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.

cropped-photo.jpg
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.

img_1238
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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Varsity Boys Win STAL Championship, Run Best Team Time At BVAL Finals in School History

img_1238
2016 STAL Championship Team Left to Right: Coach Benny Reeves, Gustavo Aguilera, Erik Olsvold, Nathan Bernardo, Inteus Castro-Lopez, Gustavo Parra, Azael Zamora 

 

 

On October 31st, all 24 teams of the BVAL took to the Crystal Springs cross country course for BVAL Finals. The meet determines the final standings for all 3 BVAL divisions, the WVAL (‘C’ division) STAL (‘B’ division) and the MHAL (‘A’ division).

The WVAL, STAL, and MHAL, were all their own individual leagues, but in 1996 they came under the governance of the 24 team ‘super league’ called the BVAL. This re-structing (which happened throughout the CCS during this era) occurred after the glory days of James Lick sports. With teams moving up and down in the BVAL based on strength of program, where a school has it’s teams places is a good indicator of how strong the school’s programs are.

The fact that the BVAL came into existence at the same time that James Lick was achieving the makeup that it has today, helps us to analyze James Lick teams over the past 20 years as part of the “modern era.”

Since the BVAL’s foundation (1996) , James Lick entered the 2016-2017 school year with a total of 16 championships across all sports. Only 3 of these 16 championships were in the STAL (‘B’ league of the BVAL) with the Wrestling team of 2004 being the last JL team to win a title in the B division. Just being placed in the B division is a victory for a James Lick sport these days. Since the BVAl era, James Lick has offered 16 sports, (considering Cross Country, Swimming, and Track as 1 sport each, since boys and girls teams score separately, but cannot move divisions independently). Only 8 of these 16 sports at James Lick  however have ever competed in any division other than the WVAL (‘C’ league of the BVAL). In addition, 2 of those 8 competed in the B division while there was no C division due to a shortage of BVAL teams offering the sport. This means only 6/16 JL sports in the BVAL era have ever been out of the lowest division of the BVAL.

While some teams commonly have most of their teams in the A and B divisions, James Lick currently only has 3, Cross Country, Boys Soccer, and Boys volleyball (though there is no ‘C’ division for boys volleyball). In 20 years now in the BVAL era, with at least 13 sports offered a year, James Lick has never had more than 4 teams in the same year be placed in the ‘B’ division or higher. As such, the cross country team continues to strive to represent the school as a legitimate ‘B’ league team.

BVAL finals in cross country is a great way to prove this strength of program, with all 24 teams in the same race, theoretically a perfectly formatted league would have the MHAL teams place 1-8, STAL place 9-16 and WVAL place 17-24. Any placing higher than 16th in a race legitimatizes the Comets standing and gives the team a sense of pride. As the 4th smallest school in the BVAl, and the 2nd poorest as measured by % of students who receive free/reduced lunch, overcoming this disadvantages to beat schools in a better place to succeed is something to be proud of.

 

IMG_1276.JPG
The team after the meet 

The day started well, with the team’s two reserve girls racing for the Comets. After running 29:24 at the Crystal Spring’s invite, Valerie Flores ran 27:09 to place 17th in the reserve race, a huge PR for Valerie. The 9:12 mile pace is by far the best of her career, ending with a very strong peak performance. Brittany Salazar had a similarly huge PR, after running 34:49 at the invitational, she ran 32:41 at league finals. Her 11:05 mile pace was also by far the best of her career. A very strong ending for the two seniors.

The JV girls race was next, as the first scoring race of the day, the team looked for a top 16 team performance. The JV girls is the easiest race to score highly in, as many programs struggle to field a full team. In any case, the Comet girls came in 12th in the BVAL a solid performance. Camila Hernandez lead the group with a very strong time of 24:34. Camila looks poised to have a big track season, and be a key member of the girls team in future seasons. The 8:20 mile pace at league finals was the best of her career. The same was true of Aliana Santos, running 9:01 pace for a time of 26:36. At the CS invite, Aliana ran 29:27, making her league finals PR another outstanding performance. Susie Peterson was next in, while her time of 28:14 was an off race compared to other races this season, it was a solid 30 second PR at Crystal Springs. Ashley Preciado also had the best race of her career, running 29:06 and breaking the 10 minute mile pace barrier for the very first time. Diana Romero ran 31:20 to seal off the team, and Ally Floreza battled through an ankle injury to finish her race and show a warrior spirit in the process.

