James Lick Varsity 6-4 Combined after 3rd league meet

The James Lick Comets had their 3rd league meet of the season on Thursday October 11th at Montgomery Hill.  The team went into the meet 2-1 on the varsity girls side and 1-2 on the varsity boys side. The Comets faced off against Sobrato and Oak Grove, and the team took a huge step forward overall, despite several absences.

The frosh/soph boys race kicked off the day for the team. The team was lead by Omar Fimbres, fresh off of a massive PR a week ago, Omar took another 30 seconds off, running 18:05 for 5th place in the race. Jay Austria was the next Comet in, running a massive PR of 19:12. For a team that is somewhat lacking in your talent on the boys side, Jay is a huge brightspot. He ran 22:02 at the first league meet, then 20:59 at ST #2, before lowering his PR nearly2  minutes at St #3. Alberto Trejo ran a PR of over 2 minutes, stopping the clock at 21:25. Jo-Jo Bradley was just behind him, a rough race for Jo-Jo. Huu Thai and Joseu Gomez rounded out the team. The team defeated Oak Grove to earn their first win, but lost to Sobrato, giving the frosh/soph boys a record of 1-4 on the season.

The next race was the varsity girls. The team was without star runner Arlet Miranda,(who we held out for health maintenance)  but still managed a split on the day, defeating Oak Grove and losing to Sobrato. Yeimili Adame lead the Comets in a 30 second PR of 20:38. This is the 6th best time in school history at Montgomery Hill. It was also the highest finish if Yeimili’s career, as she came in 8th place. A trio of lady Comets came in together with PRs. Belen Sanchez (22:02) Jessica Cervantes (22:05) and Ashley Preciado (22:09).  All three ran PRs, and are now knocking on the door of the 22 minute barrier.

22 Minutes is a significant barrier for girls at Montgomery Hill. The girls finished 18th,19th and 20th out of 50 varsity girls, showing that 22 minutes is a quality varsity girl time in the ‘B’ division. Jenny Villagomez was the 5th girl in 23:39, missing her PR by just 6 seconds. Yesenia Martinez managed a big PR of 23:52, breaking the 25 and 24 minute barriers for the first time, as she continues to work towards full fitness. The girls move to 3-2 on the season, and will try to clinch their first winning record in the ‘B’ division since 2013 with a win next week. The team will also attempt to break the school record team time on the course. The team of 2014 ran 1:05:57 as a team, an average of just under 21:12 per girl. The team ran 1:10:36 without Arlet this week. If we plug Arlet into the meet and assume she matched her PR (not a stretch considering that 5/6 varsity girls ran PRS) our team time would have been 1:06:08, just barely off of the school record, giving us an excellent shot at it next week.

The Varsity boys were next, and they had a great race as a team, with 6 PRS and a big seasons best, combining for the 7th best team time in school history, and a pair of decisive wins.  The last time at Montgomery, Mark Orpia lead the team in a PR, running 17:09. He once again lead the team in a PR, this time running 16:25, moving him up to the 11 spot on the team’s all time list for the course. (This is the 18th year of James Lick racing at Montgomery Hill). Mark finished in 8th place, which is also the highest varsity finish he’s ever achieved.  Erik Olsvold ran 16:58 to be the 2nd Comet in. This was a big season’s best for Erik, who ran 18:13 at the first league meet. Jared Resendiz (17:07) Melvin Estrada (17:16) and Jerricho Habon (17:18) rounded out the top 5 all with PRs. Brandon Cruz and Nien Tran ran PRs as well, finishing in 17:34 and 17:55 respectively.

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Erik Olsvold during the first mile of the race, with Brandon Cruz and Jared Resendiz close behind. 

The varsity boys moved to 3-2 and will try to clinch a winning season next week. If both varsity sides succeed, it would be the first time that both the boys and girls for James Lick managed a winning season in the same year in the ‘B’ division.  The boys also managed a team time of 85:05. The 4th best team time in school history is the 84:20 clocking of the team of 2004, a mark that this year’s group can aim to top.

The reserve boys was the next race on the ledger. While reserve is technically non scoring, our boys would have handily beaten Sobrato and Oak Grove on the reserve side. Geovanny Campos lead the team in a PR of 18:47, cracking the 19 minute barrier for the first time. Gustavo Madrigal was the next Comet in, running under 20 minutes for the first time, stopping the clock at 19:39. Vincent Giglio and Rodolph Ocampo came in at 20:21 and 20:27, the later being a 1 minute PR for Rudolph. Hugo Marquez was close behind in a seasons best. Adrian DeLaRosa made his debut on the course, running 23:06. Josh Merin and Alexis Sarellano came in with PRs of 23:28 and 23:33. Rafael Yanez ripped another 2 minutes off of his personal record, running 25:10 as he continues to rapidly improve. Kevin Santacruz ended the boys day, running a tough race but failing to PR.

The JV girls have been the strongest Comet group (in terms of competition) all season and they continued that trend, moving to 5-0 on the year. Erika Camacho lead the Comets with a massive PR of 24:11 (previous best 25:46). Estefani Herrera was right behind her in 24:16 (previous best 25:39). Both girls have improved remarkably over the past year, and figure to be competitive varsity runners next year if they keep this up. As freshmen, neither girl was able to break the 30 minute barrier, and they are now knocking on the 24 minute barrier. Running under 24 minutes makes you a respectable varsity girl in the ‘B’ division. It’s a testament to the hard work of these two girls that they have made themselves into varsity caliber runners.

The PRs did not stop there. Mya Hammond and Emely Lopez finished in 25:25 and 25:45 respectively. Neither girl had run under 26 minutes for the course before. Jhesselyn Santos was the 5th girl in 26:33, a PR by nearly 2 minutes. Francine Estranero ended the Comets day with a PR of 27:29, shaving 50 seconds off of her personal best.

When all was said and done, the Comets had 25 PRs and a great day at ST division race #3.

The Comets will take on Leigh and Pioneer at ST race #4 on Thursday October 18th. Some of the most dedicated juniors and seniors will then compete at the Mt. Sac Invitational on Saturday October 20th. All that will remain after that is league finals.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

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Comets Run as a Pack at Crystal Springs Center Meet

The Comets participated in the Crystal Springs Center Meet on Wednesday October 3rd 2018. The Center Meets have dwindled in participation over the years, with only 10 schools in attendance at this version of the event. With the Artichoke Invitational coming up, the team used the Center Meet as a workout opportunity, and a chance for the newer runners to become acquainted with the Crystal Springs course.

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The Team’s Frosh/Soph boys on the start-line 

The meet began with the frosh/soph boys. We went in to the meet with an emphasis on running as a pack, and working the last half of the race. Fast times were not our priority on this day. Jo-Jo Bradley, Omar Fimbres and Jonathan Cortez packed together well for the first half of the race, running at an 80% effort. Over the last mile, Jo-Jo remarkably stormed home for a PR of 19:56, his first time under 20 minutes on the course. Omar also managed to run faster for the center meet than he did last year despite the less than full effort, clocking in at 21:37.

The rest of the Comets running were competing on the course for the first time.

