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ESPAÑOLA — Friday’s win was a long time coming for Jennifer Mooday.
Mooday, the top senior on the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls cross country team, had been looking forward to a chance to compete for the District 2-4A title since joining the team in 2009. This year, she was able to grab that elusive title.
With the race coming to a finish and Mooday running just a stride ahead of teammate Jordan Parker, Mooday beat Parker up a small but difficult hill less than half a mile from the finish.
Mooday held off a late comeback attempt by Parker to win with a time of 20 minutes 25 seconds.
“It was definitely tough,” Mooday said. “I was running slower than I normally do, but it’s good at this course. This course takes a lot of heart. It was a challenge.”
Los Alamos, as expected, earned the 2-4A championship, its 13th straight, with a near-perfect score of 16 points.
Santa Fe’s Demons finished with 59 points and host Española Valley Sundevils had 72 points, those scores advancing those two teams to state along with the Hilltoppers.
The bid by the Hilltoppers for their fourth perfect score at district in five years was upset by interloper Noel Pradoni of Santa Fe.
Pradoni, much like her male counterpart Zachary Grand, was in third place with only about an eighth of a mile to go before she was passed on the Española Valley High School track by Madison Foley and Amanda Mercer.
Los Alamos will have a shot at picking up its fourth consecutive state title Saturday. The 4A championship meet will be in Rio Rancho.
All nine of the Hilltoppers entries Friday — the district meet is the only meet of the season that allows more than seven varsity entries — finished in the top 11 individually. Only Pradoni and Marisol Mendoza of Bernalillo were able to make the top 10 ahead of any Hilltopper runners.
Parker finished as the runner-up Friday. She won the 2-4A title in 2011 as a sophomore.
Following the race, Parker said that finish was just fine with her.
“I felt like running with Jennifer was a really good experience,” she said. “For me to run with her, she’s a great person and it’s really fun to be with her.”
Parker was a surprise second place finisher overall at last year’s state meet.
For Mooday, who struggled in the 2011 cross country season and the 2012 track season with hip trouble, picking up the win was extra special for her.
“It’s been a goal for me since I was a freshman,” Mooday said. “I’ve wanted to do that. But for the team, we’ve got to buckle down for state.”
Here are the results from Friday’s District 2-4A championship meet. Runners are from Los Alamos unless otherwise indicated:
1. Los Alamos, 16; 2. Santa Fe, 59; 3. Española Valley, 72.
1. Jennifer Mooday, 20:25; 2. Jordan Parker, 20:27; 3. Madison Foley, 20:39; 4. Amanda Mercer, 20:41; 5. Noel Pradoni, Santa Fe, 20:42; 6. Talia Drecier, 20:49; 7. Mikalya Pulliam, 21:04; 8. Teresa Sandoval, 21:13; 9. Nica Vasquez, 21:24; 10. Marisol Mendoza, Bernalillo, 21:33; 11. Miranda Barraza, 21:44.