Comets Scrimmage With Season Hanging In the Balance

We often don’t fully appreciate the bliss and relief from everyday life that sports can bring. They can provide a distraction from our problems during hard times, a way for young people to learn life lessons and skills, and a positive outlet. The past 6 years of coaching track have been exceptionally fun for me as well as my athletes. I’ve enjoyed every bit of the challenge of trying to help the athletes of James Lick compete against larger and more affluent schools. Several former Comets are competing athletically in college right now, and we have several seniors on the team looking to reach the next level as well. As of right now, our entire season is up in the air.

Given the current state of the country following the outbreak of Covid-19 Santa Clara County has given the order to suspend all school related activities till April 13th at the earliest. There is a very real chance that our track season may be over just as it was beginning. Obviously the public health is far more important than any athletic event, but our entire team is hoping the situation will be under control a month ago, and that we can hopefully return to finish our track season.

We were informed around noon on Friday March 13th that our school, along with every school in the county would be closing beginning next week. As a result, we shifted from a normal practice to an inter-squad scrimmage, a chance for our athletes to compete, knowing that it’s possible they would not get another meet this season.

It was uplifting end to the day for an upset track team, and we had a lot of good results and improvements on the day. We began the meet with the 4×100 relay. For the first time this season we ran the ‘A’ team of Jamie Vong, Geovanny Campos, Rodolf Ocamp and Raven Alcantara. They coasted to a time of 46.73. This time puts the Comets ranked #4 in the entire BVAL through 1 week of season, without any competition. Our girls team of Jenny Gomez, Minhy Pham, Emily DeLaRosa and Yeimili Adame ran a 57.1, a seasons best on the girls side as well.

We went straight to the hurdles after that. Emily D had the 1st of several strong performances on the day, running 21.19 for her first try at the full event, a very solid debut. Jenny Gomez also made her debut in the event running 21.93. Neither time may sound remarkable currently, but to me both are strong debuts.

The 4 fastest girls I’ve coached in the 100 hurdles are Valeria Cortez (16.75) Andrea Ortiz (17.10) Kirsten Nguyen (18.22) and Yesenia Martinez (18.43). All 4 girls share two traits with Jenny, Emily and Cecelia Usui who ran 21.59 for us last week at the Willow Glen Invite. They all began hurdling as a freshmen or sophomore, and they all ran slower than 21 seconds in their first try at the 100 hurdles. In short, I think that our 3 frosh/soph hurdlers, Jenny, Emily and Cecelia all have the potential to be BVAL level hurdlers like Kirsten and Yesenia, given the time to work on the event properly.

On the boys side, we had a very strong tail wind blowing, a 4.4 m/s wind, well over the allowable limit so the marks could not stand as official records. That being said, Rodolf lead the group with the best 110 clocking of his life under any conditions, a time of 15.75. This puts him as the #1 ranked BVAL hurdler 1 week into the season and the #2 ranked 110 hurdler in the entire CCS. Jamie Vong and Mark Orpia came in at 18.39 and 18.93, with Luis Escamilla streaming in at 20.55. If the season picks up, the Comets are likely to be one of the best hurdling teams in the BVAL.

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Rodolf Ocampo and Jamie Vong clearing the first hurdle together. Mark Orpia and Luis Escamilla approaching. 

The 100 meter dash was next, and it saw several strong performances as well. Raven lead the team in 11.91 in a heat with a 0.0 wind reading. Rodolf ran his fastest ever wind legal time of 12.12, just a tick off his PR under any circumstances of 12.06, which was run with a strong tailwind. Jamie got a PR of 12.14, putting both boys in striking distance of the sub 12 barrier. The next fastest Comet on the day was Eric Dang in 12.29 and then Jordan Lagura in 12.38, a PR. Both sophomores figure to be a huge part of the teams future plans. Angel Guerrero took .16 off his PR to run 12.54. Justin Nguyen (13.27) Mark ( 13.43) and Soreya Thach (13.55) all ran PRS on the boys side.

On the girls side, Emily made another very strong debut, clocking in at 14.35 in her first try at the event, finishing in nearly a dead heat with Yeimili (a PR by .10 for Yeimili) and their heat was wind legal. Azalea Galinato ran a seasons best 14.76 and Cecelia clocked in at 15.01 for her 100m debut. Several other Comets made their 100m debuts as well.

We did not run the 1600 or 800, but put the 3200 in the middle of the meet to give our distance crew the chance to contest it. Melvin Estrada lead the team in a solid season opener of 11:39. Omar Sanchez and Justin Nguyen ran 12:45 and 12:50 for their first try at the event. On the girls side, we went 4 for 4 on PRS. Lizbeth Espana (13:56) Jessica Cervantes (13:59) and Keyla Sifuentes (13:59) all cracked the 14 minute barrier for the first time,  and for Keyla it was her first time running the event at all. Ruth Rodriguez also managed a PR of 14:29. The 14 minuter barrier is significant in our league, a girl who can run under 14 can score points in the vast majority of dual meets.

Back on the track, Rodolf and Luis both ran the 300 hurdles. Rodolf managed a PR of 44.56, nearly a full second PR in his first try this season. Luis also cracked 50 to start the year with a time of 49.91.

We skipped the 200 at the Willow Glen Invite so it was the fist time contesting it for many athletes this year. Geo lead the Comets in a time of 25.38. Eric managed a big PR of 25.49 breaking 26 for the first time. Angel also got a big PR of 25.50 just behind Eric, and at this point they were running into a headwind. On the girls side, Yeimili lead the team, cracking the 30 second barrier for the first time in 29.96. Emily continued her strong debut in 30.78, a strong debut. Azalea and Minhy came in close to her in 30.80 and 30.85. It was a strong headwind at this point, and the Comets look poised to have several  girls under the 30 second barrier in the same season.

