group. This was good enough for a 16th place finish out of the 24 BVAL teams. The team also defeated Sobrato, meaning that although the squad went 0-7, we will not be in last in the final standings.
The team did handily beat Gunderson and San Jose to clinch a CCS berth but in many ways it was a disappointing season. For reference, if Mark and Jerricho simply had been healthy enough to MATCH their finals times from last year (not ambitious as the top 3 boys all ran at least 30 seconds better than last year) the team would have finished in 9th place. This is the nature of sports, staying healthy is a big part of success and we were simply unable to do that this year.
The next race was the varsity girls, a far greater source of strength for the team this season. The team placed 12th of the 24 BVAL schools. Though not every school had a full team, this was a solid middle of the pack performance and the team clinched a CCS spot by being the top D4 school.
Jessica Cervantes lead the team in a PR of 22:57. Keyla Sifuentes (23:49) Emely Lopez (23:55) and Daisy Flores (23:56) all broke the 24 minute barrier for the first time. Yeimili Adame ran 24:26 for her final high school race and Ahsley Preciado rounded out the team in 25:12. This was all without team #2 runner Mya Hammond who is recovering from injury, and Lizbeth Espana, the usual #5 who dropped out during the race due to ankle pain. The girls clinched a middle of the pack finish in the division and even defeated 2 ‘A’ division schools in Piedmont Hills and Andrew Hill. Perhaps the most exciting feature of the team is that the top 6 runners this year are non seniors, and they will look to get valuable experience at CCS finals in 2 weeks.
The JV girls were next, and for the 2nd year in a row, they achieved the Comets top finish on the day. The team came in 6th in the entire BVAL and saw a few strong performances. The best performance was by Ruth Rodriguez who lead the team in 24:15, a PR by over 2 minutes and the 5th best JL time on the day. Mariana Perez (24:59) and Estefani Herrera (25:44) were next in as a solid 2-3. Melanny Sanchez ran a PR of 26:16. Kaylena Gil had a rough day but was the 5th girl in 29:20. Deisy Flores rounded out the team in 30:50.
The frosh/soph boys race was next on the docket. Justin Nguyen and Omar Sanchez lead the team, both running huge PRS of 21:22 and 21:26 respectively. Their previous bests were 22:46 and 23:07 respectively. Navbir Kahlon narrowly missed his PR running 23:08, fighting through leg pain to be the #3 boy. Josue Gomez took 30 seconds off of his PR to run 23:35 and Carlos Nava was the 5th boy in 24:03. Jason Garcia ended the frosh/soph day in 26:06, a 30 second PR.
The final race of the day was the reserve race, and it was combined between boys and girls. Abraham Benitez lead the Comets in 21:35 a very solid performance. Josh Merin was next in 22:10. Luis Escamilla took 48 seconds off of his PR to stop the clock at 23:05. Luis Gonzales and Yesenia Martinez ended the Comets day by squeezing under the 30 minute barrier.
Looking around the league, many teams struggled mightily, suggesting that our team had a great day in terms of improvement. For example, the 29 competing Comets achieved 14 PRS to end the season. Compared to Santa Teresa, a top level ‘A’ division team that achieved only 4 PRS from 25 athletes. I for one am proud of the fact that our team competed hard despite not ideal conditions and can say that every member of the team went out with an effort to be proud of.
The team will compete in a final team event, the Watermelon Race this week, before the top runners on the team prepare for CCS finals on Saturday November 16th back at Crystal Springs.
The Comets had their 3rd league meet of the season on Thursday October 17th 2019. After the first two league meets of the year were fairly poor performances by the team, the Comets really surged ahead at this meet, having by far the best all around league performance of the season so far despite still dealing with several injuries.
The team was facing off against the Sobrato Bulldogs and the Oak Grove Eagles, and the meet began with the frosh/soph boys grabbing their first wins of the season.
The team was lead by Justin Nguyen in 20:31, just missing his PR by 10 seconds. Omar Sanchez had a big breakthrough running 20:52, a PR by a minute and 30 seconds. Navbir Kahlon ran 21:14, a PR by a minute 30 as well. Carlos Nava and Josue Gome came in together at 21:30 and 21:44. Both were big PRS, especially for Carlos whose previous PR was 24:20. Jason Garcia rounded out the frosh/soph team in 23:20 a PR by almost 2 minutes. The boys defeated both Oak Grove and SObrato to move to a 2-3 record on the season.
The biggest breakthrough on the day was the varsity girls team. The team now has 5 girls faster than our number 1 girl at league race 1. We are the only team in the division that can come close to saying that. Jessica Cervantes and Mya Hammond lead the team in 21:32 and 21:38, both PRS, Mya’s being a PR by over a minute. Daisy Flores, Emely Lopez and Lizbeth Espana packed together and all broke the 23 minute barrier for the first time. Daisy finished in 22:22 (PR by 1:26) Emely at 22:27 (PR by 0:43) and Lizbeth at 22:35 (PR by 1:55). For reference no Comet ran under 23 minutes at our first league meet this year. In her first varsity race, Keyla Sifuentes ran a strong PR of 23:28, loping over 2 minutes off her previous best. Ashley Preciado rounded out the team in 24:32.
