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When Mikayla Pulliam gets to Las Cruces this summer, there will be at least one familiar face to greet her.
Pulliam, the three-year starter for the Los Alamos Hilltopper cross country team and distance standout on the track and field team, will head south to join the New Mexico State University Aggies this coming fall. Pulliam signed her National Letter of Intent in a ceremony Tuesday at Los Alamos High School.
With the end of the track season quickly approaching, Pulliam said that her high school career coming up through the Hilltopper program has ensured her that she’s ready to take her game to the collegiate level.
“I’m definitely prepared,” she said. “I’ve loved running here, every second of it. It’s a lot of hard work, but I think it’s definitely a worthwhile experience.”
Pulliam is the first athlete at Los Alamos this year to sign with a Division I school.
She went down to visit NMSU’s campus in the winter and got to tour the facilities and got a chance to hang out with the coaches and some of the other runners.
Before making her decision to attend NMSU, Pulliam was also looking at a few schools in California and even the Air Force Academy.
When she officially joins the cross country team in the fall, she will be the second Hilltopper alum on the roster. Former Los Alamos distance runner Victoria Trujillo, who graduated in 2011, will be a senior on next year’s squad.
To prep for the start of her collegiate career, Pulliam said she’s going to train hard this summer for cross country. Next spring, she’s hoping to get a crack at a few different track events, including the 3,000-meter steeplechase, an event that’s not generally run at the prep level.
“I don’t know if they have that in mind for me or not, but we’ll see,” she said.
Along with being a varsity cross country runner for three seasons, Pulliam has been involved in three of the Hilltoppers’ five consecutive state team championships. In cross country last fall, Pulliam finished 20th overall, finishing in 20 minutes, 17 seconds.
So far in the 2014 track season, she has qualified for state in the 1,600 meters and 3,200 meters. She currently owns the ninth-fastest 1,600 time in 4A (5:28.44) and is one of four Hilltoppers to qualify in that event.
Track started off slow for Pulliam, who was battling illness for much of the early season schedule, but she feels like she’s over the hump, she’s been training better in recent weeks, and she’s prepared to finish the District 2-4A meet — set for this weekend — and the 4A state meet with a bang.
“I’m hoping just to have a good end to the season,” she said. “There’s always a little bit of luck involved with that. I just hope to do well at state and I hope our team does well…I hope as a team we finish strong.”