Meanwhile, the team had several strong performances in the field events. Adriana Marcelino lead the in 77-10 within a foot of her PR. Sara Hawkes and Jimmie Chircop both ha big PRS of 71-2 and 69-0. Emma Demblewski threw over 60 feet for the first time as well, chucking the discus 61 feet. Sandra Naranjo (58-0) and Kiely Leal (57-2) both managed PRS as well as Yesenia Martinez throwing 48-10. Clarissa Morales made hr discus debut with a solid throw of 56-0.

In Shot Put, Sara lead the team in 24-7 , with Clarissa close behind in a PR of 24-2.5. Kiely threw a PR of 21-8 as did Sandra (18-8) to end days for the lady throwers. Jose Uribe made his debut for the boys, throwing 47 feet in discus and 19 feet in Shot Put.

With all the wind, most of the jumpers had a rough day though Yesenia did clear 4-4, a seasons best in high jump. Rodolf also triple jumped for the first time since his sophomore year and went 36-3, a big PR. Eric in 15-6, and Soreya in 15-1 both managed PRs.

The final event for the team was the pole vault, where many of the vaulters working with coach Raul vaulted beginning at a lower height than usual. As such, Cecelia and Ruth both cleared the bar at 5-0 and Yesenia cleared it at 5-6. Omar cleared 7-0 for the first time, the starting height for a frosh/soph boy, showing good long term promise. Hector Hidalgo and Miguel Saldivar both cleared the varsity starting height of 8-0 and Jordan showeed great potential going 8-6 in his debut in the event. Mark and Rodolf both cleared 11-0 for the first time, strong PRS for both boys and an excellent way to end the scrimmage meet.

A total of 31 PRS make the scrimmage meet a very positive one, but a bittersweet one for many members of the team who now can only hope their season will resume. In any case, best wishes to all during this trying time. With some vigilance and luck, hopefully we as a society can get past the coronavirus and resume life as usual.

Thanks for reading and be safe,

-Benny Reeves

James Lick Track and Field: 2020 Season Preview

The Winter season of CCS sports is nearly over which means that the time for Spring Sports is nearly here, brining with it yet another James Lick track season. The 2019 season saw the Comets achieve their first winning season in the ‘B’ division of the BVAl ever, with the varsity boys squad finishing 5-2. This is a particularly exciting year given the string returners on the boys side especially, setting the team up to be competitive against every team they face in the division.

The division has a slightly new look with Perennial power Pioneer moving up to the ‘A’ division and Branham High School moving down. Pioneer went 7-0 on both the boys and girls sides last season, so their departure opens the door for new champions, although Branham will provide stiff competition in their stead.

Below, you can see lists of the top returning athletes in the division (based on marks in 2019) in each event. Obviously it’s tough to say what new athletes will show up, but this provides a decent idea of where the team stands in different areas.

Top Returning Boys

Top returning Girls

2019 Boys Point Scoring breakdown 

Event Group Average Points Per Dual Meet Points Available Per Meet Average Points as percentage of Available League Finals Points
Distance 15.85 27 59% 7
Hurdles 12 18 66% 12.5
Jumps 23.25 36 65% 30
Relays 4.28 10 43% 14
Sprints 11.85 27 44% 10
Throws 4.71 18 26% 1

As this chart shows, the boys were an above average team in the division in 3/6 event areas, and were nearly league average in 2 others. Throws was the team’s real weakness in 2019, and it is a weakness the team, and throws coach Raul Lopez are working hard to rectify.

The team’s strongest event was boys hurdles and the event figures to be an even greater strength for the team this season. Rodolf Ocampo made it all the way to CCS trials last year after breaking through for a PR of 15.97 at last year’s BVAL finals. For reference however, he did not even run under 17 seconds until our division finals meet, and he should make a run at being the ‘B’ division champ in the event. Factor in Josh Merin who finished 6th in teh division in only his 3rd attempt at the 110 hurdles and these two seniors should form a very strong 1-2 punch for the team.

Things are looking good as the team comes out of conditioning. We use the early season to work n acceleration, with athletes like Rodolf running the 60 meter hurdles at the Los Gatos All Comers meet. A year ago, his PR in the event was 9.97. In just two all comers meets this year, he’s lowered his PR to 8.87.

The team has to deal with the loss of Salvador Lopez, the team’s #1 jumper from last season who is now at Piedmont Hills HS. Still, a strong jump core of Jamie Vong, Geo Campos and Jordan Lagura will look to keep jumps an event of strength for the team after scoring points at division finals last year. Jamie is another athlete off to a great early start. Last season he ended with a long jump PR of 18-6.5 Defying even his own expectations, this past Saturday at the all comers meet, Jamie managed a massive new PR of 19-7.

The team last top distance runner Erik Olsvold who graduated last year, but the team still has a number of scoring distance runners returning. Jerricho Habon is the #2 ranked 800m runner in the division and Brandon Cruz and Mark Orpia both return as sub 5 minute milers already, meaning distance should still be an area of strength although a very strong Branham distance squad will shake things up as well.

The sprints and relays squad was the team’s most improved last year. The 2019 team was the first 4×100 team from James Lick since 2001 to make CCS and 3 of the 4 members of the team are back. The returning members of the team who are conditioning are all ahead of where they were last year as well. After running the 60 meter dash 3 times last year, Raven Alcantara ended the season with a PR of 7.41, the fastest time we have on record. In only one all comers meet this season, Raven has run 7.28.

A year ago, the team’s top 5 boys in the 60 were Raven: 7.41,  Geo Campos 7.60, Salvador Lopez: 7.83, Josh Merin: 7.83 and Misael Herrera at 7.99. Geo and Josh are still in basketball season, Sal is at piedmont and Misael has graduated, yet the sprint team is poised to be much stronger this year based on early 60 meter times.

