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.
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.
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.
The James Lick Comets took to Fremont High School on Saturday March 31st for arguably the teams favorite invitational, the Firebird Relays. The meet features combination relays in the field events and hurdles. Every team with 3 athletes in an event, 3 varsity girl long jumpers for example, will have their marks added up. The 3 best teams in each event based on this format receive medals and score points for their teams.
Every year we gear up to field combination relays here, taking a small break from striving for individual PRs, to go for team accomplishments. It means alot for athletes who are new at track or are usually nowhere near the top of their event to be able to pursue medals. Overall on this day, the Comets netted 32 medals as a team.
The meet however did start with the individual hurdle events. Valeria Cortez just missed medaling, taking 5th overall in a seasons best 17.04 (3rd was 16.96). Yesenia Martinez won her heat in 18.99, her 2nd best time of the season despite a bad stumble on the 8th hurdle. Rodolf Ocampo ran 17.38 in the boys 110, a solid performance, though just off of his wind legal PR of 17.29.
The boys 4×100 team of Raven Alcantara, Rodolf Ocampo, Misael Herrera and Geovanny Campos ran 46.14 for 8th place in the varsity boys 100. Last year at Firebird an almost identical team (Salvador Lopez instead of Misael Herrera) ran 48.39 at this event. This team continues to improve by leaps and bounds, and with our 5 fastest sprinters being juniors, it makes the future very exciting indeed.
The field event relays got under way with the Varsity Boys triple jump. Sal lead the team with a small PR of 38-2.50. Jamie Vong achieved a new seasons best of 36-10.50. Angel Guerrero went 32-8. The team was hampered by the fact that Raven was not able to achieve a mark. Raven has been having major issues with scratches of late in the horizontal jumps, an issue we will be working to fix this week. The team just missed medaling, placing 4th as a unit.
In the girls long jump, Natalie Rem went a seasons best 14-4 and Lisbeth Galdamez jumped 13-6. The Comets did not have a 3rd athlete to complete the relay however.
The first medals of the day came in the varsity girls shot put relay. Valeria Cortez (31-5.25) Marquise Nelson (30-11.50) and Natalie with a very strong debut of 25-8.50 completed the relay. The Comets placed 2nd overall in the event, out of 14 teams with athletes competing in the event. Adriana Marcelino also threw for the team. She threw 21-10.75, a seasons best and only a quarter inch off of her PR.
Three frosh/soph girls competed in the 1600 with great results as well. Ruth Rodriguez lead the freshmen in a new PR of 6:47.57. Estefani Herrera broke the 7 minute barrier for the first time, clocking in at 6:52.20. Mariana Perez ran a seasons best 7:02.75 as well.
The next event was the DMR (Distance Medley Relay). The first leg runs 1200 meters, 2nd runs 400, 3rd runs an 800 and the anchor runs a 1600. There are only a few results in the event (on record) in school history, but the Comets added a few more at Firebird. The varsity girls team of Belen Sanchez, Arlet Miranda, Ashley Preciado and Yeimili Adame ran 15:02.87 to place 2nd and win themselves medals. The frosh/soph team of Mya Hammond, Jana Kikia, Jessica Cervantes and Lizbeth Espana ran 15:45.86, 10 seconds better than last years frosh/soph team.
On the boys side, the team was Melvin Estrada, Misael Herrera, Jerricho Habon and Mark Orpia. The team stopped the clock at 11:53.48, the 4th best mark on record in school history out of 10 total marks.
The distance crew was at it again later in the 4×800. The varsity girls team again took 2nd, finishing in 11:41. The frosh/soph team took 3rd place between the team of Estefani, Jana, Mya and Jessica. The varsity boys were unable to medal in a competitive race, but ran a 9:23.71, 11 seconds better than last year between Melvin, Josh Merin, Mark and Jerricho.
A few Comets contested the open 100, though none quite achieved PRs. Lis ran 14.10, and Chnatrea Thach clocked in at 15.58. Krystal Tran ran 16.35 in the frosh/soph version of the event. Angel was the only boy to run the 100, running a 12.82.
The field events marched on with the boys long jump. Sal went 19-1.50, the 2nd best jump of his career to lead the team. Jamie went 18-5 to miss his PR by 1 inch. Geo did not have his best day, going 17-7 with Raven also struggling at 17-4. Nonetheless, the team did manage to medal between Sal, Jamie and Geo, placing 3rd, just inches off of 2nd.
The girls discus throwers just missed medaling, placing 4th. Valeria and Marquise had off days, throwing 95 feet and 69 feet respectively. Adriana broke through with a PR of 66-7 however. This had been a long time coming for Adriana, whose previous best of 65-0 had stood for over 2 full years. It was a big moment for her and throws coach Raul Lopez.
It was a different story in the girls triple jump however. Natalie took 3rd overall with a leap of 31-8.25. Marquise made her triple jump debut and went 28-6.5. Yesenia went 26-6 an off day by her standards. Nonetheless, the girls won the triple jump replay!