The Frosh/Soph Boys were next, and they improved their league standing by placing 2nd amongst B division teams at league finals. While final team results are not yet up of FS, I believe that the team managed to finish 8th overall, beating several ‘A’ division teams. Similarly, I do not know the records of the other teams in the ‘B’ division, but this performance may have moved the FS team as high as 2nd place in the STAL.

Vincent Giglio lead the team with a strong PR of 18:22, placing 1st in the STAL to give the team the STAL F/S boys individual champion 2 years in a row. Mark Orpia gave the team a 2nd boy under 20 minutes, running 19:34. The 6:38 mile pace for Mark was the best of his career, though I think it was actually a bit of an off-race for him after he ran 6:40 mile pace at Montgomery Hill a few weeks back. Nien Tran ran 20:18 to manage a 6:53 pace, the first time Nien has run under 7 minute mile pace for an XC race. Rudy Peterson and Melvin Estrada completed the scoring team with times of 21:00 and 21:03, the first the fastest paces of both boys career for a course longer than 2.1 miles. Hugo Marquez was close behind at 21:16, the 7:13 pace being the best of his career as well. Jerricho Habon rounded out the team in 21:25, battling the hip injury that has troubled him throughout much of the season. The team’s 8th place finish saw them defeating 2 teams from the MHAL and running the best James Lick frosh/soph team time in the BVAL era. Their team time of 1:40:25 (100:25) beats the  FS team of 2010 (101:06) for a new BVAL Finals FS record. Our goal of breaking the 100 minute barrier was narrowly missed.

Next up were the varsity girls. Arlet Miranda ran a small PR of 20:12, running a very productive race in which she experimented with running a very hard 2nd mile in preparation for CCS. The Varsity girls team has struggled with finding time to train this season, but the pack of Maria Mendoza in 22:44, Milka Perez in 22:50 and Daisy Nava in 23:02 helped solidify the team’s placing. Denisse Calixto ran 24:28 the best race of her career to come through as the 5th girl. Belen Sanchez had a bit of an off-race running 25:03, though Analilia Regla ran 25:08, the best mile pace of her career as well. The teams time of 1:53:16 (113:16) is the 4th best team time in school history.

Skipping ahead to the reserve race, David Bejines lead the Comets with a strong reserve time of 20:14. Isaak Herrera came in next at 20:31 and Austin Swank was 3rd in 20:50, giving the team 3 athletes solidly under 21 minutes. Both David and Isaak ran under 7 minute mile pace for the first time on a near 3 mile course. Manuel Villalobos ran 21:42 and Esteban Garcia-Gomez ran 22:08 to seal off the top 5.  Kevin Bach ran 22:34 and Daniel Portillo was not far behind in 23:00 a big PR from the Crystal Springs invite. Jesse Friaz finished off the team’s day with a time of 24:26. All 8 reserve boys ran the best mile pace of their career for a new 3 mile course.

The Varsity boys team went in highly motivated, knowing that a good race would clinch  championship. In order to seal the victory, the team would have to hold off a very strong Pioneer team. Erik Olsvold lead the group, displaying his signature strong finish, Erik moved from 15th to 9th place in the last 200 meters of the race. His time of 16:22 is the best time by any James Lick boy in over 10 years, and puts him tied for 20th on the school’s al time list as only a Sophomore. Narrowly holding off Evan Franco of Branham who ran 16:24, Erik also ends the season as the STAL individual champion on the boys side, one year after being the FS champion. Erik’s remarkable improvement, from 18:14 a year ago, speaks to the immense work ethic of the varsity team. Nathan Bernardo and Azael Zamora both missed their PRS, but competed well running 16:47 and 16:59, giving the team 3 boys under 16 minutes in the same race at Crystal Springs for the first time in over a decade. All 3 boys finished in the top 20 overall. Inteus Castro-Lopez had a rough race, but showed his toughness, gritting out a time of 17:33 for a 22 second PR. Gustavo Aguilera also ran a 20 second PR of 17:39, with Gustavo Parra right behind in 17:40.

