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Girls track and field: Toppers run away with team title Saturday

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By Mike Cote

In its first home appearance of the season, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls track and field team gave the local fans something to cheer about.

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The Hilltoppers, one of the top teams in the state, regardless of classification, comfortably walked away with the team title at Saturday’s Los Alamos Quadrangular. The Hilltoppers, minus numerous key athletes owing to spring break, still breezed to 191.5 team points, easily outdistancing the runner-up Belen Eagles, who finished with 123.5 team points at the meet held at Sullivan Field.

Heading into Saturday’s meet, Los Alamos was without some big names, most notably Emily Weeks and Angelica Johnson, not to mention Taylor Ealey, who is still out with a knee injury.

Nonetheless, Los Alamos racked up nine event wins Saturday.

Chase Ealey and Lindsay Benage were both dual winners for the Hilltoppers Saturday, with Ealey having stellar performances in both the shot put and 100 meters and Benage picking up wins in the long jump and high jump.

Both athletes also had a part in wins in the 400 and 800-meter relays.

Both Benage and Ealey were latecomer to the team’s spring season after spending a good portion of last month with the girls basketball team that advanced to the state Class AAAA quarterfinals.

After her portion of the meet, Benage said she was definitely worn down.

“Doing five events is kind of hard,” she said. “That’s what I usually do, but (Saturday) I was tired. My legs were kind of tight and stiff.”

One of the most notable finishes of the day for Los Alamos was in the 800 relay, in which it qualified for next month’s state Class AAAA meet. Despite not having its usual lineup, the team of Benage, Ealey, Sylvia Holland and Madison Ahlers finished with a time of 1:48.62.

Benage is the reigning AAAA state champion in the high jump and won that event with a leap of 5 feet, 2 inches. Right behind her were teammates Laura Wendelberger and Kim Carson, while Kate Rooney finished in fifth place.

Benage said it was well within the realm of possibility that the team could place four high jumpers in the top six at state.

“We have a lot of good girls,” she said. “Laura’s a freshman and she’s already jumping well. Kim and Kate still need to qualify. I’m sure they will.”

In 2009, Los Alamos won the AAAA state title with the biggest point total of any team in the three-classification meet. So far this season, nary an AAAA school has been able to hang with the Hilltoppers.

Los Alamos veteran head coach Paul Anderson, who has done his best this season to keep an even keel despite steering one of the most powerful teams in school history, said he was most happy with the performance of his squad despite the absences.

“We got to see some people on the team do some different things,” he said. “When it comes down to finally putting everything together, you want people to have experience in a lot of different places.”