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ALBUQUERQUE – No one can accuse the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys track and field team of leaving anything on the table this weekend.
Los Alamos was right in the mix of the fight for the Class 4A team championship at this weekend’s state meet and held the lead for more than half of the two-day meet.
While the Farmington Scorpions would eventually prevail in a tight three-team race, the Hilltoppers put a scare in them and the rest of the Class 4A competition.
The state 4A meet was held Friday and Saturday at the University of New Mexico Track and Field Complex.
Los Alamos grabbed a pair of individual state titles, both of them turned in by its star distance runner Colin Hemez.
Hemez, the reigning Class 4A cross country champion, picked up two distance wins this weekend, both of them at the expense of Albuquerque Academy’s Kevin Wyss.
Hemez outdueled Wyss in both the 3200 meters Friday and the 1600 meters Saturday. In the 3200, Hemez kicked into high gear with about 120 meters left to nip Wyss by less than a second.
In the 1,600 meters, Hemez led with about 120 meters to go, but it was Wyss who tried to turn it on late. The two were running nearly stride-for-stride but Hemez held off the late charge to win in a time of 4:24.33, again, less than a second ahead of his longtime foe from Academy.
“Instincts kicked in,” Hemez said. “As soon as that happens with 120 meters to go, it’s just all out.”
Los Alamos led after one day of competition, racking up 20.5 points and was in the lead early until a big finish by Academy in the 110 hurdles. At the halfway point in the meet, Academy and Farmington were tied for the lead and Los Alamos was third.
To stay close at the turn, Los Alamos took fourth place in the 800 relay. Los Alamos, which barely made the final in the event, coming in seventh in the preliminaries, finished in 1:31.41 – Farmington won the relay.
Sidney Ellis had a big second leg to move the Hilltoppers into fourth and Alexi Ortega and Simon Bailey kept up the pace to hold the team’s place.
On Friday’s day one of the meet, Hilltopper Colin Nickless picked up a runner-up finish in the discus.
Nickless, who was the No. 3 seed coming into the competition, came up big in his last four throws. With his final throw, Nickless tossed a 148-7, a nearly 10-foot personal best throw.
“I’ve been waiting all season for that,” he said. “It’s good to finally get it. I’ve been working so hard since my freshman year to get it here at state, get a medal and get points so we can bring it home as a team.”
That throw put Nickless in the lead at the time, but top-seeded Christian Mackey of Kirtland Central, who’d had a lackluster performance up to that point, hauled off a throw of 162-2 to win it.
Along with Nickless, teammate Jonathan Schueler finished fourth overall with a season-best 139-4.
He’s pushed himself to throw as well as he did his entire career and knew he was primed for a big throw to finish things off.
“It felt good,” he said. “I don’t know how else to describe it. You know when it hits right and that hit right. You can just feel it and that was a good one.”
Los Alamos also moved four jumpers to the high jump competition, with Greg Ahlers finishing tied for fifth. Ahlers was the only one of the four Hilltoppers to clear 6 feet, but couldn’t match his career best of 6-2 in the next round.
Avery Rasher of Farmington won the event, sailing over 6-4.
Los Alamos also had a big showing in the medley relay Saturday. Los Alamos’ Skyler Veenis, running the 400 leg, picked up two spots from sixth to fourth place before passing the baton off to Skyler McCall, who held off a late comeback attempt by Academy to preserve third place.