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The Los Alamos Hilltopper boys cross country team placed five runners in the top 10 individually to earn a solid victory in the La Cueva Invitational Saturday.
Los Alamos held off three Class 5A schools to take the win in the boys race Saturday. Paced by senior Alexander Romero, the Hilltoppers finished with 25 points, just slightly more than half total of runner-up Volcano Vista.
Only five girls teams and four boys teams took part in the La Cueva Invitational, a departure from last week’s race, the University of New Mexico Invitational, which is one of the biggest meets in the state.
Meanwhile, the Hilltopper girls, without three of their regular starters, finished second at the La Cueva Invitational behind two-time Class 5A champion Eldorado. The Hilltoppers got good efforts from their replacements, however, and stayed within striking distance of the Eagles, who had to come from behind to take a 16-point win.
Three newcomers to the varsity team, Jordan Parker, Elizabeth Turner and Amanda Mercer, set the pace for the Hilltoppers.
After two races down on the season — Los Alamos has an off week before it heads to Albuquerque Academy Sept. 23 — head coaches Rob and Kathy Hipwood have been largely pleased with what they’ve seen out of their teams. One of the things they’d like to work on, however, is getting their runners to be more aggressive from the opening gun.
The Hilltopper girls Saturday appeared to take a brief lead over Eldorado midway through the second mile, but used up a lot of their energy reserves doing so.
“We spent a lot of effort in that mid mile doing that,” Rob Hipwood said. “I thought that maybe it was a little too hard on them. Eldorado kind of took control after that.”
Los Alamos’ girls still place four runners in the top 10, another solid effort for the team coming off its victory at the UNM Invitational last week and being without last week’s individual champion Teresa Sandoval, who sat out with foot trouble, and Jennifer Mooday and Emily Pittman, who were feeling under the weather.
On the boys side, Romero finished third overall, finishing in 16:55. Just two slots behind him was younger brother Daniel Romero, who finished just ahead of teammates Nick Hill and Sean Reardon to help secure the victory.
Hipwood said he was particularly pleased with the Hilltopper boys’ pack time — the top five runners all finished within 33 seconds of Alexander Romero.
“We had some shifts in the pecking, which is good to see,” Hipwood said. “That’s the best top-five pack we’ve had all year. We still need to be a little further up at the mile, but the kids are battling throughout.”
Here are Los Alamos’ varsity and junior varsity results from Saturday’s La Cueva Invitational:
1. Eldorado, 30; 2. Los Alamos, 46; 3. Del Norte, 83; 4. La Cueva, 101; 5. Volcano Vista, 103.
6. Jordan Parker, 20:30; 8. Elizabeth Turner, 20:32; 9. Amanda Mercer, 20:42; 10. Mikayla Pulliam, 20:48; 13. Anna Wermer, 20:53; 14. Eliana Riciputi, 21:07; 17. Elizabeth Brug, 21:17.
1. Los Alamos, 25; 2. Volcano Vista, 48; 3. Eldorado, 62; 4. La Cueva, 84.
3. Alexander Romero, 16:55; 5. Daniel Romero, 17:14; 6. Nick Hill, 17:19; 7. Sean Reardon, 17:20; 9. Zak Kennison, 17:28; 19. Orion Staples, 18:12; 22. Mike Walker, 18:20.
1. Los Alamos 26; 2. Eldorado, 35; 3. La Cueva, 69; Volcano Vista, 109.
1. Miranda Barraza, 21:28; 2. Janali Gustafson, 21:29; 4. Rosa Durrer, 22:10; 7. Ruth Taylor, 22:25; 12. Astrid Hengartner, 23:08; 13. Dominique Hillis, 23:25; 19. Dana Crooks, 23:57.
1. Los Alamos, 15; 2. La Cueva, 63; (tie) Volcano Vista, 63; 4. Eldorado, 95.
1. Colin Hemez, 17:48; 2. Aaron Roybal, 18:11; 3. Aaron Bao, 18:21; 4. Jacob Brown, 18:30; 5. Gus Saeger, 18:30; 11. Noah Simpson, 19:06; 12. Marcus Gutierrez, 19:10.