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LA boys, girls head into 4A title meet Saturday

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By The Staff

As is usually the case, the Los Alamos Hilltoppers and Albuquerque Academy Chargers will be the favorites on both the boys and girls sides of the Class AAAA cross country championship meet.

The AAAA title races are scheduled for Saturday at Rio Rancho High School.

Both Los Alamos teams should be the mix for a trophy Saturday, but both will have to contend with the Chargers, who will go in as favorites in both races, although they will only be slight favorites in the girls title race.

Los Alamos’ teams secured their spots in the AAAA championship meet last week, demolishing the rest of the field in the District 2AAAA meet. The Hilltopper boys placed five runners in the top six individually at the district meet to score 18 points, while the Hilltopper girls finished with a perfect score of 15 points, sweeping all of the five top spots.

The Hilltopper girls are looking for their first state team title since 2006, while the Hilltopper boys upset the top-ranked Chargers for the team title in 2007. Academy is the reigning champion in both boys and girls team competition.

On the girls side, Los Alamos has won just one race in five head-to-head meetings with Academy this season. That win, however, was a big one.

Los Alamos dropped Academy at the Oct. 17 Rio Rancho Jamboree, which was held on the same basic course that Saturday’s state title race will be held. At that event, Los Alamos scored 121 points to finish in third place overall, while Academy finished in fifth place with 155 points.

The Hilltoppers are paced by Holly Walker, who heads into Saturday’s race fresh off her victory at the 2AAAA race. Walker topped the next-closest runner in the field, teammate Jennifer Mooday, by 32 seconds. Megan Reader, Emily Pittman and Victoria Honnell took the next three individual places.

For the boys, senior Kyle Pittman, who was named a preseason All-American by The Harrier magazine, could well be the man to beat for the state individual title.

Pittman won five races during the regular season, including last week’s 2AAAA boys race, and was defeated just once in the state of New Mexico. Pittman was topped by Academy’s Pat Zacharias, another individual title favorite, at the Los Alamos Invitational Oct. 23.

Ian Pulliam and Daniel Roybal finished second and fourth at last week’s district race, while Tim Wermer also cracked the top five for Los Alamos.

Los Alamos hasn’t beaten Academy in team competition this season, although it hadn’t beaten Academy in 2007 prior to the AAAA championship race.