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ALBUQUERQUE — While who is the best girls cross country team in the state is still up for debate, the Los Alamos Hilltoppers are still making a very good case for being the top team in Class 4A.
Los Alamos finished in second place at a very tough meet Friday, the Albuquerque Academy Invitational. Los Alamos was second overall, placing a pair of runners in the top five individually.
The team title was won by Eldorado Friday. Eldorado, the odds-on favorite to win the Class 5A title this season, is also the only team to have topped the Hilltoppers through three races this season.
Eldorado nipped Los Alamos by three points to earn the team title Friday. Paced by Crissey Amberg and Natalie Gorman, who finished sixth and seventh overall, Eldorado’s Eagles finished with 61 points, while Los Alamos had 64 points.
No other team in the competition finished with less than 114 points, that being third-place Academy, Los Alamos’ chief competitor in Class 4A this season. Friday’s race was the second time Los Alamos has knocked off Academy in head-to-head competition.
As usual, the afternoon was warm at Academy on its dusty, desert-like trail. Despite the heat, the race’s front runners set a brisk pace and kept it through the 3.03-mile distance.
“It definitely started out at a pretty fast clip,” said Hilltopper Teresa Sandoval. “(Elisa) Woody kind of went out fast. Other girls tried to keep up with her. It could’ve been much worse, but other people started dropping off.”
Neither Sandoval nor teammate Jennifer Mooday, however, fell too far off Woody’s pace. While Woody, of Volcano Vista, won the race handily, Mooday and Sandoval grabbed the Nos. 4 and 5 spots individually.
Mooday, who at the halfway point Friday was only a step behind Valencia’s Nisa Rascon in second place, finished with a time of 19 minutes, 55 seconds. Right behind her was was Sandoval, who clocked a 19:57.
This was the third meet of the season for the Hilltoppers, but only the second for Mooday and Sandoval, who both sat out the La Cueva Invitational two weeks earlier. Mooday was feeling under the weather that day, while Sandoval was feeling the effects of a foot problem which was never definitively diagnosed but may have been tendonitis or simple over-exertion.
Los Alamos had several younger runners in their mix Friday, including Miranda Barraza, who got the first varsity start of her career. Barraza, a junior, finished as the Hilltoppers fifth runner, grabbing 26th place overall.
The Hilltoppers will have a chance again to flex their muscles, this time on a regional scale, when they take part in the Twilight Festival Friday in Phoenix.
1. Eldorado, 61; 2. Los Alamos, 64; 3. Albuquerque Academy, 114; 4. Cleveland, 164; 5. Volcano Vista, 164; 6. Rio Rancho, 184; 7. Valencia, 238; 8. Sandia, 240; 9. Laguna-Acoma, 257; 10. Gallup, 273; 11. Moriarty, 276; 12. Sandia Prep, 295; 13. Zuni, 307; 14. Miyamura, 311; 15. Grants, 376; 16. Thoreau, 434; 17. Atrisco Heritage, 487; 18. Highland, 539.
1. Elisa Woody, Volcano Vista, 19:14; 2. Nisa Rascon, Valencia, 19:34; 3. Rachel Fleddermann, Sandia Prep, 19:51; 4. Jennifer Mooday, 19:55; 5. Teresa Sandoval, 19:57; 6. Crissey Amberg, Eldorado, 20:00; 7. Natalie Gorman, Eldorado, 20:01; 8. Morgan Findley, Academy, 20:03; 9. Allyson Sandoval, Sandia, 20:06; 10. Claire Archibeque, Academy, 20:07;
13. Jordan Parker, 20:18; 16. Elizabeth Turner, 20:22; 26. Miranda Barraza, 21:13; 27. Janali Gustafson, 21:14; 29. Amanda Mercer, 21:19.