The team’s top sprinters so far, with still one all comers meet to go are:

Raven: 7.41

Rodolf: 7.53 (pr of 8.17 in 2019)

Jamie: 7.61 (PR of 8.07 in 2019)

Eric Dang 7.71 (a newcomer Sophmore we’re very excited about)

Jerricho Habon 7.72 (PR of 8.07 in 2019).

These times have been achieved without 3 of our 5 fastest returning sprinters.Our team’s acceleration is well ahead of where it was at this time a year ago.

Boys throws were the team’s biggest weakness last season, but coach Raul is hard at work trying to fix that. Throws in the ‘B’ division are a relatively weak event currently, and several newcomers are looking to make an impact.

From top to bottom, the boys squad should be a force in the division, looking for another winning season, and maybe even a division title.

 

Event Group Average Points Per Dual Meet Points Available Per Meet Average Points as percentage of Available League Finals Points
Distance 13.55 27 50% 21
Hurdles 13.1 18 73% 24
Jumps 14.86 27 55% 0
Relays 1.73 10 17% 3
Sprints 7.72 27 28% 1
Throws 14.85 18 82% 32

The girls team was very strong last year in throws and in hurdles but both events will take a huge dent with the graduation of Valeria Cortez and Marquise Nelson. Both athletes made CCS in throws, and Valeria in particular scored the most dual meet points of any Comet on record last season, she will not be easily replaced.

The strides made by athletes like Adriana Marcelino who improved her discus by over 10 feet last year, will be key to keeping the Comets competitive in throws. A batch of young throwers is coming out from winter sports, including the younger sister of Charli Chircop. Charli threw 118-2 in discus in 2018 to set the school record, and her sister Jimmie is a Sophmore now, we can only hope she is a chip off the old block.

In hurdles, the loss of Valeria hurts, but Yesenia Martinez remains as a strong athlete in the event, a former BVAL qualafier. Natalie Rem will also have an impact as will freshmen Ceclia who is looking like a future star so far.

With a healthy season, Natalie can take the team far in jumps. She is still one of the top jumpers in the league with her triple jump PR of 33-4 being particularly strong in the division. Much of the girls season hinges upon her performance, as the team’s projected top sprinter as well. Lisbeth Galdamez has been a very reliable sprinter for the team, and if she can have one more breakthrough she could go from consistent 2nd and 3rds for the team in the 100 to achieving event wins. She and Yesenia also form the team’s solid 1-2 punch in long jump. Yeimili Adame has been the team’s top 400 runner and will look to end her senior year strong, coming off of a strong soccer season.

In distance, the team will also have to overcome the loss of Arlet Miranda. This is not an easy task but the younger distance girls stepped up huge in cross country to go 4-3 without Arlet. Jessica Cervantes and Lizbeth Espana are both in shape to PR already based on the al comers meet where Jessica ran 6:27 for the full mile (current PR of 6:24) and Lizbeth ran 6:38 (same as her PR for 1600). These two will be relied upon heavily, alongside young talents like Daisy Flores to help the team score points in distance.

The girls squad is looking to rebound from a 2-5 season, and add a couple more wins to the ledger this year. The team is determined to make our 3rd year in the ‘B’ division our most successful so far.

The team will compete at the Los Gatos all comers meet on Saturday February 22nd. The following week the team will face Independence in a scrimmage meet. Finally the season will truly begin on Saturday March 7th when the team competes at the Willow Glen Invitational.

Mile Time Trial Shows Big Improvement for Comets

I didn’t write a blog last week because our final league meet and the Mt. Sac Invitational in Southern California made the weekend quite a whirlwind. This blog will recap our recent mile time trial as well as those races, with an eye ahead at BVAL Finals. 

Every year, we begin our cross country season with an early mile time trial and then another trial just a week out from league finals. This is mainly for the newer athletes on the team to see their improvement and get a fast confidence builder as we head towards league finals.

At league finals, all 3 BVAL division (A’ B’ and C’) compete together in each race, making it the perfect opportunity to compare teams across the league. It also serves as the final determining factor of standings for the year, as well as the CCS qualifying meet. All these factors make it the biggest meet of the year in most regards. The mile time trial gave us a lot of confidence in our team’s ability to finish the season strong.

The first Comet boy in was our only varsity boy to run all out. Nien Tran managed a 15 second PR, stopping the clock at 5:02 with no competition. Omar Fimbres was the next Comet across in a 7 second PR of  5:40. Josh Merin ran a PR of 5:42, and Rodolf Ocampo did the same, running 5:49. Jonathan Bradley broke the 6 minute barrier for the first time to run 5:53. The same was true of Abraham Benitez (5:55) Luis Escamilla (5:56) Omar Sanchez (5:57) Justin Nguyen (5:57) and Ronaldo Castillo (5:58).

Those last 3 boys are all freshmen and we’re very pleased with your extreme improvement this season. Neither Omar nor Justin could run under 7 for the mile at our beginning of the season time trial, so the fact that they can now run under 6 is something to be proud of. We will be leaning on these boys for the future since we’re so heavy on seniors currently.

Navbir Kahlon ran 6:09 compared to a previous best of 7:20, and Josue Gomez lowered his PR from 7:03 to 6:17 as well. Carlos Nava took 24 seconds off his PR to run 6:28. Daisy Flores shattered the 7 minute barrier to be the first girl in on the day, stopping the clock at 6:34. She is the 3rd fastest freshmen I’ve coached at the end of season time trial, behind only Milka Perez (6:15) and Arlet Miranda (6:22). More girls trickled in not far behind her.

Keyla Sifuentes (6:46) Lizbeth Espana (6:48) Mariana Perez (6:49) and Emely Lopez (6:52) all streamed in together with freshmen Jason Garcia at 6:50 for a 1 minute PR. The mile times were PRS for Keyla, Mariana and Emely as well. Ruth Rodriguez was the next girl in at 6:55, giving the team 6 girls under 7 despite our top 2 runners not running the trial. Melanny Sanchez netted a PR of 7:34 and Adriana Marcelino had one of the very best PRs on the day, running 9:11 compared to a previous best of 10:08.