The team spread (difference between 1st and 5th girl) was also by far the lowest in the division at 1:03. The team’s top 6 runners were 5 juniors and 1 freshmen, indicating great hopes for next year. With the two victories over Sobrato and Oak Grove, the varsity girls are 4-1 on the season, clinching their 2nd consecutive winning season and only the 3rd winning season for the girls in the ‘B’ division in school history.
The varsity boys race was next, and the team was still dealing with significant injuries. Mark Orpia and Jerricho Habon, the team’s 1-2 from race 1 are still out with injury, a big part of why the team is winless this season. The team nonetheless had its best race of the year by far.
Nien Tran spearheaded the team in 16:50, a PR by 40 seconds to crack the high quality 17 minute barrier. Brandon Cruz just missed doing the same thing, running 17:06 for a 25 second PR. Both boys beat all the runners from Sobrato and Nien beat Oak grove’s top boy. It would not however prove enough to earn a win. Omar Fimbres managed a small PR of 18:01. He just missed beating two Sobrato boys at 17:57, this would help seal the Comets 27-28 loss to the Bulldogs. Next in was Melvin Estrada in a seasons best 18:33. Melvin just lost to Oak Grove runners who also ran 18:33. Had Melvin beaten them the team would have won that dual, instead the Comets lost 27-30 to the Eagles. Geo Campos was the 5th boy in 19:01, a seasons best. The team came very close to a pair of wins, but the narrow losses drop the team to 0-5 and make an 0-7 season likely. Even so, this race was a big improvement on previous meets this year.
The reserve boys race was next. With the boys team dealing with so many injuries, only 3 Comet boys ran. Josh Merin lead the team in a 20 second PR of 20:31. Abraham Benitez managed a huge PR of 20:50, taking over 3 minutes off his previous best. Luis Escamilla missed his PR by a bit, stopping the clock at 22:13.
The JV/reserve girls race was the final race of the day. Mariana Perez lead the JV girls ina varsit caliber time of 23:14, a 20 second PR. Ruth Rodriguez and Estefani Herrera were next in 23:42 and 23:54, both small PRs. Yesenia Martinez had by far her best race of the season, clocking in at 24:16. Kaylena Gil and Marisol Carlos came in close together at 26:07 and 26:33. For Kaylena this was a PR by over 1 minute and for Marisol it took nearly 4 minutes off of her previous best. Marisol has been radically improving, going from 33 minutes at race 1, to 30:04 at race 2, to now 26:33. Her sister, Deisy Carlos, also broke the 30 minute barrier for the first time, running through at 28:32, a PR by 2 full minutes to end the team’s day.
The JV girls moved to 5-0 on the season and will face the other undefeated JV team, Leigh HS, next week.
The team netted a total of 22 PRS on the day, the most in any race this season and a very high number considering only 30 athletes competed.
The team will compete in their final league meet of the year next Thursday October 24th against Leigh and Pioneer. The team will then send a small contingent down to southern California for the Mt. Sac Invitational that weekend.
On Saturday September 9th, the James Lick Comets took to Golden Gate Park to participate in the Lowell Invitational for the 5th time in school history. Due to very muddy conditions the courses were slightly altered making the traditional Frosh/soph course 2.07 miles instead of 2.13, and the traditional long course 2.8 miles instead of 2.93.
This might not seem like a big deal to many but it is unfortunate in my opinion since we cannot directly compare the performances to past years and use the comparisons to project ahead. For example, at the end of the meet, we were under the impression we had established a new varsity girls team record, only to learn later that the course had been altered.
In any case, the invitational was a good bounce back race for many of the Comet runners after what was a tough day for the team on Wednesday at their first league meet. The meet began with the freshmen boys race.
Despite the mud, the flat nature of the course and cool weather makes it a course where many runners run a fast pace and build confidence going forward.
Justin Nguyen lead the Comets with a strong time of 15:09, good for a 7:21 mile pace. This was a huge breakthrough for Justin, who just 3 weeks ago ran a 7:31 for our 1 mile time trial to start the season. Omar Sanchez was next in 16:10, also running under 8 minute pace for the first time in his career. Carlos Nava came across in 16:28, just under the 8 minute mile pace barrier as well. Jason Garcia rounded out the group in 17:40, a strong showing for him as well.
The frosh/soph girls race was next, and the first lady Comet across was Ruth Rodriguez in 16:45. The 8:05 pace is by far the best pace of her career to this point. Marisol Carlos also ran in the race as a substitute for a runner who couldn’t make it, and she ran 19:21. The 9:21 pace was a strong improvement for her as well.
In the soph boys race, Jay Austria ran a strong time of 14:45, a 7:08 pace, the 2nd best pace of his career so far. Navbir Kahlon finished in 15:56, a 7:42 pace as well.
With the JV races, the day turned to the 2.8 mile course, more comparable to our league races on the 2.74 mile Montgomery hill course. Even though it is a slightly longer course than Montgomery Hill, the conditions make it much faster. A good goal for any athlete is to try to run faster at Montgomery than you were able to manage at Lowell. This is even more challenging with the course being shortened this year.
Mariana Perez lead the JV girls with a time of 23:18. Estefani Herrera was close behind in 23:27. The 8:23 pace for Estefani is the best of her career to this point. Erika Camacho ran 24:06, a big step forward from a 27 minute clocking at Montgomery on Wednesday. Melanny Sanchez ran 24:21, the best race of her young career so far.