Jay Austria- 22:47

Alberto Trejo- 23:18

Jordan Laguna- 23:53

Huu Thai – 25:49

Josue Gomez- 28:23

Kevin Santacruz- 31:58.

It was by far the best race of Alberto’s career to this point.

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The girls team lined up before the race 

The next race featured all of the lady athletes on the day. Arlet Miranda paced team #2 Yeimili Adame for the first 2 miles before dropping the hammer in final mile. She lead Yeimili to a small PR of 22:11, but even so, Arlet managed to open up a 40 second gap over the final stretch, showing strong finishing speed.

Jessica Cervantes, Belen Sanchez, Ashley Preciado, and Jenny Villagomez ran close together, all finishing in the mid 24s. The JV girls had a fantastic day overall. Mariana Perez (25:42) Erika Camacho (25:49) and Estefani Herrera (25:57) came in close together, all running huge PRs. Mariana’s previous best was 26:54, while the other two had never broken 28 minutes before. It was the best race any of these 3 have ever had.

Yesenia Martinez and Mya Hammond came in near each other in 26:40 and 26:54 respectively. Most of the remaining Comets were making their Crystal Springs debuts, though Francine Estranero and Araceli Mejia both ran faster at this year’s center meet than last year’s.

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The Comet boys on the start line

The final race of the day held all of the remaining boy athletes. The Varsity boys ran as one big back, taking the first two miles at a tempo pace.

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The Varsity boys passing the first mile as a pack 

They finished very strong, with some of the boys managing PRs despite the modest pace through 2 miles. Mark Orpia lead the group at 18:58. Melvin Estrada, Jerricho Habon and Nien Tran streamed in together at 19:10, 19:12 and 19:13. It was a 25 second PR for Jerricho. Jared Resendiz and Brandon Cruz ran 19:27 and 19:30 as the 5-6. It was a course debut for Jared whereas Brandon managed a 2 minute PR. Geovanny Campos was the 7th boy in 19:47 for his debut on the course.

Gustavo Madrigal and Vincent Giglio ran 21:00 and 21:40. Rodolf Ocampo and Josh Merin ran 22:39 and 24:12. Alexis Sarellano (26:12) and Rafael Yanez (27:31) rounded out the Comets day.

It was a good experience for the most of the team, getting valuable experience on the BVAL finals course with less than 4 weeks remaining before the big day.

Many members of the team will head to Half Moon Bay for the Artichoke Invitational on Saturday October 6th in pursuit of fast mile paces.

The entire team will compete in their 3rd league meet on Thursday October 11th at Montgomery Hill.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Big PRs at Earlybird Invitational for James Lick Runners

The Comets took to the Earlybird Invitational for the final time on Saturday September 15th 2018. Meet management announced that this years edition would be the final Earlybird Invitational. The Earlybird meet had become a favorite for CCS schools especially in years where CCS was being held at Toro Park.  The Comets went out with a strong showing, as every Comet who had run the course before managed a PR, and many of the younger Comets had the best performances of their careers as well.

The meet began with the freshmen girls race, with three young lady Comets competing.

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Left to right: Jhesselyn Santos, Angelina Guevara, Ruth Rodriguez 

Ruth Rodriguez was the first freshmen girl in at 25:52. Toro Park is a 3 mile course, and typically, runners run at least 1 minute faster on the 2.74 mile long Montgomery Hill course. This shows that Ruth is already in 24 minute shape for league meets, which is a lower-end varsity caliber time. Jhesselyn ran 28:46, the first time in her young career that she has cracked 10 minute mile pace. The same was true of Angelina Guevara who ran 29:22 to round out the freshmen girls race for the team.

The boys freshmen race was next. Jay Austria made his debut for the team, running a solid 22:32. This was an unremarkable time, but one that we are confident Jay can build on greatly. Josue Gomez has been running a few weeks now, and the improvement is starting to show. Josue ran 26:52, 8:57 mile pace. Two weeks ago at the alumni race he could only manage 10:08 pace for the 2.25 mile alumni race. Josue even managed to run faster than he did at the Lowell invite, despite the Lowell course being easier and shorter. Josue is just one example of what hardwork can do.  Kevin Santacruz made his debut for the team as well, running 33:10.

The sophomore girls were up next, one of only two complete teams for the team on the day. Jessica Cervantes lead the team in 26:23. Jessica is rapidly shaping into a strong runner for the team. She did not run cross country for the team last year, but made a solid impression in track. She was the #5 sophomore girl at the alumni race two weeks ago, #3 last week at lowell and now #1 at Earlybird. Erika Camacho was not far behind in 26:40. This was the first time that Erika managed to run under 9 minute pace for an entire 3 mile race.  Mya Hammond was next in at 26:49, giving the Comets 3 sophomores under 27 minutes, in addition to Ruth’s time under 26 minutes.

We have a lot of optimism this year regarding the girls JV team. Last year the team went 4-3 and came in 9th place at BVAL finals. That year’s team produced only 1 JV girl under 27 minutes at Montgomery Hill.The Earlybird results indicate that the team should have multiple girls under 26 minutes, likely even under 25. Esetfani Herrera and Emely Lopez rounded out the top 5 with times of 27:41 and 28:27 respectively. Araceli Mejia also competed, running 32:47.

The upperclassmen were up next, with several Comets who had run the course before. Ashley Preciado was the first of the junior girls to finish. Ashley ran 24:15, shattering her PR from a year ago of 27:02. Ashley is one of many examples of great improvement on the James Lick team. Last year in the sophomore race, Ashley finished in 155th place. As a junior, against largely the same runners, show moved up nearly 100 spots to 56th place.  Giulissa Correa ran 26:59 the strongest showing of her career to this point. Adriana Marcelino ran 35:34, the 11:51 pace being the best of her career this point.

The junior boys would be the Comets final boys race of the day. While the team was missing 3 of their top 4 boys from the alumni race, (Erik Olsvold, Melvin Estrada and Mark Orpia) the team put up a strong showing with most of their other varsity contenders in the race.

Brandon Cruz, the team’s most improved runner was the first Comet in. He ran 18:54, a massive PR by over 5  minutes. As a sophomore, Brandon was 349th place at the Earlybird Invite. Brandon’s colossal improvement saw him finish in 81st place this year. He was not the only Comet to move up the standings from the year before. Jerricho Habon finished in 19:13, a PR by over 2 minutes. Jerricho improved from 228th place last year, to 98th this year. Jared Resendiz ran 19:28, the 6:28 pace being by far the best of his career. Nien Tran was right behind in 19:33. Nien improved from 227th place to 111th place. Gustavo Madrigal was the 5th Comet in at 21:02. Rodolf Ocampo ran 23:29 to end the boys day.

The final race of the day for Comets was the senior girls race. Arlet Miranda had a great race, placing 13th overall in a PR of 20:46. This moves Arlet passed Daniela Camacho into 3rd on the school’s all time list at Toro Park. Belen Sanchez ran 23:55, beating her PR of 24:47 handily.

The team showed great improvement across the board. Hard work leading to huge improvement is the way that James Lick has stayed competitive in cross country despite being a much smaller school than the teams they will compete against.