The big improvements set up the Comets for success at finals.

Mt. Sac/ League Meet 4 Recap 

Our 4th league meet was a very hot day, and coming just a week after some big breakthroughs in ST race #3, there were not many PRS across the league. For example, Garret Hedlund of Pioneer won ST #3 in 14:57 but won ST #4 in 15:31. Still, a few Comets did manage to PR. Justin Nguyen ran 20:10 in the frosh/soph race, an 11 second PR. Rodolf Ocampo also netted a PR in the reserve race of 20:08. On the girls side, on a day where 3 of the Comets top 5 runners did not run due to injury concerns, Keyla Sifuentes lead the team in 23:09, a 19 second PR. Melanny Sanchez also netted an 11 second PR of 26:33.

We too a dedicated group of upperclassmen to the Mt. Sac Invitational last weekend as a reward for their dedication. Jessica Cervantes lead the girls group in 23:05, placing her 13th on the school’s all time list for the course. Emely Lopez was next in 23:39, the best time she’s ever achieved on a near 3 mile course. Mya Hammond, Ashley Preciado and Estefani Herrera rounded out the team with Yesenia Martinez also competing.

On the boys side, Nien Tran lead the group with a PR of 17:58. Brandon Cruz, Rodolf Ocampo, Josh Merin and Luis Escamilla were the other Comet boys competing.

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The boys squad at Mt. Sac

For most of the team, there are now only days left in the season with BVAL finals at Crystal Springs on Monday November 4th. The team will then contest the annual Watermelon Run on November 6th as a final season wrap-up for most of the team.

 

Comets Look Strong at Crystal Springs Center Meet

The Comets competed in the Aragon Center Meet on Wednesday October 9th 2019, with 11 other High Schools. The race was a preview of the league finals course for the team, the nearly 50 year old Crystal Springs cross country course. Since league finals is the most important race of the season for most of the team, getting an early race on the course is important.

There is also a direct relationship between Crystal Springs and our normal league course, Montgomery Hill. Montgomery is a more challenging course, but because it is significantly shorter, most people run 1 minute faster at Montgomery Hill than at Crystal Springs. This is helpful to keep in mind to track the progress of our runners who haven’t run at Montgomery in several weeks now, and to help myself and coach Raul Lopez determine who runs on what team at our next league meet.

The meet began with the frosh/soph boys. Justin Nguyen lead the team witha  time of 22:46, in line with his 21:25 clocking at Montgomery Hill. Navbir Kahlon and OMar Sanchez came in together at 23:06 and 23:07 which shows they are both ready to challenge the 22 minute barrier at Montgomery Hill themselves. Carlos Nava clocked in at 23:27, the best race of his career so far all things considered. Carlos actually ran nearly a minute faster at crystal springs than he has run at Montgomery, showing that he is ready for a big breakthrough at our next league meet. Josue Gomez was the only boy in the race who had run Crystal Springs before, and he ran a full 4 minute PR of 24:12. Jason Madrigal was the last frosh/soph Comet across in 26:43 for his first time on the course.

The next race saw all of the team’s girls competing in one race, a helpful race for helping us determine who should run on which teams next week. Mya Hammond lead the team with a time of 23:04, a PR by over 2 minutes, placing 14th overall. Jessica Cervantes was next, returning from 2 weeks spent in Mexico to run a time of 23:48, not a PR but 50 seconds faster than she ran at this same meet last year. Keyla Sifuentes continued her recent breakthrough to run 24:06 as the #3 girl on the team. Lizbeth Espana and Emely Lopez rounded out the top 5 with times of 24:15 and 24:22 to help the team place 3rd overall on the day. For Emely this was a PR by over 2 minutes. Daisy Flores ran 24:41 for her first time on the course. Mariana Perez managed a 45 second PR of 24:57, giving the team a full 7 girls under the 25 minute barrier.

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Emely Lopez, Keyla Sifuentes and Lizbeth Espana pass the first mile mark in a pack with Daisy Flores close behind

Estefani Herrera beat her center meet time from last year with a time of 25:31. Melanny Sanchez and Yesenia Martinez finished close together in 26:43 and 26:44. Kaylena Gil ran 28:54 and Marisol Carlos 29:52 for their first times on the course. It was overall a strong performance for a girls team missing two of its top 10 runners in the forms of Ashley Preciado and Ruth Rodriguez. We’re hoping for some big PRs on Thursday.

The boys varsity/JV race was the final race of the day and took place after some delay. Nien Tran lead the group with a strong performance and 40 second PR, stopping the clock at 18:05. Brandon Cruz paced Omar Fimbres throughout the race and still beat his time from last year’s center meet, running 19:06. Omar ran a PR of 19:09 in large part thanks to Brandon. Melvin Estrada ran 19:31, a far stronger run than his 20 minute plus clocking at Montgomery Hill at last league race. Geo Campos was the 5th boy on the day in a time of 20:22, only 20 seconds off his performance from league finals last year.

Jonathan Bradely (20:58) and Rodolf Ocampo ( 21:02) came in close together on the back end. Neither boy managed to run this fast last year. Josh Merin managed a huge PR of 2:40, running 21:33, the 7:18 pace being the best of his career for a 3 mile (or near 3 mile) course in his career. Luis Escamilla (24:35) and Luis Gonzales (29:48) ended the Comets day.

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The varsity/JV boys team before the race

Both boys teams are currently 0-3 and next meet (10/17)  figures to be the teams best chance at some wins so far as the team takes on Sobrato and Oak Grove. The team will be competing at league meets in back to back weeks and taking a break from invitationals to focus on Montgomery Hill.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

Comets Have Best Meet of 2019 So Far at Scott Bauhs Invitational

For the first time in school history, the Comets took to the Scott Bauhs Invitational in Pleasanton on Saturday September 28th of 2019. The 2.95 Mile course at Shadow Cliffs Regional Park was mostly flat, and we chose this meet hoping for some fast times and personal breakthroughs for the Comets. We came out feeling emboldened by strong performances in what has been an uneven season so far for James Lick.