Hugo Marquez lead the JV boys with a time of 19:57, a big step forward from a 23 minute run on Wednesday. Abraham Benitez had by far the best race of his young career. He stopped the clock at 20:13, running 7:13 pace. Josh Merin was close behind in 20:24. Rodolf Ocampo ran 20:56 to and Luis Escamilla ran 21:23, breaking the 8 minute pace barrier for the first time.
The varsity girls race some some big breakthroughs as well. Namely Mya Hammond running 21:08 for the 2.8 mile course. Mya had never run under 8 minute pace for a cross country race before. She went way under that mark, managing a 7:33 mile pace for the race. Lizbeth Espana and Emely Lopez ran 22:16 and 22:18, both dipping just under 8 minute pace for the race as well. Ashley Preciado and Yesenia Martinez both took solid steps forward running 23:19 and 23:33 respectively to round out the groups.
The final race of the day was varsity boys. Mark Orpia lead the group in 16:10, the 5:47 pace being the fastest of his career so far. Jerricho Habon was next in 17:00. Brandon Cruz and Nien Tran made up the 3rd and 4th in 17:26 and 17:39. Omar Fimbres was the 5th boy in 18:09
After a very rough first league meet, the team bounced back soundly at the Lowell Invite.
The team will work towards matching their Lowell Invite times at Montgomery Hill, which would make the team a force to be reckoned with at meet #2.
The team will take most of the next 2 weeks to focus on training. The Comets won’t race again until September 21st at the DeLaSalle Invitational.
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.
This blog is in two parts. The first part is a summary of the 2019 track team. The 2nd part is located at the end of that post, and is a summary of the Ryan/Oyama Awards ceremony.
A I write this there are only 6 school days left at James Lick High School. Graduation for the class of 2019 is a week away, and all of the sports teams have finished their competition. It is a good time to look back on the track season briefly, and to recap the school year in terms of sports.
We went into the 2019 track season with the goal of achieving a winning record in the ‘B’ division in what was only our 2nd year in the division in the entire BVAL era (since 1996). The boys managed to achieve this goal, going 5-2. The girls had a myriad of issues and only went 2-5. Nonetheless, the combined 7-7 record was an improvement on the 6-8 record the year before.
The team looked very strong at our first meet against Live Oak. The Comets took dominant wins against a quality Acorn team. At that moment, hopes were very high that both teams could be a force in the division.
As the season went on, the boys team showed more depth than any James Lick track team in nearly 20 years. For example, this season the Comets had 11 different boys run under 13 seconds for the 100 (they were all under 12.8 in fact). Since the year 2000, the most Comet boys to break that barrier in a single season had been the 8 boys who managed it last year. Of the 11 who managed it this year, only two were seniors.
Only one Comet in the last years had run under 55 seconds for the 400, Gustavo Aguilera in 2017. This year two Comets accomplished the feet, with Misael Herrera leading the way at 54.51, the best time since I’ve been coaching. We had 9 different boys run under 60 seconds in the 400, also a best of the last decade.
In my first 3 years of coaching, we had only 3 different boys who managed to long jump farther than 18 feet. This year alone we had 6 (None of them had done it before this year) and none of them are seniors. We also had our first 20 foot long jumper in over a decade in Salvador Lopez, who missed making CCS by only one place this year.
Perhaps the biggest leap forward for the boys was in pole vault however. Coach Raul Lopez worked hard last year to produce two vaulters for the first time in decades. Mark Orpia went 9-0 and Rodolf Ocampo 8-6. The two are the top returning vaulters in the division for next year, with PRS of 10-8 and 10-2. Rodolf also became the first Comet in 11 years to run under 16 seconds in the 110 hurdles. The 4×100 team ran 45.06, the best time by a James Lick team since 2002. The 4×400 achieved the same distinction running 3:36.78.
The team’s most valuable athletes based on league meet points scored were as follows:
1. Rodolf Ocampo: 106.75
2.Mark Orpia: 83
3. Salvador Lopez: 77.50
4. Raven Alcantara: 53.50
5. Erik Olsvold: 39.50
The top 4 point scorers on the boys side were all juniors, as were the 6th and 7th (Jerricho Habon with 38 and Geovanny Campos with 34). For reference, Rodolf is only the 2nd Comet boy to score over 100 points in a season since I’ve been coaching, and the first to do so in the ‘B’ division.
The team’s only real weakness was the throwing events, as demonstrated by the chart below.
Average Points Per Dual Meet
Points Available Per Meet
Average Points as percentage of Available
League Finals Points
The large amount of juniors on the team puts us in a great place for next year on the boys side, especially if we can find some strong throwers.
What started off as a season full of hope on the girls side, became a season of struggle unfortunately. We had a number of injuries, and some issues with academic ineligibility that really held the girls team back.
While the team had some standout athletes, team depth was simply not there. Valeria Cortez won league titles in the discus and the 100 hurdles to cement her already impressive legacy. Marquise Nelson finished 2nd in the girls shot put and discus at division finals, along with a 2nd place finish for Arlet Miranda in the girls 800.
Average Points Per Dual Meet
Points Available Per Meet
Average Points as percentage of Available
League Finals Points
As you can see from the girls event scoring breakdown, the girls sprint team due to injuries and grade issues, was not where it needed to be for the team to be competitive. This lead to a deficiency in jumps as well, by division finals the team was not able to score a point in jumps.
