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If the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys cross country team wants to give the Albuquerque Academy Chargers a run for their money in two weeks, there’s still some work left to do.
But Los Alamos, which is probably the best-prepared team in the state, week-in and week-out, knows exactly how much work that entails. In fact, the Hilltoppers have quantified it.
“What we’re working on is each of our times,” Hilltopper runner Zach Breshears said. “The coaches have told us how much time each of us needs to improve over the next two weeks to beat Academy.”
Los Alamos was hoping to make some strides on its way to an upset of the top-ranked program in New Mexico and one of the top programs in the Rocky Mountains at Friday’s Los Alamos Invitational.
The invitational, which was held on the front nine holes of Los Alamos Golf Course, was won by Academy, which had a team score of just 38. The Hilltoppers, who are about the only team in Class AAAA with a prayer of beating the Chargers at the upcoming state championship meet, finished second in team competition with 73 points.
Individually Friday, Los Alamos All-American runner Kyle Pittman, a senior, took his first defeat in the state of New Mexico this year. Although Pittman posted a healthy finish time of 16 minutes, 14 seconds, that was only good enough for fourth place at the invitational.
Academy’s Pat Zacharais, one of the top runners in the state in his own right, emerged from a very tough four-man field to take the individual title at Friday’s race. Zacharias finished with a blazing 15:42.
Behind Zacharias were brothers Vincent and Christopher Montoya of Cibola, a pair that are likely to contend for the Class 5A individual state title this season. The Montoyas led Cibola’s Cougars to a third-place team finish.
Academy, for its part, placed three runners in the top 10 individually to capture its fifth straight team title at Los Alamos.
The Hilltoppers were relatively pleased with Friday’s outcome. The Hilltoppers held their pack together well throughout the course, which features numerous hills throughout.
“I think we did pretty well,” said Breshears, who finished 44th overall Friday. “We’re trying to figure out what’s working for us so we can get everything in place.”
Los Alamos will head into its District 2AAAA meet this Friday, a race it is expected to win hands-down so it may advance to the state AAAA race Nov. 7.
Friday, three of the four other District 2AAAA teams were involved. Taos was the only one of those that fielded at least five runners and it finished 13th in team competition. Santa Fe, which will race with Los Alamos in district starting next season, didn’t fare much better, coming in 12th overall.
Individually for the Hilltoppers, Ian Pulliam, Daniel Roybal and Alexander Romero stayed stride-for-stride with each other throughout the bulk of the race. Pulliam finished 17th – third on the team behind Pittman and 13th overall finisher Josh Bowman – with Roybal crossing just one second behind him and Romero placing 21st, just three seconds behind Roybal.
Here are the results from Friday’s Los Alamos Invitational. Runners are from Los Alamos unless otherwise indicated.
1. Albuquerque Academy, 38; 2. Los Alamos, 73; 3. Cibola, 84; 4. Pojoaque, 137; 5. Santa Fe Indian School, 141; 6. Gallup, 154; 7. Manzano, 157; (tie) Rio Rancho, 157; 9. Hope Christian, 259; 10. Highland, 274; 11. West Mesa, 322; 12. Santa Fe, 370; 13. Taos, 382.
1. Pat Zacharias, Academy, 15:42; 2. Vincent Montoya, Cibola, 15:49; 3. Christopher Montoya, 16:04; 4. Kyle Pittman, 16:13; 5. Neil Longenbaugh, Academy, 16:26; 6. Michael Montoya, Manzano, 16:30; 7. Emmett Wynn, Academy, 16:37; 8. Eric Fenton, Hope, 16:49; 9. James Viarreal, Pojoaque, 16:53; 10. Elijah Wolfe, Rio Rancho, 16:58;
13. Josh Bowman, 17:07; 17. Ian Pulliam, 17:13; 18. Daniel Roybal, 17:14; 21. Alexander Romero, 17:17; 29. Tim Wermer, 17:24; 44. Zach Breshears, 18:06.