Pioneer ran a very strong race as well, and ended up placing 5th in the entire BVAL, beating half of the ‘A’ division teams. The Comets nonetheless were able to clinch their STAL championship, placing 2nd out of all 24 BVAL teams, only losing to Willow Glen, the ‘A’ league champs. The fact that the team was able to jump from a disappointing 13th place finish last year, to 2nd this year is truly remarkable. Their team time of 1:25:20 (85:20) is the best James Lick time at BVAL Finals in school history.

When Nathan and Gustavo A were freshmen, they ran 20:36 and 22:34 at BVAL finals.  Nathan was the 7th boy on a varsity team where the #1 runner ran 18:29. That James Lick team placed 20th at BVAL Finals. The work ethic of Nathan and Gustavo, taking minutes  off of their starting times, has helped foster a culture of hard work that has inspired their teammate around them, and drawn in athletes like Inteus and Gustavo P. In their 4 year careers, they saw the varsity boys team move from 20th in the BVAL to 2nd, and from a team time of 97:09 at league finals, to the 85:20 of today.

In the now 38 years of school history (on record) at the Crystal Springs cross country course, the team of 2016 ranks 11th in team time, showing that in 4 short years, the Comets were able to take a team from its 2nd slowest time, back to the times of James Lick’s heyday. It is up to the returning and future members of the team, to keep James Lick where it belongs an to keep driving the team upwards towards greater success. While the varsity and Frosh/Soph boys teams could have committed in the MHAL this year, the girls team has a ways to go before they are able to do the same.

Willow Glen has won 12 of the last 13 BVAL finals meets, and there is no sham in losing to the highly formidable team. The varsity boys team of 2016 showed that the Comets are still capable of competing with the best however, and every year we will try to reach greater and greater heights. The varsity boys, and fellow CCS qualifier Arlet Miranda now look ahead to CCS Finals on November 12th, where they will compete against fellow D3 runners from the CCS. To better understand CCS qualification you can read here:

https://coachbennyreeves.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/what-the-comets-overcome-when-they-make-ccs/

 

The team will unfortunately be without top runner Erik Olsvold at CCS, making a top 3 finish, and a better team time difficult, but the Comets will do their best to try to get a State Qualifier for the first time in 2005.

Thank you for reading as always,

-Benny Reeves

 

Two James Lick Team Records Fall at STAL #4

img_1044
Varsity Boys Huddling Before The Race

On Thursday October 13th, the James Lick Comets faced off against the Oak Grove Eagles in STAL #4 at Montgomery Hill. The meet was a very successful one, in which two different team records fell, 20 PRs were set, and the team scored wins in every division.

The Frosh/Soph boys kicked off the action with a fantastic start. Vincent Giglio won the race in a huge PR of 17:54, finally rounding into form. Vincent’s time not only won the race, but is the best Frosh/Soph time for a James Lick runner at Montgomery Hill ever. Freshmen Mark Orpia had by far the best race of his young career, placing 6th in 18:35. Both Vincent and Mark nearly ran the best mile pace of the season, despite the fact that Montgomery Hill is a very slow course pace-wise. Nine Tran and Jerricho Habon ran 19:24 and 19:37 respectively, giving the FS team 4 Comets under 20 minutes at STAL 4, compared to 0 at STAL 1 and 2. Projected 5th runner Melvin Estrada was absent, but Rudy Peterson sealed off the scoring team with  a 20:42 clocking. Hugo Marquez was close behind in 20:51, and Manuel Villalobos ran 21:08 for a 44 second PR as the 7th boy.

After seeming like a typical Frosh/Soph team for much of the season, the team busted out at STAL 4. Their team time of 96:12 (1:36:12) establishes a new Frosh/Soph school record at Montgomery Hill, beating the 98:49 of the team of 2010 handily. This young group continues to look very promising. Only the reserve boys of 2010, a very strong group, ran a faster Non-Varsity team time than this group of Frosh/Soph Boys. They move to 3-3 on the season with the win over Oak Grove.