This will be an area of emphasis for next season. With the team’s top 3 point scorers all graduating on the girls side, the team will need to re-load quickly.
The girls top point scorers were as follows:
Valeria Cotez: 155
Arlet Miranda: 71.25
Marquise Nelson: 61
Natalie Rem: 53.25
Yesenia Martinez: 49
Valeria’s point total is an unofficial team record (I only have records of points since I’ve been coaching) but it is a mark I do not see falling anytime soon.
Below are the top 3 marks in each events by the Comets this season:
# 2 Comet
# 3 Comet
Alcantara, Ocampo, Lopez, Campos
Alcantara, Merin, Lopez, Campos
Alcantara, Merin, Herrera, Campos
Lopez, Olsvold, Habon, Herrera
Herrera, Campos, Habon, Lopez
Herrera, Lopez, Merin, Habon
# 2 Comet
# 3 Comet
Galdamez, Cervantes, Hammond, Rem
Galdamez, Nelson, Adame, Gonzalez
Thach, Nelson, Hammond, Adame
Espana, Sanchez, Adame, Miranda
Hammond, Sanchez, Adame, Miranda
Hammond, Cervantes, Nelson, Adame
The track season is over and the team is now finishing up their schoolwork. The distance- underclassmen will begin training for cross country in June, and a few of the Comets will be competing in summer track meets as members of a few clubs, such as the Eastside Running club.
Thanks for reading!
It was a down year for the school overall. The 2017/2018 school year saw James Lick finish with a combined record of 101-85-4, the first combined winning record for the school in many years. This year the school went 67-85-4. It should be acknowledged however that the James Lick girls basketball team moved up to the ‘B’ division, which made it more difficult to obtain a great win/loss record.
We had the 2019 addition of the Ryan/ Oyama Awards on Tuesday May 21st in the James Lick gym. This ceremony is our signature end of the year award ceremony for all sports, and the Ryan award is the award for our best senior student-athlete as determined by their four years of athletics for the school. The Oyama award is the female equivalent.
The award ceremony begins with the coaches awards. Every team is allowed to give out two awards for each group on their team. For example, in cross country we are able to give two varsity and two JV awards for both boys and girls.
The JV girls awards went to Jessica Cervantes as the JV girls MVP and Estefani Herrera for the girls most improved runner. On the boys side, Gustavo Madrigal was our most improved JV runner and Omar Fimbres was our team MVP.
Arlet Miranda was our varsity girls MVP and Belen Sanchez was our most improved athlete. On the boys side, MVP went to Mark Orpia and Most Improved went to jared Resendiz.
In track, we gave our JV awards to Lizbeth Espana and Mya Hammond on the girls side, and Jordan Laguna and Dekota Castro-Lopez on the boys side. Valeria won the team MVP for girls and Adriana Marcelino was most improved. On the boys side, Adrian DeLaRosa won an award for leadership, and Rodolf Ocampo was our MVP.
Next up were the class awards. Jhesselyn Santos won freshmen girl of the year. She participated in cross country, wrestling, and track. She was a strong young athlete in the sports I coach, and she won the most improved award for JV wrestling.
Jordan Laguna won the boys freshmen of the year. He excelled as a jumper in track and besides our award, he won an award for wrestling as well. Sophomore of the year went to a couple more XC runners. Omar Fimbres won the boys award, he played basketball and baseball in addition to being a strong cross country runner. Esetfani Herrera won the girls award, she played soccer besides running cross country and track.
Dulce Jacobo, one of the stars of the school’s championship volleyball team, and the school’s ‘B’ division basketball team, won junior of the year. I’ve been trying to get Dulce to join track for several years now to no avail. Rodolf won the boys junior of the year in something of an upset victory considering there were several 3 sport junior athletes of comparable caliber, whereas Rodolf only ran cross country and track.
Finally the moment everyone was waiting for, the Ryan/Oyama Awards themselves. The Ryan Award went to Misael Herrera, the 3rd straight track athlete to win it following Nathan Bernardo and Azael Zamora. Misael competed in football and track all four years of his HS career, and also competed in wrestling his junior and senior year. He is a dedicated and very hard working teammate. His victory was not shocking considering he had won freshmen of the year, sophomore of the year, and junior of the year throughout his career.
The girls competition however was very tight. It’s difficult to compare across eras, but I think there is a legitimate case to be made that the 2019 girls class is the best athletic class in James Lick history.
The girls class of 2019 produced 6 division titles for the school. Of those 6, 4 came in sports that James Lick had never won a championship in. During Arlet and Valeria’s freshmen year, they both scored a ton of points towards helping us win our first ever championship in girls track. This duo were the 1-2 punch that helped us repeat this feat in 2017, and saw us move up to the ‘B’ division for the first time.
In the fall of 2017, Valeria was the setter for the school’s first ever championship in girls volleyball. The star of the team was the middle hitter, Marquise. Marquise used her height to excel at spiking, and this duo was the driving force behind their back-back titles in girls volleyball.
In winter of 2018, the girls basketball team won their first title since 1997, lead by the efforts of Marquise, and other key contributors from the class of 2019 like Corina Gutierrez and Serena Salas (both also played for the championship volleyball team). The girls softball team was lead by star pitcher Corina, and twice finished with a record of 17-4 during this four year span, missing a title by one game twice.