Since it was the team’s first time on the course, the fastest Comets would leave as school record holders. Justin Nguyen became the first Comet to hold the title, as the first James Lick runner in the freshmen boys race, coming across with a time of 21:18. The 7:13 pace is the best of his career so far and Justin continues to improve rapidly this season. For reference, when we first timed him in the mile in August, he could only run a 7:31.

The enxt boy in was Omar Sanchez, also with the best race pace of his career so far, 7:25 pace for a time of 21:52. Carlos Nava managed to run under 8 minute mile pace for the first time in his career: 22:49 and Jason Garcia did the same running 24:20. All 4 boys are improving quickly, and they set the tone for what would continue to be a day of breakthroughs.

Daisy Flores lead the frosh/soph girls in 23:21, the fastest race pace of her career so far and she continues to look like the team’s star of the future. Ruth Rodriguez was not far behind in 23:39 (8:01 pace, the best of her career) and Kaylena Gil rounded out the group in 26:27.

This course is exactly the same distance as our historic league finals course, Crystal Springs. If Daisy and Ruth manage to simply match their Scott Bauhs times at league finals, they would both be strong varsity runners.  Last year our varsity girls finished 12th of the 24 teams, exactly middle of the pack, and our 4th girl ran 23:36. A girl who can run under 24 minutes at Crystal Springs is very helpful to a ‘B’ division, and even some ‘A’ division teams.

The varsity races were next and Nien Tran ran a very strong 17:47, with Brandon Cruz not far behind in 17:58. Both boys broke the 18 minute barrier for the first time on a course 2.9 or longer, and both boys managed the fastest pace of their career to this point. Omar Fimbres performance was a big step up as he ran 19:10, well faster than his Montgomery Hill time on Thursday, and Jerricho Habon had a rehab race, running a decent time of 19:27. Nien and Brandon will be critical to the team’s success with some of the injuries the team has dealt with this year.

The girls varsity races saw the best performance of the day. Junior Mya Hammond ran 21:14, 7:12 pace, by far the best of her career so far. This has been a very strong season for Mya already. As a freshmen, Mya averaged 10:03 pace for her XC races. Last year she averaged 9:18 pace. So far this year, she is averaging 8:10 pace and is trending faster and faster. If she manages to run within 16 seconds of this time at Crystal Springs, she will make CCS automatically based on the “at-large” time standard. Mya has transformed herself rom a girl who could only run a 9:44 mile when we first timed her, to a borderline CCS caliber cross country runner with her hard work over these past few seasons.

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The team taking in the lake before the race

Jessica Cervantes has been the team #1 all season, and she had a strong race as well. She ran 21:31, 7:18 pace, also the best of her career. Her strengths as a hill runner give her one of the better odds on the team of matching this time at Crystal Springs. Lizbeth Espana (23:17) and Mariana Perez ( 23:38) were next, both achieving the best paces of their careers so far. Ashley Preciado ran 25:13, and Yesenia Martinez ran 25:54 to round out the group.

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Mya Hammond approaching the 1 mile mark in the race

The JV boys ran very strong as well. Rodolf Ocampo broke the 7 minute pace barrier for teh first time, running 20:26 for a 6:56 pace. Abraham Benitez was next in 21:20. Luis Escamilla, 21:37 and Josh Merin, 21:45 came in close behind him. For Luis, this was by far the fastest pace of his career, 7:20 pace whereas only a month ago he had never broken 8 minute pace. Navbir Kahlon (22:29) and Josue Gomez (23:25) rounded out the group.

The final race of the day for James Lick was the JV girls. Keyla Sifuentes lead the team in a near varsity level time of 24:28. 8:18 pace is a great place to be for the newcomer Keyla. Estefani Herrera was next across in 25:08. Melanny Sanchez in 26:38 and Adriana Marcelino in 33:53 rounded out the team.

The team will hope to build on the momentum from this race as they head to Half Moon Bay on Saturday October 5th for the always fun Artichoke Invitational.

Thanks for reading!

 

Varsity Girls Scrape Pair of Wins at ST Division Race 1

The 2019 James Lick cross country team had their first league meet of the season on Wednesday September 5th at Montgomery Hill. For the 5th consecutive year, JLXC is competing in the Santa Teresa (‘B’) division of the BVAL.

While every ST team was present, the Comets were specifically competing against Independence and Prospect. The first league meet being this early is unusual, and I think this contributed to the meet being a very rough performance for much of the team.

The frosh/soph boys fell to both Independence and Prospect to start the meet. Almost every member of the team was competing on the course for the first time however. Jay Austria lead the team in 23:03, but this is a far cry from his PR of 19:12. Freshmen Justin Nguyen and Navbir Kahlon had solid debuts of 24:22 and 24:28. Ronaldo Castillo and Huu Thai came in together as the 4-5 in 25:23 and 25:36. Carlos Nava was just behind Huu in 25:37. Omar Sanchez rounded out the group in 25:58.

While these times were not exceptional, our young Comets have some good examples to look up to, for example Brandon Cruz. When Brandon first ran the course as a sophomore, he stopped the clock in 23:41. Now a senior, Brandon finished in the top half of the varsity race despite not being within a minute of his PR as well. This is the example we will be trying to follow for our young runners.

The varsity girls team managed to defeat Independence and Prospect despite a very rough showing across the board. Mya Hammond ran a PR 24:02, finishing in the top 20 in her first varsity race. Lizbeth Espana had a strong first XC race, running 24:30 as the 3rd girl. Emely Lopez ran a PR of 24:43 as well. Ashley Preciado was 5th in 25:13, a very off race by her standards. Ashley’s PR is 22:09, and while it’s early in the season, last year she was able to start off at 23:31. It was a similar day for Yesenia Martinez, the 7th girl who ran 26:34 compared to a PR roughly 3 minutes faster. Alexa Rodriguez made her debut in between these two seniors, running 25:34.