The boys also got medals in the high jump. Geo Campos cleared 4-10, while Josh cleared 5-0. Sal completed his best ever jumps day (PR in triple, 2nd best mark in long jump) with a PR in the high jump of 5-8, tying him for 3rd overall.The girl high jumpers also took 2nd as a team. Marquise went 4-0, with Yesenia and Lisbeth both going 4-2.
With the field events completed, the Comets had two running events left. In the girls 300 hurdles, the team of Valeria, Arlet and Yesenia managed to take 2nd as a team for the combination relay. The boys managed the same feet with some big PRS.
Sal went 45.74 for his 2nd try at the event, a very strong mark when one considers how bad his form was in the race. Mark managed a huge PR of 46.02 as well, beating his previous best by over 2 seconds. Rodolf had an off race, but did enough to ensure a 2nd place for the team in the combo relay.
The final event for the Comets on the day was the SMR (Sprint Medley Relay). It consists of two 100 meter legs, a 200 meter leg, and a 400 meter leg. This was only the 2nd time (on record) that the team contested this version of the event.
The girls team of Lisbeth, Natalie, Yeimili and Arlet ran 2:07.47, shaving two seconds off of last years time for a new school record. The frosh/soph team of Araceli Mejia, Krystal, Mya and Jessica ran 2:18.85.
On the boys side, Raven, Geo, Misael and Jerricho combined to run 1:45.00, 2 seconds better than last years mark for a new school record again. The ‘B’ team of Mark, Jamie, Angel and Josh ran 1:49.15 to end the Comets day.
When all was said and done, the Comets were 10th out of 42 teams with all 4 divisions combined (no Comets competed in frosh/soph boys). The team was a very strong 3rd place on the girls side.
With the confidence gained from the Firebird Relays, the team will head to Lincoln on Thursday April 4th for a quad meet against Lincoln, Piedmont and Sobrato. This meet will go a long way towards determining the Comets’ season record.
The team will then head to Leland High School on Saturday April 6th for the Quicksilver Classic.
The Firebird Relays at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale have been one of the team’s favorite invites for several years now because of the variety relays available. In addition to the standard 4×100 and 4×400, the meet holds the Distance Medley Relay and 4×800, as well as combination relays in all field events and the 300 hurdles.
To qualify for combination relays, a teams top 3 athletes have their best marks/times added up and compared across the top 3 of others teams. The team with the 3 best relays in each event received medals. This makes the Firebird Relays a great meet for the team to compare its depth against other teams.
The meet started off strong for the team. Susie Peterson ran a huge seasons best in the 100h, running 19.63 to go under 20 seconds for the first time this season. Kirsten Yutuc ran 21.15 for a PR in the 100h despite a fall on the final hurdle of the race.
Jonathan Rodriguez also ran a PR in the 100 hurdles, clocking a time of 19.16 for his race. Soon afterwards field events got under way.
Lyndel Ventura went 12-11.50 for the team in the long jump, though she was jumping from a board 2 feet behind the board the meet was using to measure from. This shows that Lyndel is near her 15 foot long jump PR.
The team sent 3 triple jumpers on the boys side to compete as a relay team. Ace Medina led the team with a new PR of 37-3. Cody Huoch was 2nd in a PR of 36-7.50 and Hadji Yono-Cruz was rd in 35-9. The team placed 5th in the triple jump relay, only missing 3rd place by a combined 5 inches.
Arlet Miranda ran a 5:49 1600, well off the 5:41 she ran a few weeks earlier at the Willow Glen Invite as she continues to battle through minor injury. Daniel Portillo had an excellent race, breaking the 6 minute mile barrier for the first time to the tune of a 15 second PR of 5:54.
The Comets ran a Frosh/Soph Boys team of Raven Alcantara, Misael Herrera, AdrianDeLaRosa and Bryan Cuevas who combined for a solid 49.31. The Varsity team of Cody, Hadji, Ace and Chris Okoro competed as well but were Disqualified for a lane violation.
Both the Varsity Boys and Frosh/Soph Boys competed in the 4000m Distance Medley Relay or DMR. The Varsity Boys team placed 6th despite the absence of top runner Erik Olsvold and missed the school record by less than 1 second, running 11:30.81. Inteus Castro-Lopez started the team off with a 1200m leg of 3:38. Gustavo Aguilera ran a 57 second 400m split, followed by a 2:07 800m leg by Nathan Bernardo. Azael Zamora anchored the team home with a 4:47 1600m. On the FS side, Melvin Estrada, Misael Herrera, Hugo Marquez and Mark Orpia combined to run 13:01.
Meanwhile, the strong Lady Comet throwers were strutting their stuff. In 2016, Alejandra, Charli and Valeria took 3rd in the Frosh/Soph Discus relay, and first in the Shot Put relay. Their combination relay mark of 83-8 gave them the win. Alejandra was the team’s leading thrower on the day with a toss of 28-2.5. This year, with Charli and Alejandra being juniors, the team stepped up to compete at the varsity level and showed just how far they’ve come by winning the Varsity Shot Put relay with a combo of 96-5.5.
