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Cross country: LA boys, girls both finish third at Saturday’s Rio Rancho meet

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By The Staff

With the Los Alamos Hilltopper cross country teams heading into the final stretch of their season, they are starting to put up the numbers they’re looking for to make a postseason push.

Saturday, Los Alamos traveled to the Rio Rancho Jamboree, one of the largest regular season meets in the state, and grabbed two big finishes in the big school races.

The Hilltopper boys finished third overall in the team standings, behind only the Albuquerque Academy Chargers and the Sandia Matadors, two very good Albuquerque-area programs.

Individually, Kyle Pittman won his fourth race of the season, remaining unbeaten in the state of New Mexico this season, finishing in a blistering sub-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, the Hilltopper girls put together one of their best efforts of the season, also placing third in the team standings. Moreover, Los Alamos was the top finisher among the Class AAAA schools taking part in the race, not the least of which were the last two state championship squads, Academy and Belen.

It was about as good of an overall team effort as Los Alamos could’ve hoped for with just one more meet left in the season before the District 2AAAA championship race.

“It’s definitely competitive,” Hilltopper co-head coach Kathy Hipwood said of Saturday’s race. “It’s one of the more competitive meets of the year in New Mexico. Between this meet, our home meet, district and state, we’re definitely ending with our important meets, but I think they’re ready.”

The Hilltopper girls, for their part, were just a few points back of the host Rio Rancho Rams, a top Class 5A school, and another very good 5A school in Eldorado. Los Alamos finished with 121 points, placing them just 11 points out of the top spot.

Even without one of its top runners, Megan Reader, who missed the big school run due to a schedule conflict, Los Alamos placed four runners into the top 30 individually.

Hilltopper senior Holly Walker broke into the top three individually, one of her best outings of the season, with her time of 18 minutes, 42 seconds. Walker easily outdistanced a stiff competitor, Belen’s Aleona Reyes, topping her by 14 seconds to finish in third place.

The race was won, not surprisingly, by Academy’s Julia Foster, who was the only runner in the girls big school field to break the 18-minute mark.

Behind Walker, Victoria Honnell broke into the top 20 individually for Los Alamos. Emily Pittman, an impressive eighth-grader for the Hilltoppers, had a solid finish, breaking into the top 25, while freshman Jennifer Mooday was 29th overall.

In the boys race, Los Alamos’ runners behind phenom Kyle Pittman packed very well, something that they’ve done a good job of all season.

After Pittman, whose time of 14:58 was outstanding but only afforded him a 4-second victory over Academy’s Pat Zacharias, Hilltoppers Josh Bowman and Ian Pulliam finished 19th and 20th, while Zach Breshears and Alexander Romero were 32nd and 33rd. Bowman and Pulliam crossed only one second apart, as did Breshears and Romero.

Daniel Roybal had one of his best finishes of the season for Los Alamos, placing 12th overall (16:13).

Hipwood said that she’s thrilled not only about the younger runners the Hilltoppers are featuring on both the boys and girls varsity, its young runners at the sub-varsity level have progressed nicely throughout the season. Hilltoppers Sean Reardon and Elizabeth Brug were both top-10 finishers at the junior varsity level, with Brug finishing third overall in the girls race and Reardon 10th in the boys race.

Los Alamos’ regular season finale is scheduled for Friday. It is the Los Alamos Invitational, which will be held at Los Alamos Golf Course.

Here are the results from Saturday’s Rio Rancho Jamboree. Runners are from Los Alamos unless otherwise indicated.

Girls

Team scores

1. Rio Rancho, 110; 2. Eldorado, 114; 3. Los Alamos, 121; 4. La Cueva, 145; 5. Albuquerque Academy, 155; 6. Sandia, 160; 7. Belen, 173; 8. Los Lunas, 235; 9. Kirtland Central, 249; 10. Volcano Vista, 334; 11. Española Valley, 342; 12. Shiprock, 372; 13. Aztec, 374; 14. Valencia, 376; 15. Piedra Vista, 429; 16. Grants, 429; 17. Silver, 464; 18. Gadsden, 498; 19. St. Pius X, 510; 20. Cleveland, 516; 21. West Las Vegas, 521; 22. Oñate, 561; 23. Artesia, 570; 24. El Paso, Texas, Riverside, 654; 25. Goddard, 681; 26. Chaparral, 745.

Individual results

1. Julia Foster, Albuquerque Academy, 17:59; 2. Myka Benally, Kirtland Central, 18:38; 3. Holly Walker, 18:42; 4. Aleona Reyes, Belen, 18:56; 5. Kristy Hannah, Eldorado, 19:00; 6. Tamara Lementino, Rio Rancho, 19:14; 7. Jenna Padilla, Rio Rancho, 19:14; 8. Jenna Thurman, Del Norte, 19:16; 9. Kendra Lente, Los Lunas, 19:17; 10. Elicia Gallegos, Rio Rancho, 19:20; 19. Victoria Honnell, 19:50; 25. Emily Pittman, 20:00; 29. Jennifer Mooday, 20:10; 50. Teresa Sandoval, 20:41; 54. Angie Hammer, 20:57; 86. Victoria Trujillo, 21:56.

Boys

Team scores

1. Albuquerque Academy, 31; 2. Sandia, 74; 3. Los Alamos, 84; 4. La Cueva, 160; 5. Rio Rancho, 164; 6. Volcano Vista, 244; 7. Belen, 245; 8. Shiprock, 270; 9. Eldorado, 288; 10. Grants, 339; 11. Oñate, 346; 12. Piedra Vista, 393; 13. Los Lunas, 402; 14. Artesia, 405; 15. Española Valley, 410; 16. Valencia, 435; 17. St. Pius X, 447; 18. Del Norte, 494; 19. Silver, 518; 20. El Paso, Texas, Riverside, 519; 21. Aztec, 534; 21. Kirtland Central, 565; 22. Roswell, 566; 23. Goddard, 594; 24. Cleveland, 644; 25. Gadsden, 664.

Individual results

1. Kyle Pittman, 14:58; 2. Pat Zacharias, Academy, 15:02; 3. Neil Longenbaugh, 15:24; 4. Kyle Fast Wolf, La Cueva, 15:44; 5. Emmett Wynn, Academy, 15:49; 6. Christian Meyer, Sandia, 15:55; 7. Stephen Hodge, Sandia, 15:59.31; 8. Justin Lueras, Los Lunas, 15:59.74; 9. Caleb Rubalcaba, Rio Rancho, 16:06; 10. Louis Jochems, Academy, 16:07; 12. Daniel Roybal, 16:13; 19. Ian Pulliam, 16:21; 20. Josh Bowman, 16:22; 32. Zach Breshears, 16:48; 33. Alexander Romero, 16:49; 54. Tim Wermer, 17:09.