In addition to her prowess in volleyball and track, Valeria made it to the State meet in wrestling with a 3rd place finish at CCS finals. This to say nothing of the accomplishments of 3 sport athletes like Belen Sanchez, who was also a key to several team records in cross country this season, a team captain on the soccer team and a member of both track championship teams.
In most years, I think Arlet would have been a shoe in for the Oyama award. She is a 4 time CCS qualifier (3 in cross, one in track) who has won individual league championships and lead a team to two league titles, all while maintaining a 4.0. The high number of string 3 sport athletes made it so that she was not even in the top 3 candidates considered.
In the end, Valeria won the Oyama award against a very deserving runner up in Marquise. To me, this was the toughest call between any Oyama or Ryan award duo that I’ve ever seen. I think either lady could have taken home the honors.
That puts a wrap on another year of James Lick sports. James Lick graduation is on Wednesday May 29th at the football field beginning at 7 PM. The final day of school is on May 30th.
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.
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.
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.
Live Oak: 81.75
James Lick: 78
Piedmont Hills: 53
Oak Grove: 11
Piedmont Hills: 117.50
James Lick: 80
Oak Grove: 29.50
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.
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.
As has become tradition over the past few seasons, the James Lick track team began their season with competition at the Willow Glen Invitational. Another tradition continued as for the 4th consecutive year, athletes had to compete through some amount of rain and wet conditions at the invite. The morning rain yielded to fair conditions in the afternoon, and when the dust settled, 34 Comets opened their seasons.
The conditions and early season status of the meet kept the competition numbers lower than normal, and it also weakened the marks/times achieved across the board. Nonetheless, overall the team competed very well, placing highly in a number of areas.
The meet began with the 4×100. The varsity team of Geo Campos, Salvador Lopez, Misael Herrera and Raven Alcantara clocked in at 47.71 to place 4th overall and win their heat. While the time isn’t extremely fast, not many fast times were produced in the 4×100 in general, and the team competed well against some consistently good teams. This 47 second opening time is also the fastest season opening 4×100 time the team ahs achieved since I’ve been coaching. For reference, last year at Willow Glen the team ran 49.25 and by the end of the season ran 45.50. With that in mind, the 47.71 in the rain is very encouraging.
The next event on the track was the 1600. The Comets sent a large group of frosh/soph girls to compete, fresh off their JV undefeated season in cross country. Erika Camacho lead the group in 6:50, a PR by 12 seconds, her first time cracking the 7 minute barrier (always a big moment). Ruth Rodriguez ran a 12 second PR as well, clocking in at 7:07. Newcomer Lizbeth Espana ran a very solid 1600 debut of 7:09 just behind Ruth. Estefani Herrera, Mariana Perez, Emely Lopez and Francine Estranero also competed but are still working themselves into shape.
Ashley Preciado made her season debut running 6:56. While this is not near her PR of 6:09, it actually is 2 seconds ahead of her time from last year. The varsity boys 1600 saw two strong early season performances. Mark Orpia ran a 1 second PR of 5:05.62 and Brandon Cruz ran a 6 second PR of 5:08.81. Both boys are way ahead of where they were a year ago and are poised to break the 5 minute barrier very soon.
Around this time the rain broke, allowing for better conditions for the hurdles. Valeria Cortez and Yesenia Martinez both competed, though not with great results. On the boys side, both Rodolf Ocampo and Mark (fresh off of his mile PR) ran under 19 seconds for the first time in the 110 hurdles.
Several Comets competed in field events during this time as well. Josh Merin cleared 5-0 in high jump for the first time in an official meet. A year ago at this time, Josh only managed to go 4-6. Sal cleared 5-4, much better than the 4-10 he managed a year ago. Both boys medaled in the shallow high jump field. Raven lead the team in the triple jump, with a leap of 36-9.5 Sal was next in 35-9.5 and Jamie Vong went 35-6. For reference, last season Raven and Sal opened the season at 33 feet each, so they are well ahead of where they were a year ago.
The 100m dash saw several strong showings from Comets as well. Raven won his heat in a time of 12.02 matching his seasons best. The next heat, Geo ran 12.13 a seasons best and the 2nd best time of his career. Sal won his heat in a big PR of 12.41 (Sal rarely runs the 100 but had never run under 13 before). Rodolf also netted a sizable PR, stopping the clock at 12.54 ( his first time under 13 as well). Josh Merin ran 12.64, a PR by nearly 2 tenths of a second. Adrian DeLaRosa ran a seasons debut of 13.04 and Angel Guerrero ran 13.06 for a small PR. The Comet Sprint corps are looking much better than they did at this time last year. Last year only two Comets ran under 13 seconds at the WG invite, compared to a full 5 this year with two more under 13.1.
On the girls side, Jenny Fimbres made her debut running a solid 15.67. Krissy Aguja ran 17.50 for her first time at the event. Emily De Dios made her debut running 17.22. Marquise Nelson made her debut for the team and ran 16.12. Valeria lead the lady sprinters in 15.07. Marquise is the school’s star basketball and volleyball player, and we are excited to see what she can do in track (she played softball before this year).
