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In its regular season finale, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls cross country team again came through with another solid performance.
The Hilltopper girls hosted the Los Alamos Invitational Friday afternoon at Los Alamos Golf Course. The Hilltoppers grabbed three top 10 individual finishes to coast to victory.
Jennifer Mooday took a near wire-to-wire victory for Los Alamos, while Teresa Sandoval and Jordan Parker finished in seventh and eighth places to lead the team to victory.
Los Alamos finished with 41 points, eight points better than second-place Cleveland.
Despite the victory, however, Friday’s course seemed particularly difficult for the Hilltoppers, along with several other teams involved. A pair of Hilltoppers were among five runners who collapsed at the finish line. Several others stumbled across or needed help getting out of the finishing area.
The race’s course at LAGC is considered a fairly challenging one. Nevertheless, Los Alamos still held off all challengers, including Class 4A opponents Albuquerque Academy and St. Pius X.
Hilltopper Janali Gustafson, who finished 11th overall and fourth among Los Alamos’ competitors, said the team was expecting a big day Friday.
“We were confident we could do well,” Gustafson said. “We were wanting to see how everyone could compete.”
With the head-to-head victories over Academy and St. Pius, which are considered two of the teams Los Alamos will have to be most wary of in the 4A championship race in two weeks, the Hilltoppers erased any doubt whether they are the team to beat in the postseason.
Mooday, one of the top individual runners in the state, wasted little time moving to the head of the pack. After only about a quarter of a mile in, Mooday had already started to pull away from the rest of the field. By the mile mark, she had moved to an eight-second lead and had no serious challengers for the lead position the rest of the way.
Mooday would go on to win by seven seconds after a good kick by Marissa Nathe of St. Pius cut the gap somewhat at the finish.
St. Pius, which has had some solid outings this season, finished in third in the team standings with 80 points. It finished ahead of Academy’s 110 points. Academy has historically been the Hilltoppers’ toughest competition at state but hasn’t been within striking distance of the Hilltoppers in many head-to-head contests this season.
Along with having the top team in 4A heading into the postseason — Los Alamos’ teams will host the District 2-4A meet Friday — Los Alamos is also the two-time defending Class 4A champion. In 2010, Los Alamos won its 15th overall girls cross country title, making it the most decorated program in state history.
The Hilltoppers haven’t been defeated by another 4A program this season, something that isn’t likely to change Friday.
“I’m really excited,” Gustafson said. “We did really well. I’m glad we did what we could.”
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1. Los Alamos, 41; 2. Cleveland, 49; 3. St. Pius X, 80; 4. Albuquerque Academy, 101; 5. Santa Fe, 187; 6. Santa Fe Indian School, 188; 7. Bernalillo, 194; 8. Hope Christian, 210; 9. Taos, 244; 10. Las Vegas Robertson, 270; 11. Española Valley, 300; 12. Santa Fe Prep, 310; 13. Pojoaque, 318.
1. Jennifer Mooday, 19:39; 2. Marissa Nathe, St. Pius X, 19:46; 3. Malia Gonzales, Cleveland, 19:55; 4. Claire Archibeck, Academy, 19:58; 5. Haley Rach, Taos, 20:04; 6. Kelli Reagan, St. Pius, 20:04; 7. Teresa Sandoval, 20:12; 8. Jordan Parker, 20:20; 9. Alana Littleford, Cleveland, 20:28; 10. Sara DiGiovanna, Cleveland, 20:40;
11. Janali Gustafson, 20:34; 12. Nicolette Pacheco, Cleveland, 20:40.50; 13. Greta Miller, Santa Fe, 20:40.97; 14. Elizabeth Turner, 20:41; 15. Rikki Castillo, Cleveland, 20:42; 16. Julie Gianinni, St. Pius, 20:51; 17. Morgan Findley, Academy, 20:58; 18. Kiona McCulley, Bernalillo, 21:10; 19. Isabelle Lucero, Academy, 21:11; 20. Lenora Waconda, St. Pius, 21:14;
26. Elizabeth Brug, 21:34; 29. Eliana Riciputi, 21:41.