It was the first time in school history that 3 Comet girls cracked 30 feet for Shot Put in the same meet. All 3 girls PRd. Alejandra threw 32-7, Charli threw 32-5 and Valeria threw 31-5 to seal the deal.
The team had similar success in the discus Throw, taking 2nd as a team in that as well. In 2016, the team’s combination mark was 214-10. This year the three-headed monster combined for a total of 287- 5.5. Valeria led the team with a throw of 99-2, Charli threw 96-5.5 and Alejandra threw a PR of 91-11, the first time 3 lady Comets have cracked 90 feet in the discus throw in the same meet.
As if the throws of the varsity girls were not impressive enough, freshmen Mariah Santos took 5th in the Frosh/Soph girls discus witha huge PR of 74-1.50. For comparison sake, at the 2016 Firebird Relays, Aleajndra led the team in discus with a throw of 74-11. She backed up this impressive PR with a throw of 22-9 in the Shot Put. Adriana Marcelino also competed for the team.
The Comet throwers on the girls side are as impressive a group as the team as seen in decades. They have anchored the girls team all season and are probably the team’s strongest overall event group (the only possible competition being the boys distance crew). With the rapid improvement he’s fostered in the team’s throwers, in my mind Coach Vela is the best throws coach in the WVAL by a wide margin, if not the entire BVAL.
The boys throwers saw a huge PR as well. Both Daniel Medina and Rogelio Alonzo competed. Roger threw a massive PR in the discus, hitting a mark of 97-11 after setting a PR of 89-0 just days earlier.
The team of Cody, Ace, and Hadji in the long jumped all jumped roughly 17 feet to end their day in the horizontal jumps. In the vertical jumps, the team took 2nd in the varsity boys high jump relay. 5 Different teams had 3 jumpers clear a height. Juan Gutierrez and Ace both went 5-0 for the team,and Jonathan went 5-4 to clinch the medal for the team.
The distance teams took both to the track in the 4×800 relay. The Varsity boys team only missed a medal by 5 seconds despite missing two of the team’s top 3 800m runners in Erik Olsvold and Gustavo Parra. The team’s time of 9:03 is the best time the Comest have run for the 4×800 on record. The Frosh/Soph boys clocked a time of 10:27 as well. Arlet Miranda ran a strong 800, but was caught on the line to finish 2nd overall to a San Jose High runner in 2:35. This sets up a good WVAL rivalry going forward.
The Frosh/Soph boys 100m dash saw Raven go under 13 seconds for the first time, crossing the line in 12.91. Kirsten made her 400m debut in 1:15 as did Chris in 1:05.
The final event the team competed in was the 300 hurdles. Cody ran a strong time of 44.98, just a tenth of a second off his PR. Gustavo A ran a huge PR of 44.71, taking more than a full second off his PR from last season. Jonathan coasted home to a 49.28. The team was a combined 2 seconds away from a medal.
Overall the meet was a huge success for the team. Many athletes received medals, and the team competed well against some of the best teams in the CCS. The team placed 13th overall out of more than 40 competing teams, giving them a confidence boost as they look ahead at the 2nd half of the season.
The team will take on the Gunderson Grizzlies at Gunderson on Wedensday March 29th, then they will head to Overfelt on Saturday April 1st for the first ever Royal Relays.
The team will have some strong WVAL teams to battle if it is to win a double WVAL title, and move up to the STAL for the 2018 season, and the teams/ athletes of the WVAL will be the focus of this blog.
The Comets have their eyes set on a 14-0 season in the WVAL, and a double championship as a result. The West Valley Athletic League, is admittedly , the weakest division (‘C’ division) of the BVAL. Even so, a boys title would be the 1st WVAL championship for the team since the year 2000, and only the 6th title in the more than 60 year history of boys track at James Lick. A girls title would be the 2nd title in school history on the girls side after we claimed the first one in 2016.
We as coaches preach that Track is all about progress. Whether you are an 11 second 100m runner or a 19 second 100m runner, all we can do is work within our ability to improve ourselves. There’s nothing more worth doing than working to make yourself better. As recently as 2014, the team was in the middle of a combined 74 meet losing streak, so finishing 12-2 in 2016 was a huge turnaround for us. This speaks to tremendous team-wide improvement. Progress is what is worth being proud of because progress takes dedication and willpower, regardless of talent level or competition. This focus on improvement has moved us to a more and more competitive position, to the point that we can now add the goal of WVAL championships alongside our chief goal of the improvement of every athlete on the team.
Given the nature of High School sports, it’s possible for any team in any league to have a sudden down year, or to receive an outstanding class of athletes that propel them to new heights. Time will tell what new athletes will burst on to the scene in 2017, but here are the top returning athlete from last season in each event.
Only one of the top 5 point scorers on the girls side in 2016 was a senior, meaning the girls are in an excellent place to repeat as WVAL champions. Currently the team has a small number of girls practicing, but with the winter sports season now over , the team will hopefully add many more athletes on both sides.
