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ALBUQUERQUE — The goal right now for the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys cross country team is to improve.
In the meantime, the Hilltoppers got a close look at what they can expect to see as the season wears on.
Los Alamos took part in the Albuquerque Academy Invitational Friday afternoon, along with some tough squads around the metro area. Los Alamos finished fifth out of 19 competing teams.
Academy, which is considered the team to beat in Class 4A once again this season, won its home meet handily. Academy earned just 41 points, placing three runners in the top 10, including individual champ Kevin Wyss and runner-up Kyle Carrozza.
The Hilltoppers, for their part, finished with 122 points.
Los Alamos, going into the 2013 season, has one of the youngest, least experienced rosters it’s had in recent years, so the emphasis the Hilltoppers have put on the team is improvement.
“We were hoping to do a lot better than at UNM,” said Los Alamos’ Gus Saeger, who finished third on the team Friday, noting the team’s fifth-place finish. “That’s around where we were working for.”
Saeger and Cameron Staples stayed within a few strides of each other for much of the race, with Forrest White not far behind. Saeger and White finished back-to-back at 32nd and 33rd places.
Los Alamos was hoping to get a better pack than it had at UNM and did manage to do that, with Cameron Staples and Connor Bailey both finishing just behind White.
Individually, Hilltopper senior Colin Hemez had another big showing. Hemez, who won at ATC two weeks before, took third with his time of 15:59, eight seconds behind Wyss.
Hemez kept pace with a sizeable pack out front, which included Gallup’s Alexander Taylor, who went out like a shot at the start of the race, through much of the first two miles of the race before it started to dissipate.
With about a mile left, Wyss and Carrozza started to pull away, but a few other runners stayed with Hemez. Going into the final stretch, Hemez outkicked Cleveland’s Jared Mayoral and beat him out at the tape.
In the meet, Los Alamos actually finished as the No. 2 Class 4A team, 39 points ahead of Piedra Vista.
Although it still has plenty of work to do to catch Academy, which placed six runners in the top 20, Los Alamos thinks it took a step forward with Friday’s effort.
“We need to keep training hard,” Saeger said. “We’re doing well, but we need to train harder and do our best in these races.”
1. Albuquerque Academy, 41; 2. Cleveland, 97; 3. Eldorado, 110; 4. La Cueva, 118; 5. Los Alamos, 122; 6. Piedra Vista, 161; 7. Gallup, 200; 8. Laguna-Acoma, 209; 9. Miyamura, 234; 10. Volcano Vista, 286; 11. Sandia 328; 12. Grants, 369; 13. Pecos, 378; 14. Highland, 385; 15. Sandia Prep, 420; 16. Moriarty, 429; 17. Valencia, 441; 18. To’Hajiilee, 486; 19. Quemado, 613.
1. Kevin Wyss, Albuquerque Academy, 15:51; 2. Kyle Carrozza, Academy, 15:55; 3. Colin Hemez, 15:59; 4. Jared Mayoral, Cleveland, 16:00; 5. Taylor Potter, Eldorado, 16:06.44; 6. Aaron Flores, Cleveland, 16:06.81; 7. Niles Thomas, Miymura, 16:11; 8. Harrison Fleming, Piedra Vista, 16:14; 9. Adam Monroe, Eldorado, 16:21; 10. Jordan Lesansee, Academy, 16:27;
18. Mike Walker, 16:40; 32. Gus Saeger, 17:21; 33. Forrest White, 17:25; 36. Cameron Staples, 17:27.41; 37. Connor Bailey, 17:27.84; 46. John Rees, 17:39.