The team will look to keep the improvement rolling on Thursday September 20th when their league season begins.

The Comets will be competing in the ST division’s first race of the year, and will be scoring directly against Prospect and Independence.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

Comparing Eras of James Lick Cross Country

This is a long post where I essentially try to divide up James Lick’s XC history into eras. If you’re into that sort of thing, read on at your own peril. 

It is never easy to compare across eras in sports. Many American sports have radically changed over time. Pitchers used to pitch 16 inning complete games, football teams hardly employed the passing game, Steph Curry could not have dominated in the days before the 3-point line.

One of the beauties of Cross Country and track is the relative lack of change over the years. Dirt and cinder tracks have evolved into rubber/synthetic tracks. Shoes have gotten better. Beliefs around training have changed and participation in the sport has only grown. Some events and courses have changed, but there is a lot of history around the Bay Area when it comes to Cross Country.

The ultimate example is the Crystal Springs 2.95 miles long cross country course. James Lick first raced there in 1973, and then every year since 1975 for a grand total of 44 years of history. This is enhanced by the fact that Crystal Springs has always hosted significant races. It is the site of BVAL Finals every year nowadays, and it has been the host site of CCS Finals more years than any other course (and it will be host again this year).

Remarkably, James Lick is approaching it’s 70th year of existence, the school has plenty of years to compare. This will be my attempt to compare James Lick’s various eras of XC. It is of course subjective, and damaged the difficulty finding complete information on James Lick’s older teams.

  1. The Early Years/ NCS Era    Years: 1950-1965     League Championships: 3  Highest Section Finish:  4th- 1956   Team Section qualifications: 3 (16 possible) 

James Lick was founded in 1950, the school predates the CCS. It was the first public school in East Side San Jose, and the first member of the East Side Union High School District. San Jose was a different city at by many measures. Today, San Jose ranks as the 10th biggest city in the country by population, with over 1 million residents. I can’t find data from 1950, but by 1960, San Jose was only the 57th biggest city in the country, with 200,000 people.

James Lick had a bigger school enrollment in the early years, seeing as it was the only school on the Eastside, there was no other school to compete with for students. Despite James Lick being a new school, it found success in cross country quickly.

James Lick was initially placed in the SCVAL (Santa Clara Valley Athletic League) and by 1954 they were the league championships on the 1.95 miles long, Stanford Golf Course. The Comets defeated runner up Santa Clara by almost 5 minutes. Keith Antes is listed as the winner of the race. Before the CCS was formed, Antes would become James Lick’s cross country coach.

The team managed to repeat as champs in 1955 and 1956, one of two different “three-peats” in James Lick’s cross country history. The fastest Comet in 1955 at SCVAL finals was Carlos Saldivar, who would go on to coach with Keith Antes for many years and then head the team himself when Antes retired.

After their 3-league championships, James Lick experienced a down-period where they did not qualify for NCS (North Coast Section) finals for several years. The end of their time in the NCS was fairly unremarkable. The 50s and early 60s saw the foundation of several other East Side Schools, including Overfelt, Mt. Pleasant, and Andrew Hill.

The Mt. Hamilton League and the CCS (Central Coast Section) were formed within a few years of one another, and by the time they were formed, the Comets had 3 titles to their name.

The level of competition in the bay area would see a big spike in the 60s and 70s.

2. The Early CCS Era  Years:  1965-1976        League Championships: 0                    Highest Section Finish: 1 (1 championship) Team Section qualification: 4 Var 3FS (12 possible) 

The MHAL formed in the mid 1960s and became competitive very quickly. James Lick was consistently competitive from the get go. The Comets were first represented at CCS finals by Mick Coyle in 1966. He ran on a shorter version of the current Crystal Springs course.  By 1970 the Comets had their first team qualify for CCS.

In the mid 1960s, the MHAL began using Alum Rock Park as it’s primary course. The 2.25 mile course was only slightly different than the course we use for our alumni race.

1970 was significant for a few reasons. It marked the first time that the CCS added divisions to CCS finals. They created a small schools division and a large schools division. The James Lick team of 1970 won the small schools division, claiming the only CCS championship in school history in any sport. Jim Sena claimed the individual CCS title in 12:39 for a 2.5 mile course (at least that’s what it’s listed at) in Golden Gate Park. Teammate Luis Sanchez was 2nd in 12:49.

Everything lined up for the team of 1970. A year later, the team failed to qualify for CCS. The teams of the early 80s ran more impressive times,  but the team of 1970 achieved what no other James Lick team ever has.

In the mid 70s, James Lick began making regular trips to Crystal Springs for Center meets, invitationals, and eventually CCS. While James Lick was a bigger school in the 70s, the Crystal Springs course is exactly the same as it was then, making comparisons easy.  The team of 1973 team ran a combined team time of 82:25, which still stands as the 3rd best Crystal Springs time in school history. Both the team of 1973 and the team of 1970 ran 61 minutes as a team at MHAL finals for an impressive average of 12:12 per runner at Alum Rock Park. This makes it a tough call to name the best James Lick team to this point.

In 1975 at CCS finals, Joe Salazar ran 15:21 at Crystal Springs, a time which no Comet has beaten to this day. To this point, we’ve only discussed boys teams because girls competition did not start until the mid 1970s.

3. The Golden Era   Years: 1976-1989     League Championships: 7

Highest CCS Finish: 4 1981     CCS Team Qualifications: 6 

In 1978 James Lick won it’s 4th league title, and the first one in the MHAL. By this time, the Comets also had girls competing. The greatest teams in James Lick history are the teams of 1980 and 1981 in my opinion. The Comet boys won the MHAL in both seasons, and the girls won the MHAL title in 1981 as well. This is the only time that both the boys and girls teams have been champions in the same year. The 3 titles in a 2 year span is also a James Lick best.

The girls team ran a record of 1:46:41, at Crystal Springs. This is still the only James Lick girls team to combine to finish the course under 1 hour and 50 minutes (something we’re trying to change this year).  The boys team of 1981 also ran what stands as our school team record time. Headed by Frank Munoz and Randy Pangelina, the team clocked in at 80:46, an average of 16:09 per boy. In some years this is good enough to win CCS, bad luck and tough competition stopped the Comets from claiming that prize. The teams of 80 and 81 also won the Artichoke Invitational two years in a row.

While the girls achieved great success early in the decade, they would struggle to consistently field competitive teams, an issue that would continue well into the 2000s.

The success I’ve  already described  is a enough to explain why I call this the golden era of James Lick Cross Country. The fact that the Comets would achieve their 2nd ever “three-peat” from 1985-1987 further proves the case.  James Lick has achieved 15 league/league-division championships in it’s long history. Nearly half come from this 14 year span.

As I’ve said, Crystal Springs is the course with the most complete history (44 years) for the Comets. The team of 1981 was the fastest Comet team ever on the course. The team of 1977 was 2nd, the team of 1987 was 4th, the team of 86 was 5th. In fact over the last 44 years, 8 of the fastest 10 James Lick teams at Crystal Springs ran in this golden era of James Lick cross country.

