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SANTA FE – Another District 2-4A meet, another big victory for the Los Alamos Hilltopper cross country teams.
The Hilltoppers, as they have done for 13 previous year, dominated the district championship meet Friday afternoon at Capital High School. The Hilltopper girls scored 17 points en route to their 14th consecutive 2-4A title, while the Hilltopper boys finished with 20 points to earn the sweep.
While Los Alamos has thoroughly dominated the district in recent years – rarely do teams get any closer than double Los Alamos’ point total – this is a race the teams don’t take lightly, as it is the only meet that qualifies them for the state championship race.
“We feel pretty confident, but we were careful not to be overconfident,” said Hilltopper Amanda Mercer, who, along with winning the individual 2-4A girls title, was helping teammate Maddy Foley put ice on her knee after the race.
Mercer led a solid pack of Hilltoppers to the finish line Friday along the sandy, groove- and rock-filled course behind the campus of Capital High. Mercer, Talia Dreicer and Foley finished 1-2-3 in the race, with Mercer finishing in a time of 20 minutes, 7 seconds and Dreicer finishing 13 seconds behind her.
“It feels really good. I accomplished one of my goals. I’ve always wanted to win a varsity race,” Mercer said. “All seven of us made all-district. We were talking to each other during the race, keeping up with the pack. I could feel a lot of synergy there.”
Los Alamos’ girls are the favorites to win their fifth consecutive state title this week. The state Class 4A meet is scheduled for Saturday at Rio Rancho High School.
The Hilltopper boys, meanwhile, will have some catch-up work to do if they want to upend the Albuquerque Academy Chargers Saturday and pick up their third straight 4A championship.
Los Alamos got close a week earlier, tying Academy for the top spot at the Hilltoppers’ home invite, but the Chargers’ top runner, Kyle Carrozza, had to drop out of that race at the midpoint.
It’s a challenge, however, the Hilltoppers are ready to face.
“We definitely came in to the race (Friday) knowing we had to take care of our business,” said Los Alamos’ Cameron Staples, who finished third among the Hilltoppers and fourth overall at the 2-4A meet. “We came in and we did it. Now we can’t wait for next week.”
The race was led start-to-finish by Hilltopper No. 1 runner Colin Hemez, who earned his first district title on the final attempt of his career. Hemez, who was third in 2012 behind Los Alamos 1-2 punch of Sean Reardon and Nick Hill, completed the course in 16:41.
In second place for Los Alamos was Mike Walker, who had a strong runner-up finish with his time of 17:00. Walker had a solid end to his season and appears to be coming on well as the team gears up for state.