Next up were the Varsity Girls. Arlet Miranda ran a small PR of 19:13 to lead the group in 5th place overall. Maria Mendoza struggled with knee pain, but ran a solid 21:54 to be the 2nd girl. Daisy Nava and Milka Perez finished in the middle of the pack, coming in together at 22:19, a 20 second PR for Daisy. The 5th girl continues to be a weakness for the team, as Denisse Calixto and Analilia Regla rounded out the group in 24:26 and 24:55. The 24:55 time by Analilia was her first time breaking 25 minutes for the course. The win over the Eagles netted the Varsity Girls their first win of the season, putting them at 1-5 on the season.

After tying the school record time of 81:48 as a group a week ago, the Varsity Boys were determined to make the top team time their own. Erik Olsvold won the race overall in a huge 30 second PR of 15:27. Erik is the first individual Varsity winner in a BVAL league race for James Lick since Carlos Montes in 2009. His time moves him firmly into #2 on the school’s all time list. Erik will be on religious retreat next week when the team has their final Montgomery meet, but as a Sophomore, the school record of 15:05 is firmly in sight. Nathan Bernardo had an off race by his standards, but ran a good time of 16:05 to place 6th overall. Inteus Castro-Lopez and Azael Zamora came in next with PRS of 16:17 and 16:22 respectively, giving the team 4 runners in the top 8 overall. Gustavo Parra ran 16:50 as the 5th boy, to give the team a combined time of 81:01 (1:21:01) smashing the old school record. Gustavo Aguilera ran 17:22, and Jesus Deloya established a new PR of 18:22 to finish the varsity boys day. The team moves to 6-0 and with a win against Independence next week, will end the regular season undefeated.

The Reserve Boys race was next and David Bejines once again lead the group, though he missed his PR narrowly, running 19:37. Austin Swank ran a 20 second PR of 20:10, not far behind to place 11th out 98 reserve runners. Isaak Herrera ran a small PR of 20:42 to finish 16th. Kevin Bach ran a huge PR of 22:04, and Daniel Portillo just missed his own PR, running 23:34, 8 seconds off. Though technically non-scoring, the reserve boys are 4-2 against the other reserve teams so far.

The JV and reserve girls finished up the team day. Camila Hernandez continues to impress, breaking 25 minutes for the first time with a 24:42 clocking. Susie Peterson ran a PR of 26:08 as did Aliana Santos who ran 26:54. A PR for Ashley Preciado followed in 30:42, and Diana Romero rounded out the group in 31:55. The JV girls took the win over an incomplete Eagles team, moving to 3-3 on the season. Valerie Flores knocked down a PR in 28:36 as did Brittany Salazar, running 31:51 to break 32 for the first time.

The Comets have one league meet next, and will record their final PRs, and records for the season at STAL 5 on October 20th. The next day, a select group of highly dedicated Comets will take the trip down to Los Angeles for the Mt. Sac invitational.

 

 

 

JLXC History: Montgomery Hill / Time Trial recap

IMG953774
Montgomery Hill as seen from a spectator’s view.

This post will contain two blogs for the price of one. 

Blog 1: JLXC at Montgomery Hill

Today, James Lick is a member of the BVAL, a 24 team “power league” which formed in 1996. James Lick was a member of the MHAL (Mount Hamilton Athletic League) from 1965- the early 90s. With the formation of the BVAL in 96′ MHAL took the place of the ‘A’ division of the BVAL,the STAL (Santa Teresa League) took on the role of the ‘B’ division, and the WVAL (West Valley League) took on the role of the ‘C’ division.

Following its foundation, the BVAL searched for an accessible area to use for its league meets. Alum Rock park, long used by the MHAL, was used for some races, as was Helyer Park and Santa Teresa park. In the year 2000 however, the BVAL created a race course at Montgomery Hill Park, right next to Evergreen Valley college. The park, as its name indicates, is extremely hilly for a cross country course and has no shade to offer. These factors combined with its loose dirt in places, makes it the slowest race course (in terms of mile pace) in the CCS central conference. The original course was 2.95 miles, and was used for several races in 2000. In 2001 and 2002, the course became almost exclusively the BVAL’s course of choice for league meets. In 2003, the course was modified to its current 2.74 mile format, and has been run by the BVAL every year since.

With the 2016 season approaching, Montgomery’s entering its 17th year of use. James Lick has 15 years of history on the course (In 2012 all of JL’s league meets were at Alum Rock). With a limited history compared to historic courses like Crystal Springs, and one which has taken place after most of JL’s greatest seasons, the Montgomery hill school all time lists are not amongst the school’s best performances. The teams of recent years however are heading solidly in the right direction.