The 800m was next and with it, the large group of frosh/soph girls took to the track again. Mya Hammond ran 3:05, 3 seconds better than her clocking here a year ago. Erika was not far behind, running a 3 second PR of 3:08. Lizbeth just missed her PR running 3:15 and Ruth ran 3:16 in her debut in the event. Mariana Perez and Estefani Herrera came in at 3:25 and 3:26 (both girls are about 10 seconds better than they were at this time a year ago). Emely Lopez stopped the clock at 3:28 and Francine at 3:34.
Ashley Preciado ran 3:05 for the 800, 5 seconds ahead of what she ran last year at this time. Arlet Miranda took 3rd place overall, the highest finish of the day for any Comet in a running event. She ran 2:33.76, her fastest ever season debut in the 800 and she did it as a negative split.
On the boys side, Jerricho Habon ran 2:13.10 to lead the Comets. He missed his PR by only .2, but last year he did not run 2:13 until mid April. Mark managed his 3rd PR on the day, running 2:16 to lop a second off his personal best. Melvin Estrada and Brandon ran 2:26 and 2:27 respectively. Hugo Marquez rounded out the team in 2:43.
More field events continued during this time. Rodolf managed a new PR in the pole vault, going 9-6. This is the best mark by any Comet since we re-established pole vault last year. Mark matched his PR of 9-0 as well. In the long jump, Jamie Vong managed a massive PR of 18-0. This was a PR by over a foot and he was one of only 5 boys to jump 18 feet on the chilly day. Raven, Josh, Geo and Angel also competed in the long jump.
In the girls high jump, Yesenia cleared 4-4, much better than last year when she did not make a height. Marquise went 4-0 on her first go at the event. In the throwing events, Adriana Marcelino threw 18-6 in Shot Put and 58-10 in Discus. The discus throw is 6 feet better than her willow glen mark from last year. Marquise had an impressive debut in the shot put throwing 26-9.5, placing 8th overall. Valeria placed 4th with a throw of 30 feet even.
The highlight of the field events was Valeria throwing 108-11 in girls discus. This is by far the best she’s ever thrown to start the season, and the mark was good to make her the meet champion in girls discus.
The final two events with Comets competing were the 300 hurdles and the 200. Arlet ran a PR of 55.82 in the 300 hurdles. Yesenia ran 1:03.28, slightly better than last year even though her block gave out and she slipped at the beginning of the race. On the boys side, Rodolf managed a 4th PR on the day by running 48.47 for the 300 hurdles. Luis also competed in the event.
The long day finally ended with the 200. Jenny and Emily made their debuts running 34.28 and 36.87 respectively. Natalie Rem opened her season with a 30.93 clocking. On the boys side, Geo lead the group in 25.99. Misael was not far behind in 26.23, faster than his 26.5 season opener from last year. Jerricho ran 26.13 taking a big chunk off of his PR. He is much faster than he was at this time a year ago when he ran 27.20 for the 200.
It was a successful first meet for the Comets. The team netted 20 PRS, The team finished in 7th place on the varsity boys side and 8th place on the varsity girls side out of the 31 teams in attendance. Not bad considering we still don’t have a track to practice on.
Some of the Comets may head to Westmont HS on Saturday March 9th for the K-bell invitational depending on training and weather this week. Either way the Comets will open their league season on March 14th against Live Oak HS. This is scheduled as a home meet, but will likely be at Live Oak as construction on our track is still ongoing.
The James Lick track team is conditioning now ahead of what will be it’s second year of competition in the Santa Teresa (‘B’) division of the BVAL in track and field. A year ago in my season preview, I said that our goal was simply to go 5-9 between the boys and girls sides, to prove we belonged in the division. We exceeded that goal by going 6-8, just one win shy of a .500 record. The team of 2018 was the largest track team I’ve coached, with a max total of 69 athletes competing for James Lick in our dual against Pioneer last year. We were also able to re-institute pole vault at James Lick for the first time in decades. Coach Raul Lopez managed to help two Comet boys advance to BVAL finals in the event.
Last season, the combined records in the division looked like this:
1. Evergreen: 14-0
2. Pioneer: 11-3
3. Lincoln: 11-3
4. James Lick: 6-8
5. Prospect: 6-8
6. Piedmont Hills: 5-9
7. Sobrato: 2-10
8. Oak Grove: 1-13
Normally the BVAL stays pretty stagnant, but things were shaken up after this season. Evergreen was dominant. Their closest dual meet was decided by more than 20 points, and they were the outright winners of several invitationals. They moved up to the ‘A’ division with Mt. Pleasant moving all the way down to the ‘C’ division, and Live Oak moved up to join us in the ‘B’ division.
The makeup of the division is much different without Evergreen. Live Oak will look to make an impact with some very impressive young talent.
With year 2 on the horizon, the Comets are working towards their first winning season in the ‘B’ division, and we have our sights set in attacking a ‘B’ division title on the girls side outright. While the girls team of 2018 only went 3-4, it finished very strong. We opened the season with 4 straight losses then finished with 3 straight wins. At Division finals last year, the lady Comets finished 2nd overall, only losing to dominant division champions.
This strong performance on the girls side showed the potential the team has for a title chase, and 2019 figures to be an exciting season with the team more prepared for the thralls of the Santa Teresa division.
Girls Season Preview (Boys Below)
Areas of Strength/ Areas of Weakness.
