LA’s girls come up big at Class 4A meet Saturday

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Girls cross country: ’Toppers win 4 in a row as they top Academy, St. Pius

By Mike Cote

RIO RANCHO — Adding to its record haul, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls cross country team earned another state title Saturday and did so in impressive fashion.


Los Alamos placed five runners into the top 10 individually at the Class 4A state championship meet to earn its fourth consecutive team title.

Senior Jennifer Mooday and junior Jordan Parker took the Nos. 4 and 5 slots to pace the Hilltoppers at the state title meet. The Hilltoppers finished with 33 team points, just a hair over half the total of runner-up Albuquerque Academy.

With its fourth consecutive win, the Hilltoppers are now just one state title away from tying its own record of five titles between 2000-04.

“It’s an honor,” said Los Alamos’ Teresa Sandoval, a senior who has been a part of all four of the winning teams, a streak that started in 2009. “For me, personally, it’s been an honor to run with these girls and with the girls who have come before.”

Sandoval, who posted a time of 19 minutes, 43 seconds, had to run much of the way fending off not only the other competitors but also a nosebleed she developed about the 1-mile mark.

Los Alamos was the favorite heading into the 2012 meet, run at Rio Rancho High School, but was expected to be pushed for the title by St. Pius X, a team that has some very strong runners in the 1-3 slots and could’ve made things interesting with a good performance by runners on its back end.

It appeared early on the Sartans might be in a position to turn up the heat against the Hilltoppers, but one of their three stars, Julie Gianinni, couldn’t maintain following a strong start and slipped back to 19th place.

Individually, Jenna Thurman of Del Norte won her second title in a row, finishing in a time of 19:02.

During the first mile of the race, the lead changed hands at least four times between Thurman, Academy’s Erin Archibeck and Santa Teresa’s Joanna Miranda of Santa Teresa.

Los Alamos laid low through much of the early part of the race, but started picking off runners as the race wore on. Rio Rancho, a challenging course, favors the Hilltoppers’ power game and the team wanted to take advantage.

“We didn’t want to go out too hard,” Los Alamos’ Mikayla Pulliam said. “We wanted to work our way up and break up the packs up front.”

Pulliam finished seventh overall and third among Los Alamos’ runners. Talia Dreicer took the No. 8 spot and Sandoval finished in 10th.

Los Alamos’ point total was actually one point down from 2011, in which the Hilltoppers won by 67 points.

The win was the 17th title for the program, adding another notch to its all-time New Mexico record.

But the season isn’t yet over for the Hilltoppers, who will compete this weekend at a regional meet in Phoenix.

For Sandoval, who finished in the top 10 individually at state all four years, she said that while she’s looking forward to the track season this spring and moving on, she’s ambivalent as to whether she wants to try to continue her running career at the collegiate level.

“It depends on any given day,” she said. “Some days I’m like, ‘yeah,’ and other days I’m like, ‘I am done!’”


Here are the results from Saturday’s Class 4A state cross country meet:


Team scores


1. Los Alamos, 33; 2. Albuquerque Academy, 65; 3. St. Pius X, 72; 4. Piedra Vista, 165; 5. Kirtland Central, 185; 6. Santa Fe, 208; 7. Valencia, 224; 8. Grants, 241; 9. Del Norte, 242; 10. Los Lunas, 255; 11. Aztec, 290; 12. Española Valley, 299; 13. Chaparral, 305; 14. Roswell, 391; 15. Artesia, 438; 16. Goddard, 460; 17. Centennial, 473.


Individual results


1. Jenna Thurman, Del Norte, 19:02; 2. Erin Archibeck, Academy, 19:10; 3. Marissa Nathe, St. Pius, 19:15; 4. Jennifer Mooday, 19:17; 5. Jordan Parker, 19:19; 6. Kelli Reagan, St. Pius, 19:21; 7. Mikayla Pulliam, 19:29; 8. Talia Dreicer, 19:34; 9. Joanna Miranda, Santa Teresa, 19:38; 10. Teresa Sandoval, 19:43;


11. Madison Foley, 19:56; 17. Amanda Mercer, 20:16.