 

4. Transition Era/ Early BVAL Era   Years: 1990-2001       League/ Division Championships: 2                         

CCS Team Qualifications: 11                Highest CCS Finish:  5th – 1992 

This era marks the transition into the BVAL era, where the MHAL becomes a division of the larger BVAL. There were several changes during this time period. The CCS arrived at its modern format, a 5 division final with only varsity races. Qualification became easier as a result. At this point, James Lick’s academic reputation had fallen considerably, and its athletics suffered from a general decline of enrollment.  The 3 division format of the BVAL ( that we still use today).  Montgomery Hill and Toro Park were introduced as major courses, and finally, Coach Saldivar would retire shortly after this era ended.

While James Lick was in decline during this period by many measures, it still achieved considerable XC success. With the changes to CCS qualifications (with League finals taking the place of the CCS regional meets) the Comet boys made CCS as a team every single year from 1992 to 2001. In 1993, the lady Comets qualified for CCS as a team for the first time and they did so again in 2001.

The team captured two division titles, one in 1996 and another in 1999. Both times the Comets won the ST division (‘B’) division title. An impressive feet considering most James Lick sports had been relegated to the ‘C’ division by this time. The team also had 5 of their 7 State Meet qualifiers during this period. This is largely because of the fact that the State meet wasn’t held until 1987, when Joe Amendt became the team’s first ever qualifier.

5. BVAL/Modern Era       Years: 2002- Present         League/Division Championships: 3

CCS Team Qualifications: 13                                      Highest CCS Finish:  6th-    2014 

Finally we arrive at the modern era. The beginning of this era saw James Lick finish it’s decline. In 2003, though the school was struggling, the varsity boys were the 3rd best team in the entire BVAL. By 2007, the team time at Crystal Springs was 97:40. This is the slowest varsity boys team time on record for any James Lick team that ran at Crystal Springs. While the girls team was pretty strong, mainly because of the presence of Kayla Matsuda, they were not strong enough to win the WV division (‘C’ division). This was the low point in James Lick’s XC trajectory.

In 2009, the team rebounded to win the WV division on the boys side, the 12th title in school history. In 2014, the team won just their 2nd ever girls championship, and in 2016, the boys won the ST division, just the 1st ‘B’ division title for the school in any sport since 2004.

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2014 BVAL Champions -WV

In years to come, I may create a new dividing line around these past few years, because of a new notable changes. First and foremost, this is the greatest era of success the James Lick girls have ever achieved. While the #1 girls team time in school history is still the team of 1981, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th are the past 5 seasons. The 2014 team placed 6th at CCS, the highest finish for a Comet girls team at CCS in school history.

 

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2016 BVAL Champions – ST

This era could easily be called the Montgomery Hill era, as Montgomery Hill became the primary race course of the BVAL in 2001. We still had races at Alum Rock Park over the 2.85 mile course most seasons, but as of 2018, sadly there will be no more races at Alum Rock Park.

We will continue to run the alumni race on the old 2.25 mile course, but unfortunately, there might never be an official race in Alum Rock Park again. This might make 2018 and on the “post Alum Rock Park era.” Time will tell if there’s enough to distinguish it from past years.

Conclusion 

It’s difficult to know what we as a school could do now if we didn’t have to fight so many schools for student enrollment. It’s tough to say what runners of the past might have done with modern technology.  In any case, James Lick cross country has achieved some level of success in every era, and the Comets of today are dedicated to making sure that continues.

A season preview and/or Time trial recap will come soon. The first day of school is only 9 days away!

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

James Lick Track Season Comes to a Close: A Reflection on 5 Years of Coaching

When Charli Chircop hurled the discus 100-10 at CCS Finals, she signaled the end of not only her career, but of the 2018 track season (as far as James Lick is concerned). The 2018 season ending was very significant for me personally. It signified the end of my 5th year coaching, and also the end of my first year as a teacher. This blog will be a reflection on my first 5 years as a coach, and the growth of the cross country and track programs over the past 5 seasons.

The team has improved a lot over the past 5 seasons, that is especially demonstrated in track. If this years team faced the team of 2014 in a dual meet, assuming everyone matched their seasons bests, this would be the result:

Boys 2018: 116             Girls 2018: 102

Boys 2014: 19               Girls 2014: 25

I began coaching in fall of 2013. Alex Ponik, one of my coaches at James Lick, was stepping down as head coach. He offered me a position as an assistant coach, a job I was happy to accept. The day before school began for James Lick however, I was informed that our intended head coach would be unable to coach after all. As a result, I was forced to take the helm along with John Quasarano at the last moment.

That first year was tough. As a 20-year old, I lacked confidence in  my own authority as a coach. Our top runner and team captain was Armando Aguilar. Armando and I were teammates just a few years before when I myself was team captain. We were also a very inexperienced team on the boys side. 5 of our 7 varsity boys had never run cross country before 2013. Only Armando had been a member of the varsity team before. This combined with our placement in the ‘B’ division, saw us finish with a 1-6 record on the varsity boys side. Honestly, we were lucky to even win 1 meet.

The huge bright side of that season was the varsity girls team. We pulled off a 4-3 season, the first winning season for the Lady Comet since 2009. Of the 24 BVAL teams, we finished in 15th place on the girls side at BVAL Finals. Our Combined team time was 117:28 (or 1:57:28). It was the first time the team had run under 2 hours at Crystal Springs in several years, giving us good hope for the future.

The boys however finished 20th. Our team was 97:09 (1:37:09). This was partly due to the fact that Armando was unable to finish the race, but in any case, a 20th place finish was not where we wanted to be. Seeing our BVAL places, and our inexperienced coaching staff, the BVAL moved us down to the ‘C’ division for the 2014 season.

That was my lowest moment as a coach so far, largely because I believed that we did not belong in the ‘C’ division. We were a young coaching staff and a young team, but I was very confident we could turn things around.

Track was a different season. I joined the track coaching staff along with Ricardo Flores, Juan Trejo and Ray Iniguez. At the time, James Lick track had not won a single dual meet in over 5 years. The Comets had not had a winning season since 2000, and the girls had not had one on record in school history (definitely not since 1996 when the BVAL began keeping records).

The setup that first year saw me in charge of the girls track team, while the other 3 coaches handled the boys team. We managed to eek out our first wins in years, which gave us cause to dream bigger for the future.

On a personal level, 2014 was my most important year as a coach. My goal has always been to help my athletes improve by as much as possible, and hope that wins and success will follow from great improvement. 2014 was when I first gained confidence in my ability to foster improvement in my athletes, thanks to the hard work of a few key athletes.

Daniela Camacho had run 5:49 for the 1600 as a freshmen, though she slowed down to 6:02 as a sophomore, (not an uncommon phenomenon among girl distance runners). That year as a junior, we managed to reverse that trend and Daniela ended the season at 5:43 for the 1600. She lowered her PR to 5:27 the next season, a mark which currently stands as our school record (though Arlet Miranda ran 5:31 this season so here’s hoping she will beat it next year).

Destiny Lopez was maybe the most important athlete towards helping me believe in my own training methods. Destiny had run track since freshmen year, and her PRs were 6:51 in the 1600 and 15:47 in the 3200. 2014 was her senior year, my only year coaching her. It was a trough process, but at division finals, she ran massive PRs, 6:31 for the 1600 and 14:11 for the 3200.