Last year, the team’s league points breakdown was as follows:
On the girls side, the team’s weakest area was sprints. That being said, it was actually the best sprint corps the team has had on the girls side in some time, it was primarily the greater strength of the ‘B’ division that created the low point total. The year before in 2017, the lady Comets had 32% of available sprint points. That total barely dropped as the team moved up to a substantially more difficult division. The team will be counting on a few key athletes in these events to take the next step. Furthermore, the team ran the best 4×100 that James Lick has managed since 1993. It did so with a team that contained no seniors or juniors. There is great reason to be optimistic about 2019.
The distance team also will look to improve. Similar to the sprint squad, the Comets are returning all of their best distance athletes. The team scored 40% of points available, a respectable total in a year where we only managed a 1-6 record in cross country. This school year we went 5-2 in cross country, and I think this greater XC success will translate into greater distance results in track.
Jumps are an area of focus as well. While the team’s top 2 triple jumpers are back (both scored at division finals) the team lost the stalwart of presence of Lyndel Ventura. Lyndel moved up to #4 on the school’s all time long jump list with a leap of 16-7.25 last year, and her graduation leaves a bit of a void in the event. The team will also look to improve in high jump, with their 3 top athletes returning (all were sophomores last year). Last but not least, a major deciding factor in the title race will be the Comets ability to produce lady pole vaulters. Only a handful of girls pole vaulted in the entire division last year, which could give the Comets a big advantage if they succeed.
The Comets were very strong in hurdles, with a returning division champion in the 100 hurdles and the top returning 300m hurdler in the division as well. With the team’s top 3 hurdlers returning, it should be another great area of strength for the team.
Throws have been absolutely dominant for James Lick over the past few seasons. The case could be made that we were the best girls throws team in the entire BVAL. We produced 3 CCS qualifiers in throws for 2 consecutive years, but we are likely to take a hit in throws this year. While the team returns Valeria Cortez, as by far the division’s #1 ranked discus thrower, the loss of Charli Chircop and Alejandra Ceron, ( the school record holders in discus and shot put respectively ) will make this area more challenging. We will need some younger lady Comets to step up.
Key Comet Athletes
We’ll be counting on the contributions of many different athletes, but below are a few of our most critical returning athletes.
Valeria Cortez: While I would love more data to have more athletes to compare her to, as it currently stands, Valeria is likely the 2nd best female track athlete in school history. (She certainly is based on the records I have). She is the only James Lick athlete I know of to have qualified for CCS trials in 3 different individual events. Based on last season, among returners she is ranked #1 in girls discus (112-8, while 2nd is at 100-8) , #2 in the girls 100 hurdles (16.88), and #3 in girls shot put (33-7). Her 300 hurdles PR is better than all but 1 girl in the division as well. To make things more interesting, Valeria is only a few feet behind the current school discus record.
Arlet Miranda: Arlet has had a very string career, plagued with injuries. Whenever healthy, she’s been a force for the team. As a sophomore, she became the first girl in school history to make CCS outright in the 800 (and she wasn’t fully healthy at the time). She is coming off of only her 2nd XC season to be injury free, and is poised for a big season if she can continue that. She is ranked #4 in both the 1600 and 800, and #6 in the 3200. She is also #2 in school history in all 3 distance events, making this an exciting year in terms of potential school records.
Natalie Rem: As a freshmen last season, Natalie took the division by storm. She was primarily focused on jumps for most of the season, but came on very strong as a sprinter by the end of the season. She is the #3 returning triple jumper with a PR of 33-1. She is also ranked #8 in long jump (15-1) and #3 in the 100 at 13.49. That 100m PR put her 9th place in school history, and she is by far the fastest girl we’ve had since I’ve been coaching. Natalie could be a force for this team if she continues to develop her sophomore season.
Kirsten Yutuc: Kirsten has two consecutive BVAL qualifications in the 300 hurdles, and she took major strides last season. With Evergreen gone, Kirsten stands as the best 300 hurdler in the division with a PR of 51.80. Kirsten is a very versatile athlete. She is on the top 14 rankings of more events than any athlete in the entire division. She is a threat in all 3 sprint events. She is ranked top 10 in both Long Jump (14-9) and Triple Jump (30-9.5) and she is ranked #4 in the 100 hurdles (18.22).
Yesenia Martinez: Yesenia was our most improved athlete as a sophomore last season. While she was only our 10th best sprinter, by the end of the season she qualified for BVALS in the 100 hurdles. She is ranked 6th in that event (18.43) 6th in teh 300 hurdles (54.72) and tied for 4th in High Jump at 4-6. We will be looking for Yesenia to hit the ground running this season.
Boys Season Preview
Areas of Strength/ Areas of Weakness.
Last year, the team’s league points breakdown was as follows:
The team’s strongest area a year ago was distance. This isn’t too surprising since the cross country team was already competing in the ‘B’ division, but the loss of top runner Azael Zamora does leave a void. Younger Comets will have to step up, but the team will need to use depth to overcome the loss of a top-notch runner.
Hurdles were the 2nd best area, primarily because of Cody Huoch. With Cody also graduated (now competing at San Jose City College) the team will need to find some new hurdlers, and we aren’t drawing from a position of strength the way that we are in distance. Finding new hurdlers is a key to success this season.
The sprints and jumps squads should be radically improved this year, and that is an area of excitement for us. While we took only 28% of points in sprints, and 37% of points in jumps, the vast majority of our top athletes are back and looking strong. By the end of the season, the team was much better in these events, and will look to build on a strong finish by their sophomore athletes.
