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It was a solid performance turned in by the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys cross country team in its final meet of the season Friday.
But based on the reactions from the Hilltopper runners, you wouldn’t know it.
Los Alamos wrapped up its 2012 regular season at home, taking part in the Los Alamos Invitational. Los Alamos finished second behind only the Class 5A Cleveland Storm at the race.
The Storm’s Luis Martinez, one of the most dominant runners the state has seen in some time, blew away the rest of the field and teammate Aaron Flores was a strong second to lead their team to a 34-point finish. Los Alamos, which placed four runners in the top 10 individually, finished with 40 points.
Despite the close call at the top of the team results, it wasn’t the finish Los Alamos was looking for.
Nick Hill, Los Alamos’ top finisher Friday, came in fourth, one slot ahead of Sean Reardon. Hill said the race, hosted by Los Alamos Golf Course, was a grueling one for him personally.
“I didn’t feel that great, but I wanted to tough it out for my teammates,” Hill said. “In the end, it wasn’t exactly enough. We’re going to have to do a lot better.”
The temperature dropped quickly during the race, a factor that would have seemed to favor the Hilltoppers, but Cleveland still managed to get four runners into the top 10 also.
Martinez was never challenged Friday, jumping out to a big lead from the get-go and turning in a time that was the second-best ever at the meet for his second consecutive win at Los Alamos.
The Hilltoppers, who have had a stellar 2012, are the favorites to repeat as the Class 4A champions — Albuquerque Academy, seemingly the only team in 4A with a reasonable shot at beating Los Alamos, was 32 points behind the Hilltoppers Friday — but were hoping for a better showing against the Storm.
“We really wanted to give Cleveland a run for their money,” said Los Alamos senior Sean Reardon. “They’re a real good team. We wanted to really get close, if not beat them.”
Following Hill and Reardon, who will be among the individual favorites at state this year, Orion Staples turned in a solid sixth-place performance, while Colin Hemez also cracked the top 10 individually.
Los Alamos, which scored one of the biggest victories in program history at Phoenix last month, actually beat Cleveland handily to open the season in Albuquerque.
1. Cleveland, 34; 2. Los Alamos, 40; 3. Albuquerque Academy, 72; 4. Pojoaque, 119; 5. Española Valley, 179; 6. Taos, 186; 7. Hope Christian, 203; 8. St. Pius X, 205; 9. Santa Fe Indian School, 247; 10. Santa Fe Prep, 304; 11. Santa Fe, 304; 12. Capital, 328; 13. Bernalillo, 349.
1. Luis Martinez, Cleveland, 15:39; 2. Aaron Flores, Cleveland, 16:06; 3. Jereme Santistevan, Pojoaque, 16:17; 4. Nick Hill, 16:18; 5. Sean Reardon, 16:23; 6. Orion Staples, 16:31; 7. Jared Mayoral, Cleveland, 16:38; 8. Blaise Mariner, Academy, 16:39; 9. Colin Hemez, 16:46; 10. Matt Smith, Cleveland, 16:49;
16. Zak Kennison, 17:10; 20. Mike Walker, 17:23; 32. Aaron Bao, 17:55.