Our track team had 23 athletes in 2014 and we had our first wins in years. Most important to me personally, I felt that just like the James Lick teams of old, we could work hard and improve substantially in pursuit of bigger victories. Our goal for XC 2014 was simple, prove that it was a mistake to send us down to the ‘C’ division.

Our girls thrived in that goal. The team went 7-0 and won the division handily. At BVAL Finals, after placing 15th in 1:57:28 the year before, we finished in 8th place in 1:50:00. The 1:50:00 mark is the 2nd best team time in school history. The team of 1981 is the only team to have run faster, incidentally the only other girls championship team in school history. The boys team improved significantly as well, moving up from 20th place to 15th place, and running 6 minutes faster as a team.

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2014 Team at CCS Left to Right: Mila Perez, Maria Mendoza, Paloma Contreras, Julia Cruz, Evalilia Garcia, Daniela Camacho, Brianna Flores

The 2014 team will always be special to me because it was my first division championship as a coach. The more rapid improvement was in track and field. In 2015, we had our first winning season in over a decade. By 2016, a girls division title. In 2017 a 2nd girls title, followed by our move up the ‘B’ division. The success in track and field is in no small part thanks to the excellent coaches I’ve had the chance to work with. From Coach Vela who was by my side in track from the beginning, to coach Nichols, and Turner, and recently coach Raul Lopez. Every coach we’ve had in track has played a pivotal role in improving the team.

The most impressive team of my coaching career however was the 2016 XC team, my only boys title to date, and my only ‘B’ division championship team so far.

That team showed what the culmination of years of hard work could lead to. Team captain Nathan Bernardo did an exceptional job leading that team. Truth to be told, I had to miss many practices throughout the season but Nathan never let the team waver. He lead practice when I could not. All of the teams hard work paid off with the boys going 7-0 and placing 2nd at BVAL finals, only losing to the ‘A’ division champions Willow Glen.

Our team time of 1:25:19 was a respectable mark for James Lick in any era. While it is nowhere near the school record of 1:20:46, it was the 12th best team time in school history,  and the best ever JL time at BVAL Finals.

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2016 Championship team Left to right: Me, Gustavo Aguilera, Erik Olsvold, Nathan Bernardo, Inteus Castro-Lopez, Gustavo Parra, Azael Zamora

After 5 years, I feel pretty good about where the program is at. We are solidly in the ‘B’ division in both cross country and track, and we have a very young team on both sides. Long term, coach Raul Lopez and myself will be looking to help take the program to the next level, eventually being a member of the ‘A’ division.

I’m proud that we’ve been able to outperform many schools that are larger than us, and better funded. We are currently the 2nd smallest school in the BVAL with a tick over 1100 students. The schools that are still consistently better than us have a few things in common. Some are outside of our control, such as larger enrollment and greater funds to draw from.

The most difficult discrepancy to overcome for us in my opinion is the lack of experience many of our athletes have. Our primary feeder schools are Joseph George and Shepard Middle School . Neither school had a track team this year. They often do not have cross country and when they do, it is not a substantial program. Willow Glen is consistently the best cross country team in the BVAL. This is in large part due to the amazing work of Coach Victor Santamaria, but every year, Willow Glen Middle School churns out multiple boys in the low 5 minute range in the 1600 and sometimes even some sub 5 minute boys.

The same is true of many of the schools we struggle to beat. Many of the top athletes in the area have been training for a long time. Our athletes have a lot of catching up to do. Azael Zamora just graduated with HS personal bests of 4:33 in the 1600 and 9:55 in the 3200. He did not join cross country until his sophomore year, and to that point he had never broken 6 minutes for the mile.

Long term, we are aiming to help ensure  that some of our alumni will take on coaching positions at some our local middle schools to help athletics not just at James Lick, but throughout the east side as a whole.

I also hope to have more alumni join my coaching staff. Coach turnover has been an issue for us, and having a more consistent solidified coaching staff will help us improve.

We are not at the same level of James Lick’s greatest teams, but restoring the greatness of James Lick in XC and track has been my goal since I started coaching. We are not nearly there, but we are a lot closer than we were 5 years ago. I want to thank every Comet that has been apart of it, and everyone who actually reads my rambling with interest/support.

Best marks/times under me can all be found under the history section of the blog ^

The 2018 XC team will begin conditioning on June 18th at 9:30 A.M.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comets Split Dual With Prospect: Boys Claim First ‘B’ Division Victory

The James Lick Comets hosted the Prospect Panthers on Thursday March 22nd in their third dual meet of the season. The meet would prove to be a historic one for the team, as the Comets came away with their first ever ‘B’ division victories in track and field, with both the varsity and frosh/soph boys winning the duel. The Varsity girls battled hard, but lost a close meet, reminiscent of the 65-62 loss to Pioneer.

The meet began with a highly contested battle in the 4×100. The team of Justine Austria, Kirsten Yutuc, Natalie Rem and Yeimili Adame ran 57.73 to lose to Prospect by .01. Simply reversing the places in this event would have resulted in a lady Comets victory on the day. The Varsity boys won an uncontested 4×100 and neither team fielded a frosh/soph team.

Arlet Miranda was held out due to risk of aggravating a minor injury. Without Arlet, the lady Panthers dominated many of teh distance events. The Panthers went 1-2 in the 1600, though Belen Sanchez took 3rd for the Comets in a seasons best 6:21.00. Francine Estranero ran a PR of 7:27 in the event as well.

The boys event was a different story. Azael Zamora took the victory in the event with a  negative split 4:51, triumphing over friend and rival Dylan Ellis of Prospect. Dylan and Azael have been racing each other for years, and both have achieved similarly tremendous growth as athletes. In cross country, both boys were quality runners as Sophomores. Dylan ran 18:11 at Crystal Springs as a Sophomore while Azael ran 18:13. Both solid but unremarkable times. Fast forward two years, and Dylan and Azy pushed each other to PRs of 16:16 and 16:17 respectively on the same course. This duo would continue to compete hard throughout the dual meet. Mark Orpia won the frosh/soph 1600 in 5:22 with Jerricho Habon taking 2nd for the Comets.

Valeria Cortez got the ladies their first win of the day with a seasons best 17.94 in the 100 hurdles. Susie Peterson and Natalie Rem completed a Comets sweep of the event and Yesenia Martinez managed a PR of 21.75. Jonathan Bradley won the frosh/soph boys 110 hurdles, just as teammate Cody Huoch won the varsity version of the event. Luis Escamilla took 3rd in a new PR of 21.18.

Yeimili took 2nd for the lady Comets in the 400. Misael Herrera took 2nd in the varsity boys 400, with David Bejines locking down 3rd. Jerricho and Jose Ruiz combined to go 1-2 in the frosh/soph 400.

Justine ran a big PR in the girls 100, clocking 14.90 despite the severe headwind the team faced, placing 2nd in the event. Lisbeth Galdamez took 3rd for the team. Joshua Merin claimed victory in the frosh/soph boys 100 with Jerricho 2nd in 13.78. Raven Alcantara, Geo Campos, and Adrian DeLaRosa combined to sweep the varsity boys 100.