The JL teams of the early 2000s were some of the best teams in the entire BVAL on the boys side. The 2001 team ran some of the first fast times on the course. The boy’s team’s 2nd best combined team time (calculated by adding the times of the top 5 runners together) on the course was run in 2001. The team ran a time of 82:47 (converted for the 2.74 mile course). Ivan Navarro ran a converted 15:52, one of only 2 sub 16 minute clockings at Montgomery in school history.

In 2003 the course was altered to its current format, and with it came the current school records on the course, both individually and as a team. Jose Gutierrez ran 15:05,  an outstanding time and a school record for the course. This time helped the team to a combined time of 81:48, an average of 16:22 a runner. In the mid 2000s, (the weakest era of JLXC) the team consistently ran times in the high 80s or low 90s, with a few standout performances such as Erick Herrera’s 16:01 in 2005.

The team gradually fell from the top of the ‘A’ division in 2003, to the middle of the ‘C’ division a mere 4 years later. The team of 2009 however, began to spark some life into the program by winning the WVAL and moving up to the STAL. Even then however, the boys team only managed a team time of 90:02, a far cry from the mid 80 minute clockings of the early 2000s.

The rebirth of JLXC that the current program is striving to create has been a joy to witness. The team of 2013 (my first year as coach), ran a team time of 94:56, the slowest Montgomery Hill team time for James Lick on record. A year later however, then sophomore and current senior and team captain, Nathan Bernardo, helped the team take a huge step back towards respectability with a team time of 87:05.

In the now 16 years of course History,24 Comet boys have run under 17 minutes at Montgomery Hill (A common  varsity boy time even in the ‘A’ division), but only 9 Comets have managed the feet since 2006. In 2014, Nathan added his name to the list along with teammate Karan Singh, making it the first season where two Comets simultaneously broke the barrier since 2010, when Ricardo Flores and myself combined to do so.

2015 witnessed yet another leap forward, as the team combined for a time of 84:40, despite not running their normal 4th runner at their best league race. This was the 4th best team time for JL (out of 15 total years) in history, and only 20 seconds off  of the team of 2004. Nathan ran 16:10 to put himself #4 on the school’s all time list for the course, and the team also saw Hector Ramirez run under 17 minutes, with Inteus Castro-Lopez and Gustavo Aguilera at 17:00 and 17:09 respectively.

The team of 2016 is actively going after the school record of the 2001 team, and their first time trial of the season was a great indicator of their capability. More on that Below.

Even in the 2000s where the boys team was struggling compared to decades and even years past, the girls team was struggling mightily to be competitive, like throughout much of its history. JL was unable to field a full team in some of the early BVAL years, and 2003 was the first time the team managed to break 2 hours for the course, with a combined team time of 1:58:39 or 118:39.

In a few years however, the team was bolstered by the arrival of Kayla Matsuda, who currently stands as James Lick’s greatest ever girl Cross Country runner. Kayla’s PR and school record of 18:12 run in 2006, still stands as one of the top 20 Montgomery times for any school. It also lead the team to a big school record team time of 1:54:53. This time was bettered a year later by the team of 2007, running 1:49:51 to narrowly miss out on winning the ‘C’ division championship. That team also saw freshmen Aurora Lepe run 21:14, a 21 minute time is a decent varsity time in the ‘A’ division. After Kayla’ graduation in 2009, the girls team struggled to be competitive again, especially with the teams move into the ‘B’ division in 2010. From 2010-2012 the Varsity girls team went a combined 0-21, strong individual times such as the 20:03 clocking in 2010 by Ana Tapia (3rd best JL time ever) and the 21:25 of freshmen Daniela Camacho in 2011 not withstanding.

The team of 2013 however saw a surge in there group capability. Despite the boys struggles in 2013, the girls team ran 1:50:06, the then #2 team time in school history, and managed a winning record in the ‘B’ division as a result. Record keeping and political issues lead to the team of 2014 being placed in the ‘C’ divison for the 2014 season, and the 2014 team worked hard to correct that mistake. Daniela Camacho ran the #2 time in school history, with a 19:32 clocking, giving the Comets two girls (all time) under 20 at Montgomery to go with  their 2 boys under 16. Thanks to strong runs from athletes like Paloma Contreras, Milka Perez, and Maria Mendoza, 2014 was the first season in school history where 4 girls ran under 22:00 in the same race. This resulted in a huge team record of 1:45:57, and arguably the greatest girls XC season in JL history.

