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LA picks up 2nd place finish Friday

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By Mike Cote

 ALBUQUERQUE — It’s still early in the cross country season, but the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls may already be starting to hit their stride.
The Hilltoppers put a pair of runners in the top 10 individually and had another fall just outside of it as they put together an impressive showing at Friday’s Albuquerque Academy Invitational.
Los Alamos finished second in the team standings Friday despite running on a deceptively tough course amid weather conditions that were unusual for that race.
Academy’s home meet, which includes some very tough teams from the metro area, almost invariably boasts chamber of commerce weather, but Friday there was a stiff breeze and overcast conditions throughout.
Los Alamos sophomore Sophia Galvez, who is having an excellent start to the 2013 season despite having no varsity experience coming in, was the Hilltoppers’ top finisher, edging out teammate Nica Vasquez for sixth place in the girls race.
Individually, Friday’s race was dominated by a trio from Class 5A Eldorado. Led by Jessie Hix, who posted a virtual wire-to-wire victory, the Eagles finished with 47 points.
Right on their heels, however, were the Hilltoppers, just six points behind.
“Our goal was to go out fast and see if we could stay with the top girls,” Los Alamos’ Mikayla Pulliam said. “I think it definitely gave us a good confidence boost to start in front.”
As a team, Los Alamos finished 24 points ahead of the host Academy Chargers, one of the teams in Class 4A most likely to give the Hilltoppers a run for their money come the end of the season.
At the front of the race Friday, Galvez and Nica Vasquez stayed with a clump of runners immediately following the three front-runners from Eldorado.
Initially, that group included a pair of Academy runners, but one of those runners began to fall off the pace after about the 2-mile mark.
At the finish line, Los Alamos would have three runners cross before the second Academy runner — Maddy Foley missed the top 10 for the Hilltoppers by less than two seconds — while Talia Dreicer and Katy Stockton would finish immediately behind Academy’s No. 2, Erin Archibeck.
While it’s still early in the season, the Hilltoppers have already picked up three top-3 finishes as a team, not to mention topping Academy, which bested them at the season-opening University of New Mexico meet earlier this month.
After Los Alamos and the third-place Chargers, no other Class 4A teams finished with less than Valencia’s 234 points in Friday’s race.

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Team scores

1. Eldorado, 47; 2. Los Alamos, 53; 3. Albuquerque Academy, 87; 4. La Cueva, 118; 5. Volcano Vista, 123; 6. Sandia Prep, 167; 7. Cleveland, 220; 8. Valencia, 234; 9. 264; 10. Gallup, 289; 11. Piedra Vista, 313; 12. Grants, 319; 13. Miyamura, 335; 14. Laguna-Acoma, 381.

Individual results

1. Jessie Hix, Eldorado, 18:25; 2. Crissey Amberg, Eldorado, 18:32; 3. Cassey Amberg, Eldorado, Eldorado, 18:55; 4. Rachel Fleddermann, Sandia Prep, 19:00; 5. Cameren Kristensen, Albuquerque Academy, 19:03; 6. Sophia Galvez, 19:15; 7. Nica Vasquez, 19:16; 8. Camila Orozco, Valencia, 19:20; 9. Rebecca Castillo, Volcano Vista, 19:30; 10. MacKenzie Everett, La Cueva, 19:32;

11. Maddy Foley, 19:33; 14. Talia Dreicer, 19:43; 15. Katy Stockton, 19:44; 21. Amanda Mercer, 20:01; 26. Mikayla Pulliam, 20:16.