The girls 800 saw a Panther’s sweep without the presence of Belen. Estefani Herrera did manage a PR of 3:33. Mark notched a 2nd event win in the frosh/soph boys 800. Brandon Cruz took 3rd for the team, scoring his first point of the season in the process.

Meanwhile, the team saw multiple breakthroughs in the field events. The lady throwers came through in a big way, sweeping both throwing events against their toughest opponent yet. Charli Chircop lead the way in the girls discus with a toss of 105 feet. Alejandra Ceron and Valeria Cortez both threw 93 feet in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Mariah Santos threw a seasons best 67-11 in the event as well. Alejandra threw a big seasons best of 33-10 in the girls Shot Put. Valeria also threw a seasons best of 31-11. Charli took 3rd for the team. Keara Medina and Lizbet Alonzo threw PRs of 18-0 and 17-3 respectively.

On the boys side, Daniel Medina won both events for the Comets. He threw the Shot Put 36-8 and the discus 102-2 to accomplish the feet. Rudolf Ocampo made an impressive debut in the Shot Put, where the raw sophomore threw 30-8 to place 3rd. Jesus Venegas managed a PR of 27-5. Erik Olsvold notched a PR in the discus of 75-10.

The Comets swept the triple jump on both varsity sides. Cody jumped 38-5.5 to win the event, and David managed a massive PR of 35-9 to place 2nd. Salvador Lopez made his debut in the event and went 34-10 to complete the sweep. On the girls side, Natalie Rem, Lyndel Ventura and Kirsten Yutuc went 1-2-3. Lyndel and Kirsten had seasons bests of 29-3 and 29-2.  Lyndel had a big day in the long jump as well, going 14-9.5 for 2nd, a seasons best that moves her closer to her PR. Natalie jumped 13-5 for 3rd place. On the boys side, Raven and Rudolf made impressive debuts of 17-4 and 16-8 respectively.

Yesenia Martinez managed a new PR of 4-4 in the girls high jump to place 2nd. Lisbeth cleared 4-0 to place 3rd, and Valeria Gonzalez made her debut clearing 4-0 as well. Jojo won the frosh/soph boys high jump with a clearance of 4-10 while Josh took 2nd in 4-6. Sal placed 2nd in the varsity edition of the event with a clearance of 5-0.

In addition to her debut in the high jump, Valeria G won the 300 hurdles in her first try at the event, running a solid debut time of 1:00.55. Yesenia and Susie filled in 2nd and 3rd place. Cody, Sal and Rudolf combined to sweep the 300 hurdles, with Jojo winning the frosh/soph version of the event.

Kirsten scored 1 point for the team in the girls 200, while Misael and Geo combined for 4 in the boys 200. Austin Swank earned a PR by .03 despite the windy conditions. Chantrea Thach also ran a PR in the girls edition.

Azael took 2nd to Dylan in the boys 3200 with Melvin nabbing 3rd place. Hugo Marquez won the frosh/soph boys 3200 and Brandon claimed 3rd. Jenny Villagomez added 1 point for the girls with a 3rd place showing in the event.

With just the 4×400 left, the Comets had clinched the boys varsity and frosh/soph victories, but the varsity girls were losing 67-62. A victory in the 4×400 would have yielded a 68-67 James Lick victory. The team of Justine, Kirsten, Lisbeth and Yeimili  battled hard but fell to the Panthers, giving them the victory on the day.

It was another step forward a team whose confidence is only growing after its first ‘B’ division victory.

The Comets will head to the Firebird Relays on Saturday March 24th before hosting the Lincoln Lions on Thursday March 24th.

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

Comets Take Huge Step Forward at TKA Invitational

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The Distance girls, headed by Distance Captain Arlet Miranda (Center) 

The James Lick Comets took 38 athletes to the TKA Invitational on March 10th. It ended up being a tremendous day for the team, with 29 Personal best times and many more seasons bests.

The meet began with field events. The Frosh/Soph boys high jumpers acquitted themselves well Jonathan Bradley taking 4th place, clearing 5 feet for the first time. Salvador Lopez went over 4-10 in his first try at the event, and Josh Merin matched his PR of 406.

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Left to right: Salvador Lopez, Jonathan (JoJo) Bradley and Joshua Merin before the High Jump 

Natalie Rem and Kirsten Yutuc placed 3rd and 4th in the frosh/soph triple jump though neither girl PRd. David Bejines also tripled jumped for the team. The trio of Valeria Cortez, Charli Chircop and Alejandra Ceron combined for a 1-2-3 sweep of the varsity girls discus. This gives the Comets their 2nd consecutive Invitational victory in the girls discus. While Charli won the Willow Glen Invite in 107-3, Valeria took the win at TKA with a season;s best 105-0. Alejandra also threw a seasons best 94 feet in discus for 3rd. She would go on to win the Shot Put in a seasons best 32-1. Charli would throw 31-7 for 2nd and Valeria had to settle for 4th in a seasons best 30-1. The lady throwers from James Lick are poised to have a special season. Daniel Medina competed in boys throws for the team.

The TKA Invite was originally a distance carnival, and while it has now expanded to include some other events, it keeps the lively atmosphere that makes it exciting, with music playing during the breaks and during the distance events.

The meet began with the 4×100 relay. The Frosh/Soph team of Yesenia Martinez, Kirsten Yutuc, Chantrea Thach and Natalie Rem combined for a 4th place finish in 58 seconds, just off of medal position. The F/S boys team of Geovanny Campos, Salvador, Josh and Raven Alcantara took 7th in a tick over 50 seconds, a seasons best for James Lick’s F/S side.

The meet then moved into the 1600. Arlet Miranda started the day off strong with a seasons best 5:38.59. This is Arlet’s 2nd best time ever, missing her PR by only .13. This was a very rewarding result for Arlet. After her great freshmen track season and Sophomore XC season, Arlet had suffered through injuries and even iron deficiency, but she never stopped working hard. She now looks poised for her best track season yet. Yeimili Adame ran 6:14.86, a PR which moves her onto the school’s top 10 list in the event. Ashley Preciado ran 6:33, a 12 second PR and Mya Hammond ran a 7 second PR of 6:48. Mariana Perez and Emely Lopez both broke 7:30 for the first time, and Francine Estranero, Estefani Herrera and Erika Camacho also ran PRs.

The strong performances on the girls side were replicated by the boys. Melvin Estrada ran a new PR of 5:07, and is now knocking on the door of the HS distance runner’s biggest barrier. Jerricho Habon ran a PR of 5:22, his first time under 5:30. Hugo Marquez was just behind in a season’s best 5:23. Brandon Cruz ran a PR of 5:30 and Jose Ruiz ran a massive PR of 5:40, breaking the 6 minute barrier for the first time.

The meet then took a break from distance events to run the sprint events. Kirsten and Natalie went 1-2 in their heat and ran big PRs in the 100. Kirsten took her PR from 14.70 to 14.23 and Natalie jumped from 14.50 to 14.24. Yesenia ran 15.81, compared to her previous PR of 16.66, and Chantrea managed a small PR as well, running 16.60.

