Hilltoppers cement a place in history

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Track and field: LA girls still have lots of talent returning, boys finish strong

By Mike Cote

ALBUQUERQUE — Regardless of whether it continues, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls track and field team’s domination at the state level has been quite remarkable.
Los Alamos has been a major player in anything running related for much of its history, but it may be some time before anyone, perhaps even the school itself, will be able to repeat its current success.
Saturday, the Hilltoppers earned their fourth consecutive state Class 4A title, the longest such streak of team championships since the Albuquerque Academy Chargers pulled off a four-in-a-row streak between 2005-2008. It is the fourth time in state history a team has won four straight titles – interestingly, three of them occurred in the last decade, with St. Michael’s grabbing four girls titles in a row between 2004-2007.
Interestingly, the reason for the recent success has been a fairly simple one, as noted by Chase Ealey, one of the most decorated track and field athletes in the history of the school.
“I really want to win all my running events individually, the (400 meter relay), but I want to win as a team really bad,” said Ealey in her quest to repeat as the Class 4A high-point athlete this year.
The focus on team is something that is echoed virtually to an athlete among the Hilltoppers and, interestingly, a philosophy that isn’t shared by everyone despite the success the Hilltoppers have had clinging tight to that ideal.
Along the way to a team victory this past weekend – it was Los Alamos’ closest finish of the four title runs, with the team championship very much in doubt until the final handful of events – the Hilltoppers set three new state records, in the shot put, 100 meters and 400 relay, two of which were set by Ealey and the third Ealey had one-quarter of.
In 2013, Los Alamos will return for a shot at its fifth consecutive title. It will have to do so without Ealey’s services, but will have a good nucleus returning, including state 200 champion Amy Neal, the multi-talented Laura Wendelberger and Chelsea Chalacombe, an underclassman that has shown promise.
Aztec, which finished second the past two seasons behind Los Alamos and gave the Hilltoppers nearly everything they could handle this season, will almost certainly have something to say about Los Alamos’ quest to become just the third school to reach five straight victories, but, should the Hilltoppers keep on with their unselfish philosophy that has carried them this far, it should be another great battle.


Reardon’s win caps big year

This athletic year could scarcely have gone better for Sean Reardon.
This fall, Reardon had a big hand in helping the Los Alamos boys cross country team to a stunning upset of the Albuquerque Academy Chargers – stunning only partially because it occurred at all, but mostly because of the grand scale on which it was done. The Hilltoppers dismantled the mighty Chargers by a score of 21-75, handing the Chargers one of their biggest defeats in state competition.
Along the way, Reardon finished fourth overall, third among those taking part in team competition.
That momentum seemed to carry all the way from November to mid-May, when Reardon capped off an excellent track season with an individual state championship in the 1,600 meters.
Just a day earlier, Reardon nearly pulled off yet another gigantic upset, coming within half a second of upending Del Norte’s Jackson Thomas, who has dominated 4A distance running this season. Thomas just held off Reardon at the tape to take the 3,200 meter title.
The 1,600, however, was all Reardon.
Reardon was within a few meters of Thomas – a good friend of Reardon’s – starting around the middle of lap two. By the end of lap three, Reardon was just about two strides behind.
Then, with approximately 300 meters to go, Reardon made his move. He blew past Thomas and never looked back, winning the race by another surprisingly big margin, this one by nearly four seconds. Reardon’s time of 4:23.51 was excellent.
What made his year such a noteworthy one?
“Everything, all the training went really well,” Reardon said. “I have wonderful, amazing coaches. All our training over the years came together this season.”
And give props to Thomas as well, who came within 300 meters of pulling a rare distance superfecta for the year, taking the 4A individual cross country title, the 800, 3,200 and finishing just off the pace in the 1,600 to an athlete that ended his season with a bang

Reardon would also go on to fill in for the winning Class 4A 1600 relay team, anchoring the Hilltoppers' victory. Along with Reardon, freshman Alexi Ortega and seniors David Knapp and Ben Schilling would help secure a big win for the Hilltoppers.