Throws are the biggest area of concern at present. We netted 35% of points last year, but virtually all of those points graduated with Daniel Medina and Josh Garcia. Last year the frosh/soph boys scored only 10% of possible throws points. The team desperately needs reinforcements in throws, this is a critical area of improvement for this season.
Key Comet Athletes
We’ll be counting on the contributions of many different athletes, but below are a few of our most critical returning athletes.
Salvador Lopez: Sal was one of our top athletes in his sophomore season. He was the starting Quarterback for the varsity team this year, and has gotten much more explosive through working out and natural growth. For example, last season his High jump PR was 5-2. At an all comers meet earlier this month, Sal jumped 5-8 despite the fact that he hasn’t practiced high jump in months. One can only wonder what improvements he’ll show in other events. He was already ranked as the #6 returning triple jumper (37-8.5) and #10 returning long jumper (17-10). He’s also just 1 spot off the list in the 400 but I suspect Sal will be a great athlete for us across the board this year.
Raven Alcantara: By the end of last season, Raven was our top sprinter. He ended the season with a 100m PR of 11.79, the #6 returning 100m runner in the division. Raven has always struggled to double and we are focusing on helping him be more capable of running the 200 as well. He is also ranked 7th in the boys triple jump (37-8). Raven and Sal both decided not to play basketball this season in order to focus on track and this could mean big things for their development.
Erik Olsvold: Erik’s career has been up and down. As a sophomore, he was poised to be a tremendous distance runner, winning the ‘B’ division championship in XC and the 3200 title in the ‘C’ division in track. Injuries kept him out most of his junior year, but in a period 3 weeks, Erik went from not being able to job without pain, to placing 6th at division finals in the 800. Erik’s focus will be the 400/800 this season, and he is determined to go out on a high note.
We are very optimistic about the 2019 season. We will need to be creative over the next few weeks as our track and field is being resurfaced. The expectation is that we will host our first home meet on March 15th against Live Oak on a brand new track.
The Comets took to the historic Artichoke Invitational in Half Moon Bay High School on Saturday October 6th. This marked the 32nd time on record that the Comets participated in the Artichoke Invite. These days it is the favorite yearly invite for the majority of the team, and the short course (2.33 miles) yielded some great PRs and fast paces for the team.
The Comets day began with the frosh/soph girls race. Many of the Comet sophomores ran huge PRs, with some managing the best race pace of their XC careers. Mya Hammond was the first girl in with a PR of 19:13. Last year, Mya ran 20:30. The 8:15 mile pace was by far the best of Mya’s cross country career. Mariana Perez and Estefani Herrera would come in together at 19:40 and 19:43, both massive PRs. Mariana ran a PR by over 2 minutes, and Estefani ran a PR by nearly 5 minutes. Both girls ran under 8:30 pace for the first time. Erika Camacho was 4th in 20:19, with Emely Lopez close behind in a PR of 20:22. Francine Estranero ran a time of 21:27, shattering her previous PR of 23:06, and Araceli Mejia ran 22:44, breaking 10 minute pace for the first time in her career.
The frosh/soph boys were next. Omar Fimbres lead the group with a 26 second PR of 14:58. Jonathan Cortez ran 16:07 for his first time on the course. Alberto Trejo ran 17:27, for a race pace of 7:27, the best of his career so far. Josue Gomez and Kevin Santacruz ran 19:33 and 22:12 respectively. Both absolutely shattered their career best mile paces,
The Comets had only a handful of athletes in the JV races. Giulissa Correa ran 20:17 and Adriana Marcelino ran 24:55. This was an especially good race for Adriana who’s official mile PR is 11:02, yet she ran under 11 minute pace for the course. On the boys side, Rodolf Ocampo lead the team in 16:27, a PR by 1:10. Josh Merin ran 17:38, and Rafael Yanez ran 20:57. It was the best mile pace of both boys careers to this point.
The varsity races followed. The varsity girls team was spearheaded by Arlet Miranda. Arlet set the school record on the course in 2016 by running 15:37. She ran exactly the same time at the 2018 edition, running 15:37 for 8th place, the highest pacing Comet on the day. Ashley Preciado ran a huge PR 17:38, a PR by over 2 minutes which put her 12th on the school’s all time list for the course. Belen Sanchez ran a 10 second PR of 18:01. Jessica Cervantes made her debut on the course running 18:15 and Jenny Villagomez was the 5th girl in with a PR of 19:07. Yesenia Martinez ran 20:28 for her first time on the course.
The girls team combined for a team time of 88:38, the 2nd best team time in school history only to the team of 2014. Many teams were away at the Crystal Springs invite, but the girls team managed to place 4th as a team in the varsity race.
The varsity boys were lead by Mark Orpia in 13:40. A pack of Comets finished in the 14 minute range. Jerricho Habon ran 14:15 ( A PR by 2 minutes) and Jared Resendiz ran 14:19 for his first time on the course. Melvin Estrada and Brandon Cruz ran 14:38 and 14:40, both PRs, Brandon’s by over 2 minutes. Nien Tran rounded out the team’s day with a PR of 14:49.
It was a great day for the Comets who competed at the Artichoke Invitational. The team will turn their attention back to Montgomery Hill where they will face Sobrato and Oakgrove on October 11th in ST division race #3.