On the boys side, Geovanny continued to impress as a sprinter. In his first ever track meet earlier in the week, Geo took the win in the F/S 100 with a time of 12.76, a solid debut time for a Sophomore. He followed that up with a PR of 12.47 at TKA, showing real potential. Raven matched his PR of 12.60, and Salvador made his debut in the 100 running 13.38 despite a slip in the blocks. All 3 sophomores ran PRs in the 200 as well. Geo ran 25.73 (compared to a 26.70 on Thursday) Raven ran 26.07 (compared to 26.14 on Thursday) and Sal ran 26.37 (compared to 26.87 on Thursday). Misael Herrera and David Bejines competed for the team in the varsity sprint events. David ran a seasons best 12.92 in the 100, while Misael ran a seasons best 25.92 in the 200.

Susie Peterson ran a 200m PR of 33.51 and Kirsten ripped off a huge PR of 29.86. She is just the 4th girl since I’ve been coaching at James Lick to run under 30 seconds for the 200.

Yeimili followed up her strong 1600 with a strong 800. She ran 2:46.22, which lands her 9th on the school’s all time list in the event. Krystal Tran ran a PR of 3:21 in a later heat. Dakota Castro-Lopez ran an 800m PR of 2:34, while Jose ran 2:35 for his own PR.

Arlet ran 12:55 for the 3200, her first sub-13 clocking since her freshman year. Many Comet 2 milers Prd. Jenny and Ashley ran 14:46 and 14:49 respectively, and Daniel Portillo ran 12:24. Two Prs stood out in particular however.

In the frosh/soph race, Melvin ran a very impressive 10:52. Melvin’s ascent this track season has been spectacular.  He entered cross country as a freshmen unable to run under 7 minutes for 1 mile. With his sophomore track season only just beginning, he has shown he can now run 2 miles at under 5:30 pace per mile.

The single most impressive performance on the day however was Azael Zamora in the 3200. Azael was determined to attack the 10 minute barrier and did so with very little help. 800 Meters into the race, he was nearly 100 meters ahead of 2nd place. He lead from gun to tape and stopped the clock in a massive PR of 10:05.14. This moved him into 7th on the school’s all time list in the event.

Overall it was a fantastic day for the Comets. They will now head to Evergreen High School on Thursday 3/15 to face an exceptionally strong Cougar team. Evergreen looks to be the best overall team in the division. The Comets will look to improve their marks ahead of a tilt with Prospect on 3/22 that should be very competitive.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

Comets Compete at the historic Artichoke Invitational

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Inteus Castro-Lopez on his way to an 11 second PR

The Artichoke Invitational is one of the highlights of the bay area High School season. James Lick has been running at the Artichoke Invitational since the 1970s, making the course a good indication of athlete fitness and a good measure of how current Comets stack up against the great athletes of the past. The course was 2.25 miles from its foundation up until 2007. The course has been 2.33 miles since.

The day began with a bang in the freshen boys race. Jonathan Bradley and Omar Fimbres came in close together at 15:18 and 15:24 respectively. Both boys ran by far the fastest pace of their careers to this point, running 6:34 pace and 6:38 pace respectively. These times were notably faster than Mark Orpia’s time from last year (15:41) as Mark is now a high quality STAL varsity runner. Jonathan’s time was even faster than Nathan Bernardo’s freshmen time of 15:22. Nathan would of course go on to lead the team to a STAL championship as a senior and win the school’s Ryan award. Jose Ruiz also had a strong race running 16:37.

The Frosh/Soph girls race was next and the Comets sent a huge group of athletes forward. The leading Comet in the race was Ashley Preciado, who is a great example to her teammates. Ashley ran 19:45 for 8:28 pace, the best of her career. This was a huge PR for Ashley who ran 23:46 as a freshmen last year. Ashley has turned herself into a borderline varsity level runner and should inspire others to do the same. For example, Mya Hammond ran 20:30, Emma Veronica ran 20:55 and Emely Lopez ran 21:06. All 3 girls ran the best races of their careers to this point, and show the potential to be strong varsity runners next year. Mariana Perez (21:46) Francine Estranero (23:06) and Estefanie Herrera (24:34) all had the best races of their career as well. Denise Marquez, Maria Sanchez and Anahi Santos rounded out the race for the Comets.

The Frosh/Soph boys was another huge group for the Comets. The team was lead by a stupendous performance by Sophomore Mark Orpia. After running 15:41 as a freshmen, Mark ran 13:43. This is Mark’s first time under 6 minute pace for an XC race, with a 5:53 pace. This is the 2nd best Sophomore time by a James Lick Comet in the past decade, narrowly missing Nathan Bernardo’s 13:38. Mark placed 5th overall.

Melvin Estrada was the next Comet in, also running the best race of his career. Melvin ran 6:20 pace even, going under 6:30 pace for the first time in his career. He lead a stream of big sophomore PRs. Melvin ran 14:47 compared to a 16:31 clocking a year ago. Nien Tran and Hugo Marquez ran 15:13 and 15:21 compared to times of 17:25 and 17:03 respectively as freshmen. Daniel Portillo went from 18:05 as a freshmen to 15:56 as a sophomore. Jerricho Habon battled a tight hamstring and did not PR. Rudolf Ocampo (17:37) Brandon Cruz (17:44) Luis Escamilla (18:51) and Alvaro Fabian (19:37) completed the team.

Only two athletes ran in the JV race for the team, Elizabeth Perez and Aliana Santos. Aliana ran a big PR of 20:58, while last year she ran over 22 minutes.

The varsity races were last on the ledger. Arlet Miranda ran 17:40 to lead the team. Belen Sanchez ran 18:12, a full minute PR from her 19:10 performance last year. Jennifer Villagomez and Justine Austria ran 19:18 and 19:24 as they continue to build towards solidifying the team. Both girls ran under 8:20 pace for the first time in their careers. Analilia Regla has battled injury this week, but ran a decent time of 21:14 to complete the team.

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Azael Zamora on his way to a 7th place finish in the varsity boys race

In the varsity boys race, Azael Zamora became the first Comet to run under 13 minutes on the 2.33 mile course. After running 13:04 as a junior, Azael managed a 20 second PR of 12:44. This moves Azy up from 17th to 8th on the school’s all time list. Inteus Castro-Lopez had a strong race as well, running 13:38 for an 11 second PR. Cody Huoch had the best XC race of his career to run 15:07. Jose Limon ran 15:33. Isaac Veronica and Austin Swank came across the line together in 16:30 and 16:33 respectively.

The team continues to rapidly approach as the season progresses. The team will take on Leigh and Pioneer at Montgomery Hill for STAL 4. The team will then begin preparations for BVAL finals on October 30th.

Thanks for reading,

-Benny Reeves

Comets Show Great Improvement at Watermelon Run: Midseason Recap

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The Comets team awaits the start of the Watermelon Run Headed by several James Lick Alumni

After two weeks of hard work without a race, the James Lick Cross Country team assessed their fitness with the 2017 edition of the Watermelon Run. Due to the cancelation of the Alumni Race earlier in the month, the Watermelon Run doubled as the alumni race with several recent James Lick graduates in attendance.