Despite it being a very off day for the girls overall (like most of the team) they still managed a narrow win over Prospect due to the team’s depth. The team managed a 28-29 victory, and it was only possible because all 7 Comets finished before the Panthers 5th girl.  A decisive win against Independence made it a 2-0 start for the varsity girls team.

Mark Orpia spearheaded the varsity boys with a strong time of 16:44, placing 7th overall in the varsity race. This was the highest placing of Mark’s career and was a very strong start to the season, 30 seconds better than the 17:16 clocking he managed a year ago at ST #1. Jerricho Habon had  a decent race running 18:06. Brandon Cruz was next in 18:30. Both boys were about a minute off of their best times. Melvin Estrada and Nien Tran came across in 19:31 and 19:32, both over 2 minutes slower than their PRS. Omar Fimbres in 20:11 and Geovanny Campos in 20:17 rounded out the group. The varsity boys lost to both Independence and Prospect, starting the season 0-2.

The reserve boys race had a few bright spots. Rodolf Ocampo and Josh Merin lead the team 21:12 and 21:37. Josh’s time was a PR whereas Rodolf’s was well ahead of his early season times from a  year ago. Both boys should make a serious run at the 20 minute barrier, always a good benchmark. The same can be said of Hugo Marquez who ran 21:59. Luis Escamilla and Abraham Benitez ran 25:44 and 25:46 to finish together as well.

A year ago, the team’s strongest group was the JV girls. The team went 7-0 and placed 5th at BVAL finals, defeating half of the teams in the ‘A’ division. This year’s team figures to be even stronger.

Ruth Rodriguez lead the team in 24:39, close to her PR to start the season. Estefani Herrera was not far behind, running 25:05. Both girls are way ahead of last year’s first ST meet times, despite the very early start. Mariana Perez is likewise a minute up on her counterpart from last year, giving the team 3 JV girls under 26 minutes to start the season. Melanie Sanchez and Erika Camacho rounded out the scoring 5 with times in the 27 minute range.

Sisters Deisy and Marisol Carlos came in together in 32:56 and 33:12 in their first race for the team. Adriana Marcelino ended the Comets day at 37:04.

What made many of the performances so disappointing to myself and coach Raul, was the fact that so many members of the team performed great at the alumni race. Our team showed then that they were physically capable, and we will be greatly emphasizing consistency in mental preparation over the next few weeks with the aim of performing far better at ST division #2.

In the meanwhile, the team will look for a bounce back race at the Lowell Invitational on Saturday September 7th. Then team will get two weeks of pure training in before they race again at the De La Salle Invitational on Saturday September 21st.

Thanks for reading!

James Lick Cross Country Season Preview 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

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The team after the time trial. 

 

2019 Track Season Recap/ Ryan Oyama Awards

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.

Event Group Average Points Per Dual Meet Points Available Per Meet Average Points as percentage of Available League Finals Points
Distance 15.85 27 59% 7
Hurdles 12 18 66% 12.5
Jumps 23.25 36 65% 30
Relays 4.28 10 43% 14
Sprints 11.85 27 44% 10
Throws 4.71 18 26% 1
 

 

 

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.

Event Group Average Points Per Dual Meet Points Available Per Meet Average Points as percentage of Available League Finals Points
Distance 13.55 27 50% 21
Hurdles 13.1 18 73% 24
Jumps 14.86 27 55% 0
Relays 1.73 10 17% 3
Sprints 7.72 27 28% 1
Throws 14.85 18 82% 32

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:

  1. Valeria Cotez: 155
  2. Arlet Miranda: 71.25 
  3. Marquise Nelson: 61
  4. Natalie Rem: 53.25
  5. 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:

 

Boys

Event #1 Comet Mark # 2 Comet Mark # 3 Comet Mark
100m Raven Alcantara 11.47 Salvador Lopez 11.84 Geovanny Campos 11.87
200m Raven Alcantara 23.94  Salvador Lopez 24.26 Misael Herrera 24.56
400m Misael Herrera 54.51  Salvador Lopez 54.97 Jerricho Habon 55.28
800m Erik Olsvold 2:05.90 Jerricho Habon 2:06.52 Mark Orpia 2:12.88
1600m Erik Olsvold 4:51.05 Mark Orpia 4:55.67 Brandon Cruz 4:55.81
3200m Mark Orpia 10:55.36 Jerricho Habon 11:02.14 Melvin Estrada 11:03.48
110H Rodolf Ocampo 15.97 Josh Merin 18.07 Mark Orpia 18.47
300h Rodolf Ocampo 45.59 Salvador Lopez 45.74 Mark Orpia 46.02
Shot Put Rodolf Ocampo 34-2 Nathan Rios 34-0 Adrian DeLaRosa 27-9
Dicsus Josh Merin 92-1 Nathan Rios 83-1 Alexis Sarellano 71-9
Long Jump Salvador Lopez 20-4 Geovanny Campos 19-2 Raven Alcantara 18-7.5
Triple Jump Salvador Lopez 38-2.50 Jordan Laguna 37-9.5 Raven Alcantara 37-9
High Jump Salvador Lopez 5-8 Josh Merin 5–4 Erik Olsvold 5-3
Pole Vault Mark Orpia 10-8 Rodolf Ocampo 10-2 Adrian DeLaRosa 8-6
4×100 Alcantara, Ocampo, Lopez, Campos 45.06 Alcantara, Merin, Lopez, Campos 45.72 Alcantara, Merin, Herrera, Campos 46.01
4×400 Lopez, Olsvold, Habon, Herrera 3:36.78 Herrera, Campos, Habon, Lopez 3:40.45 Herrera, Lopez, Merin, Habon 3:45.44

