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New-look LA boys open Saturday at UNM Invite

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By Mike Cote

Year in and year out, the goal for the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys cross country team is the same: knock Albuquerque Academy off its perch.
In 2011, it may take some extra work to accomplish that task, but extra effort isn’t something the Hilltoppers have ever shied away from.
Los Alamos opens its 2011 season Saturday when it travels to the University of New Mexico Invitational. That meet, which has become Los Alamos’ traditional opening day event, usually attracts the top talent from around the state, a slate which includes the Hilltoppers’ arch-rival.
The Hilltoppers finished last year the same way they’d finished eight of the previous 10 years: as the runner-up in the Class 4A championship meet to Academy’s Chargers.
That string of victories by the Chargers, one of the most notable accomplishments by any program in any sport in New Mexico, was only interrupted in 2003 and 2007, both times by the Hilltoppers.
It could be a particular challenge for the Hilltoppers to keep pace with the Chargers, as all but one of their starters from the 2010 state meet are gone.
Los Alamos co-head coach Rob Hipwood said that his team’s dilemma isn’t an uncommon one around the state. Several teams in the state including Academy, are going into the season with new personnel.


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