Here is the teams breakdown of points scored by event group last season:
Average Points Per Dual Meet
Points Available Per Meet
Average Points as percentage of Available
League Finals Points
Last season, the Comet girls team lead all teams in the WVAL in distance, throws, and hurdles points at WVAL finals. Distance and throws on the girls side are poised to repeat this feat. Arlet Miranda and Daisy Nava were the teams top distance scorers last season, with Arlet finishing 2nd in both the 800 and 1600, and Daisy finishing 4th and 7th respectively. With both athletes back, the team can aim for even more points in the distance events this season.
Similarly in throws, the girls had a 1-2 finish in discus, a 2-3 finish in Shot Put. The throws team scored a whopping 86% of available dual meet points over the course of last season. The girls throwing group is growing in numbers as well, with 8 Lady Comets poised to throw for the team, including Charli Chircop returning from injury. The ability of Coach Vela’s top 3 throwers, Valeria Cortez, Alejandra Ceron and Charli, make throws a source of strength for the team. We can aim for all 18 available throws points, in virtually any dual meet we contest this season.
Keys to the team will be the development of the team in jumps, sprints and hurdles. Last seasons relay teams peaked very well for WVAL finals, finishing 2nd in the 4×100 in a minor upset, and 3rd in a tightly contested 4×400. The relay teams lost two members however, meaning new athletes will need to step up. Maria Mendoza figures to lead the sprint team, and time will tell how many athletes she brings with her from a girls soccer team that took a big step forward this season. Newcomers like freshmen Kirsten Yutuc give the team reason to be hopeful in these events.
Lyndel Ventura and Elyse Elder figure to continue leading the team in jumps. Both athletes had strong seasons last year, but struggled a bit at the very end of the season including WVAL finals. The team will be counting on them to rack up points in the horizontal jumps both at dual meets and at WVAL finals.
The hurdle events will also need athletes to step up with Andrea Ortiz (2nd in both hurdle events at WVAL last year) having graduated. The team does have 3 returning scorers from WVAL finals though, with 100h 4th place Valeria Cortez, 6th place Susie Peterson and 300 hurdles 6th place Belen Sanchez all returning. The void in the 300h is particularly concerning, as the team has no true 300 hurdler with Andrea gone. This is an event the team will be looking to new talent to fill.
Rival teams/athletes to watch
Every team in the WVAL will be treated with due respect and seriousness, but naturally some teams are more threatening than others.We won’t know more about the new athletes in the league until the season is underway, but based on last years results, here are the teams that I expect to pose the most competitive dual meets for the Comets this season on the girls side.
The 2nd place WVAL team last year was Yerba Buena.
They had a strong group of athletes in the hurdle races, and in sprints. Margarita Kirilenko in particular was one of the top 100/200 runners in the WVAL, and will be tough for any Comet runner to take down. Vanessa Ta in the 1600/3200 was also a BVAL championships qualifier and Arlet will be keying on her in the 3200 where Vanessa was able to beat Arlet both times they raced in 2016. There are 127 available points in a WVAL dual meet, meaning that 64 points is our magic number. Last year against Yerba Buena, the lady Comets scored 76, a solid victory, but our lowest margin of victory of the season. Many of Yerba Buena’s best athletes are returning, and the Comets will need to be wary of allowing victory to go the Warriors way this season. Head coach Jesus Pineda is no stranger to WVAL titles either. His boys teams won 3 straight WVAL titles in track from 2013-2015, and his girls won the 2015 WVAL title in cross country as well.
Live Oak: The Acorns were the team with the 2nd most points at WVAL finals last season. They boast the best distance runner in the entire BVAL in Kaylah Grant, making the dual with Live Oak the one dual where Arlet is unlikely to win the 1600 or 3200. Live Oak’s signature over the past few years has been a strong sprint group, winning the WVAL 4×100 title the last 3 years in a row and often advancing all the way to CCS. While their best sprinter and WVAL champion from 2016 graduated, they have two girls returning who scored in both the 100 and 200 at WVAL finals (No lady Comet scored in the 100 or 200 at WVAL finals last season by comparison).
The Comets will need to combat Live Oak’s strength in sprints with points in hurdles and throws. The dual should be god competition for both teams. As with most teams, Coach Vela’s throwing group should net the Comets many points in girls throws. Live Oak’s head coach Alberto Suarez is a throws coach as well however, and if his girls begin to follow the success of his boys (more on that later) the dual meet will be even more intense.
As the largest school in the entire CCS, Independence has a tremendous tradition in track and field. Similar to James Lick, Independence fell far from the success of its heyday in the 2000s. Current coaches head coaches, Don Barber and Khoi Tran are working hard to build their program as well. Khoi and myself especially have a bit of a friendly rivalry as we graduated only a year apart and are both back heading our former schools against each other. (We’ve also both been lucky enough to coach athletes who’ve become much faster than we were in HS).
The size of Independence, (3300 students compared to James Lick’s 1200) make it so that the 76ers can pull strong athletes out of seemingly nowhere. Last year the WVAL champion in the girls Shot Put emerged in the form of a senior who had never done track before. In terms of returners, Independence has the top returning 400m runner in the WVAL in Stephanie Justo, and the top returning 800 runner in Lydia Ma. (Lydia is a great rival for Arlet who may not compete this season due to other commitments but I for one hope she does in order to push Arlet). Based on the depth of returners on each team, the Comets should have an edge but the program in place at Independence, along with their number of students to draw from, make them a school to be wary of.
Gunderson: Gunderson head coach Joseph Miclette has built a strong program of jumpers and throwers. He has the WVAL champion in girls long jump, as well as 2nd and 3rd in triple jump all returning. He also has high scoring athletes returning in the 100, 200, 800, 1600 and 3200. Relative weakness in hurdles and Throws give the Comets and edge, though Gunderson is definitely another team to be wary of.
Others: As any team striving for success knows, every opponent needs to be taken seriously. It’s entirely possible for Overfelt, Del Mar, or San Jose to explode onto the scene with a strong team (we went from 1-6 in 2014 to 6-1 in 2015 after all). Overfelt has one of the top returning athletes in the WVAL in double hurdles champion Chrizna Milanes. Del Mar has had some strong teams in recent seasons when they get a good amount of athletes out for track, and San Jose High finally has a coach who knows track well and who will work to develop the talent that is already present on the team.
Boys Team Preview
Last year’s boys team placed 3rd in the WVAL with a 5-2 record, suffering losses to Independence and Yerba Buena. The team finished 4th in points at WVAK finals, losing to the two already mentioned teams and Live Oak. The boys team only lost one scoring athlete from WVAL finals however (Hector Ramirez who scored in both the 1600/3200) and should be much stronger this season with another hard years work in for an overall young team.
Here is the teams breakdown of points scored by event group last season:
Average Points Per Dual Meet
Points Available Per Meet
Average Points as percentage of Available
League Finals Points
Last season the teams strongest areas were distance and hurdles. If the team is to pursue a WVAL title, points in these areas will be even more essential. At WVAL finals the Comet distance boys scored a whopping 38 points. The only event group from any team to yield a higher point total were boys jumps from Independence, scoring 41. The team has the top 2 returning finishers in the 1600 last season in Azael Zamora and Nathan Bernardo. This duo coupled with rising star Erik Olsvold make the team a very formidable force this season, and I expect the distance team to score in excess of 50 points this season at WVAL finals. The distance team will be aiming not just for WVAL titles, but for sweeps. The proscenia of strong runners like Jesse Cruz form Overfelt, and Quinlan Daley from Del Mar, make victory alone far from a certainty, but the Comets have great ambition in distance this season. We’ll be aiming for all 27 distance points at most dual meets this season.
In hurdles, the Comets had top 4 finishes in WVAL from Hadji Yono-Cruz in the 110h, and Gustavo Aguilera in the 300h. Hadji will be focusing on jumps this season however, meaning that athletes like Gustavo and Jonathan Rodriguez will need to step up to fill the teams void.
The jumps team struggled at WVAL finals and this will be a focus for the team this season. In addition to Hadji, the team has a host of newcomers who look to be ready to help the team to greater heights this season. Coach Turner is hopeful that the team will have several boys go farther than 20 feet in the Long Jump fro the first time in years.
Sprints and Throws are also key to the team being able to run the table. While coach Vela’s throwers have been dominant the past few seasons, the boys team has lacked a top level athlete since Robert Rios graduated. Alex Alonzo figures to lead the team. His discus PR of 102-0 makes it so that this is the first season that coach Vela has a returning athlete over 100 feet in the discus. Josh Garcia was recovering from injury in his last track season, but managed to score for the team at WVAL finals in the Shot Put after only one month of work. He’ll figure to combine with Alex and Daniel medina to try to earn the critical throws points the boys will need this season.
In Coach Steve’s 2nd year working with the sprinters, we’re hoping for na explosion of ability. Top returners Jose Limon and Misael Herrera figure to lead the team. After placing 4th in the 400 and 6th in the 200 at WVAL finals as a freshmen, we’re hopeful Jose will be able to spearhead a much more developed sprint corp.
We’ll need every group to come together to replicate the success of the girls team last season, and to overcome some very daunting opponents.
Rival teams/athletes to watch
The reigning WVAL champion. Independence blew everyone out of the water last season in a dominating performance. They scored 160 points last season at WVAL finals. 2nd Place Yerba Buena scored 119, and we scored 76 points in 4th. When we faced them head to head last season, we lost 86-38. This added with what I’ve already said about the school, and their ability to pull new athletes from their student body, makes them a fearsome opponent. Last year senior Devin Ary competed despite not doing track in previous years, he placed 4th in the 100, 2nd in the triple jump and 1st in the long jump at WVAL finals.
The 76ers did lose some very strong athletes however. Ivan Godinez was one athlete the Comets couldn’t beat last season. With him gone, Indy’s best runners Isiah Tulio, a sub 5 miler in his own right. Nonetheless, all 21 distance points Independence scored at WVAL finals last season were Ivan’s. Devin Ary’s 23 points are also gone. As are Anthony Ho’s 20 points from winning both the 110h and 300h. With Anthony gone, hurdles will be a critical event. The Comets will badly need to take victories there against a still strong Independence hurdles crew.
Independence is a balanced team up and down. In short, I think this will be the most competitive dual meet of my career so far as a coach, and it will have a good chance of determining the 2017 WVAL champion.
To get to the Independence dual meet undefeated however, we’ll first have to go through Yerba Buena first. Yerba Buena was the WVAL boys champion 3 years in a row before Indy unseated them last year. We fell to them in a close dual meet, 69-58, last season. 11 Points may sound like a comfortable victory, but just a switch in the 4×400 from a YB to a JL victory would make the score 64-63.
Yerba Buena was strong in sprints and jumps as well, tallying up the 2nd most points at WVAL finals. They lost the best sprinter in the BVAL in Anthony Richard to graduation however, and this loss alone could tip the scaled in the Comets favor. They have the top returning 300 hurdler in the WVAL, and have strong returners in the jumps and 400 as well. A weakness in throws makes them a bit vulnerable. Their recent track record shows they can also dig up strong athletes from nowhere, and this early season dual meet (2nd of the season) will be a huge test for the Comets. It’s been at least 10 years since James Lick beat YB in a dual meet on the boys side.
Live Oak: Live Oak has a very strong group of throwers which helped them to 92 points at WVAL finals last season. In particular, Brendan White is the reigning Shot Put champion, and finished 3rd in discus last year as well. Our dual meet against them last season was a very slim 67-59 victory. In addition to a strong returning group of throwers, Live Oak usually has a strong group of sprinters as well. The reigning WVAL champion in the 400, Damien Vasquez, is a senior now.
A weakness in distance and horizontal jumps held the team back last year, but their strong sprint corp mean they could find then athletes they need in jumps at any points. Live Oak is another strong team to watch.
Gunderson: Last year we opened the season against the Grizzlies and won by only 1 point. Gunderson typically boasts strong sprinters, and they also have a solid group of distance runners and throwers as well. Jose Alvarez returns as the WVAL champion in the 800, a title the Comets hope to win from him this season.
A lack of hurdlers gives the Comets a good area of focus against when they face Gunderson. Gunderson tallied a slightly higher point total than the Comets at WVAL finals last season, and if the team is to climb form a 4th place finish at WVAL finals, to a 1st place finish this season, they’ll need to beat out teams like Gunderson.
Others: The biggest threats to the Comets dominance in the distance events come from Del Mar and Overfelt in the form of Quinlan Daley, Chris Solorzano and Jesse Cruz. For reference, the only 3 runners of any WVAL track schools to run under 17 minutes at BVAL finals in Cross Country were Erik, Nathan, and Azael for James Lick. Quinlan from Del Mar ran 17:04 and Jesse from Overfelt ran 17:14.
As competition approaches, the Comets are gearing up to make a run at these ambitious goals, with their minds focused on training.
The team will participate in its first meet of the year with many athletes heading to the Los Gatos All comers meet this Saturday (unless it gets rained out). Rain or shine the team will see its first official competion on March 4th at the Willow Glen invitational.
The struggles of the James Lick Track team throughout the early 2000s are seeming more and more distant by the meet. While the team remains in the West Valley League, (C League) of the BVAL, they are among its most competitive teams, compared to just 3 years ago when James Lick was unquestionably the weakest. The team is not only a combined 6-0 between girls and boys, (with the girls team looking particularly strong) they are proving to be a factor at Invitationals, competing well and scoring points in meets with more than 40 teams, and beating out teams in far more competitive leagues.
The Firebird Relays are a unique invitational hosted by Fremont High School in Sunnyvale. Several distance relays are available, as are combination relays in the field events and 300 hurdles. The combo relays require 3 athletes in a division. For example, by entering 3 Frosh/Soph Boys long jumpers, you qualify for the relay. The best jump from each athlete will then be added up and compiled as a team total. If three boys jump 15 feet, the team total would be 45 feet, and that 45 foot total would be scored against every other team with 3 athletes. The team took many of its members with this in mind, seeking to compete well in various relays.
Hadji Yono-Cruz kicked off the meet for the team, though he had a poor race by his standards running 19.76 for the 100 hurdles. Gustavo Aguilera ran 11.85 for a PR in the 65m hurdles next.
The Comets then began contesting the Frosh/Soph Girls Discus. This event was a huge oppurtunity for the team, with a very strong group of young girl throwers. Alejandra Ceron lead the group throwing 74-11 for a Seasons best, less than a foot off of her PR. Valeria Cortez, 73-2 and Charli Chircop 66-9, did not enjoy their best days but did enough to lock up 3rd place in the discus relay with a total of 214-10. Lesymi Saldana also got a PR throwing 54-3.
Next up on the Track was the rarely contested, Distance Medley Relay. The relay consists of a 1200m leg, a 400m leg, an 800m leg, and an anchor leg over 1600m, for a total of 4000 meters. The school record of 11:30 was set at the 1985 Stanford Invitational, in the height of James Lick’s Cross Country distance running dominance. This team likely featured top runners like Joe Amendt, Carlos Alterez and Greg Machado, all three of whom were sub 2 800m runners. The 2015 team ran 12:09 at The firebird relays, and the 2016 team took a huge step towards ushering in a new era of distance dominance, running 11:45. Hector Ramirez started the team off strong running 3:32 for 1200 meters. Gustavo Parra ran a 58 second 400 leg for an unofficial seasons best, and Gustavo Aguilera ran an unofficial 2:17 split for the 800 which would be a PR. Nathan Bernardo brought the team home with a 4:57 1600 leg.
The Frosh/Soph team narrowly missed beating last years Varsity time. Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a 3:45 1200, Misael Herrera ran a very strong 58 second 400 leg, Vincent Giglio fresh from return from injury ran a 2:26 800 split, and Azael Zamora finished the team’s run with a 5:04 1600 to stop the clock in 12:14. The only girls DMR in school history was last year at the end of TKA distance carnival, after many runners had already run multiple events. That team featured Brianna Flores, Daisy Nava, Andrea Ortiz and the best distance runner in lady comets track history, Daniela Camacho, who combined for a 15:18 time.
This years team showed dramatic improvement. Elizabeth Guevara started the team off strong with a 4:28 1200. Andrea Ortiz ran well faster than her official 400 PR, splitting a 66 second lap, while Daisy Nava ran a 2:45 800 split, unofficially beating her PR. Last year Daisy and Andrea combined to run the middle legs of the DMR in 4:19, this year however they accomplished the feat in 3:52. Maria Mendoza ran a weak 1600 by her standards, bringing the team home in 6:07 for a 14:26 clocking, a new school record. The Frosh/Soph girls also beat last years time, running 15:16. The team of Raquel Rodriguez, 4:45, Belen Sanchez, 1:16, Analilai Regla 3:24 and Arlet Miranda, 5:51 rounded out the group.
In the 400m run, every Comet who ran achieved a PR. Isaak Herrera ran a 1:05.40, 2 seconds better than his PR which was set last year at the same invite. Karen Montes took a full 8 seconds off of her PR, running 1:11.62. Denise Calixto took 2 seconds off of her PR, running 1:15.77. On the boys side, Jesse Chircop broke 60 seconds for the first time running 58.96.
Meanwhile the Frosh/Soph Boys began throwing Discus. While the team was not ranked very highly, all three boys achieved PRS. Josh Garcia threw 91-10 to place 7th overall. Daniel Medina threw 86-6, and most critically, Bryan Cuevas threw 71-1 for a 21 foot PR. If Bryan had only PRd by a few feet, the team would not have been able to secure three 3rd place finish with a total team distance of 249-5.
The Varsity Boys threw Shot Put next with Alex Alonzo throwing a PR of 32-4.75. Pablo Segovia also threw a PR of 31-6. Nathan Bernardo competed in place of Osman Lopez, throwing an impressive mark for a distance runner of 29-3.
Much of the distance crew finished their day with a fun run over the 4×800 relay. The Varsity girls team of Daisy, Andrea, Eli, and Arlet ran 10:58 as a team to finish 3rd place. They averaged 2:44.5 a girl. While the boys have a proud distance tradition they are trying to revive, the girls are writing a stronger history meet by meet. Of the 16 girls in school history to run under 3 minutes for 800, 10 of them have broken the barrier in the last 3 years. Eli’s 2:53 leg is much better than her official PR of 3:00, as is Andreas 2:45 leg compared to her 2:59 PR. Arlet brought the team home in a very strong 2:36 leg, showing that all 4 girls are ready for 800m PRS.
The boys team was exactly the same as the DMR on the varsity side. Gustavo Parra ran an unofficial seasons best of 2:17, while Hector Ramirez ran an unofficial PR of 2:16. Gustavo A ran a decent 2:21 leg and Nathan anchored the team in 2:15 to give the team a time of 9:08, far better than the 9:28 from last year and good enough for 3rd place. The Frosh/Soph team was very lacking in speed, but Inteus, Isaak, Vicent and Azael competed and ran 10:10 for the sake of adding more 4x800s to JL school history.
Misael ran a strong 100m of 12.84, narrowly missing his PR despite running the 400 on the DMR earlier. Jesse did similar, running 12.57 for his first post-400 100m race of the season. Hadji ran a solid 12.68 for a big official PR, he long jumped 17-5 soon afterwards. On the girls side, Karen ran 14.71, a strong time after running the 400.
The team’s best showing of the day was in the Frosh/Soph girls Shot Put. Alejandra lead the group again at 28-2.50 for 4th place. Valeria took 5th in 27-9.25 and Charli took 6th in 27-8.25. The team combined for 83-8 to win the Frosh/Soph Girls Shot Put relay! They edged out the 2nd place Santa Teresa team by 8 inches, an impressive victory considering Santa Teresa is the reigning A league champion of the BVAL and has an impressive girls team all around.
The Frosh/Soph Boys Shot Put team acquitted themselves nearly as well. Josh threw a huge PR of 37-0.50 with the 10 pound ball. Daniel threw 34-8 and Bryan threw 29-5. This gave the team a total of 101-.50 good for 2nd place in the FS boys Shot Put relay.
The 300 hurdles has been one of the teams best events on the girls side over the last few seasons, and it is continuing to grow stronger. Belen Sanchez lead the FS girls 300 hurdles team with a 2 second PR for a time of 56.10. Arlet was not far behind her at 56.99 and Valeria ended her day with a PR of 57.67. They combined for a time of 2:50.76 for 3rd place.
The Varsity girls also took 3rd place in their 300h relay. Andrea ran 51.37 for a seasons best, as did Maria at 53.12 Daisy did not have a great race, running 1:02.99 but it was enough to lock up a team time of 2:47 to clinch 3rd place. On the boys side Jesse broke 50 seconds for the first time, running 49.40 despite his already busy day. Gustavo Parra also PRd running 53.96.
The team ended their day with a few runs over 200m. Jesse and Hector managed PRS of 26.24 and 28.32 respectively. Arlet ran a solid 31.34 for her first ever 200, and Denisse ran a PR of 34.39 to end her day. Maria ran a strong 29.44 to end her long day.
All in all, the Firebird Relays held great result for the team. Now the Comets will look ahead to a week off from racing, where the teams most dedicated members will buckle down to get ready for a tough matchup with local rival Independence on April 7th. Feel free to come support the team at 3:30 on that day at the James Lick Track.
JLTF had a strong finish to the season with day 2 of WVAL Finals. The Lady Comets finished 3rd with 91 points to seal a 2nd place league finish. The Boys scored 51 Points for 5th to clinch a 4th place finish in the standings.
The Meet began with the field events. Charli Chircop was able to score 6th place in the girls discus, while Elyse Elder was able to get 7th in the girls long jump, events where no girl scored for the team over the last 5 years. The most impressive field performance by far however, was Robert Rios winning his second WVAL league championship with a best of 43’2. This beats Robert previous PR of 41’11 showing that he is hitting his top form at the right time. The throw moves him onto 8th on the school’s top 10 list in the event.
Both 4×100 teams ran big seasons bests at the beginning of the running events. The boys ran 46.69 for 5th, breaking 47 for the first time in 7 years. The girls made BVAL championships with a 4th place finish in 55.04.
Karan Singh lost a battle with Jason Morrow in the 1600, but took 2nd in a PR of 4:39.91. Nathan Bernardo had a PR of 4:52.19 for 7th place, giving the comets two scorers in the 1600 for the first time in 10 years.
The hurdling duo of Maria Mendoza and Andre Ortiz scored 5th and 6th in the 100 hurdles and will both be returning next year. The team’s most impressive running performance was Paloma Contreras taking the league title in the 400 with a PR of 1:02.54. Paloma came into this week with a best of 1:03.75, ran 1:03.34 in trials on wednesday then another PR to move onto 3rd on the school’s top 10 list. Cierra Gutierrez took 8th in the 400 to add a second scorer.
Davion Thomas ran a brilliant PR of 11.69 in the 100m to place 4th and qualify for BVAL championships. Davion has worked hard this season to go from 12.20 on March 7th, to 11.69 2 months later.
The girl’s 800 was the team’s best event with 14 points scored. Daniela Camacho lead the scorers with a 2:27.64 for 2nd place. This gives Daniela the final school distance record, and is a 5 second PR. Paloma managed to place 6th only 20 minutes after her 400. Brianna Flores took 7th in a PR of 2:46, and Daisy Nava ran a big pr of 2:48 for 8th. This is the first time in school history the lady comets have had 4 girls score in the same event at league finals.
The boys 800 held big PRs for Inteus Castro-Lopez 2:26 and Jesus Deloya: 2:18. Karan had a tough race to place 6th and score in all 3 distance events with the placing.
The girls 300 hurdles has been an area of strength all year and two girls were able to qualify for BVAL champs, with Andrea placing 3rd in 51.26 and Maria taking 4th in a PR of 51.28. Andrea followed this up by scoring a point in the 200 despite her fatigue. Davion qualified for BVAL in the 200 as well finishing 4th with a time of 23.97. The girls 3200 had two scorers, Daniela in 4th at 12:34, and Brianna with a PR in 13:46.
The days ended with epic runs in the 4×400. The girls 4×400 had been ranked 2nd but lost 2 members of the A team before the race. Daniela immediately after her 3200, and Daisy had to step in and run. Despite the substitutions the Comets battled their way to 4th place on the back of Paloma’s dominant anchor leg, the team will go after the school record at BVAL championships this thursday.
The boy’s 4×400 was similarly exciting. The boys were ranked 7th but ran an 11 second seasons best of 3:40.13 the team’s best 4×400 time in over 6 years. Bith relays demonstrated the tremendous strength of teammwork the comets have demonstrated all year.
Following the meet I was approached by multiple coaches who commented that the JL track team was wonderfully friendly and supportive and really stood out this season. Nothing could make me prouder of this year’s crop of Comets who’ve pushed JL into a transition, both in competition and culture. We will be looking to build on the groundwork laid by this year’s seniors next season, and are excited to see what the future holds. The 11 comets who made BVAL championships will compete thursday May 14th at Mt. Pleasant high school in pursuit of the first BVAL champs points scored by JL in 6 years.