 

Girls 

 

Event #1 Comet Mark # 2 Comet Mark # 3 Comet Mark
100m Natalie Rem 13.73 Lisbeth Galdamez 13.90 Marquise Nelson 14.19
200m Mya Hammond 29.89 Yeimili Adame 30.10  Natalie Rem 30.18
400m Yeimili Adame 1:05.65 Arlet Miranda 1:09.21 Mya Hammond 1:14.43
800m Arlet Miranda 2:28.08 Mya Hammond 2:48.81 Ashley Preciado 2:51.62
1600m Arlet Miranda 5:42.11 Belen Sanchez 6:24.50 Jessica Cervantes 6:24.56
3200m Arlet Miranda 12:28.59 Yeimili Adame 13:27.25  Lizbeth Espana 14:14.08
100H Valeria Cortez 16.84 Yesenia Martinez 18.57 Natalie Rem 20.10
300h Valeria Cortez 52.08 Arlet Miranda 55.82 Yeimili Adame 56.24
Shot Put Marquise Nelson 33-8 Valeria Cortez 33-3 Natalie Rem 25-8.5
Dicsus Valeria Cortez 116-10 Marquise Nelson 94-4.5 Adriana Marcelino 75-0
Long Jump Marquise Nelson 14-9 Natalie Rem 14-4 Arlet Miranda 14-2
Triple Jump Natalie Rem 33-4.25 Yesenia Martinez 28-8 Marquise Nelson 28-6
High Jump Yesenia Martinez 4-6 Lisbeth Galdamez 4-4 Marquise Nelson 4-4
Pole Vault Yesenia Martinez 6-0        
4×100 Galdamez, Cervantes, Hammond, Rem 56.02 Galdamez, Nelson, Adame, Gonzalez 56.28 Thach, Nelson, Hammond, Adame 56.32
4×400 Espana, Sanchez, Adame, Miranda 4:53.24 Hammond, Sanchez, Adame, Miranda 4:57.49 Hammond, Cervantes, Nelson, Adame 4:59.33

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!

 

Ryan/Oyama Summary 

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.

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Misael Herrera (Left) Myself (Center) and Valeria Cortez (Right) with their awards

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.

We are nearly at the end of another school year!

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Valeria Cortez taking a warmup throw before the meet

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

Comets Set New Team Record For Total Points Scored at ST Division Finals

The James Lick Track Team contested day 2 of the ST division finals(‘B’ division of the BVAL) on Saturday May 20th at Lincoln High School. It was the teams 2nd year in the ‘B’ division in the BVAL era (since 1996). In the teams first year, the Comets scored a grand total of 110 points at division finals. A respectable combined total. This year the team managed a total of 158 points, a strong improvement over the year before.

To make ST division finals, many of the events require the athletes to compete in prelims on Thursday, in order to advance to the final on Saturday.  The top 8 athletes in each event score points for their respective teams, while the top 5 in each event advance to BVAL Championships on May 2nd with the chance to advance to CCS Trials.

The meet began with the 4×100. The girls team of Chantrea Thach, Marquise Nelson, Yeimili Adame and Mya Hammond combined to run 56.32 and took 6th overall (3 points for the team). This ends a year for the girls sprint crew full of struggle, with injuries really taking a big hit on the teams depth.

The boys however performed very strongly. The 2018 team was the first Comet team since 2002 to run under 46 seconds for the 4×100. They did so at division finals last year, running 45.88, (5th place) and followed that up with a 45.51 at BVAL champs where we placed 11th, three places off a CCS berth. This years group improved upon the “best time since 2002 status” by running 45.27, only .05 off of the winners, Pioneer.

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Raven Alcantara handing the baton off to Rodolf Ocampo on the 1st exchange 

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this breakthrough time for the team of Raven Alcantara, Rodolf Ocampo, Salvador Lopez and Geovanny Campos is that every member of the squad is a junior. The team has their sights set on the 45 second barrier at BVAL champs.

The boys 1600 was next, and it was the only distance event where the Comets did not produce points. Nonetheless, both Mark Orpia and Brandon Cruz ran PRS, running 4:55 each, and Melvin Estrada ran a seasons best 5:05 as well. The girls 1600 took place on Thursday, so the next event on the track was the 100 hurdles.

Valeria Cortez won her 3rd consecutive title in the 100 hurdles with a seasons best (2nd best time of her career), 16.84. This was Valeria’s 5th individual championship for the Comets at BVAL division finals (she has 2 in girls discus). While it needs to be acknowledged that all of Valeria’s individual championships came within a division of a larger league, this accomplishment ties her with John Aguiar and Joe Amendt as the only Comets (on record) in school history to win 5 individual league/division titles for the school.

John Aguiar won the SCVAL league title in 100 yard dash from 1953-1955 and had 220 yard dash titles in 53′ and 54.’ Joe won 4 consecutive 800m titles in the MHAL (now the ‘A’ divsion of the BVAL) and won the mile title as a senior as well. The accomplishments/marks of John and Joe are objectively more impressive but is still a hallowed club that Valeria joins, and an achievement we are very proud of.

Yesenia Martinez also qualified for BVAL champs for the 2nd consecutive season with a seasons best 18.57 clocking for 2nd place.

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Valeria Cortez won the 100 hurdle final by a wide margin

In the boys 110 hurdles, the Comets saw a pair of breakthroughs as well. Rodolf Ocampo ran under 17 seconds for the first time, stopping the clock at 16.85 to advance to BVAl champs with a 3rd place performance. Rodolf took 3rd place in pole vault on Thursday as well, helping him become the boys teams highest point scorer at division finals. Joshua Merin in only his 3rd hurdle race ran 18.07, a massive PR for 6th place, just .02 away from a spot at BVALs.