The team ran the 3.03 mile north rim time trial course. The team ran the same course on August 14th to check their fitness heading into the new season. The Watermelon run showed just how far some of the Comets have come.

Azael Zamora battled sickness to run 17:58 a few seconds off of his personal best. Inteus Castro-Lopez was the 2nd boy across in 18:55, a 2 second PR. The big improvements started piling in soon after. Mark Orpia ran 19:37, far better than his 22:06 PR on August 14th. Erik Olsvold was next in 20:57. Erik has yet to race this season after his outstanding 2016 cross country season. His knee is nearly 100% and he looks to ready to finally begin racing again soon. Jesus Deloya ran a massive PR of 21:06, far better than the 25:17 clocking he managed at the original North Rim time trial of the season.

Nien Tran ran 21:09 for a new PR (25:57 on August 14th). Freshmen Jonathan Cortez ran 21:27 and continues to show his long term potential as a distance runner. This is the best freshmen time at the Watermelon run in the past 4 seasons at least. A stream of Sophomores were next, further illustrating the team’s youth.  A group of Sophomores, Melvin Estrada (21:29) Jerricho Habon (21:38) and Hugo Marquez (21:42) and Daniel Portillo (21:59) all ran under 22 minutes for the first time.

Cody Huoch came across the line next in 23:01. Isaac Veronica ran 23:12 for his first time on the course. Austin Swank was not far behind him in 23:18, a lifetime best in his final run on the course to give the team a strong reserve trio. Freshmen Omar Fimbres ran 23:51 just before Brandon Cruz and Rudolph Ocampo came across together in 23:55. Brandon managed to run faster for North Rim Timed than he did for Toro Park, indicating a big breakthrough is coming. Rudolph made a big impression in his first race for the team. The two sophomores were joined by freshmen Jose Ruiz (23:58) and Jonathan Bradley (24:10). We have some big decisions ahead on who should run on the Frosh/Soph team after these strong performances. Luis Escamilla and Kevin Bach also ran well with times of 24:50 and 25:15 to add two more solid sophomore times.

The girls team as a whole took a huge step forward in the watermelon run. At the North Rim time trial in August, only one girl on the team, (Arlet Miranda) managed to run the course under 33 minutes. Arlet ran 23:07 that day but has been battling iron deficiency since. With Arlet focusing on getting back to full health, it is more important than ever that the team steps up. They certainly did that at the Watermelon run.

Yeimili Adame who made a big impression during track joined the cross country team one week ago. Helped by Arlet’s pacing, Yeimili and Belen Sanchez came across the line together in 25:58. They are only the 6th and 7th JL girls to run under 26 minutes for the North Rim course. Belen ran 33:41 to be the #2 girl on August 14th. Arlet was right behind in 26:03. Xochitl Godinez and Justine Austria came across together in 27:42. Justine ran 37:12 for her first try on the course in August. This gave the girls 5 girls under 28 for the slow North Rim Timed course, something they were unable to muster at STAL 1 this season. Jennifer Villagomez, Jana Kikia and Analilia Regla came in at 28:45, 28:46 and 28:49, giving the team 8 girls under 29 minutes for North Rim Timed. Again, when we did the time trial on August 14th, we had only one girl under 33 minutes.

Alvaro Fabian and Jonathan Ergino were the last boys in at 28:43 and 29:19. Ashley Preciado ran 30:07 for a 4 minute PR. She was joined under 31 minutes by freshmen Mya Hammond (30:53) Emely Lopez (30:55) and senior Aliana Santos 30:53. All 3 girls achieved big PRs. Mya and Emely ran 41 minutes and 39 minutes respectively when they ran the course on August 14th.

Mariana Perez (32:11 for a 6 minute PR) Erika Camacho (32:44, 5 minute PR) and Francine Estranero (32:58) provided 3 more freshmen girls under 33 minutes for the team. Emma Veronica ran 32:56 for her first time on the course. Susie Peterson also ran 32:58, narrowly missing her PR but running 5 minutes faster than she managed in August. The final big PR of the day belonged to Estefani Herrera, 35:12 compared to a 44 minute clocking in August. Kirsten Yutuc ran 37:26 and Maria Sanchez ended the team’s day running 52:26.

Overall it was a big step forward for the team and a welcome performance with STAL 3 just days away. Some interesting notes from the Watermelon run:

46 Current Comets attended the Watermelon Run, the most in my 5 years of coaching. 2 runners, (Jose Limon and Adrian DeLaRosa) were sat out as they are dealing with minor injuries.

Of the 44 Comets who competed in the run, the team breaks down like this:

  1. Freshmen: 14 Total 9 girls 5 boys
  2. Sophomores: 17 Total 6 girls 11 boys
  3. Juniors: 4 Total 2 girls 2 boys
  4. Seniors: 8 Total 3 girls 5 boys

The team is very young this year, with nearly 70% of the team being underclassmen. This bodes very well for the future. This year in some ways might seem like a letdown after the 2016 STAL championship of the varsity boys, but the team is building towards future success.

Cross country and track are the only sports at James Lick reprinting the school in the ‘B’ division this year, and competing against larger schools is never easy. I am confident however, that the team will finish strong and improve on their current records.

Here is a breakdown of the teams records and how their team times changed from STAL 1 to STAL 2 (Team Times are the team’s top 5 runners times added up): 

Varsity Girls: 0-3   STAL 1: 126:06 STAL 2: 124:38

Varsity Boys: 1-2  STAL 1: 91:35  STAL 2: 87:59

Frosh/Soph Boys: 2-1 STAL 1: 101:35  STAL 2:  100:59

JV Girls: 0-3  STAL 1: 142:37   STAL2: 143:47

Reserve Boys: STAL 1: 110:59          STAL 2: 111:47

Reserve Girls: STAL 1: 164:03   STAL 2: INC

The team’s varsity record so far is 1-5 for a .200 winning percentage. I’d be willing to bet that this will improve over STAL 3 and STAL 4.

Both varsity teams improved from STAL 1 to STAL 2 by a considerable amount and the girls did it without Belen.

Frosh/Soph and JV tend to be inconsistent with runners moving up and down as needed for varsity. At STAL 2, the top runner from Frosh/Soph (Melvin Estrada) moved up to run varsity. The Frosh/Soph boys still managed to run faster as a team.

We are hoping that the Varsity Boys will run under 85 minutes as a team at STAL 3,  with the girls ideally running under well under 2 hours as a team for the first time this season.

The team will face Oak Grove and Sobrato at STAL 3 on Wednesday October 4th. It will be the 1st meet of the year at Montgomery Hill for the team. The team will look for many STAL season bests and the first wins of the year on the girls side.

The team will then trek to Half Moon Bay for the Artichoke Invitational on Saturday October 7th.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for STAL 3 recap!

-Benny Reeves

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_2690
Some of the Track Team after the Team Banquet in Alum Rock Park

 

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

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

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

Boys : 

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

Girls 

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

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

The team’s top point scorers were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few notes looking ahead

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

-Benny Reeves