Despite the loss of of 6/7 of the team’s varsity girls from the 2014 season, the 2015 season ran a solid team time of 1:49:58, breaking the 1:50:00 barrier at Montgomery for the 3rd time in the school’s 15 seasons on the course, despite a very inexperienced girls team. Maria lowered her PR to 20:31, giving her the #4 JL time in history for the course.

Montgomery hill is now the team’s most raced upon course. Generally the team has somewhere between 2-4 races their every season, and the all time lists for the course will continue to grow each season. With the team striving every day to rebuild a once tremendous XC program. Montgomery hill times will be an important barometer of success going forward.

More information on JLXC’s rich history can be found here:

https://coachbennyreeves.wordpress.com/cross-country-history/

Note: All historical data is based on actual archival data/ newspaper results. This is simply the all time lists I have been able to compile, if you have any information that I am missing please do not hesitate to send it my way!

It is my intention to write on a piece on the history of every course we will race this year, if coaching/ graduate studies/ student teaching allow me enough time.

In any case thank you for reading this summary, Blog 2 Below. 

 

Blog 2: Time Trial Recap

The 2016 team showered their desire to take yet another step forward this season with a very strong time trial showing. Azael Zamora lead the group in a huge PR of 16:42, despite only giving an estimated 85% effort. Inteus Castro-Lopez ran a 1 second PR of 16:59, despite the earliness of the season and the fact that he was also treating the run as ,ore of a threshold run than a true time trial. Erik Olsvold did go all out, and ran a full minute PR of 17:18, showing the benefits of his strong track season. Nathan Bernardo did not even bring his racing shoes, but ran a time of 17:33, 17 second abetter than his time at the same time trial a year ago.

Gustavo Aguilera and Gustavo Parra ran 18:36 and 18:49 respectively, way ahead of their 19:04 and 21:37 clockings from last years Montgomery time trial. Jesus Deloya and Vincent Giglio also broke 20, running 19:36 and 19:53, putting both runners on track to break 18 minutes this season for the course.

The next Comet in was sophomore Arlet Miranda, fresh off of her breakout track season, looking to push away the memories of her injury plagued freshmen XC season. Her time of 20:47 puts her #5 on the all time list, and bodes well for her chances to move onto #2 on the school’s list by seasons end. Recent transfer, David Bejines finished with a time of 22:12, an experienced runner as a junior, David will look to factor into the teams plans as he rounds into shape. Freshmen Jericho Habon was next in a time of 22:19. Jericho is one of a number of extremely dedicated freshmen who have worked hard to turn themselves from runners who couldn’t run under 8 minutes for a mile, to strong ‘B’ division frosh-sops athletes. This is their goal with a few weeks before races begin. fellow dedicated freshmen, Kevin Bach came across the line in 24:48 in his first official James Lick clocking. Julia Cruz was the only girl besides Arlet to take part, and she ran a solid 25:05 after her first week back at practice. This is faster than Julia’s time from early October of last season, and she went on to run a solid 23:07 that season.

The Comets are hard at work, and have big time aspirations this season. Despite the fact that the top group of boys treated this run as only a hard practice run, they ran 1:27:07/87:07 , faster than 7 of the 15 seasons where James Lick has run at Montgomery Hill. The team record of 1:21:48/ 81:48 is on their mind, as is a ‘B’ division title.

The girls team spearheaded by Arlet has the aim of breaking 1:50:00 at Crystal Springs, which would be the best league finals time in school history for the girls. Despite the 2 girl showing on Saturday, the girls team is very much rounding together with athletes like Daisy Nava, Maria Mendoza, and Milka Perez hard at work.

The North Rim trail has been closed, but the Comets will look to run a time trial on it as soon as it opens if their schedule permits. In any case the Alumni Race will take place on Friday September 2nd beginning at 6:00 P.M. I recommend any alumni runners arrive at 5:30 if possible to allow time for warmups. The event is less than two weeks away, and the whole Comet team is gaining steam.

Stay tuned for more Comet news.