We very much regret not having Josh try hurdling earlier. He ran 21.18 on his first try, then 2 weeks later ran 19.30, only 2 days before his 18.07 clocking today. As a junior, Josh figures to keep improving in the event next season as well.

After running a big PR of 1:05.65 on Thursday, Yeimili struggled in the 400m final, running 1:08 for 8th place. Misael Herrera placed 6th for the Comet boys in 54.88, a good improvement for a team that had no 400m runners make the division final a year ago.

The biggest PR of the day in terms of a major step forward was in the boys 100. Raven has been our best sprinter over the past 2 seasons. He capped off last season at 11.79, and narrowly missed making BVALS (he placed 6 at division finals). His primary goal this year was to advance to BVALS in the 100, but he had only lowered his PR to 11.72. Raven is  a masterful starter, but his weakness has been holding his speed at the end of races. This is evidenced by the fact that his 200m PR entering this season was 25.12 compared to a 100m best of 11.79. This season, he lowered his 200m best all the way down to 24.04 prior to the 100m final, which to me was a sure sign he finally had the strength he needed.

Raven delivered on all hopes, running a massive PR of 11.47 to place 3rd and punch his ticket to BVALS. While there was no wind gauge on what seemed to be a strong tailwind, Raven defeated runners who had run as fast as 11.51 and 11.58 in wind legal conditions this season, showing the legitimacy of his PR.

The girls 800 saw Arlet Miranda run a seasons best 2:30.01 for 2nd place, her best 800m time since her sophomore year when she made CCS in the event. This was especially impressive considering Arlet had to lead the chase pack with winner Hannah Gehrt of Lincoln more than 5 seconds clear of any other runner. Arlet was nearly 4 seconds ahead of 3rd place as well. Mya Hammond ran a PR of 2:48.81 for 9th place, just missing scoring.

Jerricho Habon coasted to a 3rd place finish in the boys 800 running 2:09, sealing his place at BVALS and extending the Comets streak of having at least 1 boy represent the team at BVALS in distance events to a 5th consecutive year, (the girls streak is at 7). Garret Hedlund of Pionerr (1:57 seasons best) and Omar Pina (4:27 1600 PR) were well clear of the field, but Jerricho impressively out-kicked the chase pack.

The Comets had some strong performances in field events as well. Marquise tied for 2nd place in girls Shot Put with a new PR of 33-0. Valeria took 4th in 32-9.5. Sal became the first Comet boy since 2014 to advance to BVAL champs in the long jump, placing 3rd with a leap of 19-4.75. Geo Campos also scored for the team with a jump of 18-5 for 7th place.

The girls 300 saw Valeria take 2nd in a PR of 52.08. Arlet placed 6th though her time was poor as she was fatigued from the 800m. Valeria’s 2nd place 300 hurdle saw her end the day with a total of 33 points at division finals. This is a school record at division finals, bettering her own record of 29 points at the ‘C’ division finals of 2017. As every athlete is allowed 4 events maximum, Valeria’s 33 point performance is very hard to top. She tied with Taylor Hohn of Lincoln (1st in triple jump, 2nd in long jump, 1st in 200m, 2nd in 100m) as the most valuable athlete of the meet.

I do not have records of points scored in league meets from before I was coaching. That being said, I am almost done with year 6 of coaching. In that time, the highest point total any athlete accumulated in a single season was Valeria’s 130 points in 2017, our last year in the ‘C’ division. This year Valeria shattered that mark, with her 33 points at division finals giving her 155 for the season. Considering the 2nd most scored in a season is 113, (by Karan Singh in 2015) I think Valeria’s unofficial record will stand for a long time. We are really going to miss her.

Rodolf and Mark both had off races in the 300 hurdles, but managed to add 4 points to the meet total between the two of them. Raven made it a 2nd PR on the day by running 23.94 in the boys 200 for 7th place. Next up was the girls 3200. Many of the girls were fatigued due to the short meet at the end of long week. This left the door open for Arlet to take 4th for the team, and Yeimili to place 5th in 13:59. Yeimili was only put in the 3200 because of the thin nature of the entries in the division, and because of her XC running proficiency. After qualifying for BVALs, her training will shift quite radically from 400 based to 3200 based for the remainder of the season.

Due to the lack of depth on the girls side, we opted to not contest the 4×400. The boys 4×400 was a very exciting race, with James Lick, Live Oak and Pioneer trading the lead throughout the race. The Comets were in 1st place with 150 left but both Pioneer and Live Oak pulled away in the final straight. Misael, Geo, Jerricho and Sal combined to run a seasons best 3:40.45, and the team will be looking to run faster at BVALS with a chance to qualify for CCS trials on the line.

When all was said and done, the scores for the meet were as follows.

Boys: 

  1. Pioneer: 234.5
  2. Lincoln: 91
  3. Live Oak: 81.75
  4. James Lick: 78
  5. Piedmont Hills: 53
  6. Prospect: 52.5
  7. Sobrato: 16.25
  8. Oak Grove: 11

Girls: 

  1. Lincon: 125
  2. Piedmont Hills: 117.50
  3. Pioneer: 82.50
  4. James Lick: 80
  5. Prospect: 78
  6. Sobrato: 64.50
  7. Oak Grove: 29.50
  8. Live Oak: 7

Of the girls 80 points, a vast majority were scored by seniors:

Valeria Cortez: 33 points

Arlet Miranda: 20 points

Marquise Nelson: 16.5

The team will need younger athletes to step up to remain competitive after some huge losses to come.

On the boys side however, things look good with all of the team’s top 5 point scorers being juniors:

Rodolf Ocampo: 16.5

Salvador Lopez: 11

Raven Alcantara: 10

Mark Orpia: 10

Jerricho Habon: 7.5

The Comets and other ESUHSD schools will have the benefit of Spring Break next week to train hard in preparation for BVAL finals on May 2nd at Westmont High School.

We have high hopes to send a handful of athletes on to CCS.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves